I am humbled by the following testimony, written by my niece and Godchild: Her words speak for themselves
Emily. Age 15. MA.
I wasn’t expecting much out of going to the Steubenville youth conference the first time I went, just a chance to get away over the summer. But what happened there completely changed my life and my faith. It was always a given that Jesus is real and He loves me, but this experience was the first time I think I ever truly felt and believed that, it really started my faith then in the summer before I started high school.
The first couple days of the 4 day trip to Ohio really put me in a bad place; I had gone with my cousin’s church youth group and didn’t know anyone. The whole time I felt really awkward and couldn’t wait for the trip to be over. I was uncomfortable and ironically Jesus wasn’t what was on my mind. I was so completely blocked off that I couldn’t see what a blessing the trip was or what a great time I should have been having. Then came the main event of the trip: the 2 hour-long adoration that everyone there was participating in. I never really liked adoration that much or got anything out of it, so spending two hours in a room full of hundreds of people just sitting there wasn’t really appealing to me. The night before, we had had a shorter adoration and maybe it was due to the many people all praying at once, but I actually felt the Holy Spirit communicating with me. The message was kind of humbling. I could feel God’s love for me, but I also felt that he was reprimanding me and telling that I should repent before the big adoration the next night. It was like “Emily, I love you a lot, but I want you to go to confession before seeing me tomorrow”. I made up my mind to go, but it didn’t work out that way. I had lots of time to go to confession; it was
Miracle photo. Jim Beckmann took this behind a translucent screen back stage. As you can see the screen shows a clear image of Fr. Stan on the other side! Photo credit: FUS
open all day. I just wasnt willing to be proactive and actually go. As it got later and later, I got more worried that God was going to be disappointed in me for not obeying and wouldn’t let me hear His voice during adoration. By the time we were heading down to the conference hall, I was feeling sick with shame. We took our seats and one of the priests got on the stage and started to say an introductory prayer and talked while everyone was preparing themselves for adoration. At this time I had zoned him out and was focusing on my own thoughts. Going over all my sins and the things I could and should have done differently in life and the past few days were eating me up so badly I started crying, like, sobbing, as I apologized to God in my head and thought of how I didn’t deserve to have Jesus go through the pain of the Crucifixion for me. The mood of the room was so intense: a room big enough for a concert(which we had) full of teens all praying to God at the same time while the band (which did a fantastic job) started to play some of the most moving music as the body of Jesus Christ was brought into the room on the monstrance. It is just occurring to me now that my repenting prayers before the actual adoration may have been when Jesus was forgiving me, because what happened next completely relieved all of the stress I had about God’s disappointment in me. For the first time in my life, I felt the true presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit before me. The feelings are hard to describe in words, the best I can do is phrases and feelings. I felt an overwhelming sense of the love that Jesus has for me and everyone and when I realized this and how my worrying had been for nothing I got ecstatically happy and started laughing. I felt as if I could never be sad again; I knew that Jesus was there for me and always would be; I knew whatever happened in the future that God would take care of me; I saw beauty in all the people of the world because God created them; I felt the need to remind myself to always be happy and there is always a reason to rejoice.
The powerful experience of others helped make mine special too, around me I saw people getting slain in the Spirit and heard laughing and sobbing come from throughout the room and this showed how powerful Jesus’s presence was.
The monstrance was being walked around the room and as soon as it came close to our group I started to feel weak in my arms and legs and it occurred to me that this is my Savior and my King and I thought to myself “He’s really here in front of you; what are you going to do?” I felt the need to bow, like head down, on the ground bow. I know it might sound degrading, but if you were in my place you’d have been more than happy to do it. In fact I was thrilled. I was so happy about Jesus showing Himself to me through the Body and I thought about this and about how I must look so silly bowing on the floor with my head down while laughing, and this made me laugh harder.
Usually I have trouble praying, like I don’t know what to say or how to make it come out like a real prayer, but I was able to open my mouth and words started flowing out and I know I meant every one of them. And when I’m told to “give glory to God” I just say it once and then think now what? But I could see that once wasn’t enough, I could tell how powerful God is and couldn’t stop repeating how glorious He is.
Coming out of adoration, I had a huge smile on my face that lasted until the next morning, though I was expecting it to last longer. I didn’t think I would ever be able to stop thinking about how wonderful what happened to me was, but now, five months later, I go weeks without Steubenville crossing my mind. Another message Jesus gave to me during adoration was how sad He is when we stray and how He wants us to always return to Him. Once we come back to Jesus with open arms, He will receive us joyously and take care of us.
We seem to think, going through life, that things like lots of friends or good grades or being talented or pretty will make us happy. This is one of the many lies we tell ourselves because the only time we will ever truly be happy is when we have given up ourselves and are with God. Although it’s scary and we don’t want to think about it and we’re still insecure, this is the truth and the most important thing I learned while at Steubenville.