Testimony: Miracles

Written by Tara, age 39, Special education teacher

The testimony of a Community miracle that I never thought would happen to me. As a Catholic, I lived like every other Catholic. I went to church when the spirit moved me or it was a holiday. My heart, mind, and soul were never really in balance to receive the word of the Lord. I never went to penance to ask for forgiveness. So without cleansing my heart, mind, and soul I never felt complete as a child of God.

Seven years ago, I met this family and at first I just thought I was going to help them clean and organize their house because they had so many children. A short time later I realized that this family needed me to do much more. They discovered that their 5th child, Michael, had a cancerous brain tumor. This saddened me because he seemed to be a vibrant little 4 year-old and I wrestled with his grim prognosis. How could he be in a place where he could die?

I continued to work for this family, trying to bring a healthy and enthusiastic attitude that would help them through one of the most difficult times of their life.  As the word got out that Michael was sick the whole community started to help out as well. This gave me hope, joy, and courage that this community could help beat this sickness by their sheer support. It also gave me a sense of belonging in the community that I never felt before. Each person gave of themselves;  their time, talents, and love. People brought food and dessert constantly, and gifts for the kids and little Mikey. Every prayer group in Syracuse lifted the family in prayer and some went back to church to pray for them, who hadn’t been in a very long time.  I truly believed that Michael was going to recover and healing would take place for everyone in this family. This was the first miracle that this community and I received; hope, faith and understanding of belonging to this mystical body of Christ with the Sovereign God as our head.

A short time later the worst happened and this family lost their son to brain cancer. This was a tragedy but a second miracle was right around the corner for this community and for myself. The second miracle was the rejoicing and the power of God’s love for this family and for the whole community.  Love surrounded this family and everyone involved, helping them find healing of mind, body, and soul. It was a miracle of healing that only comes from God and we witnessed it first hand and were a part of it.

While this family was healing a third miracle was brewing for me. A new pastor came into my life to bring healing to my mind, body and soul that I didn’t know I needed. He brought new knowledge about the bible and healing and the strong bond you could have with Jesus that I never had before. He told me to simply believe. He preached that everyone is a sinner, but if you ask God for forgiveness He will forgive you and bring you closer to His heart. I wanted to be closer to Jesus and God so I went to my first healing mass to ask God and Jesus for forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness was hard because I offered Jesus so much pain and imperfection. After my blessing my heart was filled with the Holy Spirit and filled with joy. While I was there at this healing mass I saw that family that had lost their son and I saw the true power of the Lord’s healing in both of these adults.

After the first healing blessing that I received I started to feel the power of the lord’s grace. From the grace of the Lord came love and I started to feel whole again and I wanted more. I attended a second healing mass, this time to be forgiven for the sins of my ancestors. Going to this healing mass was important to me because I felt as an adult I was making the same bad choices as some of my previous ancestors.  I knew that the power of the Lord’s grace healed my soul once from my own sins. Now, I wanted to be healed from the sins of the past. This mass brought me a calmness and peace that I never felt in my life time. I stopped feeling the pain and the guilt, which I constantly carried around with me. My soul seemed to be clear and focused. I want to keep my soul filled with the Lord’s power, the power of joy, calmness, and peace for the rest of my life. After this mass, I promised myself that I was going to live a clean and honest life. It has been two years now and through the power of God’s love and presence I have done this for my daughter and myself.

The power of the Lord’s grace and forgiveness can come into your life at any time. Miracles happen all the time if we are open to them and many times they come in unexpected ways. The will of God is strong and the will of His people is stronger because we come from his love and grace. I’ve been through a lot of tragedy in my life-time but I truly can say now that God has carried me through each one with the power of community love. I will never forget these lessons and I try hard to pass them around to everyone I meet.

Testimony:Cradle to Grave

Written by Anabelle, Age 37 in AL

From Cradle To Grave Catholic With Detours in Between

CradletoGrave

(That’s not me but my daughter. My photos are too orange to publish.)

I don’t have a memory of the most important day of my life.  But I know it happened because of acid-oranged photographs with my godparents, a Baptismal Certificate with my name on it, and no one tried to stop me when I received First Communion.  The seal of Catholicism was a cornerstone for my formative years, nurtured by a daily communicant mother who scuffed holes in her pants from kneeling pilgrimage-style across Church aisles; above-reproach principal who sang vibrating soprano-key for the daily 7:00 AM Mass; teachers who marched us to confession regularly; and a staunchly Catholic extended family with reunions that were marked by Baptisms, Church weddings, and funeral parties that always served garlic peanuts appetizers and roasted pig for the main course.  Being born into a predominantly Catholic country where public transportation was decked out with Jesus/Mary emblems and dangling rosaries on the rearview mirrors, was a support system that fostered my spiritual infancy and kept me on the straight and narrow.

Really I had all that I needed to grow in the fullness of my faith.  But my Catholic identity waned in a liberal Catholic law school when I reached the age of adulthood.  Oprah Winfrey’s ‘wisdom’, popular culture world views, new age novelty, immoral entertainment stole the truths that were deposited in my soul. I began to live in the prevalent narcissistic philosophy of ‘I/me/mine first” and accepted the whopping secular lie that in order to impress others, my spiritual life must be kept under the wraps of designer fashion and accessories.  I was the average dissenting/cafeteria/lukewarm Catholic.

On the brink of my graduation, the Year of the Holy Spirit, I unexpectedly pilgrimaged to Banneux, Belgium to an approved apparition site of Our Lady of the Poor.  There, I rambled on a litany of self-absorbed prayers:  help me pass the bar exam, marry a blue-eyed man, travel the world over, find the right shade of copper lipstick for my new dress etc…  But My Blessed Mother must have begged God for my conversion of heart because when the bar results were released, I was .02 % short of becoming a new lawyer.

There’s nothing like a dose of humility to make one see with clarity.  And the truth of what I saw was this:  I needed to ask God what He wanted from me instead of telling Him what I wanted Him to do for me.  The life that I’d built for me myself and I was shallow and unfulfilling.

With tail between my legs, I boxed up all of my leather purses and flirty perfumes and moved back home to recapture the peace of my childhood years.  I also kissed dating goodbye (thank you Joshua Harris!), joined a Charismatic prayer group that taught me about Jesus & the Bible, sought spiritual direction and re-discovered that a conscience living in a state of grace is where peace reigns.  This state of grace was the gift I received at Baptism, I could receive again at the Sacrament Confession. Being a cradle Catholic left it’s imprint in my soul that long before I was a student, lawyer, sister, friend, or any other label, I was a first and foremost a Catholic – a child of God and daughter of the Church.   That privilege was bestowed on me by faithful parents and the destiny to become a faithful Catholic woman was a path ingrained in me at Baptism.  I didn’t have to look to law school, to TV, to Oprah, new age or to the secular world, to find who I am and who I should be.   My identity was there in my faded photographs and Baptismal certificate.

The laws of Catholicism, the Sacraments, the devotions, and traditions drew me back into the Church started by Jesus Christ and this time, I was no longer a robot walking through rules and regulations.  I was in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, awed by a loving, forgiving God in the Confessional, captivated by the Blessed Mother and her rosary and longed to impress and become part of the communion of saints. Through the example of virtuous Catholics, I realized that being a lukewarm Catholic was worse than being a mediocre teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/sister/friend and that in order to be the  best teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/friend/sister, I had to become the best Catholic I could be.   I don’t mean a holier-than-thou-know-it-all but someone who stands firm in obedience to the Church Magisterium, who is willing to defend her from persecution, who prays for the conversion of my brothers and sisters, who strives for Mary’s sanctification and embraces Jesus’ Divine mercy when in sin.  A disciple of Christ who constantly studies the faith, repents, changes, inspires, corrects, evangelizes, and stays silent when necessary.

Hebrews 8:10 is the summary of my spiritual journey: “But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts.  I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

 Obviously, not me either.  It is sadly, my fifth baby.

Obviously, not me either. It is sadly, my fifth baby.

And wouldn’t you know it:  I DID eventually move across the world to sunny California, practiced immigration law with some travel perks, married the blue-eyed man of my prayers, and settled in a friendly Sothern state with peaceful cows and generous chickens as my neighbors.

Catechism and reading the saint’s writings have encouraged me to write novels, articles, and even blog about the Catholic faith I now hope to pass on to my children and take with me to the grave.

We cradle Catholics tend to take our faith for granted and look for answers elsewhere but in the Church, but if we really studied Holy Mother Church’s true teachings and seek God with a humble heart, we’ll find that everything we’ve searched for was right under our noses, poured over our foreheads, tucked under the Baptismal caps, and clothed on us in our Baptismal gowns.

Anabelle Hazard is a practicing Catholic, non-practicing lawyer, penniless novelist, happy homeschooler, and long-winded blogger at Written By the Finger of God

Testimony: Steubenville

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: courtesy FUS

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.