We Share Our Faith
Part of this Year of Faith's purpose is for all of us to share in the ministry of evangelization - sharing the Good News of our Salvation with others. By sharing the gift of faith which has been given us, we will help others grow in faith.
Here's the link to instructions about how to send us your faith sharing.
Just discovered and downloaded the new missal on my iPad. So enjoying the reflections from Creighton. Feels like a huge Christmas and Birthday gift all in one, oh The Lord is so good with the blessings he gives me!!
As we minister to others and share our faith it is so important to me to remember all people are created different. The person is body soul and spirit, a unique creation by God. Pray for insight that we may reach that particular person where he or she is at.
Just before she died my mother told me how distressed I was as a baby, toddler and young child, in the Protestant Pentecostal church I was raised in. Frequently I had to be taken out and calmed. I often wonder what would have been my spiritual journey in life had I been raised in a different, calmer spiritual environment.
I feel so grateful to The Lord a catholic friend invited me to CLC and so changed my life forever. Now I can let Jesus reach me in quietness, reflection, meditation and trust. No fear or anxiety of mass hysteria, as I perceived it then. Not once did the concept of the love of God penetrate to my soul through the discomfort and distress. God was conveyed in harsher tones of salvation, sin, hellfire and damnation.
Jesus met Peter where Peter was....... Let God find you where you are.
I end my morning thoughts with the prayer that I may see all people as unique individuals, body, soul and spirit . That I may meet all my patients today at the place where they are at. That I may be a blessing to others today, as I walk my daily walk with God.
God really changed my life.I felt touched to him.Million thanks for god and I know god is always be with me no matter what.Thanks again and god bless you all.
People often ask me....how do you mean you walk daily with God? HOW do you do it? WHAT do you do ?
Well imagine God is beside me. But actually as we are spiritual beings I believe God is IN me.
Daily I invite God to be my loving friend, overseer, companion, guide, advisor. I never have to face the day alone. SOOO comforting to have my shepherd, my creator with me all the time. He who understands me totally as he created me.
As I face my patients I ask for his guidance in treatment, that I may see the patient as a person. I am Gods messenger, handyman , rather, woman on earth. How does God want me to meet, treat, behave to this particular creation of HIS.
It makes a difference. Sure I get frustrated, tired, but then I say..... Lord I am REALLY tired of this demented patient yelling all night. Shall I give him, haldol ? Heminevrin? Midazolam? And soon the answer comes and I feel secure in that being the correct treatment at this particular instance.
This creates in me a peace and a calmness. I become more efficient, gives job satisfaction. Most of all a living walking faith.
I am even more comforted by the Christmas story and the faith it offers us to place our trust in the little one who came to embrace us all: One of my favorite faith times of the year is the run up to Christmas. I have many memories of our family’s preparations. We didn’t have many things. I remember as a kid that our parents helped us understand that we had limited resources, and so we were going to share what we had with many people, and that would mean we might each get less for Christmas. But, we understood, even as children, what sharing was all about.
I also remember the nativity scene at our parish. It was huge. The one in our house was very simple and small. The two were connected in my imagination of the real scene. I remember when I realized that the real Holy Family was poorer than we were and they had danger and hardships we didn’t.
When I grew up, Christmas got even better. The poverty and incongruity of the stable were comforting for my life situation. The child of that family became the friend of the poor and my friend. He understood what it was to be not quite as normal as others, to be excluded, to be persecuted, to not be fully understood.
As I now look at my life and the world as a senior citizen, I am even more comforted by the Christmas story and the faith it offers us to place our trust in the little one who came to embrace us all.
I had nothing to think of but His Infinite Love for me and for all of us still living and suffering and rejoicing in the heavens:
Right now, I suffering from diabetes symptoms. I have no job, no source of income, no friends to rely on after all these years of education and sacrifices. I just pray very, very much that sometimes, God show up in order for me to survive inside the house where I stay. He helped a lot and I think, He knows what I am feeling right now. His blessings for me had never been measured since all that is in me right now came from Him and I had nothing to think of but His Infinite Love for me and for all of us still living and suffering and rejoicing in the heavens, on earth and under the earth. Truly, His love can never be measured and this fact, strengthens me in my solitude. I will not lose hope since I know that God will give me a new life after this one.
-- Emmanuel, Philippines
I had lost sight what was important in life, my family and love, and as long as I preserve that, I will be happy. Life is a gift from God and we have the privilege to experience it on this beautiful world he has created:
I returned from a military deployment after a year of being away from my family. I was ecstatic to see my family but something didn't feel quite right and I couldn't pin down exactly what the problem was. I realized that I wasn't comfortable with the relationship I had with my wife. I felt I was undeserving of her because I didn't feel like a good person and I saw her as a symbol of beauty and purity. My anxiety was caused by insecurity, I was wrestling with so much inner turmoil about the person I had become that I wasn't able to be the husband my wife deserved. I realized that I needed figure out what my problems were and address them or I risked losing the most important thing in my life, my family.
What followed was the most difficult year and a half of my life. I began by seeking help from doctors and researching anxiety and depression. This led me to discovering a lot about myself and when I wasn't satisfied with anxiety medications that I felt just covered up the problem, I attacked my anxieties by seeking their root causes and addressing the issues one by one. I knew it was working because every time I would find an answer a would feel a little lighter and I was surprised to find that the most seemingly complex issues were usually caused by the most basic human instinctual behaviors or emotions. For instance, I realized my marriage was not reaching it's full potential because my wife and I both felt insecure. I was insecure because my wife didn't trust me and she was insecure because she didn't trust me. I would try desperately to gain her trust by giving her things or being affectionate but when I would realize that my efforts were in vain, I would storm off and resort to some self-destructive coping mechanism that would inevitably start the cycle of building trust over again.
My marriage issue was just one of the problems I identified and tried to address. Whenever I was able to figure something out and I thought I was finished with my transformation, another problem became apparent to me. The problems seemed to be getting progressively more important as time went on. It was as if they were being presented to me in a manner of progressive difficulty, the path was laying out itself and once I had chosen to walk down it, there was no turning back.
Throughout my journey, I was met with resistance and hardship. This was my journey of self discovery and I knew how important it had become. I was able to identify several family members that accepted me with unconditional love and I began to use them as my support network during my times of need. The negativity of the rest of my family was something I could usually ignore and when they hurt me, I'd call someone from my support network to help remind me of love.
My transformation culminated with an incredibly powerful spiritual experience in which I felt God was letting me know my efforts had not been in vain. This was an incredibly enlightening experience because though I was raised in a Catholic home, I have never considered myself to be very religious and instead retained a belief of a very personal relationship with God. I had not been to church in years and had abandoned prayer for more informal conversations with God when I was in tough times. I know now that he heard me and still pray in this way with a little more emphasis on respect. The experience is something I've learned to keep personal because it is sacred to me and when people doubt the power of God or my integrity I feel deeply hurt. I realized that the acknowledgement of God was itself a gift and I should treasure it. I cannot push my faith or beliefs on anyone and can only share my experience with those who would truly appreciate how incredibly powerful and personal the experience was.
And though my journey was incredibly difficult and I lost almost everything I owned in the process, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I had lost sight what was important in life, my family and love, and as long as I preserve that, I will be happy. Life is a gift from God and we have the privilege to experience it on this beautiful world he has created. Being that it is a gift, I feel a responsibility to enjoy it and what brings me joy is seeing my family happy. Now that I feel genuinely happy and at peace with the world, I want to spread the joy to others. I want to direct any effort I can at bringing happiness and comfort to the people who need it most. There is an infinite amount of riches in this world but you only have a limited amount of time. I value my time so much more now than I had before and realize it can be used to spread happiness and love so others can enjoy the world and the gift that God has given us.
It was having children years later when I was in my early 30’s that finally brought me back: I think I left my faith in college in something that was much more about a power struggle with my father. His insistence on my church attendance became the flash point. I dug in my heels and refused. In the years afterwards, every time I might have felt the pull of faith, all it took was a mention from my father and my heels were dug in again.
I got married in a church to a man of the same faith, but we never attended on Sundays. It was having children years later when I was in my early 30’s that finally brought me back. I wondered what we were going to pass on of a faith that was so important to both of us as children. I never mentioned it to my father, but I began going back to Church and sort of fell in love with an adult faith life. I had a sense that Jesus was my companion in life and that we were walking this path together.
I am so grateful for the grace to open my heart to my faith life and to Jesus. I have been greatly enriched in my life and my husband and I have been active in our church for years.
The stories of development have been astounding and so comforting to hear from all.
Thank you. The journeys themselves are a blessings. God laid the path to faith. All must try to follow. We are are all as believers in this together.
The real challenge of faith development is to decrease the use and action of the word " I"
and increase of the word "they" or "Him" in all actions each day. Through this hard unnatural but simple way of life , faith is greatly increased and inherently present in lives. Why do WE not proceed this way more each day in OUR lives......... This way is difficult and against seemingly normal ways of the world but simple and was His way.
-- Jody B., Texas
Each and every day, she lived a life of trust in God. She surrendered her worries and anxieties to God:
I was just at a wake service where several children of a beloved woman gave witness about her life. The church was full of parishioners who obviously regarded this woman with great affection. Enjoying the stories of faith sharing on your website, I thought I’d add this simple Year of Faith reflection.
What these children were saying about their mother was so profound. She lived her faith completely. It wasn’t something she did on weekends, or something she pulled out when she needed God for something. Each and every day, she lived a life of trust in God. She surrendered her potential worries and anxieties to a faith that God was with her and wanted her to be with others. She was always positive. That’s easy to say, but it really was true in her. She saw the good in everyone. She was incredibly generous and thoughtful in many ways. She was almost fiercely dedicated to sharing her faith with her children and grandchildren. I loved the way they described it. She had discovered the source of happiness and joy in life and it was her greatest possession. And, because of that, material things and status just didn’t seem to matter to her. What mattered was that she share this treasure with those she loved. Sometimes faith is seen most clearly at the end of a faith-filled life. I picture our Lord embracing her and saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enjoy the Kingdom prepared for you by my Father.”
I let Jesus pick me up as He stretched His hand of salvation down to me. I opened my arms and my heart literally, and received His gift of forgiveness, grace and salvation:
One day a friend of mine came to me and said Jesus had talked to her and told her she needed to tell me something. She was very nervous about telling me but said she had to be obedient to The Lord and she was sick at her stomach over procrastinating telling me. I told her to please tell me because I needed a Word from God because I was feeling very inadequate and alone and worthless. She told me Jesus said to tell me that I had offended Him. He said He had been trying to give me a beautiful gift and I kept shrugging it off and wouldn’t receive it. She said she remembered how beautifully wrapped the present was.She said she didn’t know if I knew what it meant, but she knew she had to tell me because The Holy Spirit had told her to do so. I said I knew exactly what it meant.
It was God’s Grace. I had been reaching up as high and hard and far as I possibly could, trying so hard to reach God in my strength and to please God enough and do enough to reach God. I never felt I ever reached Him or held on to Him very long. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that the problem had been I had been reaching up to Him instead of me letting Him reach down and pick me up and carry me to Him like He was trying to. It took Jesus reaching down to me, not me reaching up to Him. As long as I kept trying to earn my way up to Him and kept trying to reach Him through my power and strength, I would never reach Him.
Of course I was not worthy, strong, or deserving enough on my own to be in God’s presence or ever righteous enough to reach Him in my power. At that time, I let Jesus pick me up as He stretched His hand of salvation down to me. I opened my arms and my heart literally, and received His gift of forgiveness, grace and salvation. I repented to Jesus for trying to save my self and for treating His gift to me of His grace so flippantly and for rejecting the gift He had so often offered me. I was no longer struggling, jumping, and falling trying to reach higher and higher to obtain Him, He in His mercy had reached down to me and I walked into His hand and He picked me up and brought me to Himself and saved me.
I have had such a peace since then that I never had before. Until that time I always worried if I was really saved or not. Now I am certain I am, because I know JESUS SAVED ME!!!!! Praise The LORD!!!! I know I am saved eternally because JESUS sealed me with THE HOLY SPIRIT and because JESUS only had to die once to pay for every single sin ever committed and He has already done that and was raised from the dead by GOD, His Father, and is sitting at GOD’s right hand. HE will come back soon. Those who have received Him and His grace, salvation, and forgiveness, who have believed in Jesus as our Savior and trusted Him to save us, will be resurrected to live with God The Father, Jesus The Son, and The Holy Spirit throughout eternity. We will go to heaven and be in God’s presence forever.
-- Love in CHRIST, Jennifer O.
I carry a sense now that I am put on earth to be with Jesus:
I think the most important thing I have grown into with my faith is how deeply God loves me. As a child God was a distant but benevolent figure. I think it was following Jesuit spirituality (even though I am not Catholic) that gave me that deep feeling that the Father absolutely loves me deeply and has loving plans for me – and knows me intimately. I carry a sense now that I am put on earth to be with Jesus and to work with him here on earth.
This may be the greatest faith gift I have received.
When I am down on myself I feel an elevation I am being lifted right up in Gods hand to be comforted: I have a great relationship with Jesus Christ my King. First also with the father. He gives me life, health and strength daily. And loves me because he is my creator. I lost out when I became more interested in the world and the things of the world. I look around and see God everywhere. His big hands, His face, his experiences, etc. Because Jesus said to saul why prosecute me? He was talking about us. He lets us know that he is in each one of us, so when you smile and say I love you I know God is expressing his love through me, you or whatever. When I go throughout my day I know I am living the life Christ died for because he left his spriit here with me that I can be guided all the time. I make a lot of mistakes. This is when I know God is in control. I know there are times I put people before me. This is when God shows how he returns the blessing tenfold. I can't lose for what God use. And when I am down on myself I feel an elevation - I am being lifted right up in God's hand to be comforted. I got the power of the Holyspirit right here in me and around me. The breath that I breathe he continually blows in my nostrils. He Loves me, you and all of us. Remember God gave His son to his children US. Thank you God In Jesus Christ Name.
God led me to the neighbourhood Catholic church – I thought I could worship God and not be disturbed by others there. What I found was incredibly powerful liturgy:
I am not a cradle Catholic; in fact, God called me to the Catholic expression of the Christian faith rather late in my life. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love God and turn to God for everything. When I was a small child I was afraid of the dark and always found comfort imagining myself on God’s lap or being comforted in the arms of Jesus. I attended church and Sunday School alone as my parents made certain of this although they didn’t accompany me. When I was a teenager I changed churches and my parents began attending with me – this brought me great joy.
I was married to a minister for thirty-seven years. For many of those years I attended retreats at a Jesuit retreat centre and was welcomed very warmly although I was not Catholic. When my spouse decided to move on to another relationship, I lost my church connection as well. I needed to decide where I would attend church that next Sunday and God led me to the neighbourhood Catholic church – I thought I could worship God and not be disturbed by others there. What I found was incredibly powerful liturgy that was based on Scripture and a priest who loved our Lord with his whole heart. I kept returning and eventually I moved to another city and joined RCIA in the local parish there. I am now privileged to serve God on the RCIA team in our parish.
God has brought me on an incredible spiritual journey. Although I was very saddened by my husband leaving and it was certainly not what I would have wanted for my life, God has used this to help me to minister to the wounded and vulnerable. I could not ever have imagined the amazing life that God would provide over the past ten years. I am filled with gratitude to our Lord and desire only to be in deeper relationship with God so that I can bring God’s love to others.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a bit of my faith story and to be nourished by reading the journeys of others.
-- Lynda from Canada
My experience of Vatican II was that it brought our relationship with God, closer to us.
When I went to a Catholic grade school in the 1950’s, everything in the Church was pretty stable. All the teachers in our school were sisters. We went to daily Mass. I remember getting a missal for my birthday and how much I loved following the Latin Mass with that missal – Latin on one side and the English on the other. Pope Piux XII was Pope and I remember when he died and vividly remember Pope John XXIII being elected Pope. The previous Pope had been the Pope through almost all of my parents’ lives. The idea of a new Pope was an extraordinary thing. I remember thinking that Pius XII was thin and somewhat serious looking. I remember the adults around me commenting that John XXIII was rounder and seemed to be smiling all the time. He exuded warmth. Little did we know the changes he would begin to bring.
The announcement about Vatican II came when I was in this very stable Catholic world. I didn’t have any idea what Pope John XXIII meant when he talked about “opening the windows.” I had no idea what needed renewing or updating. It all seemed fine to me. Everyone around me seemed happy. People didn’t talk about their faith. It was in the air we breathed. I remember the period when we would begin our school day with a prayer for Vatican II, even before the Council began. And, I remember one of the sisters telling us that we shouldn’t worry, because the Council wouldn’t change much. She told us that the beauty of the Church was that it was never changing. She assured us that they might put a few parts of the Mass in English, but that the “Canon of the Mass” (the Eucharistic Prayer) would “never be in English.”
My experience of what Vatican II brought, as I grew up in the transition, was that it brought our faith, our relationship with God, closer to us. As the Liturgy was transformed, what was really transformed was how much we were connected with it. I wasn’t sitting in the pew, “attending” or watching Mass at which the altar boys responded to the priest in Latin. We were all interacting with the priest who was facing us. Gradually, I was deeply aware that my father became a Lector and read the readings. He eventually became a permanent deacon and a hospital chaplain.
As an adult, I remember learning to pray, rather than simply reading prayers from my missal. I remember the first time I experienced praying with others, where we shared experiences of faith with each other and supported each other in our faith.
A lot has changes over the past 50 years – some of it quite regrettable. But, I am so very grateful for the incredible transformation the Holy Spirit brought to our faith and our community of faith life through the renewal of Vatican II. Good Pope John XXIII really did open the windows for us.
My faith story is not a straight line. I grew up in a Catholic home, complete with the externals of faith, but with a lot of drinking, fighting and keeping up with whoever else we thought had more than we did. It was when I got to college that I put aside my faith, just like I left behind my family and friends. My independent years were fun and without many values. I saw my past as repressive and controlling. Freedom was what I wanted. Even though I judged my parents’ drinking, I drank a lot, I experimented with drugs and sexual experiences, as a sign of my freedom.
My first brush with faith happened when I got married. My husband wasn’t very religious either, but since both our families were, we had a Catholic wedding, even though we lied to the priest about our living together and our not going to Mass ever. The first conversation we had about faith was when our daughter was born. The pressure was on from our families to baptize her and to raise her as a Catholic, as we had promised the priest. I suppose with a little guilt, and with some sense of obligation, we did baptize her, as well as our other children, but we didn’t go to church.
One day, I’m not sure how it happened, some other “former Catholics” told us a “mega church” in the suburbs that we just “had to” experience. So, we went there, with our kids. It was really wonderful at first. The large stage was complete with a small orchestra and lots of lights. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable. The singing was something everybody did. We liked the fact that, though the service was quite long, there was fellowship afterwards and information about lots of programs for the separated and divorced or for windows and for youth. We didn’t take advantage of them, but we kept going.
As time went on, something quite unpredictable happened to us. We began to talk about our experience and about what we both felt was “missing.” Gradually, the words came to us. We were Catholics. Even though we hadn’t taken our faith seriously or practiced it at all, we were still Catholics, and being in this really fine religious world, we realized that we missed the “sacramental life” of the Catholic tradition.
So, we started to go to a parish where we heard some friends of ours were happy. Almost immediately, we felt at home. The Mass was more engaging than we remembered. We notice how many people were involved. There was even a donut Sunday and activities for our kids.
The rest of the story is that both of us became involved in that parish and returned to being Catholics again. I now know God never left me, even though I “went away” for a while. I’m grateful to share this story of my faith journey today.
"We began to pray every morning as we had coffee in our bedroom."
When I look back, thinking of what about my faith I’d share, I think of a simple practice my husband and I began 30 years ago. It started with a parish retreat we made together. It was about marriage. We weren’t having big marriage problems. But, the wear and tear of our being different from each other was beginning to show. I liked to talk about my experiences. We husband didn’t. I was more emotional. He wasn’t. You know the pattern. Well, at this retreat, they suggested that we pray together. My first thought was, “That’s too idealistic. In fact, it’s impossible.” But, the thing that attracted both of us – and became the compromise that made it work – was that we didn’t have to use words. All we had to do was sit together, at the same time, in the same place, each morning. Each of us was to pray individually, but to do it with each other.
So, we began to to pray every morning as we had coffee in our bedroom, in two easy chairs before the kids got up. This simple practice got us through all kinds of challenging bumps in the road. It got us through our child raising years and all through our empty nest years. Eventually, we did share some things. It began by our just talking about things in our day and stuff we were bringing to prayer. Eventually, the way a married couple does, we knew each other so well, that we knew what we were each talking to God about. This little practice became the center of our faith live and our private connection with each other, in faith, each day. Very few people ever knew we did it, but as I look back, it was the most important foundation of our faith throughout our adult married lives. I thought I’d take advantage of this wonderful web site to share it.
I reflect back on my life as five distinct decades:
I am a cradle Catholic, born in 1947, in Stockton California, residing in a government housing project called Sierra Vista. My Dad was a farm laborer and my Mother stayed home with six sons. My earliest recollection of our Faith is attending Catechism, The Baltimore version, in a neighbor’s garage. My clearest memory is that I existed to know, love and serve, God. In my adolescent mind that translated to being an Altar Server, and I’ve been serving Mass ever since for 65 years, most joyously at various Daily Mass Communities wherever I’ve found myself.
At age 65, I reflect back on my life as five distinct decades corresponding with the decades of the Holy Rosary. It was the Blessed Mother who interjected herself very early into my life by means of several family and other role models.
The first decade of my living Rosary is from about age 18 to age 28. The spiritual role model in my life then was my cousin a Carmelite Nun at Monasterio del Christo Rey in San Francisco. While Sister Elizabeth was experiencing her novitiate, I was spending five years in the Vietnam War. The letters I received from her are one of my few great treasures. She introduced me to The Little Flower, The Interior Castle, John of the Cross, and Saint Francis DeSales. I learned to pray the Our Father deliberately and slowly each time I took off on a Combat Mission. I had 124 missions over Laos and Cambodia, and was decorated with the Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Medals, three Commendation Medals, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal with fourteen battle stars. I think the Lord allowed me win these military decorations in threes to remind me of the Blessed Trinity.
The second Decade of my living Rosary is from about age 28 to 38. This is the time when I entered into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony with a holy virgin named Khampao, a Thailand rice farmer’s daughter, who escaped to the big city to become a seamstress. Her Dad was one of the holiest people I had ever seen. He was in the temple day and night. After listening to my story of the Catholic Faith, he agreed to permit me to marry his daughter. We were married three times (again the sign of the Holy Spirit) first in a Buddhist Ceremony, second at Catholic Mass, and finally at a Justice of the Peace to satisfy Thai Law. We had three children.
The third decade of my living Rosary are the years age 28 to 38. My wife (nickname Prow) and I attended Cursillo Weekends and had our metanoia experiences at the same time. This time period corresponded to my early Air Force Career, when I was an Intelligence Operations Specialist. There at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, resided another of my great spiritual role models, Deacon Ed, also a Chief Master Sergeant and head of the local Cursillo Community. Deacon Ed introduced me to The Liturgy of the Hours and sponsored my entry into the Knights of Columbus. The year was 1978.
The fourth decade of my living Rosary roughly covers the ages of 38 to 48. Prow and I found ourselves in Spain, where I was assigned to the USAFE Tactics School as Intelligence Librarian. Our three years in Spain brought us into intimate contact with the Blessed Virgin Mary. One unexpected morning, Prow woke up unable to see. She was stricken with Macular Degeneration. Doctors in Spain and Germany, and two of the best Military Hospital Facilities in Europe were at a loss to be of any help.
A few weeks later, Prow and I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. In a dream at the Hotel on the first night, Jesus appeared to Prow and told her to stop trying to worship Buddha and Him at the same time. He told Prow that she would be given back her sight after seven days. There was a second miracle given to Prow, even greater than the return of her sight. After leaving Lourdes, and on the seventh day, not only could she see as good as new, but she had the sudden capability to read English and the Scriptures perfectly. Her native language of Thai and her lack of formal education had been a stumbling block to studying the Faith. This was her true miracle at Lourdes.
Like the Acts of the Apostles, Prow and I gradually began referring to our travels and life experiences together as “We”. In our living Rosary decade #5, roughly our years from years 48 to 58, Prow and I experienced Cancer at the same time.
The plenitude of God’s gifts throughout this challenging time were amazing. Prow was comforted in her mastectomy by having a Thai exchange doctor perform the surgery. The doctor was a woman young enough to be our daughter, and she treated us as though we were her parents. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, the doctor said it was at such an aggressive stage that I had approximately five years to live. That was 2004. The day I showed up for my first radiation treatment I was accosted by a woman I recognized from Daily Mass at the Base Hospital Chapel. Lennie assured me that my cancer was all but taken care of. She insisted that I come to dinner at her house that evening. When I arrived for dinner there were about fifty people reciting the Rosary for me. After the Rosary concluded, they all laid hands on me and left.
The doctor explained all the procedures to me over dinner and launched me on a treatment program of forty five radiation sessions and two years of hormonal injections. As a practical matter, Prow and I visited our hometown funeral parlor to make final arrangements for ourselves just in case. It was so funny, we both were full of joy and confidence, but the funeral Parlor lady couldn’t stop crying.
In the year 2012, it’s been eight years since our cancer experiences, and we’re both in total remittance. We never thought we’d be voting in the 2012 Presidential Election.
The highlights of my spiritual life was to consecrate myself to Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 8th, 2007. I found myself ministering to the small group of twenty pilgrims, and I delighted in serving Mass each day for the priest who had headed up our delegation.
Prow and I are now retired from two careers, a Chief Master Sergeant and his partner in the Air Force and a Juvenile Hall Counselor for fifteen years.
The Creighton University Devotional Website has been instrumental in my new life’s vocation of prayer. I feel like I know many of the contributors after being a devoted follower for some time. I love you all, but special love goes to Father Larry Gillick for his Sunday reflections, and to Father Dennis Hamm for his retreat talks.
-- Frank & Prow C, California USA
I had been away from the church for many years (approx. 30 years). My parents left the church when I was 12. At the time, I did not understand. I was enrolled in a Confirmation class but, was unable to complete due to my parents leaving the church. I still to this day do not understand why they left. It is still a touchy subject and they do not like to discuss it.
Through my teenage and young adult life I always longed to go back to the church, I just did not know how. I did not know if they would accept me and I was afraid. Through my work I found a dear friend who is a devout Catholic. I finally gained the courage to ask her how I could come back to the church. She was so encouraging and inviting I gained the confidence to return. I started going by myself at first. Eventually my brother and his family joined me. Their children have since all been baptized in the Catholic faith and have received First Communion and Confirmation. My husband has also joined me. He was not raised in the church and his family does not attend. He says that he enjoys coming with me every Sunday. I pray that someday he will have the desire to take the RCIA and become a Catholic. I have had many trials in my life since coming back to the church. I have had family trials and health issues. I have had many signs from God that I am in the right place. I do not know what I would have done these past few years without the church and my faith.
I had to discover God's love for me...
I was brought up in a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools and colleges. I was drawn to God but, as was common at that time (I am 74), had an image of a God who was frightening. The emphasis on sin, especially mortal sin, terrified me. I entered religious life. Why? That's complicated: a mixture of wanting to give myself to God and a hope that in so doing I could avoid hell, maybe. I suffered from depression and after 81/2 years was advised to leave. I didn't want to but that was my real giving up of everything. I had to leave religious life to discover God's love for me. It took many years but was worth the wait. Later I became a spiritual director and retreat director and my life is guided by Ignatian spirituality. The second half of my life has been a joyful relationship with the God whom I had served always but without the freedom and love which he desired for me.
I started being responsible for my relationship with my God
My faith story is a simple one. I grew up with the faith my parents handed down to me – through their own example and practice and through the schools they sent me to. Of course, during my “independent thinking” years, I talked about resisting “Church teaching” here and there – mostly when it called me to do something I didn’t want to do. As I got older, even though life threw me some challenges, I think my faith got simpler and more about returning to what I’d learned when I was younger-. I feel grateful that my parents’ way of handling crises was to turn to their relationship with God. I heard my mother say so many times, “I don’t know how people without faith can handle really hard things like this.” When I faced some hard things in my life – the stuff that takes your breath away – I just found myself leaning on God’s love and fidelity (and at times, the ultimate promise of eternal life) just to get through. Most of the time, it has been very consoling. I sometime hear people blaming God, or angry at God for stuff. I usually say a prayer of gratitude to my friend and companion, who I know must understand their pain.
God was already in my life, loving me
I was so far from God for so many years because of my own arrogance. I didn’t realize that I would really be happier if I was more aware that God was already in my life, loving me, despite my years of ignoring God. Thank you, God for the grace to open my heart and thank you for the great happiness in my life since then.
One small faith memory of Vatican II...
It is wonderful to reflect as an adult on the changes we lived during
the early implementation of Vatican II documents and inspirations and to feel a community
praying together for our Church today.
Yesterday, a group of about 50 persons met for the first of St. John's adult faith-sharing series to commemorate
Vatican II. Participants are reading John O'Malley, SJ's book. I am so glad I went.
Mike Lawler told amazing detailed stories remembering the names of so many theologians
and key actors he met while studying in Rome during the opening session.
I am very grateful for the Holy Spirit working in Pope John XXIII and all who made
possible the gathering of 2,500 bishops representing for the first time, all parts of the world.
As a facilitator of group process and planning, I am in awe of the amount of behind-the-scenes
work that went into the preparation and deliberation on the documents.
Mike said that the bishops used the 2/3 process rule for voting as the level of
consensus that they needed to reach in order to accept or reject a document draft.
I loved hearing about those details and felt inspired to continue to work in groups
with others of faith to discern actions to reconcile and build up the reign of God today.
I felt consoled when Mike told us that the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. took 200 years to implement!
It helped get some perspective.
One small faith memory of Vatican II's early impact in my life is of my first experience worshiping in a non-Catholic
church. Our parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary in West Allis, Wisconsin, organized a prayer service
with our neighboring Lutheran church. It was during Lent. I was so moved by the unity and shared faith I experienced
that day. I loved a song based on Psalm 51 that I learned that day and still pray with it every time I swim (pretty regularly these days!)
This may sound “pius,” but my faith has really been formed by Mary, Jesus and a lot of Saints. Somehow, along the way and without anyone really tell me this as far as I can remember, I felt drawn to human beings who seemed to get it right. Today I would say, the balanced or “holy” life is attractive and has helped offer me a model. It doesn’t mean I’m a saint, in any way. It just means that if I see something attractive as a holy way of life, I am drawn to try to imitate that. So, when Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord,” I know I’ll never be able to say that as perfectly as she did, but I’m attracted to want to do live that way. When hear one of the gospel stories about Jesus’ being comfortable with poor people, I grow in my desire to be more like that. When I read the story of one of the saints who was particularly courageous or who became a really outstanding witness to his or her faith, even when persecuted, I’m inspired to hope I could so that some day.
Steven in Uganda:
This Faith Sharing Page gave me an opportunity last night, to look back at my faith journey. It has been such a long journey! And, it took me at least 2 hours to try and rewind it back into my memory. I came to realize so many moments which I think were land-marks in my faith journey, but first came this situation that happened in my teen years.
As a child, I was brought up in a strongly Catholic family, and our parents did so much to guide us and help us appreciate the catholic faith. Daily prayer, reciting the family Rosary and attending daily Mass (if circumstances allowed), were part of the normal activities at home. I was baptized as a young child of course so I remember nothing about my baptism, but at least my memory recounts the day I received my first communion. After attending Sunday School lessons for some time, and having passed the exam, I was almost denied the Sacrament since the Priest felt I was still young. I remember crying so hard that the priest had to give in and allow me to partake the Eucharist.
When I was older enough to join a boarding school, I was taken to a Preparatory Seminary and the programs here were favorable enough to enable everyone keep on the faith track. For example, there was always a bell to wake us up for morning Mass, and all activities we programmed so well for us that we only had to find ourselves in the right place at the right time! I got my confirmation towards the end of my 2 years at this preparatory seminary. I was 12 years then.
Things did not change so much in my early secondary school days since I was now in a minor seminary. The program was almost the same; daily Mass, evening prayers in the chapel, monthly confessions, occasional silent retreats, observing the Lent and generally following all the church calendar. Yes, sometimes I had to be part of all this with a push on my back. May be at this time, I must have been taking my faith for granted! Did I have a personal attachment to my faith? May be, may be not! Either I was still young to realize or I had not got any opportunity to experience it all alone. My duty was to wait for a bell, and then try to be where am supposed to be. The atmosphere at home was not so much different from that at school, other than the bells. At home Mom was always there to knock on our bedrooms. I do not regret all these, in fact I thank God that I was offered such a childhood. I know it is upon this foundation that my faith journey still stands.
The last 2 years of my secondary school years, or A’LEVEL as it always known, ushered me into a different way of life, but which to my surprise, came with a personal knowledge and appreciation of my catholic faith. I remember Dad coming home one evening and telling me that I had been offered a vacancy to go and study at (N ) high school. At this school, they had offered me exactly the subjects I wanted to study, so though N high school was never on the list of schools I thought I would attend, I was consoled by the fact that at least I will study what I want. Though N high school was one of the powerful schools around, it was not a catholic school and I thought my parents would not allow me join it. The Issue of it being a non-catholic school was not my problem at least.
In a matter of days, I found myself in this school ready to start my 2 years journey. What struck me first was the number of students in this school. It was all crowds everywhere! While in these seminary schools I had attended we were always less than 200 students, this high school now had a population of close to 2000 students.
At the very first assembly, I got to know that this was largely a protestant school. I remember praying for the first time without making the sign of the Cross, and mind you this was outside the chapel. There was no chapel at this school, only an Anglican Parish Church was located nearby the compound. The next morning, I realized there is no bell to wake me to go to the chapel for morning Mass or prayers. From my bed, I was supposed to go to class for my morning preps and then wait for breakfast. Once at table for our meals, we were not all supposed to remain standing and wait for the grace before meals! Everyone prayed on their own if they so wished. Everything was quite different. Worse still, I got to learn that 80% of the people around me were Anglican, and for a few days I was shy of going around with the Rosary around my neck. I had to carry it in my pockets at least.
I vividly remember my first Sunday at this high school. It was a tough experience for me after learning that they will be no Sunday Mass for me. There was no catholic chaplain coming to this school, and though an Anglican Church was nearby in the compound, everyone would go if they wished. Sunday Mass or any other prayers were not part of the school program, other than the prayers we occasionally had on assembly.
It is at this time that I realized I was all alone to practice, develop and appreciate my catholic faith. I remember the next week, I was strong enough to put the Rosary back around my neck, and at assemblies I would proudly make the sign of the cross at the beginning and end of prayers. Of course this sometimes meant other students laughing at me or throwing funny words. I did not give it all attention! I remember during that week, I was approached by 2 other students who told me they were also Catholics, and on Friday that week I led them to the Head Teacher’s office to seek permission for us to be able to go out of the school premises on Sundays and attend Mass at a nearby parish. Thank God the permission was given to us, with a comment from the Head Teacher that “Catholics in this school have never shown interest in this”.
It was not a short distance from school to the catholic parish. We had to walk almost 2 hours. I remember on the Sunday we first left school to attend Mass, we were 6 students. We walked there for the next 3 subsequent Sundays until now on behalf of the other students, I approached one of the priests in this parish and asked him to always come and give us Sunday Mass at school. He only replied,” If you will be more than 20 students”.
Back at school, I wrote an announcement at one of our general Monday assembly and asked all the catholic students to meet at a given place that Thursday evening. I was surprised when almost 100 students turned up. I told them about the proposal of a priest coming from the nearby parish to give us Mass every Sunday. We even started meeting weekly to prepare the Liturgy for the Mass and recite the Rosary together.
God gave us the grace and we became a significant group in this community at N high school. We were given one of the classrooms and it acted as our chapel and meeting point. The nearby catholic parish easily put is on their program, and they made it possible to always assign a priest for us. With time, we almost got all services we needed as catholic students.
By the time I left this school, arrangements were being made for a Catholic Bishop to come for the very first time and give a Sacrament of confirmation in this school.
In all this situation, my faith became strong. On a personal level, I started being responsible for my relationship with my God and appreciated my being a catholic.