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Conversion

I grew up in a loving, Catholic home. We said the rosary every night and even did catechism training every week with my parents. Despite this, I still did not know who Jesus was or what he was for. Religion to me was rules, and if you kept the majority of them (a 51% on life’s report Card) then I would go to heaven. This was a dangerous mindset since I was unable to see God as a loving Father, but rather as a judge, who was only present in my sin and mistakes. Naturally I drifted quite far from the church over the course of high school and university, fulfilling myself with impure relationships, alcohol, and drug use. But at the back of my mind, I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I would feel guilty. But knowing that I could never be perfect, I resigned to only apologize to God, but made no real attempt to end this lifestyle. This continued until the summer before my second year at OttawaU. I was going through my “apology prayer” (which by this point was quite well-rehearsed), alone in my basement. But this this time, I couldn’t get over how cold and alone I felt. It was as if I wasn’t talking to anyone at all. In my panic, I cried out to Mother Mary, asking her to explain what was happening. The only answer I heard was “well, you’ve really hurt your relationship with God”. My heart stopped. I had no idea I even had a relationship with God, yet here I was hurting it with my behaviour. I thought my actions were only affecting myself. That moment, I swore to God I would fix myself, and make myself presentable and deserving of his love. Months of this guilt passed until I went to a retreat with CCO. I was excited for the weekend to begin, but that excitement was fleeting. As retreat goers began to arrive, I saw a genuine love and excitement they had. Everyone around me seemed to be in such great places with Lord, I just wanted to leave before someone found out I didn’t belong there. This feeling remained until the 2ndnight of the retreat, which was a night of adoration and confession. Feeling so burdened, I ran to confession. There, I lay out  everything, every sin I could think of; sins I had confessed before, everything. I wanted to give a true contrition for the first time in my life. I sat there in tears before the priest, waiting and hoping for a tough penance (so I could show God how sorry I was). But all Fr. he said was “there’s only one prerequisite to be a Christian, and that’s to be a sinner”. I was dumfounded. He went on to tell me about St. Paul who was the “worst sinner of them all”, who’s life was restored and he went on to become one the church’s greatest saints. Then Fr. Told me about the prodigal son, specifically when the son comes home in his lowest of lows, the Father comes running out to Embrace him. I had never been shown this side of God the Father before. Afterwards, I stumbled out of the confessional in a tear soaked daze, trying to find my way back to the adoration floor. I knelt before the Blessed Sacrament, where I was overcome with an overwhelming and penetrating warmth. It was an inexplicable feeling that I had never felt before or since, it was almost like a hug from God. After that encounter, I realized 2 things: How much I am loved by God the Father, and the manifestation of that love in the gift of Christ: the perfect sacrifice who died to take the burden of my sin. I realized not just the importance of Jesus, but the necessity of him. It was his death, and not my effort to be good or holy that unites me to my Dad.

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