Getting to Know Fr. Steven – Part 3

My dear friends,

For the sake of getting to know each other, I will continue from where I left off in last week’s bulletin, sharing with you more of the journey of my life. This is part 3 of the song I sing to God’s wonderful Mercy.

It was during my senior year in high school that my soul began to reawaken to the things of God and the Spirit. Together with one of my classmates I began to realize that the egotistical pursuit of machoism, and the selfish lifestyle of building happiness on the passing pleasures and things of this world, was leading no where. It was all vanity; a house built on sand. The seductive happiness promised by the secular culture was an illusion leaving me empty and discouraged. For years I had put on the outward appearance that all was OK, that I had it together, that I was ‘having fun.‘  Yet inside I felt so restless and lost, so tired of all the games one had to play to fit in, measure up, and be accepted. In the span of a few months, several things I had placed my trust in and to which I looked for happiness completely failed. The house I had built on sand was washing away, leaving me feeling very lost and helpless. Though painful, this is a very good place for us to be in if it takes us to God and makes us cry out to Him; and this is exactly what happened. I could have tried once again to seek that quick, temporary relief as I had done so many times before by crashing another party, finding a new girl friend, buying a new car or stereo system to top the previous one, etc. But there, before me, was my brother and his constant witness of New Life—because of his prayers and example I knew there was more, something much better. So I started to pray sincerely from my heart for the first time; seeking a God I did not yet know, and whom I needed so very much.

How beautiful is the mercy of God! I had kept God waiting for so many years, but when I called out to Him in my need I did not have to wait even a second—God was right there, ready to lift me up and bathe me in His mercy. Like my father describing his conversion, “I failed right into the arms of God.” I’ve always liked the way St. Augustine described the moment when his own life turned around, for at this crucial moment they became mine:

“Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved You!
You were within and I was without.
I was looking for You out there,
 throwing myself upon the things which You had made.
You were with me, yet I was not with You.
These things held me far from You.
You called and cried out and burst through my deafness;
You shone forth Your fragrance
and I drew in a breath, and now I pant for You;
I have tasted You, and now I hunger and thirst;
You touched me, and I was inflamed with desire for Your peace.”

The Confessions of St. Augustine, X

 In these early beginnings there was a Christian community of men and women who prayed with me to help me repent and give my whole life over to Jesus Christ. It was at this moment that I knew God was real, that He loved me deeply, and that everything was going to be OK. I also became deeply aware that I had to change my life, that I could not live as I had before. And so with God’s generous grace, and the help of my brother, my sister and other dear friends, I started to follow Jesus and live as a new creation in Christ. But this was only the beginning. This new journey of faith was to lead me rather quickly into the Catholic Church. In the next bulletin I will share with you how this happened.

God love you

 

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