“When the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the mountain smoking, they all feared and trembled. So they took up a position much farther away and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen, but let not God speak to us or we shall die.’ Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid, for God has come to you only to test you and put his fear upon you, lest you should sin.’” Exodus 20:18-20
I remember my childhood schooling in the early 1940’s and remember being fearful of God. I never knew he was a loving God, or that he answered prayer. I am sure that the instruction I received at that time made an impression on me and certainly made me fearful. It should have made me joyful but in those days, it was not the way religion was taught.
I wish I knew then the great sacrifice Jesus made for the world and me. I wish I had come from a home that spoke of God freely and lovingly. I did receive a foundation and I know my parents sacrificed to send my brothers and me to a private school, which was quite an achievement in those days for a family of little means. If it was not for that commitment to baptism and parochial schooling, I am sure I would not be where I am today. I commend my parents for their adherence to Catholic tradition in the family.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receive; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-11
Coming to know the real Jesus was not something that happened on some specific day or date. It was a gradual awakening of my spiritual self. It was like: I’ve seen the light and that light is Jesus, the light of the world. I now can see that a tremendous effort is being made in the church to bring the good news of the gospel, Jesus, to everyone.
He is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The gift He gave us transcends anything the world could give. Our hope is in Jesus. That is why it is so important to be active in the community where we are spiritually fed. We need not be alone on the journey of life. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are our support. I am thankful I have loving friends in the church.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, thing about these things.” Philippians 4:6-9
I would like to say that after I made this wonderful transition from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus, I became a perfect person. That hasn’t happened as yet but I am reminded of the scripture in Matthew 5:48 that says, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I know he wants me on that path to perfection. I believe He led me to many wonderful experiences within the church, especially WCF.
In the beginning I had no intention of staying with WCF because I was uncomfortable. I decided to remain in my discomfort because I wanted to see just what was going on. I am so grateful I stayed. The study program and the fellowship of the women inspires me. I know that Jesus is my Savior. He is my constant companion on my journey through life. I pray I will always be close to Him
“There is a time for everything under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
If I knew then what I know now, how different life would be. “Have you often wondered about that? Why didn’t the Lord reveal that to me sooner than now?” Sometimes we worry too much about what could have been and never live the grace of the moment—The Now.
I was ordained a priest and had high ideals and goals. I knew all the answers and was directed and motivated by good intentions, as I saw them. It was my plan and not the Lord’s plan. Then a parishioner came to pray for me. This was strange and odd. I should be praying over him and not vice versa. After all I was the priest and to be prayed over was something new for me.
I don’t know if it was out of fear or not being able to say “NO,” that I relented and submitted. As he came toward me I realized that he had something that I didn’t have even with all my degrees and training. He had a deep and personal love of Jesus Christ. All I knew was that I wanted that—a personal relationship with my Lord, Jesus.
He prayed with me and my life has never been the same. It changed and changed me. As I look back now, it was truly a miracle—a sovereign move of God in my life. The reason it didn’t happen earlier is because I was not ready. It is God’s timing—a Kairos time for me, and it is wonderful to behold.
-Fr. Mike Barry, SS.CC.