Author: Rick S.
I am a cradle Catholic. My mom and dad provided a good foundation to me when I was growing up. I used to serve as an altar boy. Then I went to college and misbehaved there a bit and strayed from my faith, though I still went to church. But I always had a heart for the poor – those who had no voice. I tried to be their voice, having grown up in a poor, humble family myself. I was involved with Northern Colorado’s immigrant farm workers and became very angry with the establishment and the world, seeing their cycle of poverty. I tried to help those poor people and taught their kids English and other practical skills. After that opportunity ran out, I had nothing else to do, so I started to drink and party without much purpose in life. The people I hung out with had bad habits and those habits soon became mine too...
I worked though and tried to be a responsible employee, along with my brother who worked for the same company. We used to go out after work. One day, we drove separate cars after getting two or three bears each. He got pulled over. I was worried about him and kept going around a block, checking on him. Of course, I was soon pulled over too. They took both of us to a nearby hospital for a blood test. We got DUI tickets and driving class time, but didn’t have to go to jail. Still, my life went down the hill from there because of the consequences of my DUI and the associated shame. I was in poor shape.
Deacon Chuck knew about my struggle and made me an offer: “I’ll give you a money back guarantee. There will be a Catholic Charismatic conference in Albuquerque, NM, go check it out. If you don’t like it, I’ll give you your money back.” I never heard of anything Catholic Charismatic until then. And I don’t know what hit me, I took Chuck up on it. That was about 25 years ago. At the conference, there were three or four thousand people praising God. I was drawn in. Their music, preaching, praying in tongues, and Mass captivated me. It was really something - I’d never seen Catholics doing THIS before! But now I know that our Pope supports Catholic Charismatic Renewal. God healed my anger at that conference and I became very hungry for God and His Word. During breaks, I went to their book sale and wanted to buy every book there. They also had the Baptism in the Spirit, so I went with all the newbies to receive it. The guy next to me went down to rest in the Spirit. I wanted to get a doctor right away! But I was told not to worry because this was OK. As for my experience when I was prayed over, the Holy Spirit came alive for me, though I must admit that I focused on digging my toes and heels into my shoes to stay upright. I know that it’s not a sign of weakness to rest in the Spirit – people who do obviously experience so much peace!
Mass came alive for me afterwards, I was no longer just going through the motions of Catholic aerobics. Especially the Eucharist became very personal for me. I remember getting carried away at the first Mass after my first conference – when they said “peace be with you”, I’ve grabbed the lady next to me and gave her a hug. Oh, but she didn’t recognize where I was coming from!
You know, in my pew at church, I used to just expect to be fed and was never into stepping out and feeding others. But God has ways of moving me. He gave me courage. Now I am starting to venture out at my church of St. Dominic. I joined a book club and other small groups and am hoping to bring a Life in the Spirit Seminar to that church soon.
The praise and worship at the church of the Holy Apostles energizes me for the rest of the week, especially when the world beats me up. After the praise and worship, I can go back and fight a good fight again. People here became like my family, like my brothers and sisters.
My prayer life has changed dramatically too. I like to practice Lectio Divina when I read the Holy Scripture every morning. The Holy Spirit makes the scriptures come alive for me, He teaches me about their meaning. I become free when I pray, it’s like a conversation with God, well beyond the limits of formalized prayers like Our Father and Hail Mary that I learned in my childhood. I also like to go to Perpetual Adoration at 3:0 A.M.
I still get angry at times when I get stuck in traffic, or just because the world is a mess. But I don’t hold onto my anger anymore. Instead, I pray, asking the Lord to free me from it. I no longer give angry gestures but pray for people who cut me off in traffic. I have matured and progressed in the way I handle this now. My life just keeps growing with the Lord and I’ll probably keep at it until I grow old and die.
So, I did not ask Chuck for my money back. My life has changed radically for the better and I am grateful for it.