As a boy my parents would take my siblings and me faithfully to Sunday Mass. I must admit that on many an occasion I either resented being dragged to Mass, or simply couldn't wait for Mass to end. I vaguely remember my first communion being dressed up in a special suit and having family and friends fuss all over me.
As I grew into a teenager and then a young man I drifted away from regular attendance at Mass, generally only returning for special occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Prayers would be limited to the necessary ones, although my belief in Jesus weakened at times, it always remained an important part of my life.
As a boy I twice served as an alter boy (now I wish I had raised to the occasion and done so much more often) and very much loved my uncle (my name sake) who was a Priest the first time he came to Canada from Europe to visit us. I never did see him say Mass, what a positive experience that would have been.
Upon my first year of marriage at the age of 31, I received a major promotion, moved into our first home, and had our first child, a beautiful daughter. My marriage was off to a great start! (My wife is not a Catholic, although she fully supports my efforts to raise our 3 children in the Catholic faith). Yet, something was missing, I just couldn't put my finger on it.
The conception of our third child and our only son was un expected and a complicated one where we could have easily lost the baby. I begged Jesus to spare our baby, the birth of our son a scant 18 months after the birth of our second daughter was celebrated with great joy!
As I grow older my love for Jesus grew deeper than what I can put into words, and continues to do so each and every day. A scant year and a half ago my beloved father was diagnosed with a condition that could if not checked threatened his life. I was in a total state of despair as I tried to come to grips with the risks and worry. One Saturday morning, in my office at home, I got on my knees, and begged Jesus with all my heart, with tears flowing freely for God to spare my father. I pleaded to God for help as I have never done before… in the middle of my grief and pleading, a sudden calm over came me, and a feeling like - don't worry - he will be all right! Even though at times I had my self-doubts, I did get the message right, my father came through the operation and is no longer at risk - thank God!
Not that long ago I returned to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in better than 20 years! Although I was nervous, and told the priest that I didn't really know how to go about this… with encouragement I confessed my sins and returned to the pew to pray. Much to my surprise I found tears flowing freely as I truly expressed to Jesus my sincere grief for having sinned against him and his Father - God. I left the church that evening with the feeling of a major weight lifted off my shoulders.
Attending Mass especially with my children being present has brought me great peace and deep meaning as I feel the love of Jesus all around us. On receiving Holy Communion I have opened my soul to God, I get shivers every time I welcome Jesus into my soul - a feeling that is so deep I can not find the words to truly explain this special time together. I actively seek out opportunities to participate in Mass and wish that circumstances would permit me to do so more often.
I am also very involved with a youth movement at the Timber Wolf Den level that is a Catholic faith based movement. We have taken our boys to Mass on a growing number of occasions. Sometimes our Timber Wolves act as Alter boys while in their uniform, others do the first and second reading, while others carry up the offerings. The ability to worship together, to see our Timber Wolves grow in their love and understanding of their Catholic faith and come closer to Jesus brings me a pride and sense of accomplishment that is also hard to explain. This special time together I know positively impacts our youth, and that of their leaders.
Last summer while hiking along a trail with 9 of my Timber Wolves I was at the back of the line with the Timber Wolves up front being better than 50 yards ahead. Without warning I got a very clear vision of a bear charging out of the brush beside the path, knocking down the two leading Timber Wolves and killing one as I ran up trying to beat the bear off the boys. It scared me so much I rushed up to the front of the line stopped the boys with the excuse that I wanted to take a picture. Moments after taking the picture, and as we turned around a baby bear cub crossed the path in front of us, no more than 5 feet away. We quickly made our exit from the area; a baby bear cub equates to a concerned mother bear that would attack anything that would come between it and its bear cubs. This vision from Jesus spared the life of two of my boys, one of them who could easily have been my son!
On closing, our Catholic faith, the ability to worship God's Son Jesus, to receive Jesus into our souls at each mass, along with the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift that no other faith can offer. As I grow older, my faith strengthens, I am so thank full for being a Catholic, to belong to the Church as built by Saint Peter as directed by our Lord Jesus Christ!
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