Friday, March 13, 2009

What drove you "into the deep"?

Now that there are hundreds of regular readers of this blog all over the world, I wonder if we can begin a kind of dialogue about our journey to God. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux has described several degrees or stages of love in our spiritual journey.  At the beginning of this quest a person discovers God as their highest good, and serves him for the benefits they receive.  In another stage, the good of God is realized and pursued out of love for God himself.  Finally, love for God is all consuming, and all are loved for God and in God.  If you are interested in anything on this blog, you are likely in one of these stages. So, this as a given, I would like to pose a question to you.  I am not looking for eloquence or perfect sentence structure - just stories - about your faith - real reflections about your path to God.

Here's the question:  What was the catalyst for you?  What drove you deeper into your faith?   It is hard for me to imagine that this blog would be interesting to those who have yet to feel compelled to dig deeper in their faith.  Why are you compelled?  What happened?  Who prodded you deeper?  What life event helped you to see that you were made for more?

For me, in large measure, it has been the gift of suffering.  When you experience suffering at a young age, it either shatters you, or makes you ask questions.  In my case, it was both.  Death of loved ones, abuse, physical trials, one medical procedure after another... it all pointed me to the inescapable fact that I could be face to face with God at any moment.  Life is fragile and fleeting.  Yet, there is something about life and living that puts us to sleep spiritually.  We just assume that we will rise tomorrow for another day.  For me, hard circumstance has shattered this illusion.  This drives me deeper.  It drives me to an obsession with the ultimate questions of life.  At this point, I have no doubt about what is truly real and important.  This does not mean that I don't get sucked into the temporal; unfortunately it happens every day.  However, I know that without Christ, without prayer, without the Eucharist, and the Church, all else has absolutely no meaning.  However, with Christ, all of life can and will be redeemed.  Every storm can and will give way to a new and beautiful dawn.  

So, enough about me.  What is your story?  Why have you ventured "into the deep"?

In Christ, Dan


  1. Hi Fr., for me it was originally going to see JP2 at the age of 12, then aged 22 going to Mass with to keep my girlfriend company, then latterly a car crash in 2002. I screamed "NO!" as the car tumbled ther or four times down an embankment at 60mph. This was the first real "prayer" I had uttered in years, it was answered instantly as two fencepost crashed through the windscreen missing my head by inches, then the car landed right way up, the momentum opened the door for me, and I stood up with only a scratch to me left elbow. Thanks be to GOd, message was received! I was converted instantly, within a year I was charing Parish Council meetings and had met my wife to be at Lourdes. Thank you for this post as it has made me "count my blessings".


  2. Derek - this is an amazing story. God is good. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. To say God's been driving me 'into the deep' since I was a boy would be simplistic. But I am a 'cradle catholic', was an altar boy at an early age thru high school. In college (military academy) I tried to go to Mass daily. In the Navy I was the lay minister on a ship without a chaplain. Today, I am a daily commmunicant, try to go to confession regularly, am a catechist, involved in men's prayer groups, facilitate some youth programs(secular & faith related), and go on a couple of retreats/spiritual exercise per year, (oh yeah, as an afterthought, I've been happily married 25 years and have a wonderful family and some good friends).

    I only provide these 'details' to give a sense that I have been and am involved in my faith. there have been no 'road to damascus' moments or have not lived a life of JOB (as I make sign of cross).

    But has my involvement in 'faith' been all that deep and integral to my life. A part of me says yes another part of me says no/maybe... so what... is all this all that important (vs house, money, power, happiness). Ultimately I come to a very clear yes...

    And then I say OK, so what I any 'good' and being a Christian. I have sinned and continue to sin and what good am I doing [for Christ] right now.

    So with all this...why am I still searching for a deeper relationship with Christ or a more committed faith life...because ultimatley I have my weaknesses and commit sins that convict me almost everyday and so I continue try to find that path that minimizes my weaknesses, builds up my strengths, encourages me, conforts me, inspires me, not just in my spiritual life, but simply in my whole life...and that path is Christ.

    Sometimes I wish it weren't so, because its easier just to go along with whatever. But...someone continues to drive me 'into the deep', and I continue to sit in the passenger seat...its been a great ride so far, it can only get better.

  4. May that drive continue - Christ is obviously at work in you...

  5. I am a "cradle Catholic", who then became a "cafeteria Catholic" who would only pray in times of struggle. But it was only in my adult years as a wife and especially as a Mom that I felt a responsibility to learn more about what it means to be Catholic. When I allowed God to show me the truth that is revealed through the Catholic Church, I then had a hard road of reconciliation. I wallowed in self pity, and false humility for awhile. It was a women's retreat that I was given the opportunity to reflect and prepare a richer soil to hear God's word, this was when I realized that like the woman who meets Jesus at the well, he could and would use me, even though I am a sinner. That was my wake up call, to come to know Christ deeper and I have not turned back since, there is no going back.

  6. Thank you for this awesome resource to grow in the spirtitual life. I am in my 30's and was a cradle catholic. There are so many different moments that have helped to deepen my journey. I lost my father at a young age which made me depend more on God. We recently lost one of my family members in a tragedy, which again made me trust more in the Lord. Sometimes life can be such a blessing, and it other times the journey is so difficult. Through it all God is there with us. I had many other struggles throughout my life, and I just pray that I can be faithful to the end. Something that rejuvenates me are retreats, pilgrimmages, keep me focused and find Christ in a deeper way. God bless all you are doing.

  7. Tima - I like your last few words. "There is no going back."

  8. Anonymous - thank you for your kind comments. Keep up the good fight. He is worthy.

  9. One incident that drove me towards God was when I was in my early 30's. One of my clients was a young Jewish woman. She was very young--about 19 and an Orthodox Jew. She got married to a young man (a marriage arranged by her parents) and began her family. It made me think of how so many other 19 year olds were not making that sacrifice to live out their faith with their entire lives. It made me look at my own life and drove me to re-examine how I lived my Catholic faith. There is so much richness there that I had thrown away and ignored.

  10. I had a very close relationship to Christ when I was little. I had my first communion when I was five. In grade one, my favorite activity was going to the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament with my best friend. We lived in a small town, on the same street as the Church, and we would go on our own, without our parents.

    Then I was educated in a convent that was heavy with Jansenism and dire threats of imminent nuclear death by the hands of Our Lady of Fatima if I did badly on a spelling test, didn't know my verbs, missed an assignment or didn't keep my desk clean.

    At 14, I was up against the wall, and confronted with a choice: a distorted religion, or life. I chose life.

    Without Christ...

    but He never abandoned me. He brought me through a journey where I discovered the freedom and inherent dignity of every human being that is seeded in the Gospel and the validity of the Beatitudes. I learned first hand the futility of all of the false freedoms of contemporary life.

    I returned to Church, but stood on the sidelines, going to Mass, but not practicing. Loving Christ, but being fearful of the institutional Church. I gradually, over the years, lost my fear, wanting to get closer, and then He summoned me with a call so direct I was no longer able to resist and was fully reconciled in complete freedom after 30 years.

    God is good.

  11. Wow - Jansenism as in Cornelius Jansen? Where was that? Your story is fascinating. God is good!

  12. I'd drifted away from faith in God and had certainly lost all contact with any sort of organized religion. But I became aware that something was missing, and began to consider (a) whether God existed and (b) whether I thought He was something I wanted to connect to at all.

    I made up a sort of "job description" for God - what I thought God would be like - and began to look around for evidence of the existence of this God. One day I was in the garden picking green beans. I had a very small garden but filled up one bucket... and another... and another... and both sides of my double sink... and still had more beans to pick.

    Suddenly the light dawned for me, and I heard a though pass through my mind:

    Sue, if you're such hot *(#*@, go ahead and make just ONE bean.

    When I look back at my arrogance as I picked those beans, I'm humbled. And when I think back to my "job description" for God, I realize how paltry and insignificant that view of God was.

  13. NCSue - fascinating realization. Are you familiar with Romans Chapter One? It describes what you experienced. The reality of God is sufficiently revealed in creation to bring about a relationship with him...

  14. Fascinating question, and really one I can't answer clearly. I lost my faith when my Dad died when I was 20. And that was because of a professor who taught, in a theology class, that God is not all powerful and can't relieve suffering.

    I wandered around for years, looking for God and not knowing who He was, but He kept drawing me to Him. An anti-Catholic was the catalyst as she attacked one of the things at the heart of why I couldn't go "home" - Confession. Her attacks made me ask questions and learn WHY we believe what we do, and it made me also realize I was still Catholic (because I was so OFFENDED by what she said!). It took years, actually, but a few years after I met that person, I made a 12-year Confession. It was another 3 years before I went again, but at that time, I was finally ready to be home, and was so thirsty for God that I couldn't seem to stop learning and reading and seeking Him out. I remember praying, "God, please don't give up on me!" and...He didn't. He still hasn't.

    Now I'm half-way through a Master's in theology and seriously discerning religious life, and still seeking interior conversion; that will never stop. I've come to realize that nothing and no one can satisfy me. Only God. And His call hasn't been dramatic or limited to one event, but just constantly reaching out to me in answer to the prayer He inspired; that He would never give up on me.

    Sorry late on getting caught up!

  15. Adoro - fascinating story. God is very good.

  16. What drove me into the deep was Christ in the Eucharist. My first missions, the first time a knelt before him on the night of holly thursday, for the first time i was consious of the sacrifice He was making for me.

    What's kept me there was finding that He actually thought I was worth it and still am. The feeling that sticks in the soul and is constantly convincing me that He trully does love me and i'm His little girl.

  17. It's late to post this comment but I feel like sharing anyway. My mom divorced my alcoholic father when I was 4 and we were living in poverty-even though my mom was working 12 hour days at a factory to support us. When I was 6, she met a wonderful man who was Catholic and this started our wonderful experience into the open arms of the church. They married and I started recieving the sacraments when I was 8 and I can remember my baptism and first communion. Those were special times and my Godmother said I was an answer to her prayer. I never really understood what that meant, except that I had a responsibility which was very special. I also knew that I had been saved and brought up out of a lonely life thanks to Catholics who were living their faith and setting a good example.
    As a teenager, I got swept away with the worldly things of this life and began drinking.
    I quickly became an alcoholic-as my bio father was. The genetics and lifestyle combination proved to be almost deadly. I had turned my back willingly on the life that I had been blessed with. Years later, I met a man who is not Catholic but saw past the shambles I had made of my life and saw a worthy person underneath. We had gone on 3 dates when he realized I had a drinking problem and he told me he could not see me again b/c of this problem. I had been so down and out for so long and had isolated myself so much that for some reason I decided to get help with my problem. I joined AA and we ended up getting married. I started making my way back to the Catholic church after 5 years of sobriety. My shame at throwing away my gifts was (and still can be) overwhelming. The easier softer way seemed like Protestantism for several years. I have grown enough to "come home." I want to continue growing and sharing with other Catholics.

  18. Its never too late to tell your story - it is a beautiful one. May God bless you as you continue to fight your way deeper into the kingdom. He is real, present, and good - may He always be so to you.


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