Thank You, Lord, for your holy priests!
When I think back to where I was eight years ago and where I am right now, I just wonder how I would have ended up if God had not brought into my life the blessing of Father Giovanni. I met Father in the confessional of my parish, a place I had not dared to visit for many years, not so much out of fear but because I truly thought that I was a lost case and my sins were unforgivable.
By late 2001 I was carrying the weight of five abortions, I was only twenty-four and I was convinced that my life had no meaning, no future. By the grace of God and the nagging of my mother for not having received the Sacrament of Confirmation, I resolved to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. Now, I see that it was through taking that one step back to God, that He began to put everything and everyone in the right path for me.
Part of the preparation for Confirmation was to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I knew that my life had been taking a turn for the worse, I was depressed and trying to break away from a very abusive relationship. At points I honestly thought ending my life was the easier way out. I knew part of all my troubles was the pain the abortions had caused me; now I see that it was not just a ‘part’ but the actual root of all my problems.
I remember how gently Father helped me to confess my sins and how compassionate he was seeing me cry while I tried telling my story. At the end of my confession he offered to talk to me again if I needed it. Deep inside I always hoped that God would one day hear my pleadings for a chance to start all over again. I did not pass up the priceless opportunity to have someone actually hear what I had to share about how shameful and regretful I was about my way of life and aborting my babies.
During the first meeting we had he gave me information about the Entering Canaan retreats with Theresa and the Sisters of Life, he assured me that they will be able to help me also… and they did! I have always been grateful that God gave me as a spiritual director a priest eager to base everything on the love of Christ and the teachings of the Church.
At the beginning Father helped me recover the dignity I had lost in so many loveless relationships; he always spoke to me about the redeeming power of the cross and how the love of Jesus was the only thing that would heal me and fill me up. I have to be honest, sometimes I thought that he was a little crazy and out of touch with reality! How was I going to stop all my unhealthy behaviors after having experienced and done all that I had? How could God simply forgive and forget without punishing me? How was I going to forgive myself and move on without hurting anymore? Poor Father, he probably never imagined how God was going to use him to save my soul. I am a very stubborn woman and I don’t learn my lessons easily.
I still made many mistakes under his guidance, but how patiently he listened and repeated things over and over again. Father always knew that God was using all my sins to bring me closer to Himself. Whenever I was ready to give up because God was not being clear as to what He wanted of me, Father would remind me of the little miracles I was already seeing in my life, and he would encourage me to keep on spending time in silence with Jesus. There are two things that I first learned from him; the power and healing love of God in the Most Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Mother, my ‘holy shortcut’ to heaven.
I worked hard and, with the grace of God, I did put an end to most of my unhealthy behaviors. Two years ago Father was moved to another parish and so we stopped having our regular talks, but we remain friends and whenever I need his advice he is always there to help. After many years of praying and patiently trusting that God will show me His will, I had the blessing of meeting the right man for me and the joy of having Father Giovanni celebrate our Nuptial Mass. This is definitely not the end to my growing and healing; it is actually a whole new beginning, a new journey that I would not be able to walk without the help, prayers, and loving support of holy priests like Father Giovanni, Father Mariusz, Father George, Father Augustine, Father Anthony and many more. Holy priests that without knowing it, have said or done something that reinforced that conviction in my heart –that the mercy of Jesus is far greater than my many sins. SA