In my teens and twenties, I began to do long-distance running. It was not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense, as well. Despite my Catholic upbringing, I ran a long distance from my faith. I didn’t need God. I could do life on my own. But without God in my life, I had no guidance, no truth, no peace, no control. I was so very lost. So how did I respond? I fell apart. I went unhinged. I ran away from my problems and into the world's pleasures.
At age 26, by God’s grace, I found my kind and loving husband, Matt. We were married by a judge in September of 2006. Seven years later, due to life choices and my unexplainable infertility, I gave birth to boy/girl twins. God, in His hilarious sense of humor, knew that I needed double the impact to bring me back to Him. I would not be standing in this Church today if He hadn’t given us the priceless gift of children. They are my path to sainthood.
We had them baptized because it was all I knew to do, but in due time I felt compelled to fulfill my Catholic initiation and finally get confirmed. I only had to attend two classes before Confirmation, but we were encouraged to go to confession to achieve a state of grace before receiving the Holy Spirit.
I hadn’t been to confession in well over 25 years, and I had an awful recollection of how I had violated God’s commandments in ways that would be a breeding ground for a reality TV show. Complete terror fell over me. But I knew that my soul needed this.
The dreaded moment finally arrived a few days later. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” In one fleeting moment, these seven words uttered in that confessional changed my life forever. I instantly felt the presence of God. After unearthing my ugly sins that I had kept buried for far too long, I was overcome with the gentle touch of mercy that caressed my shoulder, wiped my tears away, and held my hand, which led me far away from that pit of shame I had been stewing in. I received restoration and I savored the radiance of God’s grace. I had not realized the weight of my sins until that moment. My transformation began.
A week later, I was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and I became rabid for Jesus. I had a hunger to know Him more, to love Him more intensely, and I had a rich desire to please Him. Holiness and virtuosity appeared more and more attractive to me. It could not be just a phase. My attitude, manner, style, path, life, and entire being must be the way of Jesus Christ for eternity.
These inspirations necessitated convalidating our marriage in the Catholic Church. But our pastor advised that I abstain from receiving the Eucharist until the day because, technically, our marriage wasn’t valid in the eyes of God.
In the beginning of my abstinence, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the Eucharist. So what did I do? I studied and read and studied some more about it. I wanted to need Him, to yearn for Him, and to desire Him with all my heart in the Blessed Sacrament.
Once I finally understood the true meaning of the Eucharist, that by God’s Almighty Power it is Jesus Christ, body, soul and divinity, really, truly and substantially in the appearance of bread and wine, I longed to receive him, so I could have Him in me, so close to my heart and soul, as one body, and ready to receive any little grace that he was willing to give me, but I couldn’t. Not for several months. Spiritual Communion had to suffice until then. Matt was going through RCIA at this point, but we could not have a full Mass for our convalidation ceremony because he wasn't baptized yet. I counted the days until then.
After what seemed like an eternity, our marriage was finally made sacred. (Matthew 19:6) We were “no longer two but one flesh; joined together by God, in which no human being could separate.” The next day my heart ran to Jesus on the altar. With my daughter in my arms, I received my Lord, and I felt his warmth and his love wrap around my heart just as my daughter was wrapped around me. This initiated attending daily Mass with my 2-year-old twins in tow. It was difficult to go with them, but I was determined to receive my Lord as often as possible. I deeply hungered for Him.
The flame of my faith went from a birthday candle to a bonfire within the next year. Matt finally became fully initiated into the Catholic Church. I sought guidance through spiritual direction and began attending Eucharistic Adoration to be near Jesus more. This transformed my prayer life. I had never felt such peace and interior silence as I did when I adored Christ exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. It soon became my weekly sustenance. In time, I was personally convicted of receiving Jesus on the tongue with childlike humility. Before long, I then felt compelled to assume the posture of kneeling. I did this to acknowledge that He is the King of my heart and of the Universe.
Several years later, despite past infertility issues, without any help from a medical doctor as before, the true Doctor, Jesus Christ, gave us the gift of another child, and it was solely due to the Eucharist. I spent countless hours in prayer and Adoration, imploring the intercession of Mother Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Anne to have another child. And I received the Eucharist as often as I could. God did the seemingly impossible and made it possible. A baby boy was born to us on Easter Sunday. We named him Joseph after our dear father, St. Joseph, who was as true to fulfilling my request as St. Teresa of Ávila said he would be. Saint Joseph has never let me down.
Since then, through spiritual reading and guidance, but mostly through my daily hour of prayer, I have grown into a deeper intimacy with Jesus, especially in the Eucharist. I can only describe my time with Him as an old farmer once said when asked by St. John Vianney what he did in the church, looking at the tabernacle, “I look at Jesus as He looks at me.”
Today, instead of running away from my problems, I run to Jesus. (A friend gave me a shirt that actually says that!) I run to receive Him at Mass in the Eucharist. I run to be with Him in silent Adoration. I take all of my worries and bring them to Him by placing them at His feet. Then He takes me and holds me in the warmth and strength of His arms, and all of my anxieties disappear. I am left with nothing but His love and His peace penetrating my heart. I then proclaim the words from the Song of Solomon: “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth… My Beloved is mine, and I am His.”