I'm from a long family history of Protestant Christianity. Strong faith in Jesus Christ, rooted in the Protestant interpretation of the Bible. I was involved in the church band, went on a mission trip, and was maybe not the most public about my faith, but I never denied Jesus Christ. I accepted Jesus into my heart and I was baptized as well. But I went off to college and like so many other young people, I just lost connection with my home church community.
I never denied God with my words, but I did with my actions. And I reflect on my college years and throughout my twenties and early thirties as definitely a departure from what I was raised to believe. I think many, many peoples’ faiths during this time fade as they become young adults.
I reflect on my college years and throughout my twenties and early thirties—that’s a time when you're trying to find your own identity. And I think that’s what I was doing.
I had a bucket list. I was actually supposed to go to Egypt. I went to Istanbul, I've been in the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia. I walked the streets of Athens, I stood on the hill next to the Parthenon. And I looked over and the tour guide said, ‘That way is Mars Hill.’ I just looked over into the Greek landscape from this hilltop, and I just said, you know, ‘Paul would have been there maybe, or maybe over here.’ I've been to Bangkok, Thailand. I've been to the Shinto temples. I've been to Buddhist temples. Beautiful, beautiful temples.
But when I was home, I spent a lot of time watching sports. I remember one afternoon, Michigan was playing Ohio State and I went to the bar to watch the game. A gentleman sat down next to me in an empty seat and he asked if the spot was open. I said, 'Have a seat.' And the game's going on and he's watching the game for a few minutes and then he says, 'I just dropped off my kid at St. Fabian.'
I was surprised because I had seen beautiful churches all over the world—I didn’t realize there was one right down the street from me. I didn’t race in, but it stayed in my mind, and eventually I looked it up.
I was starting to realize Saturday night football was keeping me sleeping in half of the day on Sundays, so I was looking for something to give me a place to be on Sunday mornings, to break that habit.
I remembered I had met that man at the bar who told me about St. Fabian’s, so I looked it up. It turns out RCIA took place on Sunday mornings, so I decided I’d try it out, not with the intention of becoming Catholic, but just of learning and exploring a bit more.
For me, it was a very intellectual process. I consider myself very blessed to have been raised in the Protestant church. I had the foundation of growing up hearing the name of Jesus. The foundation was there, but there were cracks in the foundation. The missing holes, the stories that are forgotten, the traditions that aren't explained.
Eventually, during my time in RCIA, there was this thing on the calendar called 'Awaken Ministries.' I texted a buddy of mine, inviting him to come with me. He had been raised Catholic but wasn’t practicing either.
There was a snowstorm that night. It was the first Friday of Advent in 2017. My friend and I walked in and I took a seat next to a woman who came by herself. She had driven in the storm, from Sterling Heights to Farmington Hills by herself because she said something called her to be there that night. We sat there and chatted a little bit. I just remember the love in her voice, as she was saying she had to be there to be with Jesus.
Just being polite and smiling and thinking of myself, I said, 'Oh, okay.'
We got in there and they had big projectors operating with praise and worship music. The Eucharist was not yet brought in at that time.
We started out with prayer and music, and then the prayer and music died down a little bit. And then the priest explained what was going on. He said, 'We’re going to be in the presence of Jesus Christ.' And in comes Father, and all you can see is the gold monstrance, and then, in the center is the bright white host.
I wish I remembered the name of the song, but it was something about Christ the King. All of a sudden, everybody's on their knees. I mean, I didn’t know when to kneel, I didn’t know when to stand, but I knelt and I just kept staring directly at the Eucharist in the center of the monstrance. It was just this fascination. I just remember staring intently, like a bright light and at that point, everything else just drifted away, melted away.
I don't know exactly what I was thinking. But I remember a sense of absolute peace.
My life had been so full of chasing things and experiences. These days, we can just jump on a plane and be on the other side of the world. I experienced a lot of that early in my adulthood. But still, I was always searching for something.
But in this moment, in adoration, what appeared to our eyes to be a piece of bread drove back into centuries of devotion. I think it was just an utter and complete sense of peace and consolation. And all the other stuff going on outside, the snowstorm, it didn’t matter.
I have since lost my ability to look upon the Blessed Sacrament due to a degenerative eye condition. I praise God that I was able to see the Eucharist before losing my usable vision. Nothing else matters. Try to think of something else in life that matters more than being in communion with Jesus Christ. The God of the universe wants to be with us.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.