When I was 18 years old, I was contemplating suicide. I was a very introverted kid. I was at the University of Michigan and I really hated it. A few years earlier, when I was 16, my dad, who was a convert to Catholicism—he married an Irish girl—had told me that the most important thing to do in your life was to pray every night. And I hadn't done it. But when I was 18, when I was in this distress, I decided I would pray.
I went back to school after Christmas, and the second day I was there, somebody walked into my room from a Christian Outreach group in Ann Arbor and started to evangelize my Jewish roommate. I was very, very quiet, but I was sitting on my bed, and this guy was a Christian guy who was trying to convince my roommate to go to a prayer meeting and getting nowhere. I've been sitting on the bed the whole 20 minutes and I go, ‘If you'll go, I'll go,’ and my roommate said okay because it ended the conversation.
So I went to this charismatic prayer meeting and it was the craziest thing I ever saw, honestly. And I was ready to walk out. And as I was ready to walk out, I audibly heard somebody say, ‘Here's what you prayed for. You better stay.’
So after ten more minutes, I got up to walk out. Same voice again: ‘Sit down. This is what you prayed for.’ Basically, no matter what happened from that point on, I always knew God saved my life. I mean, because he answered me in a powerful way.
When I was 28, I was praying to God to get out of a job I had, and I wanted to start my own business. And I really wanted to start my own business because I'm kind of entrepreneurial by nature. And I was praying to God and I just, in my mind, got the word God wanted me to be a watchman. I never bothered to look it up in Scripture and never bothered to do anything. I just did what I wanted to do.
Life went on and around August 2009, after spending three years working only part time to help manage my parents’ care, I wrapped up their estates and my dad had left me some money.
It had been many years since I had gone on a retreat, much less asked God what he might have me do. So I decided to take a five-day retreat at a monastery in upstate New York with my two sons and some good friends.
It was a silent retreat, but after a few days, my son Mark commented that I wasn't very good at silence. On the last day of the retreat I took some time in the chapel before the tabernacle to ask God what I should do next: Should I start a new business or get a regular job?
I was very surprised when the idea of helping Deacon Jack Gardner, a friend of mine, with his dream of starting a Biblical School in Detroit came powerfully to my mind. Jack Gardner was a friend of mine in college and he was a screw up. I couldn't imagine him running any kind of business successfully but he was a friend of mine. He had told me about the biblical school thing and I basically had blown it off, I hadn't given it another thought until that moment in front of Jesus in the tabernacle. And he had no idea at that point that I had any money from my dad.
I tried over the next couple of weeks to ignore the idea but it just wouldn't go away. So I had lunch with my friend and told him that God was asking me to help him with the money I had received from my parents’ estate.
He was dumbfounded but he convinced me not only to put up the money to start the school but also to help form the organization and serve as the Catholic Biblical School of Michigan's treasurer. He also asked me to replace him as the business manager at St. Linus in Dearborn Heights so he could spend all his time working for the school.
Thirteen years later, I currently serve as the President of CBSM and as the business manager of St. John Neumann in Canton, MI.
When God told me in the chapel he wanted me to be a watchman, that shocked me. That shocked me right off the top of my head because I remember it immediately back to when I was 28. And this time I bothered to look it up to know what a watchman has to do. And then God gave me what I call my watchman prayer.
When I looked it up, I learned that watchmen carried staffs to break up fights, carried lamps at night to help those who were having problems, and watched the gate for the enemies and opened and closed the gates every day.
So the watchman prayer goes like this:
Oh, Lord. Let me use the staff you've given me to bring peace to your Church. The light you've given me to lead men to Christ. And let me forever be ready to announce your coming again in glory.
Needless to say, this wasn't what I was expecting when I asked Jesus what to do before Eucharist in August 2009. I will say it's been a great adventure.
In adoration, you're standing in the physical presence of Christ, and that is a special place. It's a holy place. It's also, to me, a place I go to when I need something. It's serious because it's a place where the devil can't intervene and where Christ is. It is the place where if I feel that somebody in my family or myself needs particular help and I need to pray with somebody, why not pray with Jesus?
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.