I was raised Catholic and went to St. Bernardine Parish in Westland, MI. I received the Sacrament of First Reconciliation there and my First Communion. I enjoyed parish life with my family and enjoyed going to church each week. Then as I was entering middle school, life started to get difficult. The parish closed and there were significant health issues plaguing members of my family. It was an incredibly difficult time. From that point on and for quite a while, I really struggled with my faith. It was not really a big part of my life. I never ended up receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation and stopped going to church altogether. I've always considered myself a very faithful person and I still have always identified as Catholic, despite not practicing. This continued through High School and graduating College. Over the last couple of years, I've been really intrigued and desired to come back into the Church.
I'm a musician and I've worked in Church music a lot. In college I was a music major and a lot of my life has been spent working and gigging in churches, which are not always Catholic. For several years I participated in music ministry at a Presbyterian church. For me it was a job that I clocked in and out of. I was always very respectful of their service and gleaned something from it, but I never took part in communion because, to me, it was not the same thing as what I had received at Catholic Masses. Even as someone who honestly had broken away from the faith for a while, I still recognized and took the Eucharist very seriously. I always knew that there was a different element to our beliefs as Catholics — that we really receive the body and blood of Jesus.
Earlier this year I traveled to Italy for work and I visited St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. It was such a profound experience, just to witness Mass going on every hour and to feel the presence of so much wonder there. I was immediately tempted to go into one of the many confessionals. I was a little rusty, but I made my first Confession in many years. The priest was very welcoming and helped me out. The sense of relief and connection to God was overwhelming, I made my penance kneeling in front of St. Pope John Paul II’s tomb. I wept. The priest encouraged me to partake in Mass afterward. And it was the most profound experience I've ever had, to have been struggling and been away for so long, and then to be in such a special place, to return and receive two very special sacraments together.
As soon as I got back in the country, I called the archdiocese and I said, “Hey, I've never been confirmed.” So they put me in touch with a local parish and I made my Confirmation on Pentecost.
Returning to Mass for that first time in St. Peter’s was an overwhelming emotional experience; it felt like a connection that I needed to make that I hadn't for a very long time. It was a connection that I have intensely and reverently sought to make again every day since. That was in February. I've been to Mass every week since and have a daily devotion to praying the Rosary. I’m much more confident in the process of making a confession and don’t have to rely on the priest anymore either. I don’t always feel that same overwhelming sense of, “Whoa, this is incredibly special.” Deep down I know that it is, but it's not always that visceral. And I think that is a good thing because it proves that I don't need to feel overwhelmed for this to be real. I just need to trust. Whether or not we always feel it deep within us, we can know and trust that the Mass is special and it is remarkable every time – and that it is a Blessed Sacrament that we are so lucky to receive.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.