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When I was a teenager, I had dealt with some tough family situations. We found out when I was 19 that I was diagnosed with bipolar depression, and we never knew that I had mental illness. So at that time in my life I was really struggling with how to get control of my mental health, how to feel safe and secure, how to trust those around me, and how to find a doctor that could work with me.
And so it was this constant feeling of going through deep darkness. And I’d have these moments of darkness and these moments of joy. They're going up and down. I had no idea how to handle it. There was the constant feeling of uneasiness and restlessness, along with the darkness that depression can be.
And through all that, I was still feeling called to do youth ministry. But because of the struggles I was going through, I didn't feel worthy to work for the Lord, to work in the Vineyard. I didn't feel worthy to work for the Church. I wasn't sure at that time how the Lord was using me or if he even wanted me.
I went to adoration one day at my home parish at the time, St. John Vianney, Shelby Township. I was the only one in there. And I remember going there and I was praying before the Lord, kind of talking about how I have no idea what I'm doing or why I'm doing this.
I had these few moments of silence where I was kind of just really deciding whether I was going to stay or leave, or what was going to happen. And at this point in my life, I was really struggling with what I should do. ‘Should I become a youth minister? Is that where the Lord was calling me?’ I hadn't really expressed those thoughts or feelings for anyone yet.
And I had this clear moment of the Lord speaking to me, telling me that He is truly present in the Eucharist. That He became so small so that in our smallest moments we will know that the Lord became so small for us that we can feel larger than life. And it was that moment where I knew that I was being called to a greater purpose. I then had someone come in after me and tell me that they think I would make an awesome youth minister.
For me, it was that moment of hearing the Lord speak to me, ‘I became so small so you can feel worthy.’ And then having someone else tell me that I am worthy for this, because I was feeling so not worthy.
I think for me, the number one thing that the Eucharist helps is making something tangible that's so intangible. And mental health itself is individualistic and it's so subjective to each person. But at the same time, the objectiveness of the darkness that people dealing with different mental health issues go through makes life seem really blurry.
And for me, going to adoration or going Mass and experiencing the consecration of the Eucharist each Sunday and as often as I can get to daily Mass is that moment of true Heaven and Earth meeting. It’s true spirit and physicality meeting together to say, ‘You are real, everything you're experiencing is real, but it's worth it. I made it worth it, in this Sacrament, you're receiving this Sacrament because I want you to receive this Sacrament.’ And to me, that's the thing that brings me the most joy and comfort.When you see someone else experience Christ for the first time, but not just Christ in a spiritual sense, but in the real physical sense of them understanding the importance of receiving Christ in the Eucharist and then knowing fully that this is their God, that this is the one who loves them above all else.
As a youth minister, you don't really see the fruits come to life that often. You're hoping to plant seeds for the future and you're not always around in the future or involved in that future to see what fruit you've planted come to life.
But in those moments, you can see the truth that you've been able to teach them the truth, that you've been able to show them how you've been able to disciple them, really come to life in that moment of, ‘Oh, this is God,’ and they are able to say that.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.