Testimony: Cardinal Dolan Calls Penance the Sacrament of the New Evangelization and How I Know He is Right
at the High Mass growing up in Dorchester, Massachusetts - and when, because Sister William Patricia told me that Jesus was my friend, I visited Him in Church every day and even spoke openly to Him when I walked alone. I wanted Him again.. even closer to me than in those days as a child.
So, on a beach in Santa Cruz, California, prompted by my friend's invitation in that letter, (forwarded to me from my worried parents), I, his gentile "nominally Catholic" friend, cried out to Jesus Christ. They were simple words from a pure and desperate young heart- "Jesus, I use to know you, I want to know you again, please come into my heart, forgive me of my sins, and be my Savior and Lord!" He heard my cry!
With that simple prayer of sincere contrition and acceptance, I gave myself back to the One, in whom and for whom I had been created and into whom I had been baptized as a child. It was a conversion moment, a personal "new Evangelization" of sorts. However, I would quickly discover, at a deep place inside of my heart, that the Lord had never left me. Years after that encounter, I read these timeless words of St. Augustine, taken from his Confessions:
"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me and I burned for your peace."
I then began to understand that this was my own experience of the same timeless Lord who continues to remind all who will listen: "You did not choose me, but I chose you." (John 15:16) That summer, after returning from this cross-country pilgrimage, I moved in with two other young men my age. Both were evangelical Protestant Christians. I was a Christian---but not yet sure what kind. Because I wanted to continue to grow in my walk with the Lord, I attended a prayer meeting with my new roommates and began to study the New Testament. My passionate love for the Sacred Scripture even prompted me to join one of them and enroll in a local Protestant Bible College as a student.
I was a fish out of water. The culture of the place was foreign to me. I was a Catholic guy from the inner city of Boston. I did not understand the odd popular language so many of the students and staff used when discussing their faith. I also could not understand why many of them prayed in a different language then they talked. Or other simple things, like the seeming disdain for ordinary human enjoyment. Was I missing something? Did my newly rediscovered relationship with the One who was fully human, and fully divine, mean that I was to lose my own humanity? I knew that could not be true. I also missed the deep worship of my childhood where I experienced, in a profound way, the transcendent majesty of God, at the Altar in every Mass.
Because of my passionate hunger for truth I found myself, though respectful of the instructors, doubting and hungering for more than they were offering in their classes. I simply could not check my brain at the classroom door. I wanted answers and I never felt that my sincere inquiries should be cast aside as some sort of temptation. I began to discern that the road of conversion was a lifelong path. I had a long way to travel. My pilgrimage was not over, but in fact, had only begun. The hunger for God, rekindled in my soul during that encounter on the beach, was insatiable. I also continued to experience the guilt of my wrong choices, my sins. Oh, I was aware that I had been forgiven. However, I didn't feel forgiven. Something was missing.
I started pouring over the books in that Bible College library -wanting to know about the history of the Christian Church. I found an inconsistency in the literalist approach I was being taught in the New Testament class. It seemed that Jesus meant everything He said except His explicit words concerning the Eucharist or the "Lord's supper" as the instructor called it. Though Jesus Himself said it was His Body and Blood, right in the biblical text, He somehow didn't mean it. I could not accept this meager dismissal of something so profound.
I also began to hear increasing disparagement of the Catholic Church in some classes. It did not comport with my experience as a child, my growing convictions about the Christian life or my fledging study of Christian history. I hungered for the truth and continued, as had been my lifelong habit, to devour books. At that time, the Bible College library was stocked with the ...
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Cardinal Dolan, New Evangelization, Synod, Penance, conversion, holiness, freedom, born again, Deacon Keith Fournier
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Living Faith News
- An Anatomy of Christian Joy: 'Be, Jesus, Our Joy!'
- In Imitation of St. Joseph, Model of Fathers of Families
- Fathers Are Guardians of the Family
- Pope Francis: Freedom Means Always Choosing the Good; A Challenge in Today's World
- Pope Francis attracts record breaking number of Twitter followers en Espanol
- Meet these senators who are unafraid to talk about their faith
- 'Lady' the black labrador survives after being shot 100 times with a BB gun
- HARROWING ORDEAL: Nigerian man survives boat capsize in air bubble
- Pope Francis Refers to 'gay lobby' inside Vatican
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?