Being born and raised as a part of a Roman Catholic family, religion was always more like a chore to me. I only went to Mass because my parents made me and I observed God more as an object, and rarely related to Him on a personal level. I always considered myself to be a pretty good guy and I had no need for God. What I focused on and considered most important for my future was money, power, and fame.
During my first semester at Carleton University, I was invited to attend the CCO fall retreat by a friend. I was hesitant, but I decided to go at the last minute. During the retreat the guest speaker was talking about how we can often make gods out of wealth, power, pleasure, and fame. This made me realize that what I was striving for was selfish, and would essentially leave me empty and wanting. Over the weekend, God began to show me that He is the only one who could sustain me, and give me life and joy. I came to acknowledge that I was a sinner, and asked him for his mercy and grace to help me over the coming months. I wanted to change my life to better serve him, but I still wasn’t sure how to do it.
Later that semester, I was invited to CCO’s annual New Year’s conference, Rise Up. The theme of Rise Up was “Mary’s Fiat”, meaning, Mary’s “Yes”. On the first night, as the speaker spoke, I began to realize how important it is that we each give God our own yes. The next evening, during a time of prayer, I continued to feel Christ calling me. I was nervous, but as I continued to pray, I felt God speaking the same words to me that the angel had spoken to Mary; “Do not be afraid” In that moment I simply chose to trust the Lord, and put aside my fear. I don’t remember much else of what was going on inside my head at this moment, I was overwhelmed, but I do remember getting up, kneeling before the altar, and simply thanking God for what he’d done for me. I knew that Christ was the part of my life that I had been missing.
After coming home, through the grace of God, I began to approach my relationship with God in a different way. I began to pray more often, and when I did pray, I spoke to God in a more personal way. Also, there were areas of sin in my life that I was ashamed of. As a result of placing God at the center of my life, his grace has enabled me to root some of these areas out of my life. Thirdly, committing to God has helped me recommit to my studies. I believe that God has called me at this time to be a student, and I want to live out of that calling as best I can. Finally, Mass has moved from being a boring routine, to a place where I encounter God, and am strengthened to live faithfully in a hostile world.
Recognizing the great gift of mercy that God has given me has also instilled in me a great desire to share this good news with others. I desire to introduce my friends and family to this personal God that I’ve experienced.