"But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 Jonathan just returned last night from the Franciscan University's Youth Conference that he attended with his parish youth group. He was bursting when he got off the bus. He actually hugged me and told me he missed me. I knew then, something had happened. His experience was "life changing". Having been to many conferences and retreat in my lifetime, I understood how he could feel so wonderful having just come down from the mountain. This was what he shared last night. God is so good! "How was it?"
"Mom, it was incredible. Mom, I really felt the presence of God. I mean, I REALLY got it."
"What was so different this time?"
"On Friday night during Eucharistic Adoration, I really started examining my life. That's what your supposed to do isn't it? I started to think about all of my struggles, how cynical I am, how difficult it is for me to make friends, How everything is changing with me going away to school. I looked around and saw all these kids, my age that were praising God and having these profound experiences. I started to wonder what was wrong with me?"
"Son everyone has a different encounter with Christ during adoration. There is nothing wrong with you."
"Mom, I know that, but it has always been so frustrating to me. So I started to pray and talk to God about where I am in life. The most amazing thing happened. My heart started to pound and as I was looking at God. I mean He was really there. I could feel Him! I realized how messed up my priorities were, how bad my attitude was and how empty I felt without HIM. Then it was like God just started to fill me up. I had an overwhelming sense of peace and such JOY! God's Joy, Mom. I was so happy and felt my spirit just lift. I wanted to get up and dance and sing, but I didn't for fear I would embarrass myself. It was so incredible."
As tears slid down my face, I took his face in my hands and said "This is the joy that God feels every time you turn to Him J. He feels such joy, He loves you so much and so do I." He went on to share how God had spoken to him again the next evening about his sister Courtney, who is severely physically and mentally handicapped. "Mom, you know how when Courtney laughs, you always say she and God are sharing an inside joke?"
"Well I realized that that is what I want too. I want to be so close to God, that I can get all the inside jokes. I want my soul to be free of sin, so I can sit at His table, like Courtney. She has no sin. She sleeps with the angels each and every night. When she dies, she will go straight to God's arms. I want that too."
"So what do you think you need to do to achieve that", I asked very cautiously.
"I have to talk to Him everyday. I have to pray. I have to do the right thing, no matter how hard. I have to smile even when I don't want to. I have to suffer knowing that it is all for His glory"
"Do you think you can do that?"
"With God, I can do anything" Now these types of conversations may happen all the time in your house. Not so in mine. Yes, we teach about Christ, we love Him and we honor Him. Yes, we attend Mass and confession regularly. Yes, we pray the rosary as a family and attend Adoration. We try to live out our Christian vocation the very best we can. However, rarely do I see my son's heart so open and so full with joy and love for God and his family. I usually get the grouchy, complaining conversations about how unfair life is, how unfair I am as a parent, the injustice of it all. So to be able to share in the incredible joy for just a moment, is a miracle. One I will gladly accept. It's like when Courtney laughs. I knew that Jonathan and God had had a personal and intimate encounter. It was filled with joy and love. It carries you through difficulty and discouragement. My prayers for the weekend were answered. Thank you Lord, for that grace. I have included the theme song for the youth conferences. Jonathan is still humming it. It's called 'Witness" by Bob Rice. My son cam home and witnessed to me about God's love and mercy. I am thankful that he was open and listening to what God placed on his heart. Have a fabulous Monday! Blessings, Mary