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 My Testimonial

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doncece43
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Age : 74
Join date : 2011-08-14
Location : Beaverton OR.

PostSubject: My Testimonial   Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:01 pm

I will be sharing with you my 36 years in the Catholic Church and the role Jesus and the Holy Spirit have played in my life helping me at times as my Counselor and other times as my Comforter. Like many givers of their personal testimonials, I will try to avoid the self-centered temptations such as (egotism, pride, attention seeking and the proclaiming of divine graces). I pray for guidance to avoid and recognize such temptations.

Cecelia, my deceased wife, and I had been married for about 10 years when I made the decision to join the Catholic Church. Since my desire was to be a good example, I always attended Mass with her and our children. Every Sunday, Cecelia would go up receive communion, come back to the pew, kneel down and pray. Number one on her pray list was that I would someday join the Catholic Church. For many years I watched the joy and happiness she and others received from doing this every Sunday. I wondered if I could experience this kind of joy in my life.

There was only one way to find out, I made an appointment with my friend Father Cary the Priest at St Mary's Parish in Eugene, where we lived at that time. I asked what would be required of me to join the Catholic Church. He said I would have to take an inquiry class before I could become a member of the church. After that I would be baptized and confirmed in front of the congregation. He informed me it wouldn’t be the normal group baptism/confirmation ceremony; but a ceremony of one, just me. I could handle being baptized and confirmed in front of the congregation, it was the ceremony of one that disturbed me. Because of my shyness, it would have to be something I considered extremely important for me to put myself center stage. I agreed to Father Cary’s conditions and moved forward for the sake of my wife and family. The thought of being center stage however, was almost unbearable for this shy guy.

On Sunday, July 28, 1974, my wife's prayer request for me to join the church became a reality. I had taken the necessary class and was baptized, confirmed, and welcomed into the Catholic Church. Something strange occurred during my baptismal ceremony. As Farther Cary administered the Holy Water to my forehead I began to experience a warm loving presents that seemed to cover me like a warm blanket. At that moment I knew I belonged to Jesus, and this was just the beginning of my joy and happiness, the same joy and happiness I had witnessed so many times in those who had gone before me.
Shortly after my baptism I began having an unexplainable obsession to read the Bible and other Christian books. Jesus was on my mind constantly. Many times I prayed," I want to know you Jesus - really know you." I joined our local Catholic charismatic group to help me get a better understanding of what I was experiencing. In the beginning my experience with the Holy Spirit was learning about Jesus, later it became trusting in Jesus. In subsequent years I became active in many church organizations St. Vincent de Paul, Knights of Columbus, parish council, youth group and many others.

Cecelia and I began working together as a couple. We started the first official youth group at St. Mark parish in Eugene. St. Mark even purchased a school bus for our youth group trips. I recall our first trip to the Oregon coast using our bus. There were parents who had safety concerns about their children going on trips with our bus. I too had safety concerns about using our bus on these trips. The day before we were to leave on our coastal trip, I was out mowing our lawn. Like many times when working, I began to pray, "Lord, I know I'm a good bus driver; I drive school bus for our school district. My concern is for the person coming towards us from the other direction, the vehicle I have no control over." The words I received within my heart have been etched in my mind all these years and have never left me. It wasn't an external audible voice I heard, but more like a comforting reassuring internal communication. It was, "Not even the wind can touch this bus, unless I allow it." What I experienced that day removed all fear I would ever have while driving our church bus.

Later, Cecelia and I were invited to go on a marriage encounter weekend, and we accepted their invitation. We enjoyed our weekend very much and learned a great deal about each other through our sharing. On Sunday afternoon as our weekend came to an end, the team leaders approached us asking if we would become a team couple and give marriage encounter weekends. I, the shy guy, was being asked to give marriage encounter weekends. For those who have been on a marriage encounter weekend and have knowledge of what is expected from a team couple, you know how frightening this can be. We were given one hour before we had to give them our answer. Cecelia was okay with the idea right away. I, on the other hand, was not so sure. I was going over all the what ifs: what if I embarrass myself and my wife, choke up and not be able to speak, come across as foolish, be a flop, and there was the issue of my shyness. The list was long for not doing it and short for doing it. I used the hour praying, asking the Holy Sprit for guidance in helping me make the right decision. As I prayed I begin to experience reassuring thoughts similar to the one I had prior to our coastal trip with our youth group. “Do not be afraid, I will be with you. I will prepare you for this journey."

With this, Cecelia and I answered the Lord’s call and became a team couple giving marriage encounter weekends. After we had served as a team couple for a period of time, the regional leaders for marriage encounter in our area approached us asking if we would become their replacement as regional leader. Like Peter's lack of faith to continue his walk when asked to step out of the boat and meet Jesus, I also lacked the faith needed to continue on to the next level in our marriage encounter journey. So I declined their request. I prayed the Lord would forgive me for my lack of faith and my fear of failure.

I began to wonder what other journeys the Lord had planned for our future. My wondering was short lived. Within a few months Cecelia and I were given the most devastating news that hit us like a freight train. This shocking news would require us to put our complete trust in the Lord. Nothing, can prepare you for the C word. Cecelia was diagnosed with throat cancer. I confronted her doctor with many questions. How can this be happening? She has never smoked a day in her life. There must be a mistake; this cancer is for smokers, not my wife. Next, I directed my thoughts in pray to our Lord, asking, what's going on? Why is this happening to us? This isn't fair, I need my wife and our children need their mother. Please, please consider all the good she has done in your name. I pleaded with God to stop this from happening.

I knew I would have to leave my feelings of despair and defeat and look into the face of Jesus. The words I received this time penetrated to the very depth of my soul. With these thoughts I began to experience a comforting feeling that everything would be okay. Do not be afraid, I will be with you; I have prepared you for this journey. Steady yourself and listen, you have within you all that is necessary. Trust and have faith in me.

Strengthened by this and my faith in the Holy Spirit, I put our complete trust in the Lord knowing whatever the outcome we would not be alone in our battle. The Lord in his goodness gave Cecelia and me another 15 years together before her passing. I needed those 15 years to prepare me for that day. Standing together striving side by side without fear as full recipients of the triple graces of courage, salvation and suffering we emerged victorious as this journey ended. On July 15th 2002, three days before our 38th wedding anniversary, the agony and pain from her cancer was over. Cecelia died knowing that our Lord, her family and many friends loved her very much. She lived to see our children grow into loving adults and see the birth of three of our grandchildren.

In spite of all of my positive experiences over the many years as a Catholic, I found it difficult to accept her death at such a young age. The zeal I once had, diminished considerably. I found myself making excuses for not attending mass as often as I once did. I discontinued my involvement with the organizations that had be so much a part of my life. With the passing of time, help from those closest to me and the reassuring presents of the Holy Spirit, I began to recover from this depressing low I was experiencing in my life. (Ps. 30:5) says, Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Tragedy makes life hard; it does not make it hopeless. Looking back over the path Cecelia and I traveled we sing our song of victory on this side of heaven. The words I received long ago helped us get through this most difficult time in our lives. Fifteen years is a very long time to see someone you love fight a deadly illness. Jesus promised he would send the Comforter to be with us and he did. In his goodness and love he was telling us we were not alone in our battle.
As believers we all have the ability to communicate with the Holy Spirit. We only need to seek his counsel and have faith and trust in what is being communicated to us. Jesus said those who have ears listen, listen and hear what the Holy Spirit is saying. The Holy Spirit communicates to us in many ways, through our pastors, deacons, friends, family members, prayers, reading the Bible, Christian books, attending lectures, or classes, and, in the events that take place in our lives.

After Cecelia’s passing, the Lord in his goodness brought Nancy, my present wife, into my life. Nancy and I are working together on our present journey at the St Anthony Community Café providing hot meals for the poor and homeless in Tigard. She is my soul mate, helper and best friend. Even though Nancy is not Catholic, you will see her sitting beside me during Sunday Mass. Her spiritual insight, kindness, and wisdom bring me constant joy and happiness. Her compassion for those in need is bringing many blessings from our Lord into each of our lives.
As I move forward in life I will continue to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and try to accomplish the desires of our Lord. Recently I finished an 11 week course called, Just Faith. This journey confirmed my responsibility to work for peace and justice for all people and bring hope to those who are struggling. Today I involve myself in the same organizations I did in years past: St Vincent De Paul, Pastoral Council, Knights of Columbus and occasionally I meet with the youth of our parish to share the impact the Holy Spirit can have in their lives. These are the organizations that have given me the most satisfaction and joy. For me serving those in need is an opportunity to serve the Lord.

Over the years I have learned something very important. If we trust and have no fear and move ever so slightly forward in faith, or as Jesus said, if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we will find ourselves on the most exciting journeys ever imagined. Memories from many years ago still linger in my heart and bring me much comfort. I ponder this question, who am I that the Lord would show such kindness, and love for me and my family? Has anyone ever given to God that God should repay them? The answer is no. My story is nothing special, nor am I.

It is only by the Grace of God and the sacrifice Jesus made, not because of anything we had done, that I can stand before you sharing our story of His love and mercy. I know there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less. It has been over 36 years of asking and receiving guidance from the Holy Spirit. Only on the three unforgettable occasions I mentioned has the Holy Spirit's message been so clearly directed into our lives.
As I began writing my testimonial it was the Holy Spirit that helped me recall all these wonderful experiences and the important roll He played as our counselor and comforter on these many journeys. As I conduct my life day-to-day, feeling my way forward, generally on the right path, sometimes stubbing my toe, I know the Holy Spirit is always with me. Knowing and believing this to be true has helped me overcome many of life’s troubles. Let me touch briefly on something I wrote about at the beginning of my testimonial, my shyness. I still get nervous at times when I find myself center stage. However, I stand on his promises I will be with you and take courage and move forward in spite of my fears. John 14:27 Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. I believe the strength of our faith is in direct proportion to our level of belief that God will do exactly what He has promised. The Bible says, According to your faith will it be done to you. I leave you with this thought, pray with expectation and listen for the quite whisper of God's answer. Opportunities are lost while we wait after being told to move. Do not be afraid, He will be with you.

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Lora
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PostSubject: Re: My Testimonial   Sun Aug 14, 2011 10:20 pm

Hello doncece43,

Welcome to Christian Creative Writers. You have a wonderful testimony!
Have you ever considered turning this into a novel. If you delved more deeply into the specific events that took place, from the time your wife got sick, to when she died, and how you coped in those small moments, it would be a terrific book.
May God Bless you Greatly.

___________________
God Bless, Lora  Nice Ta Meet Ya
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http://loraconnor.com http://equippingthesaints.life
 
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