I was born in 1951 into a Roman Catholic family, went to a Catholic grade school made my 1st Communion and was Confirmed. I was an altar boy and sang in the school choir. I went to mass every Sunday. I went to a Catholic high school for 2 years and was recruited into public school for my athletic abilities. I was excited to go and talked my parents into letting me go. It was wonderful and I continued on my athletic path, was fairly popular and remained a good guy. I had a good college experience, however while I had many friends and activities, I felt an empty loneliness that was perplexing. One Sunday, alone and strongly feeling empty I walked to the Catholic Church on campus and as I approached, I could hear the Choir and was pulled inside. The students and parishioners made me feel welcome and it was great to be back in Church. That was my first experience with the Holy Spirit as I was no longer alone, no longer empty. While I was reluctant to fully commit to immersing myself into my faith, I remained close enough to hear his word and was glad.
I would continue to lose and find my way back to my faith for the next 10 years. While I was generally a good guy, hard worker and Christian I was not always an example of Roman Catholic living and had to confess my failings frequently. I fortunately knew that Jesus died for our sins, knowing that we would sin, gave us the opportunity for asking for and receiving forgiveness for our sins.
I married a great Catholic girl in 1983 and we were Blessed with 3 great children and began our Roman Catholic family life. It has been a wondrous whirl wind of love, life and the pursuit of happiness. We have pretty much lived a good Catholic life, been good community members and committed parishioners. I experienced highs and lows with my personal relationship with the Holy Spirit. Sometimes thinking that “I” knew it all and needed little guidance as “I was” nearly perfect! That attitude allowed me to walk right into a wall of reality that I was not prepared for however that wall I hit opened me up to some great learning. In business, relationships, my faith life, I really opened myself up and became a student again.
I accepted a CSA talk assignment from Bishop McNabb. I tried to run but he asked me to let the Holy Spirit guide me. I was caught. The talk was about a month away and I wanted to do something special however it was slow and painstaking work. I was having trouble believing the words I was writing and that was unsettling. I went on a trip to the UP with neighbor, friend and fellow parishioner Jeff Littmann. He and I always solved the world’s problems on our way up north. We had lots of time as it is a 6 hour drive. We had completed a discussion on business strategy, some political observations and got on the topic of my CSA talk. I was trying to explain the struggle I was having achieving the passionate talk I envisioned. Jeff began asking questions about my desire to have the Holy Spirit guide me. As I tried to explain that you are actually able to be filled by the Holy Spirit and that it was an unbelievable experience. Unfortunately, I explained it didn’t just hop in the car and take a ride up north with you and that you had to be open to it and pray for it. We got deeper and deeper into the discussion and I gradually began to realize that we were no longer sounding very much like ourselves and that something was going on. I checked to make sure the ventilation system wasn’t on recirculate and that we were suffocating ourselves. It wasn’t and we looked at each other saying that we felt very extraordinary and it was likely what I now know as speaking in tongues. I won’t speak for Jeff, however he suggested we stop at the Cross in The Woods and go to Church. We sat down and were immediately overwhelmed by the strongest perfume odor and wanted to move but couldn’t because the 1st reading was about to begin and we didn’t want to disrupt mass. Unbelievably, the reading was the glue I needed to put my talk together. We were led unknowingly to the answer. I have ever since been open to the Spirit and seek guidance in everything. It is still a work in progress, however I am getting better at perfecting my story.
I will wrap up with a parallel to my faith life by reading from Luke “The Parable of the Sower Explained”. This is the meaning of the parable. The seed is the word of God. Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground are the ones who when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as the go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soul, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart and bear fruit through perseverance.