Sunday, October 29, 2006

Back from the Evangelization Retreat

I apologize to those few regular visitors for not posting anything recently. I have no excuse. Mea maxima culpa, as we Catholics say (or used to say, as it may be).

I attended the St. John's Cathedral evangelization retreat this weekend. It was an excellent experience, and I'd recommend it to any of my friends (read: Patrick) or coreligionists. The focus was not so much on catechesis (although that plays a big part in the ongoing meetings) but on personal experience. What struck me most was the common theme throughout from most of the attendees and the retreat team about having it all, losing it all, coming to find that God never left you, and finding your way back. I didn't have any earth-shattering personal experience, but I saw a few. As I said in my own brief testimonial, I've come to faith via my head, and I'm still working on having that experience of the heart (and with God's grace, that will happen eventually).

We've been asked to write down our faith journey, and I guess I can now officially commit to doing that. I've been thinking about writing my conversion/reversion story for some time, but frankly, I've been using some of the more sordid elements of my past as an excuse not tell me story. However, I did have one experience this weekend that made an impact.

I attend reconciliation frequently and had done so last weekend. So when the retreat father announced that we would be attending reconciliation, I thought it was rather superfluous. We'd been to Mass that morning, and I simply hadn't had time to go out and commit a mortal sin (not that I seek such opportunities, of course). Why go to reconciliation again so soon?

And so I met Fr. Donny, the brother of one of the retreat team members and a retired priest (due to health reasons). I don't think I have ever been chastised by a priest, but he pretty much told me to stop using my shame about my past to be an excuse not to answer God's call.

I don't think a message can get any clearer than that. I've been hesititating to put certain things out there because I'm ashamed of my past. I don't want them exposed to the light of day. However, if I have a call—to the diaconate, to any public ministry, or just to some kind of public witness—I'd better be up front about who I am and where I've been.

That sounds foreboding, and I'm sure what I write will shock few. Nonetheless, it has been a roadblock for me. Now, I know, I have no excuses.

I'll be posting my conversion story in the next few weeks in installments. If I can give you something interesting to read, that's great. More importantly, I hope I can give you something that will be of use.

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