When I first arrived into the old stone church, I was immediately taken aback that the benches had no back and these youth were kneeling on the stone ground without any cushions, not to mention the fact that they were all dressed very sensibly, and there I was, waltzing in with my super short tartan skirt and low-cut top on. And to make matters worse, these young folk prayed so openly and charismatically, with not even a little bit of shame… to be honest, I thought they were all completely crazy!
But I was so attracted by their joy and freedom, and I felt so desperately alone, that I kept coming back. I still didn’t feel anything in mass, but through their kindness and welcome I slowly began to feel at ease simply to join in; which was a start.
Throughout the year I was up and down with my faith. At first I kept looking for signs from God, and praying for a miraculous conversion to Christ. But I was soon to realise it doesn’t always work like that; for me it was a slow uphill struggle. I still had so many philosophical doubts towards religion in general, and most of all I was still very much weighed down by the suffering I carried from everything I had lived in England.
But then after about a year I discovered something called adoration.
(Adoration is when the Blessed Sacrament, that is, the host after it has been consecrated in the mass, is put up on the altar for everyone to pray before it.)
I didn’t really understand it, but I started to attend.
After a short while the CSL held a time of 24hour adoration during advent and I decided to go to every single one.
I was there throughout the night, often completely alone in the dark and silent Church, with the Host enshrined in its golden monstrance glinting on the altar.
I dropped to my knees before the Blessed Sacrament in absolute despair and begged the Lord to hear me, to take some of the pain away, to give me some sense to my life, to listen, to speak, to let me know he’s there! To let me know I wasn’t all alone; I felt so alone that the pain gnawed at my heart…
Then something happened.
For the first time in my life, alone in the night with Christ, I completely abandoned myself to Him. My gaze began to shift from myself as the centre of existence, to Him as the centre. My heart began to open to Him…
And as it opened, He entered into it and filled me with His healing presence. I realised that all of my pain, bitterness and despair had completely gone and that my heart was filled only with peace and joy and love. The tender presence of Christ permeated my whole being; so gently that it was almost without me realising; my heart burned with love.
I looked back over the painful events that had happened over the past couple of years, which before had given me physical pain in my stomach to think about; but now there was no pain, no hate, no anger, only love, overflowing, unbounded, unstoppable!
Christ was in me! He dwelt within me, in the flesh, bringing me into life, into true life. Christ was in the Eucharist!
I could see His body up on that altar in the consecrated host; He was before me, in the flesh. I physically met Him! My Lord, my friend, my teacher, my Saviour and my God! He was right there in front of me, I saw Him with the eyes of my heart, transforming my broken sight which before had found no meaning in a hard and cruel world…but now saw the reality before me entrenched in Divine meaning, God’s beautiful creation unfolding before my eyes, and everything pointing towards Him, the Son of God, in the flesh.
He transformed my broken heart of stone into a beating joyous heart of flesh.