Each story is a personal reflection experienced by the members of the commission. Read their special story of that One Moment when they were spiritually touched by God.
We all have a story. Reflect on your own God Moment. What was it like?
I was once asked to give a talk on God’s romantic love for us to a group of young adults. I was somewhat uncomfortable with this topic, not sure what it meant. I prayed about it. I asked God, if you want me to talk about this, please give me a story to tell. Give me a sign of your romantic love that I can share with these young adults so that they too can understand. Now, when I think romantic, I think, “chocolates and roses.” Now this is a little silly because I am allergic to chocolate. Well, not the chocolate per se, but the soy lecithin that is in chocolate to make the sugar emulsify. Anyway, I asked for a sign and wondered if it might be romantic.
The very next day, I was leaving my apartment to go to a graduation. One of the guys in our college campus ministry program at Rutgers handed me a rose. I was shocked. I asked what it was for (though I knew God was answering quickly!) and he said a homeless man was selling them and he wanted to support him and thought I’d like it. WOW. That was quick. I thanked God while smelling it, and somewhat jokingly added, ‘but we said roses…”spoiled brat that I am!
Well woudn’t you know, I went to the graduation of some of the kids in my youth group and two girls met me in the stands and presented two roses to me. They said that they were passing out roses to the moms, and that I was kind of like a mom to them…I was moved to tears.
When I came back to the apartment, the man from the laundry mat next to my apartment came out saying, “Holly there is a huge box that arrived for you.” I thought it was strange; it was not my birthday, nor had I ordered anything…? “Ok I’ll come get it!” I replied. But he said, “No, it’s really heavy, I’ll bring it upstairs for you.” Appreciating his gentlemanly gesture, he brought it upstairs and there were gathered there a group of students from the ministry.
The box had no return address.
When I opened it, to my amazement, I found 9 Pounds of SOY-FREE Chocolate! Unbelievable!! I wept. Why do I ever doubt your love Oh Lord? To what great lengths will you confess your love if we have willing hearts to receive it?!
It turns out that it was sent by a friend of mine’s husband who is a chocolate salesman in California. He had mentioned about a year before that there is a place in Switzerland that makes soy-free chocolate only during Passover. He just happened to be in Switzerland and ordered me this big box and had it shipped and it just happened to arrive the day after I asked God to show me a sign of His romantic love.
If you ever wonder if God is listening to you, just ask Him. We must not demand a sign of course, but like children, if we ask in Faith, knowing that He wants to reveal Himself to us, He will….in a way that only our hearts will understand. This is what pleases the heart of God, if we trust Him, if we let Him love us, for He is Love.
What exactly is a God Moment? What makes one moment more important than any other? Is there just one, or many? How do you know it’s a God moment? Isn’t every day a God moment? How big or how small does it have to be? How am I to choose? I thought… I don’t have any specific moment that I knew of. But, I did.
The time comes for change as it inevitably does. But what to change? How? When? I knew that something had to happen. I was finally able to attend a Cornerstone weekend at Saint Peter’s in River Edge in 2007. The stories told that weekend completely changed me. I realized that God had not abandoned me but I him. I was so caught up in the horrors of my life that I had no time for him. I realized that the searching and wanting for change was to be found in Jesus and in my faith. I realized, at that moment, during that weekend, HE had been waiting for me to find him. Every time I had prayed for someone to love me, take care of me, respect me, and be there for me no matter what, He had been.
From that moment on things started to change quickly. My spiritual life was renewed. My heart was open to God. I was at peace; happier; satisfied; no longer searching for that unknown “something”. I wanted to do more with myself, for myself, and with my life. I tried to be more Christ like, more patient and understanding. I talked about how peaceful and happy I was. I talked about how I gave God control over my life and how I left it in his hands. But it wasn’t enough. I wanted to do more. I needed to find things to do that involved my religion. So I joined Saint Peter’s Cornerstone Team 13 and was consequently designated as a co-facilitator to our tabor group; became a CCD teacher; joined the Baptismal Preparation Ministry; was hired as an administrative assistant at the Archdiocese of Newark; enrolled in the Theology undergrad program at Seton Hall University; attended my first Journey retreat; and joined that team as well.
Most significantly, I was asked to be a Eucharistic Minister. Momentarily speechless, I said yes. This was something I never thought would happen. Ever since my confirmation, I wanted to be that person who gave the Body and Blood of Christ to people. Now I was being given that chance. The first time I ministered, I was so nervous. I had forgotten my training and I just followed everyone else and did what they did. I prayed I wouldn’t trip or forget the words to say or, worse, get someone who wanted the bread the ole fashion way… you know… directly in the mouth.
However, the GREATEST moment of that first time was when I looked down at the ciboria filled with wafers to make sure things were okay and my hands started to sweat. Not usually a good sign your first time. I realized, at that moment, that I was holding the Living… Body… of Jesus… Christ… in MY hands. MY! HANDS!
The world stopped;
St Peters and the parishioners disappeared in a loud woosh;
There was no sound;
There were no people;
There was no light;
It was just me…. and Jesus;
I was holding Jesus just as he has always held me.
Before I knew it, there was someone standing in front of me, patiently waiting, and I suddenly snapped out of it. Just like that it was over but it had felt like a lifetime. It was as if I had been in another place. There were people, and music, and light, and noise again. I floundered a bit because, in a sense, I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. I’m sure no one else noticed but the gentleman in front of me. I can’t tell you what happened after mass was over. I probably went to get lunch or ran errands. I can’t remember. But I will never forget that moment with Jesus. It was the most spiritual experience I’ve ever had and one I will never forget.
I don’t know where these titles are coming from, however, they are sincerely making my thoughts go rampant, as I go down memory lane. When you say God moment, it makes me think of when I truly heard God (the Holy Spirit) talk to me. I can remember a “God Moment” one month after the heavenly journey of my mom (my best friend), again through my beloved Aunt Ruth’s heavenly journey, and a near death experience. I will elaborate on the latter.
It was a lovely Saturday morning, and I was on my way to Atlantic City on a bus ride that I was chairing for the Parish Special Events committee. I woke with a kink in my right side. Thought nothing of it, but felt it, so I took some medicine – no time to get sick – I had too many things to do. Felt this kink all day, as I walked the bus to Atlantic City, distributing food, 50/50 tickets, sodas and all the rest of the night. The next day was Mother’s Day and I had to proclaim the Word of God in church that Sunday at 10:00 a.m. mass. Still feeling this kink in my side slightly more prevalent. All dressed-up for Mother’s Day (hat an all – sharp as a tack- if I must say so myself ), so I took some pain medication and off I go. No time to get sick - too busy. The men in the church were cooking breakfast for the mom’s, so I stayed after mass and I left around 2:30 p.m. The kink in my side had subsided somewhat, however, as soon as the pain medication wore-off, it was back.
Finally, I was on my way home, thinking to myself I will lay down (just need some rest). My girls called and wanted to take me to dinner, but I told them I just wanted to lay down because my side was bothering me. So, they decided to come over and bring Chinese food. We all sat down laughed and talked and diagnosed why I had this pain in my side. No – none of us are in the medical field. Mom, you don’t get enough rest, always running here and there, you are probably just tired, been out every weekend doing this and that, for this and that. We all laughed some more and then I decided to get some rest and sent them home.
As I gingerly climbed the upstairs to my bedroom - realizing the kink was now a pain, I turned out all the lights, closed the blinds and laid down. As I was going into a deep sleep, a voice call my name, “Mary” I moved in my sleep and heard the voice again, “Mary”, the next words filled my heart, “if you go to sleep you won’t wake-up.” The words were extremely profound and distinct. I woke-up out of my sleep looking around for someone in the room. Without a second thought, I leaned over out of the bed, staggered to the shower because I was sweating profusely, threw on a house dress, got in my car and drove to Beth Israel Hospital. Thank God, the hospital is only three minutes and two traffic lights away, which I caught both; and, it felt like the red lights lasted for an hour each as the pain raged inside of me.
Arriving at the hospital, I parked the car in the emergency area. The pain had now turned into a 1-10 equaling a 10! Needless-to-say, the hospital was packed with beds all along the wall and patients waiting to be helped. Dragging my body to the emergency desk, the lady asked, what is the problem and I responded, “I am about to die.” Next thing I knew, I was being rushed into a room that did not exist (with all these people in the hallways in beds) and doctors and nurses all around me – God was working His show! Somewhere between my house and the hospital I must have called my girls, because as I was being lifted into the hospital bed I saw them rushing towards me. I felt needles and tubes being put in both arms and the pain causing me to go in and out of consciousness. My girls told me to hold on the hospital had sent for a specialist who was in surgery in New York and was coming here right from there. New York, I thought as I blacked-out from the pain.
Suddenly, the pain woke me again and I could feel ice being rubbed on my lips. Every time I opened my eyes another family member, church family, friend, doctor, or nurse was in the room. I remember my general practitioner Doctor holding my hand and then my pastor was there. It had to be about 3 A.M. in the morning – did they think I was going to die? As I regained consciousness again, I saw my pastor leaving and as he caught my eye opening he went to waved good-bye. Immediately, in severe pain because even the morphine was not working, I mumbled, “No, no, not good-bye, see you later”. God had called my name, woke me up, gave me the strength to drive to the hospital before my body collapsed, opened a bed for me in an over-crowded hospital, was sending a specialist from New York -- I had heard from God and I knew I was going to be alright! Alleluia.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. John 16:13
I remain, standing on God's Promises,
because the one who made the
promises is forever faithful.
Dear Saint Christopher,
Protect me today in all my travels along the road’s way. Give your warning sign if danger is near so that I may stop while the path is clear. Be at my window and direct me through when the vision blurs from out of the blue. Carry me safely to my destined place, like you carried Christ in your close embrace. Amen.
I deemed it appropriate to open “My God Moment’ with the Prayer to St. Christopher for Safe Travels. Upon reflection, I have so many God Moments and not realizing during that particular time of distress, for seconds or minutes, that Someone Greater than ourselves has taken over. That particular moment was on a United Airlines flight to Aruba to begin a wonderful family reunion. Everyone was so excited as we were meeting family members from California and Massachusetts to celebrate “FAMILY”. As always, the beginning of our flight was uneventful as we were simply excited about all of the activities planned for the week. My husband and I were in business class as we REALLY LOVE the W-I-D-E seats while the rest of the family were in the rear of plane. After three hours into the flight, I was focused on the beauty of the sky………and a noticeable smell of something burning caught my attention! I recognized that smell……it was the burning smell of those chocolate chip cookies that are served on all of United’s Business flights. I nudged my husband to let him know that something was burning. At this very moment I saw three flight attendants running to the rear of the plane with 6 bottles of water in each of their arms. I KNEW SOMETHING WAS WRONG! As one of the attendants passed, I asked her about the situation. No response, just a worried look on her face. I leaned over my husband to see what was happening and I noticed a misty smoke forming in the rear of the plane. There appeared to be a noisy commotion but the smoke began to thicken. At this time, one of the flight attendants made an announcement and inquired whether there was a firefighter on board! I realized how serious the matter became and stretched to see if I could make any eye contact with my family. I woke up my husband as flight attendants were running past us again. I just remember telling my husband, “Paul, something terrible is happening on the plane. The attendants were running back and forth with water and they need a firefighter”. I was so nervous as the other passengers. I quickly asked an attendant, “Is the pilot going to land the plane?” Her response was simply, “Where?” My husband appeared to be way calmer than I was. One could hear people coughing in the rear of the plane. I asked my husband, “What is going to happen?” as passengers also became visibly nervous. I asked again as I was so visibly upset, “What should we do?” My husband responded, “Just Pray!” I began to pray “The Lord’s Prayer” and I just kept asking God “Please, God, just please land this plane somewhere or somehow”. I just kept my focus on God as I continued to pray and pleading to him to make us safe on this plane. I recall making so many promises and commitments to God….Daily Mass…Frequent Confession….Treating People Better…..just a promise to do what HE desires me to do! I just kept praying all of the prayers that I knew…..but I kept talking to God! I just wanted God to be present right at that moment!
WELL, GOD listened to me as GOD was always present! HE answered every prayer that I offered! GOD IS SO GOOD, ALL OF THE TIME! Within minutes, the pilot announced that he was in contact with Houston and all electrical components of the plane would have to be shut down! Once they were shut down, the smoke soon subsided and the smell lessened. The pilot once again announced that the problem had been resolved and we would be continuing the flight to Aruba. Although I was tremendously relieved at that moment, I still felt slightly uneasy! I continued to pray until that flight landed in Aruba! The pilot apologized on behalf of United Airlines and informed us that he was in constant contact with Houston. I was so happy that we landed and while the pilot was in contact with Houston, I was in contact with SOMEONE GREATER……GOD! I am so thankful to God, so caring and loving! I am so thankful to God, Who is constantly at work in my life each and every day! Thank You, God!
When I came into full Communion with the Catholic Church in 1995 it was a wonderful experience. I was pregnant with my first child and fully hormonal – I don’t remember absorbing that much about the preparation process, but I knew it was the right thing to do for me, and for my growing family – it just felt right. Shortly after our son Kevin was born we moved from Mahattan to Springfield to have more space and to be near the pending grandparents. We started attending St. Rose of Lima parish regularly and later decided to send our children to preschool and then grammar school there. At this point faith was a priority for our family but was limited to Sunday Mass and catholic school for our children. Flash forward to my son’s kindergarten year. That August I remember feeling a strange sensation, not unlike a mild stomachache – but yet something completely different. It continued to be there for many weeks, and as time went on I became aware that this was not a stomach-ailment, but the Lord pulling at my heart. At the same time both my children made new friends at St. Rose who were the youngest children of a devout family of seven. As it goes when your children make new friends, playdates are arranged and the mothers begin to get to know one another. This particular mom was an intelligent and articulate woman who spoke quite passionately (and quite often) about all things catholic. I remember many conversations in the parking lot during those first days and weeks – she would talk and I would listen. To be honest - most of the time I had no idea what she was talking about – but somehow I knew I was meant to hear what she had to share. So listen I did, and as time went on she introduced me to women’s bible studies (where I met friend and fellow Commission member Maureen Srinivasa) - Vacation Bible School for our children – to wonderful apologists (and fellow converts) like Scott Hahn– to musicians like Marie Bellet - and I devoured all of it like someone who had been on a 36-year fast. In an instant everything made sense – I could look back on my life and see the hand of God in all of it – and I was filled with the Spirit of Truth. I immediately understood and accepted the teachings of the Church without question, and I experienced first-hand the most “amazing grace.” It has strengthened my marriage, enhanced my relationships, and changed my entire life. It is why I remain committed to serving young people in the Church, and to the work of the Women’s Commission. I remain ever grateful for the people God placed in my life to help me on this journey – especially all the sisters-in-Christ who continue to inspire me to this day! From my high school friend’s mother who showed me what grace looks like, to the fellow school mom who helped fill my desire to really know Christ, and to fall in love with His Church – and to so, so many others along the way. God is good sisters – all the time!