I've been hanging out in Corpus Christi for about ten days now; giving talks on the Holy Spirit in Scripture in some parishes, giving four talks on a weekend retreat called, Catholic Journey of Faith, doing some gifts interviews, a Q&A at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, and doing some administrative work for the Institute.
Catholic Journey of Faith is one of about a dozen different parish evangelization processes found in the diocese of Corpus Christi. This is an eight-week course offered in a parish, with a 45 minute talk each week followed by Q&A and a small group discussion. The seventh week includes a Saturday retreat with more presentations, singing, adoration, and prayers for healing. I gave a three-hour session on Sunday on applying what people had learned and experienced on the retreat, and gave a plug for the Called & Gifted workshop that will be held at the Cathedral this coming weekend.
The goals of the CJOF are "to provide a group study environment for Catholics, Christians, Protestants, and non- Christians, to all come together to either deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ or to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We come together to promote fellowship to strengthen our parish community and to lift up the Body of Christ. We conduct ourselves in accordance with church teachings, sacred scripture of the Catholic Bible and the Catechism.
To develop all human talents given to us to glorify God through Song & Praise (Music) worship, Bible study and group discussion, a better understanding of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. To promote stewardship and to be docile to the Holy Spirit as John Paul II called us to do. To foster a conversion of hearts and a commitment to Jesus Christ."
At the evening session that followed the retreat Tuesday night, a 16 year-old girl who is unmarried and six months pregnant stood up and gave this testimony, which I share with you.
Growing up as a child I wasn’t really into my faith. My parents would literally have to drag me and my sister to church. I guess when your struggles get even worse at such a young age you really have no one to turn to but God. Our family wasn’t perfect and where we lived wasn’t perfect, but like my mama put it, “at least the roof didn’t leak”.
On October 22, at a papal audience, Pope Benedict said, "Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us."
Last May, we were the chosen family for a new house. It was for the Habitat for Humanity. It took about 19 months to build and we finally have a house that we can say “won’t fall apart”. I know our family, especially my mother, wanted this house. I say, “my mother especially” because without her and her trust and faith in God, we would have never got to where we are now. And if it wasn’t for my mom, I would’ve never started coming to the Journey of Faith and I’m so glad I did. It’s really nice to wake up in the morning on a Tuesday and say “Today’s another day I can get closer to the Lord”. When they mentioned the retreat, I thought maybe this will be good for me and it was. It turned out to be one of the wonderful things I’ve done on my own.
The day of the retreat when I entered the kitchen to eat my breakfast, I noticed the upper part of my back started hurting and earlier in the days, it hurt, so I wasn’t concerned, it usually went away. When I sat with my team (on the retreat), it got worse, then I felt nauseated. Either I was going to cry or release the stomach pain. So I did what I had to do, I went to the restroom and threw up. My grandma came in with my mother and I told them I had to change clothes. My grandma asked my mom if she wanted her to take me home. And I really couldn’t think of why it was hurting so bad. Then I snapped and told my mom “I’m coming back!” So we left, I changed and came back. The pain went away when we left the retreat and as I walked back in the doors, the pain got even worse. But I stuck it out just a bit longer, then the pain got unbearable to the point where I felt I couldn’t stand. I wanted to go home, but then all I could think of was what made me snap earlier in the day and I told God “I’m not giving up, I’m staying.” I tried everything to relieve the pain. I even thought maybe going to confession would help. Talking to Susan (one of the speakers and a member of the Intercessors of the Lamb) about how much I’ve been hurt and still nothing relieved the pain. Susan really wanted me to stay for the Mass and the Healing Service, so I sucked it up and stayed.
I’m so happy that I did, because a lot things came out of this day that were good. I learned to forgive the people that I expected I would never forgive. I prayed more than I have prayed in my life. And out of my whole pregnancy, now 6 months, my little girl received the Holy Eucharist for the first time. So I got a lot out of those two days.
Now for my ending, I want to explain to you what made me snap… it was Satan. He knew my being there would change me for the better and bring me closer to God. Walking out of the retreat the second day, I was so angry but yet so happy and it was because Satan put me through so much pain, but he did not win. The saddest part of all of this is that it took me 16 years to realize that the Lord will never give up on me and He loves me more than I will ever know. He’s real in every way and for the time that’s left, I need to keep my faith in Him. Without Him, there is no possible way of living our lives easily.
Looks like it happened for this young girl.