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How is it possible for a person to be brought up in a Catholic home; attend a Catholic school; participate at Mass regularly; frequently receive the Sacraments; engage in numerous church activities and still suffer a crisis of faith? This is my history, and the beginning of my personal living testimony of the "Good Shepherd", Jesus Christ, who led me the way for one of His straying sheep.
Approximately 8 years ago, I experienced a crisis of faith, the symptoms of which were cynicism, negativism, moodiness, and conflict within and outside my family. I attended church only out of obligation, and as an example for my children. Although I served as a lector at church, I found the word of God irrelevant and the liturgy boring. Not only was God "dead" to me, I was diagnosed by a medical specialist to be suffering from a incurable disease, "Ankylosing Spondylitis", (see arthritic deterioration of the spine).
It was at this terrible dark period of my life that the Lord chose to offer me a brilliant life in the form of an invitation to attend a Charismatic Prayer meeting. I accepted this gracious offer, and since that day and my subsequent Baptism in the Holy Spirit, which has enriched and expanded, not only my spiritual life, but all aspects of my personal life as well. Through the Charismatic Renewal, I have come to understand the importance of the complete release of the Holy Spirit in my life (not as some impersonal force like magnetism or gravity, but as the living, loving, healing Person of the Blessed Trinity!
As I learn to turn every part of my life over to Jesus, I am discovering an even greater freedom for the Holy Spirit to change my life. The gifts of the Holy Spirit as mentioned by St. Paul in 1st Corinthians 12:8-11 have taken on a new meaning for me, and have greatly enhanced my spiritual life. Prayer, which at one time was difficult, has now become natural and spontaneous. Holy Scripture, which had once seemed so boring, has now become beautiful and meaningful to me; my parish has now become one of the main focal points of my life, as a Steven Minister, as a Eucharistic Minister, as a participant in our Men's Saturday Morning Prayer and Share Group, and as a teacher in my prayer group.
The Charismatic Renewal has brought into my life, not only a deeper respect and reverence for my Catholic heritage, but has also taught me respect and reverence for other Christian denominations as well (a living Ecumenism as I often praise, pray and fellowship with Christians of other denominations). By the Grace of God, the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as named in Galatians 6:22-23, are now growing daily in my life. And as a bonus, the Lord chose to heal me of my physical illness at a prayer meeting. This healing was witnessed by many other Christians, and confirmed by my doctor. Our sovereign Lord is using many means to renew His church today. The Charismatic Renewal is one of these means, and the one He chose to impart to me. May I always thank and praise His for these blessings!