(I have a significant post I am working on and hope to have up tonight. Meantime, I have several wonderful guest columns awaiting publication. This first is from Andy Hagedorn, one of the moderators at the Mother of God Forum. Andy’s story is familiar to many of us; living in misery while wrestling with God, thinking we have found a better way – then finally finding real joy and peace when we quit wrestling with the Master)
By Andrew Hagedorn
“Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” – Matthew 11:28
Marti and some others inspired me to share how God brought me back after many years of trying to come back. In the end He finally used a Baptist friend of mine to bring me home.
I was born to a Catholic family in 1976. I have loved the Lord from early childhood. I went to Catholic elementary school and from first grade on I was hooked on all things having to do with Jesus and our faith. My family always would joke around with me saying I would become a priest. At the time I took that to be ridicule. It would bother me in the way they would joke about it when I would be talking about Jesus or what we learned in school that day. My parents did not take us to Sunday mass much, mainly because my father was unhappy with the priest seeming to always lecture from the pulpit about how the parents of the parish did not give enough money to the church. My parents were not very devout but my two grandmothers were. My Godmother is the holiest person I have ever known. She suffers greatly in life but never misses Mass or prayer. She is a great inspiration and the perfect Godmother.
In seventh grade my family moved us away from Catholic school to public school. Looking back this is what started to pull me away from the church of my birth. If God was calling me back then, I do not recall now and probably could not hear His whisper in the wind. I was a typical high school kid – and then college kid in the US; curious, experimental and full of mischief and sin. I did not think I was a bad kid in the terms of our society. But looking back now I think I was a bad kid in the mind of the Lord; full of grave, immoral sin. The devil definitely had a strong grip on me, the once upon a time little boy who used to be filled with love and joy for the Lord. Thinking back on it now brings me great sadness to be corrupted and pulled away by the world. So many kids and young adults these days are so far from the innocence they once knew and probably the closeness to and love for Jesus they once had.
I married young for my generation at 23 to a Catholic girl I knew from grade school and college. We never dated until after college. We did not want to have kids right away and waited a few years to start trying. In 2004 we were excited to learn that we were pregnant. This excitement would not last for long for we were soon dealt a terrible shock. On December 18, 2004, God blessed us with our little angel, Leah. The excitement over the birth of our daughter quickly changed when instantly we knew there were problems. Our little Leah was not breathing right and was rushed into intensive care within 15 minutes of her birth. Four hours later she was transferred to Children’s Hospital. From this point on the testing began to find out what was wrong with her. Two weeks later we finally knew what it was. Our little angel had an extremely rare neurological disorder called aicardi syndrome. This is her story if you want to learn more: http://archive-org.com/page/2153985/2013-05-24/http://www.aicardisyndrome.org/site/node/152
She came home after 6 weeks in the hospital in hospice care and we did not know how long she would have with us. During this time of grief I realized that you only had two options, be angry with the Lord or run to His arms. I ran to His arms. I became as devout and trusting as they come. Sadly, I just was not ready yet. I guess I had been gone too long. By May of 2005 I was once again away from the church and had been lured to the New Age world. The devil had me again. I became so full of pride and believed that the Catholic faith and Bible were just too small of a story and believed there was so much more. I joined a new age message board and quickly became a moderator of this group who I felt were my true spiritual family. I was seduced by love over fear which of course is fully present in our Catholic faith, but I just did not see it at the time. In May of 2006, our little Leah was called home to God. This was a dark time for my wife and me. I was so helpless and angry and lost without her. My wife and I separated. I filed for divorce. After being away from her for about a month I completely hit rock bottom. It was a dark time in my life. Thankfully, somehow God began to lift me up and help me realize the mistake I made. I begged my wife to take me back. I tried to help her see how wrong, how blind I was – that all my anger against her was not because I did not love her but because of my grief. She took the brunt of it and I was so deeply sorry. I fought hard for her but was losing.
I will never forget this day as long as I live. My mother has a close, devout friend who has gifts of seeing things and can see evil and help rid it from you. I met with her at my mom’s house one day. While praying she goes into a deep trance-like state that she does not recall what happens during it. I was skeptical but still entranced in the new age mystical world so thought why not. While deep in prayer all of a sudden she stood up and came behind me and literally was beating on my back and I could feel her pulling things off of me. She then sat back in her chair and came out of her deep prayer. She told me that there was evil all over me and through that prayer she took it all away. I have to admit that I felt incredible and full of joy and freedom all of a sudden. I was on top of the world and confident that I would get my wife back because that night all our friends were going out and I knew she was going to come too. Boy was I wrong. The absolute bottom came that evening when she said no: she was going out on a date with a new guy and wanted to bring him out with our friends. I was so angry with her and devastated because she wanted to come without me. I told her I was going to go and she and “her date” would have to do something else. I was devastated. Instantly my phone rang. It was my mother. She asked me what was wrong. I told her – then asked how she knew. She told me that her friend had just called me and that the evil was back and attached to me. I went out and got obliterated. I could not get out of bed the next day. It was bad enough that I had lost her forever but it was also the birthday of my angel Leah. Like I said it was a dark time but it is the absolute darkest right before the dawn.
Everything changed in an instant the next day. At noon the phone rang. It was my wife. She asked me to go with her that night to our friend’s Christmas party. I asked her what changed. She told me she went on the date and he was a nice enough guy but he was not me and she missed me. We had a date that night and began to repair all the damage and hurt we had gone though together. Just three weeks later all the pain was gone and God blessed us with the most wonderful news and gift. We were pregnant again. I was full of fear of course but trusted in God. Needless to say I was not Catholic again yet but God did not give up on me. It was a girl and we named her Makayla after St. Michael. It is strange looking back because even though I was not actively Catholic I still loved Jesus and that faith of my youth. That little boy who loved the Lord was still in me and not giving up. Two years after that we were pregnant again. My son was born and we named him Andrew John after my grandfather, my uncle and myself as well as her father who passed away in 2003. Of course he has the name of two apostles: the first to find Our Lord and the one whom Jesus loved. Time was moving fast and I was still greatly entrenched in the New Age world and moderating a new age board that was growing and growing.
In 2012 I decided to take Lent very serious. I wasn’t going to church but yet still Catholic at the core and still loved the Lord. God was calling me still but I was not ready to listen. All that changed at the beginning of Lent in 2013. Once again I wanted to take Lent very serious but this time I wanted to get closer to the Lord. I was still full of so much pride and ego for my “spiritual new age knowledge”. I had a close relationship with a devout Baptist and we would have quite the conversations. It took one question from her one day that stunned me and rocked me to my core. She asked me, “do you know where you are going to go when you die?” I could not answer this. I said, “I think but how does anyone know such things?” She said she knew for sure. All that weekend I could not think of anything else. I wanted that certainty. I wanted what she had. It was Sunday, March 17, 2013 when it finally hit me. I was watching that series on the History Channel called The Bible and it was the part covering the nativity. I was balling my eyes out with tears of joy and had to pause it. I turned and looked up and just wept and begged the Lord to forgive me, have mercy on me, help me and bring me back. Even as I write this now the tears are welling up in my eyes. I was finally ready.
God had called and called and called and never given up but it took me to call Him for my reversion to finally begin. I still was not back to my Catholic faith. In all actuality I felt “saved” and was looking into the Baptist faith but deep down I knew I could not give up the faith of my youth. That little boy and his love for Jesus was screaming out to me. I wanted to be Catholic again but actually was poisoned by the notion of worshiping Mary. I just did not get it – and I was a Catholic from birth! Thankfully the Lord sent me a wonderful friend at work to help me get through this. He is a truly devout man and fellow disciple of the Lord. He is a walking saint and he has helped me greatly and I him in ways he never dreamed. He and I became on fire for the Lord. I began to go back to church, confession for the first time in 7 years and to the Eucharist, which I had missed for so long. It was so wonderful and amazing. I became obsessed with the faith and truth and knowledge and was soaking up as many books as I could. I even called out to Our Mother and began to pick up the Rosary again for the first time in 7 years. I was back but also felt like a spiritual infant. Then Our Mother helped me to find the most wonderful little corner and family of the internet, the motheofgod forum. That place was so full of wonderful people and information and I grew and grew and grew in my love, trust and faith. The graces from heaven also began to come one after the other. I have had so many wonderful little miracles that I could continue to type and type and type but they are all there if you dig into the motheofgod forum once it is open again on October 21. The most amazing of them all have to do with discovering the brown scapular. The wonderful little miracles about the brown scapular are too numerous to mention, just ask Kathy K who posts in here from time to time and who is gracious enough to keep making these wonderful scapulars and sending them to me to pass out to the world. I have probably given out over 100 of these in the past year anonymously for the most part, except to the family at MOG. I have also been visited by what I can assume are souls in purgatory one being my father in law who have asked me to pray for them. I have been inspired to make prayer books (5 now with the most recent one to arrive any day now which is all about the passion of our Lord!!) and leave them randomly in the church for I don‘t want any accolades or temptation to my pride. I also did a complete turn-around on Mary and became her slave through the consecration to Jesus through Mary on January 1, 2014. I have received the most amazing little gifts from heaven. I have heard the blessed Mother speak to me twice. It is amazing and will bring even the hardest man to his knees and make him cry like a baby.
The devil was not done with me though and he has tried to attack me twice this year physically and get me back and over the summer I think he did open the door a bit because I fell again into darkness and sin for a few weeks but thankfully the Lord pulled me out. I hate when I feel like I fail Him and His tests but thankfully Our Jesus is so merciful. Through true confession he ignites my heart on fire again. The devils first attack came the day after I made my consecration. He came in a dream that quickly turned to reality in my bedroom as an evil spirit hovered over me and then moved to my sleeping wife to try to touch and her in a sexual manner. I grabbed it and it was on me holding me down at my chest just pressing my miraculous medal. I was not scared at all and knew what to do instantly. I called out to Our Mother and before I could finish her name in the Hail Mary, the evil was gone. The second time was right at the end of one of those dark times where I fell away again just in the past three months. I pulled myself out of that funk – or rather, the Lord did. The evening I called out to Him and to Our Mother to help me and finish praying the Rosary which I had abandoned again for a few weeks, I could feel something grab my leg violently and then push me. I was not bothered at all because I felt like the evil that was on me was now on the outside looking in and pushed me in anger because it could not have me anymore. I think that is enough of my life for now. It has been an amazing turn of events for me in my life and I thankful every day for the mercy of Our Lord and the love of Our Mother. I don’t know what the future holds for me. It scares me sometimes. You hear so much talk of remnant and every time I hear about the remnant it saddens me greatly because I just don’t feel worthy enough to be considered in those numbers. I have come to know so many wonderful, devout walking saints and I walk amongst them, but I always feel like the tax collector not worthy of such grace and love or such honor to be amongst them. I feel so much sorrow of my past sins and ways but believe in the mercy of the Lord. I have full trust in Him and will always try my best to submit to His will.
If there are two things that pertain to me most in my life from the bible it is these:
“I am the servant of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy will!”
“My God be merciful to me a sinner!”
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story and my reversion. May God Bless You All!! and have Mercy on You All as He has me!
Much love always, -Andrew Hagedorn aka Andy3 moderator on www.motheofgod.com aka Heavenstillspeaks on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/Heavenstillspeaks/