(This marvelous little tale of hope is from a reader, Brian, from Ontario, Canada. In a neat little twist, Brian became a profound sign of hope for a woman just by living his ordinary faith – and the woman became a sign of hope for Brian by sharing why he had moved her. This is how we build each other up and knit together once more a vibrant culture of life, hope and solidarity with each other – CJ)
By Brian, Bradford, Ontario
I’ve been reading you for well over a year and a half. I was shown your website and blog readings by my mother (a devout Catholic).
Everything you have written has intrigued me. I want to say that your calling to help guide others through the storm has been difficult for you at times, but a relief to have you there for us. I truly thank you for persevering and being a strong sherpa.
I have to admit that I struggled to find “my way” of taking the next right step & being a sign of hope for others. That is a beautiful way to live your life and support those around you. I struggled because most of my friends aren’t practicing Catholics. Any time a conversation arises about the state of the world, I want so badly to lead them to your website and let them read what you have spoken. They wouldn’t understand. I tried discussing with two of my closer friends, as well as my girlfriend what is coming upon us and how to gain protection. They seem to agree with me to my face, but their actions speak volumes that they don’t believe or care.
This morning as mass finished, I was leaving the pew, genuflected, and started walking towards the back of the church. Across the aisle, a women was leaving her pew, genuflected and walked beside me as we headed towards the back. She smiled at me and said “Can I talk to you for a moment?” I said “Sure?”, unsure where this conversation was headed. She said simply “You’re an inspiration to me”. I was shocked. How could I, a person she never spoke to before be an inspiration to her? She said “I see you here each Sunday, a young 30 year old, tattooed man who seems to truly enjoy being here and participating in the mass. You give me hope for my children who are about your age and have fallen away from the Church”.
All I could do was say “thank you, that means a lot to me”. She asked if I’d been in Bradford for long and I told her I had just moved here a few months back. I also had to come clean that I was a little older than she originally thought. She was surprised to hear I was almost 38 and was a Grandfather. I told her I had a 19yr old daughter, a 16yr old son and an 8 month old grand-daughter (from my daughter). I had to smile when she called me “baby face”.
She continued to tell me that her children had grown up with her and her husband as practicing Catholics. They had been baptized, confirmed and all. They were also home schooled. Shortly after turning 18-20, they fell away one by one. I admitted to her that that sounds very similar to my life (minus the home schooling). I was brought up going to church every Sunday and sometimes in between. I (like her children) lost interest and stopped going to church. She went on to say how difficult it is to watch your children fall away, no matter how much you pray they return. She asked about me and what my story was. I said quite simply, I needed to do my own thing for a while. I didn’t go into great detail about my return to the church, except to say “through conversations with my mom and private conversations between myself and Jesus, I knew this is where I needed to be”. At this point she was crying. She said she prays so very hard for her children that they’d come back to the church as well. At this point, I wanted so badly to tell her everything I learned reading your blogs. Instead, I leaned into her and said “I assure you, over the next couple of years, your kids will be shown the right path”. This of course is knowing that the rescue will come in late 2017.
Wiping away more tears, she thanked me, I thanked her and we went our separate ways. I walked back to my car and sat there dumbfounded. I had never been told I was an inspiration to anyone in my entire life. It was even more curious that she had this thought of me just because I was actively going to church. I asked Jesus and Mary to please pray and aid the nice woman, her husband and her 3 children that they come back to the church and lead more holy lives. I prayed an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be for them, crossed myself and sat there again quietly before starting my car. It dawned on me, that in a small way, I was a sign of Hope to this woman!
Without even trying, by living my life the best way I can, I was a sign of Hope. I Thanked Jesus for letting this woman have the courage to open up to me and that I could help her in a small way.
Home I went, smiling the whole way.
I’ll continue to pray for her and her family. I also keep you, Charlie in my prayers. God bless and stay strong.
Brian from Bradford Ontario, Canada.