For Non-Practicing Believers

Author: testimony

I dedicate my testimony to those who describe themselves as “non-practicing believers.” For many years I described myself this way. I went in the wrong direction, for in fact I was closed to God’s action in my life. Now, at age thirty, I feel like a wide-eyed infant in the new reality of the world, which God has opened up before me through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Poland, at Jasna Góra, Poland.

I always considered myself a Catholic, but I suppose I did not understand just what a treasure I had inherited from my parents and grandparents. At age nineteen, I returned to Poland after spending three years abroad. Unfortunately, I had used that time not only for study but also for miring myself in things unworthy of a believer; in fact, I treated that time as a period of selfish amusement. On returning to Poland, I continued my carefree ways. I had lots of friends and acquaintances who had status in society. For the most part, they were rich and “counted for something.” Alas, I was unable to be myself. I went with the flow. I lived by others’ values, which I took to be my own.

By the time I was twenty, I could no longer get along with my parents, especially my father. I thought I knew more about life than he. On Sundays I would “do” Holy Mass with my parents, and then right away resume my mindless lifestyle with my friends. At the same time, I pretended to be a good son raised in a religious home; but it was all appearances. In reality, I was deceiving my loved ones and myself. I lived a life of immorality and deceitful manipulation of those closest to me. I became more and more estranged from my family without even realizing it. My heart was a void, my soul a trash heap of impurity and deceit.

One day I learned that my thirty-seven year old uncle–my mother’s brother–had fallen seriously ill. He had advanced brain cancer. The condition was inoperable. The prospect of the man dying at any moment and leaving behind two growing children terrified us all. It was a family tragedy, which struck us like a bolt from heaven. After several months of my uncle undergoing treatment, we decided to go to Jasna Góra and pray for his health. We had no idea that this would signal a new life for us.

Rather ineptly, though sincerely, we entrusted ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Poland. Someone had slipped the prayer of consecration into our hands. That day marked the beginning of our family’s “reparative program.” The process was not easy; for, some of us put up a stiff resistance. Nevertheless, God’s grace flowing straight from the Immaculate Heart of Mary proved efficacious. The first stages of our purification lasted several weeks, but from that first visit each of us felt the great power of love permeating that holy place.

In my case, I went through a special period of growth. As a young man with friends from a variety of morally indifferent environments, I had seen the world as something purely material. The desire to experience physical pleasures was deeply rooted in me. Now, after that first visit to Jasna Góra, I began to pray, to go regularly to confession, and generally take God and His commandments seriously. My uncle’s condition was growing steadily worse, and yet our confidence in his recovery grew steadily stronger. I began to see great changes in my life. Some of these were not all that pleasant. Without clear cause, my friends and acquaintances began deserting me practically on a daily basis. It seemed strange to me that people should be telling me on the phone that they did not want to know me or ever see me again. But I did not allow this to upset me unduly. Already then I knew that after my act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my new Mother had resolved to rebuild my life from the foundations up. No detail was too small for her solicitous eye.

A few weeks after making the consecration, I broke up with my girlfriend; at the same time, my relations with my father took a sudden turn for the better. Neither of us seemed to have any control over this turn of events, but we were clearly delighted. My father felt he had a son. I, in turn, felt that my father was my real friend and partner. We decided to start up a small family business based on God’s principles. For this reason, I am convinced it will survive even the greatest crisis.

Practically every weekend our whole family, including my sick uncle, made a trip to Jasna Góra. Sometimes only my mother, father, and I went. I felt then, as I do now, that an unseen hand was leading us along the road to salvation. Almost half a year after our first visit to Jasna Góra, my uncle’s MRI brain scan produced ideal results. The main tumor and all the inflammatory foci had vanished without a trace. Today I know that God’s purpose lay not so much in healing my uncle as in healing our whole family. His greatest miracle was in the great changes He wrought in our lives. I often wonder at the fact–and this with a sense of shame–that in order to show me, palpably, the strength of His power and Love, God the Father felt compelled to work through Our Blessed Mother. Unless you see, you will not believe! I saw and I experienced. I also wonder how I deserved such a grace. Thank you, Lord, for letting me know who I am and that there is no insuperable problem or situation that does not have a way out, for I am in the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God!

After the events here described, I met and soon married a wonderful woman named Catherine. We first met in church. The day after our wedding we traveled with our guests in a rented coach to Jasna Góra, where at our Holy Mass, my wife and I consecrated our family, our future, and ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We have twins–two sons named Peter and Paul. This was the next marvelous grace to shower our family. My wife and I never thought we would have two children at once, though we always said that we would like to have many.

I pray that we will be able to raise our children so that they will not need to see with their own eyes in order to believe. I pray that they will never call themselves non-practicing believers. I trust it will be so, for we have entrusted them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Poland; and we will entrust our next children to her as well.

 

Bartek from Warsaw 

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