About Jesus, who surprises

I practised in order to open myself to the so-called “lucid dreaming”, I experienced sleep paralysis and could feel some kind of evil presence in my room.

I would never imagine that my life may turn this way. Had somebody told me 12 years ago that I were to become a priest, I would have laugh at him. I would have never expected that Jesus was able to surprise me so much…

Even though I grew up in a traditional Catholic family, in which from my childhood we always went to Sunday mass and roraty [traditional Polish morning liturgy in Advent], at some point the traditional faith ceased to satisfy me. I was a short, quiet child with low selfesteem and didn’t excel in anything. So I began to look for something that I could do to aggrandize myself in the eyes of other people, so that I would get some recognition especially from my peers, whom I very much wanted to impress and to show them that I wasn’t “weak Martin”. I found articles on the Internet about so-called “lucid dreaming” and immediately began to incorporate this into my life. Then I took an interest in astral voyages, psychotronics and the opening of chakras, and I was sinking ever deeper into it. The background for all this was heavy metal music, which for me was an important escape from the world – I had my headphones over my ears practically all the time. My addiction to music reached so far that I couldn’t fall asleep without heavy-metal music in the headphones over my ears. Along with a deepening interest in occultism, the music that I listened to started to “grow heavier” – ultimately it was limited to black metal, that is, music derived from the cult of evil.

It was my friend Tom, who lived in an apartment building near me, who led me into the environment of heavy metal music. He also encouraged me to familiarize myself with the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. We were filled with a sense of rebellion against the world around us.

Over time, I began to notice some strange things start to happen in my life. First, I started experiencing a panicky fear of darkness. I didn’t know what the source of this fear was. I wasn’t afraid of someone jumping out of the darkness and attacking me or beating me, but I was afraid of the darkness itself. During one of the exercises I practised in order to open myself further to the so-called “lucid dreaming”, I experienced sleep paralysis and could feel some kind of evil presence in my room. I was unable to move my body or do anything. Everyone who is practising lucid dreaming experiences this. It’s one of the first signs of losing control over what you’re doing and uncovering the illusion that in fact it’s really not about the possibilities of the human mind, but about opening oneself to the spiritual world which lies beyond this.

Then it became all the more difficult. I began to experience the personal presence of evil spirits. After one of the exercises, I began to feel the presence of one of them behind me, and I couldn’t do anything to free myself from this feeling. Even standing with my back against the wall didn’t free me from the feeling that there was something behind me. It seemed completely irrational, but also very real. I had that feeling twenty-four hours a day.

At that time, I started having problems with sleep, because I always felt this “something”. When I listened to heavy music (especially the group Tool), I would start to growl and couldn’t control it. Then, I started to fear my own self. I didn’t know what I might do next, or what I could expect from myself. My life was slipping all the more out of my control. It finally came to the point that after one of the exercises that I practised (to open the chakras), this “someone” whom I felt behind me ordered me during a walk through town to step in front of oncoming cars. I could see then that I no longer controlled my own legs. Gradually, I stepped from the pavement into the street, even though I didn’t want to do it myself. Then I suddenly fell to the ground. I didn’t know what was happening. I was terrified. The first thought that came to my head was: “Yikes, someone wants to kill me. Somebody really wants me dead”. I didn’t connect it in any way to a spiritual battle between God and Satan. I don’t know how long I sat on the pavement, but when I stood up, I grabbed a nearby fence, and holding onto it tightly, returned home fearing that I might walk into the street again. Once I reached home, I didn’t go out again for several days. I was afraid that I might never return.

Even though I grew up in a traditional Catholic family, at some point the traditional faith ceased to satisfy me

I happened across a group of people on the Internet who sang socalled “unblack” metal. This is musicthat has the same form as black metal, but it has a different message: these people sing about Jesus. This was unacceptable for me. How could you sing about God with this kind of music?! Wasn’t this music evil?! My attitude towards them was all disdain and mockery. However, after exchanging a few opinions and e-mails, I was impressed by two things about these people: first, that they didn’t treat me the way I treated them; and secondly, that they were really trying to live according to what was written in the Bible. For them it was not an ordinary book. They said that God speaks through it. They read it every day, often quoted it and said that it was a measure of everything for them and that it was filled with power. This left me astonished and wondering. I could understand when a priest, a nun or a catechist told me these kinds of things, but these were people from a heavymetal subculture. I was wondering what their point was.

Over time, I began to notice some strange things start to happen in my life. First, I started experiencing a panicky fear of darkness

One day, I was sitting in my room feeling down. I looked at a shelf where a Bible was sitting, got up, took it down, and for the first time in my life said straight from my heart: “God, if you exist, I’d like to meet You”. I opened it randomly and found the forty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight” (Isa 43:1–4). I’ll never forget what happened to me then. I felt an amazing warmth coming over my entire body. I started to cry. It was the first time I had ever cried that way; in fact, I howled at full blast! It was an incredible cry of relief. At the same time, I felt something like a sword piercing me through. Then I read that the word of God is like a two-edged sword (Heb 4:12). I had no doubt that God was talking to me. I felt in myself a wonderful peace which I had never experienced before. I also noticed that I didn’t feel the presence of any evil spirit around me, and I was no longer afraid. It was awesome! I spent the whole day reading the Bible. And when the evil spirits made themselves known, I grabbed the Bible and started reading it, and they withdrew immediately. Then I read that I am redeemed through the Blood of the Son of God, and that nothing can snatch me from the hands of God. Then I understood that the ordeal on the pavement when I felt an urge to walk into the traffic was the moment when Jesus came into my life and said: “enough”.

That was the beginning. I read the Bible. I still listened to the “unblack” heavy metal music, thanks to which I changed my perception of God. Before, there had been the infantile “God from the picture”; now, thanks to this music, an image of His Almighty Omnipotence, before which the whole earth trembles, began to take shape within me. And it’s exactly this God that protects me. It’s an amazing thing to have such a powerful God!

Jesus had given me a second life. I knew this. I felt in myself a desire to share; since God could do this to me, He could do it to everyone else as well. I wanted to tell all those around me about Jesus. I experienced the same thing that the Apostles did: “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. This life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.” (1 John 1:1–2). My friend was surprised when he found out that I was reading the Bible, because for him there was no God. He would meet me every day after school and we wandered around the neighbourhood. We wandered around the lake, sat for hours at the stadium and talked about God. What was interesting was that he started all the conversations, because he wanted to prove to me that God didn’t exist. He brought up arguments that, if God did exist, there wouldn’t be wars or illness or the like. I didn’t manage to refute these arguments, and still can’t today, but I knew one thing: no matter what he said, he couldn’t deny what I had experienced myself; no one can take that away from me.

After more or less three months of discussions with Tom, the idea came to me that since I knew how to talk about God with my friend, who was a non-believer, why couldn’t I do the same with other people. So I thought perhaps I should consider going to a seminary. But I rejected the idea immediately. After all, I wore truck boots and an army “cube” backpack and dressed in black; and all that wouldn’t fit into the environment of the seminary. I still smile today that I once said that candidates for the seminary had to be people who from their childhood wouldn’t even go to the bathroom without their hands folded. I had no idea how wrong I was.

It was the first time I had ever cried that way; in fact, I howled at full blast! It was an incredible cry of relief

The idea of the priesthood stuck with me for a long time. The more I resisted it, the stronger it came back to me. I know that this was the time when God was fighting for me. At this time, it emerged that the people who played the heavy metal and told me about Jesus were the Assembly of God and used sect methods to entice me to join them. They falsified the image of Mary, the saints and the whole church in my mind. One by one, I started to discover how they were trying to manipulate me, and I broke off all contact with them.

The time leading up to my school-leaving exams turned out to be a watershed for me. Because of my negligence in taking notes in class, I didn’t have anything to study from for the exams. So Tom and I ordered CDs with exam preparations over the Internet and studied from those. The package arrived a week before the exams. I knew that I had to use the time I had left to me as intensively as I could. I studied the entire first day. After a short sleep, I woke up at 5 in the morning and the first thought that came into my head had to do with going to the seminary. I couldn’t think of anything else. I was angry at God that these thoughts came to me when I needed to be alert to study for the exams. I remember that all the next day I was very sleepy; I read a lot, but I didn’t remember much of it. The next night I woke up at 4 a.m., and my first thought was: “go to the seminary”! “This is too much. I can’t take it”, I thought. So I made a deal with God: “If these ideas are coming from You, and You can work it out for me to be able to sleep tonight and pass the exams, I’ll go to the seminary for two months and prove to You that I’m no good for it. They’ll throw me out and I’ll study computerscience. Amen.” I fell asleep. The next night, I slept peacefully. Then I passed the exams, so it was a matter of honour to go to the seminary. I did what I had promised. There had been a lot of adventures along the way, but it wasn’t until I reached the seminary that my life in Jesus really started, and I discovered His healing mercy. One nun, when she found out about my deal with Jesus, made this conclusion: “You made a deal with God to spend two months in a seminary? But you forgot that with God, one day is like a thousand years?” (2 Pet 3:8)

I felt in myself a desire to share; since God could do this to me, He could do it to everyone else as well

I went to the seminary reluctantly, thinking that they would quickly throw me out. They didn’t throw me out. It turned out that a spiritual father is appointed for each seminarian, so that he will have someone to talk with about everything. I was full of distrust and suspicion, but the seminary spiritual father turned out to be very patient. The time in the seminary was an incredible time of inner healing and of healing my life history, of getting to know myself and discerning my place in life.

In my heart, I had a deep desire to experience renewal in the Holy Spirit in the seminary. Unfortunately, the rector wouldn’t permit me to attend the meetings that took place in the nearby parishes. I tried a couple of times, but nothing came of it. That continued to perplex me. I decided to buy a textbook for leading a seminar and taught myself. I heard that after finishing this seminar people experienced unusual things. But for me there was nothing. I thought that it didn’t work. A few weeks later, during Holy Mass, I felt an urge during the universal prayer to pray for the people who were spontaneously offering their requests up to God. I whispered the words of the prayer. I felt how they started to gain momentum, and at a certain moment it came to me that I didn’t understand what I was saying – I had begun speaking in tongues.

During that Eucharist, I experienced something unusual that continued for a little while. I was convinced that the most beautiful prayer was the prayer through the word amen. When I uttered this word and closed my eyes, I saw how everything created on earth in a fraction of a second “took wing” through my mind and gave glory to God. In that fraction of a second I saw so many things in such detail that I could list every one of the creations in order. I understood then who I was. It would be up to me to help people grow closer to God and to glorify Him.

After the Holy Mass, I met a woman at the door of the chapel. I felt that I was supposed to approach her and strike up a conversation. I had no idea about what. We started to talk; I don’t remember what I said. But I could see tears welling up in her eyes and after a moment she burst into tears and hugged me. Then her husband came up. I thought he would punch me in the nose. After all, his wife had her arm thrown around me. In a moment, she “unstuck” herself from me and told her husband: “This young man answered all the questions that we had offered up to God”. Finally, we all had a good cry together. From that moment, I began to experience God in the charism of the Holy Spirit. A new chapter opened in my life, and I began to experience in a new way that Jesus was alive; that His word was alive and active. He directs me constantly and never gives up on me. I see that Jesus lives in His church. He is unchanging: yesterday, today, the same forever. (Heb 13:8)

Today I am a priest, and I see that God used the difficult times in my life in order to send me to people who are going through the same thing that I once experienced

Today I am a priest, and I see that God used the difficult times in my life in order to send me to people who are going through the same thing that I once experienced. God is able to draw blessing from any muddy puddle, because “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28)

Fr. Martin Modrzyński