Years ago when I was raising a family and trying to climb a corporate ladder, the Lord put a stumbling block in the path up that ladder. He put a renewed hunger in me for things of Him - things that had not been at the top of my list of 'things to do'. Oh, I never missed Sunday Mass, and I was quite active in our parish. I didn't do those things for the right reason though. They were done so people would see me, and notice me, and like me, and think I was a wonderful father and man-of-God. What a sham!
Even then, I could see the Lord had 'saved my bacon' on more than a few occasions. I was working in our company's corporate headquarters in Detroit, heading up a new department. I had been brought there from a Regional Manager's position in the Chicago area. I did well in the Chicago position - that is what got me moved to the Detroit headquarters.
I had been in positions that required face-to-face contact with our customer-clients. That required traveling and wining & dining. These three things helped generate business for our company, but generated a lot of 'bad' opportunities for a married man raising a family.
Are you familiar with the saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."? That was me. I believe God had his angels working overtime for me. Also, during this time, I became close to our pastor. That was a real switch for me - hanging out with a priest. He convinced me I should consider going into the Diocesan Permanent Diaconate Formation Program. I know now that I wasn't meant to become a Permanent Deacon - I was there because of what I would learn and experience while in the program.
I began taking night classes at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in east Detroit. My life and attitude was changing. I was beginning to see the issues in my life. I could look back and see the many mistakes of the previous 5-10 years - and there were plenty. I really wanted to go forward...with the Lord.
We lived 35 miles south of downtown Detroit. The seminary was 15 miles north northeast of downtown. Leaving work at 5pm to be at class which started at 7pm and ran until 9pm, there was no time to go home before class. I'd grab a bite to eat en route and get to the seminary early. That allowed time to finish off some assigned reading.
Occasionally, I'd go in the chapel before class. One particular night in October I was alone in the chapel [the anniversary of this event is what is prompting the telling of this tale]. I was praying in earnest about wanting to know the Lord more and better than I currently did. I also really wanted to change some lingering bad habits and behaviors.
Ka-blam! It was like a lightning bolt. I got HOT from the top of my head, down through my body to the bottom of my feet - and I began crying like a baby - and I began praying in tongues. That was something I'd heard about but had never experienced. There was no one with me, thank God, because I was crying, and praying in mumbles and babbles that were not forced on me, but involved some sort of a cooperation on my part that I didn't know the why or the how of - but it was happening, I assure you.
And I felt an immediate release of all kinds of internal turmoil and struggle - and I started behaving and talking and thinking differently. My wife and friends noticed almost immediately. It truly was 'a second chance'.
I was taking a course in 'Catechetics' that semester, but starting that night - the night of the 'event' - I craved to read the bible. I had never had that desire before.
Every time after that when I walked into that chapel, I would look over at the pew in which I was setting when the Lord answered my prayer - and I'd thank Him.
I've sinned since then, for sure - guess I'll never overcome that all together. But I've changed since then. Every day I should be on my face before God and thank Him for what He did for me then ... and for what the Father's Son did for me on the cross. I wish all of you would experience it! You can if you ask. I know - from personal experience.