This past Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany which is when the Three Wise Men visited the Holy Family with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The word epiphany can also mean an awakening in a person- a revelation of sorts. This week reminded me of my own personal epiphany back in 2005.
I was a cradle Catholic- Mass every week, confession on Saturdays, 12 years in Catholic schools. But when I started college, I did what a lot of kids do – I stopped going. I went through life, met my husband and married in 1983 in a Methodist ceremony. I was attending Methodist services at the time with my husband but knew inside I was still a Catholic.
When our first son was born in 1986, it was important for us to have him baptized. But the Methodist pastor wanted me to convert before he would do so. For some reason, even though I was not a practicing Catholic, I still balked at that idea. To me, I was already Catholic and being in a Christian religion, the baptism should still go on. But he refused to perform the baptism and for me, that was enough of religion. I was done.
Fast forward to 2005- I was still not attending any services at this time and life was sailing by. Two more children were born and all was well. Then in March, the news each day focused on Pope John Paul II and his illness. I was not even following his papacy too much but knew he was a holy man who brought many into the church.
For some reason, I started to feel sympathy for this man who was suffering so much. I felt inside of me a pull to pray for him. Pray? I hadn’t done that in 20 years. Where do I start?
I ended up going to my local Catholic Church, St. Mary’s and sitting outside looking at the crucifix. I prayed as best I could for this future saint. I felt different inside .
After John Paul passed, I felt that the least I could do is go to Mass and pray for his soul. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was petrified. I knew no one down there and knew none of the prayers or rituals anymore. But I still went.
It was a wonderful experience. Everyone was so nice and inviting. And following the process in the missal brought me into the fold. It was from that moment on that I decided I wanted to be truly Catholic again.
I went to Confession the following Saturday for what seemed like hours – after all, I had 20 years of sins to confess. The priest was gracious ad understanding and welcomed me back. I felt at home.
I have been a faithful member ever since – Mass each week, Confession, and even teaching 2nd grade CCD for the past 10 years. I credit St. John Paul II for bringing me back and it’s no coincidence that his feast day (Oct 22) is also my wedding anniversary. This was my personal epiphany – my reawakening into the glory and wonder of God. Like the Three Kings, I listened to God when He told me to return by another route to Him. My route took 20 years but I arrived.
Each of us have that personal epiphany- that moment or moments when you feel the earth shift a little. Don’t be afraid to embrace it and run with it knowing that God is ultimately directing your steps. Follow His star to where he needs you to be.