When I was a little girl, my mom would drag my little brother and I to adoration. The chapel was dark, lit only by the candles that framed the tabernacle. While we didn’t fully understand yet what we were experiencing, we knew there was something different about this space. My mom would go before the Lord praying for my dad’s conversion. For eighteen years I watched her fast and do penance so that our family would be unified in the Church. The diligence and manner in which she prayed showed my brother and I that what she was praying for was real. Our Catholic faith was and still is the most important thing to her, and my dad knew that. Before they married, he agreed to raise us in the Catholic Church. I have never been so thankful for a promise kept. We knew he had questions and hesitations about the Church, but he made sure we were there every Sunday as a family, because that’s what he promised my mom. Every day I prayed for my family to someday sit in Mass together.
The summer before junior year of high school I went on an adventurous trip to Colorado with my youth group. I was not one that liked to spend time away from my family, so I dreaded this trip. After about eight hours in the car, we stopped at a little convent in the middle of nowhere in Kansas. The sisters were having adoration before Mass, and we had the opportunity to celebrate with them. We filed into the humble chapel where they were praying before the Blessed Sacrament. From the moment I crossed the threshold of the door I could feel the Holy Spirit drawing my soul in. I believe that time spent in adoration that day is the closest thing to ecstasy I will experience this side of Heaven. Tears overwhelmingly filled my eyes—I was truly in the presence of Christ. It was that day that my love for adoration began, and I understood why my mom had spent so many hours there. After mass we were able to mingle with the sisters. I was introduced to one in particular, and I couldn’t even look her in the eyes. She was the most holy woman I had ever seen, radiant and beautiful. I quickly went out the door and climbed into the van. She followed me all the way to the back seat to speak to me. Knowing that I was moved by our experience, she grabbed my face and said to me: “Sometimes Jesus squeezes the heart.” And He was. I was so humbled. I felt so unworthy to be loved so much.
Junior year of college, I met a boy. Not just any boy, but the one I knew I wanted to marry. He was handsome and charming—everything I had ever prayed for. He was not Catholic, but I was okay with that. I had seen it work with my parents (and seven other couples in my family who married non-Catholics that are now converted and in full communion with the Church). I was working for our football department and he was playing at a school a few hours away. He knew he wanted to go pro and spent lots of time training, so this made seeing each other difficult sometimes. When I missed him, or when we were going through challenges in our relationship, I would go sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament and tell Jesus everything. My hurts, my wants, my fears, my frustrations. Sometimes I would go and sob, sometimes I would just sit and feel His embrace.
After college, he moved to California to start training camp. We got engaged outside of the Cathedral in my hometown where we planned to be married—the same church I have dreamed of being married in since I was a little girl. It was the most beautiful day full of blessings and family, and we could not wait to start our future together. We went through our marriage prep, I bought a dress, and I prepared to make the move to California after the wedding. A few months into our engagement, he decided he was unsure about the Catholic Church and raising our family in this way. While I never expected to marry a Catholic, I knew I would never force my faith on anyone either. But I do feel a sense of responsibility to make sure my future children experience every part of our faith—and not be pulled in two different directions. We decided to call off the wedding.
Heartbroken and confused, I ran to the only place I knew to go—the same place I had been hundreds of times. The only place that could heal my very broken heart. I was so angry with God (and I let him know that too). I told him—“If it wasn’t for You and Your Church, I would be marrying the man I love.” How could he give me everything I had asked for and then take it away? Looking back, maybe this was the point. I was stripped of everything I thought I could ever want and was left with no one else to turn to but Him. And I did. Humbly, desperately, daily, I would find my strength in the Eucharist. There were days it was the only thing that got me up in the morning.
Friends, there is power and healing in the Eucharist. As Catholics we have the opportunity to experience Christ in the most intimate way that no one else can! He has made himself present to us through the Eucharist, and there is nothing else like it on this earth. He eagerly waits for us to come be with Him–to share our hopes and our struggles, to weep and rejoice. He is always there and always waiting. Run to Him–He alone will heal you.