Guest Blogger, LJM, 85
I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day without
Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"
I was born of Catholic parents and grandparents and witnessed my mother, grandmother and aunts attend daily mass and communion. I went to a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school, which mandated weekly confession and communion as part of its curriculum. Armed with this type of background, I eventually became a lawyer and had the good fortune of marrying a woman who made me the proud father of seven children.
When I look back on my life, I find it difficult to understand how I failed to realize the real presence of God in my life. Yes, I did all the right things—attending mass and taking communion every Sunday and daily during Lent. I was careful not to miss making the nine first Fridays to ensure my getting to Heaven. The irony of all of this was I never found the time nor the inclination to pray. My prayer life consisted solely of the liturgical services that are cited above. In other words, my religion was completely compartmentalized.
At the age of thirty-eight I was invited to make a Cursillo (a spiritual retreat). My parish priest devoted three months of constant pressure to get me there, and it turned out to be the turning point of my life. For the first time, I experienced what it was like to pray. Not so much from the usual recital of the prayers I had been taught, but learning how to have a conversation with God in the same way I could converse with my wife. The three days of constant contact with nine other men at my table formed a bond that I never thought could be possible. In fact, eight of us met on a monthly basis for at least fifteen years, then on a semi-annual basis for perhaps another fifteen years. Sad to say that I am the sole survivor.
The important thing is that it completely changed my outlook on life, giving me the impetus to reach out to people in various ministries. I cannot enumerate the countless experiences I have had with other people and the privilege of sharing the joy and sorrows of their lives, especially in the waning moments of their lives. (I became a hospice worker for many years after retiring from law.)
I am writing this at the age of eighty-five where I can be more correctly classified as a patient rather than a caregiver. But I thank God every day for a wonderful life and the gifts and opportunities that He has given me.
At the closing ceremony of my Cursillo, I was at an altar rail looking up at a priest who gave me a small cross and said “Christ is counting on you” to which I responded “and I on Him,” which is how I lived my life from that moment on.