Posted by: Peadar Ban | April 14, 2009

All It Takes Is That One Phone Call

About five years ago I got a phone call that changed my life. Well, Mariellen, my wife actually got the phone call. It was from our friend Cindie. She called to ask a big favor. Would we, she wanted to know, be willing to drive her to Bloomfield. She had no car and wanted to go there to see her Spiritual Director and go to confession. She explained that every time she thought about going, and asking someone to help her get there, she thought of us.

Mariellen relayed the message to me. My answer was, sure, we can do that. After all, Bloomfield is in Connecticut and that’s only two hours away from us, all downhill. Cindie was a little surprised I said we’d do it so quickly. “It’s in New Jersey,” she told Mariellen. “Are you sure?”

Mariellen relayed THAT information to me. “In for a dime. In for a dollar,” I thought, and a few weeks or so later, on December 19th, we drove Cindie to her meeting in Bloomfield. On the way down she told us all about why she went that far for confession, and what was so important about Spiritual Direction. One of the things that stuck in my mind…and still does…is that the first time she went to confession with this priest she did it twice. What I mean by that is that as he was speaking with her before giving her absolution, she became so aware of a new and much deeper level of sinfulness…disorder?…in her relationship with God that she asked if she could begin again.

We met her Confessor that day and as we were leaving he asked us to wait a moment while he went to get us a gift. He returned with a book in his hand. Cindie had told us about a book he had given her on that Day of the Two Confessions. Mariellen asked, “Is this the same book you gave to Cindie?” “Yes,” he answered, and continued, “I only ask that you don’t let it gather dust.”

At home we spent the next week or so asking each other if we could read the “book” while the other one of us did something else for a little while. It is a slim book, barely a hundred and fifty pages. And, yet, for all its sparseness, thinness, it is a very deep and challenging book. I remember reading the section that dealt with the Sacrament of Penance and saying, “I do not think that I have made a good confession in my entire life.”

It was like that throughout the book, in almost every chapter I was opened to another way of looking at myself and the world around me. That way, in the term the book used, was a “theocentric” way; looking at everything from God’s point of view, and coming to realize that, no matter what, from that point of view I was loved beyond my capacity to understand love.

That “way” of looking at things is so counter-cultural I keep thinking, but so natural. God loves me. I’ve heard it a million times, but the point of the message in the book was that I do not have to “merit” that love. I simply have to accept it.

Well, simple is not as easy as it may sound. But, God is prepared to meet me, no matter where I am. What’s more, He is prepared to provide me with every possible means of my meeting Him. In fact, as I was told by another priest almost a year later while in Poland, I should consider that everything in the world, and all my experiences were part of God’s plan to communicate one fact to me; the fact that He loves me.

I don’t know much about ecclesial movements or different spiritualities. These terms and words are still strange to me. The Families of Nazareth is I know an ecclesial movement, and the way it proposes for ordering one’s life in relation to God is, I suppose, a spirituality. And, as a result of the phone call and the book I am part of that Family and participate in that spirituality, thanks be to God.

During our visit to Poland several years ago my wife and I received the grace of meeting a number of people who had been following this way for some time, and of coming to understand at a deeper level just what its purpose was…for each of us; nothing less than completing the journey to God in this life, a journey which is the promise of our baptism, in the company of His Blessed Mother who is our Mother too.

I embrace that wholeheartedly, and pray for the grace to continue that journey with the help and comfort of Mary, my Mother, until I do see Her Son face to face.

I am terribly grateful for that one phone call, since it has changed my life. I am not at all the same person I was before my wife answered the phone. I pray that I will continue to change…of this much I am sure, there is much still to change…until I have become what God has always intended me to be, in the words of my own confessor, “His most beloved child.”

The book? It’s called “The Gift of Faith”, by Fr. Tadeusz Dacjer. I’ll gladly give you a copy, but I only ask one thing…

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Responses

  1. now I know the rest of the story. say hello to Cindie for me. Hope to see you and Mariellen some day in the not to distant future.


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