Thursday, May 1, 2014

Beauty for Ashes - Pt 3

Artwork Source: Wikimedia Commons

To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.              Isaiah 61:3

Until my experience in the presence of Jesus' mercy I hadn't realized that God would (or even could) step into someone's life in such a way.  Despite my Catholic upbringing, I had never heard of this happening to anyone and didn't know what to make of it. Since then, I have heard many other beautiful conversion stories and they are all miraculous to me. Some of stories that others told me included "visible" manifestations of God's love, some "invisible", but all are miraculous in that they transformed the very heart of the person.

When God returned my soul to my body, I was dumbfounded. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. You mean God wanted ME? Despite all the sin and the years away from Him?

Yes, He did want me. He loves sinners and now I understood that this love for sinners included me. I had wanted to go to Confession for quite some time but was afraid. Afraid that my sins were too numerous, too ugly, TOO MORTAL to be forgiven. I had been taught by the nuns when I was young that those who committed mortal sins went to hell. I had committed mortal sins and was going to hell. Period. (Hey, I was probably out with one of my "fake" bellyaches on the day they explained that even mortal sins could be forgiven so don't blame the nuns.)

One of the fruits of the time I spent in His Presence was the overwhelming urge to go to Confession. It was a pressing, burning desire to go. So I did go. The very next day. Only to hear, "I am sorry but I can't absolve you until you get the problem with your marriage fixed." The priest was very nice and I could tell he felt bad but it hurt because I wanted that absolution more than anything in the world right then.

One of my friends spoke to her Pastor about my situation and made an appointment with him for me. (She actually called me said, "You're going to see him and that's that!") Best thing that could have happened to me. When I spoke to him, he explained that I could go to Confession and receive absolution (with certain conditions met ) and that we could attend marriage classes at his parish.

And let me tell you...that Confession was the best ever.  This was an elderly priest and I'm sure I burned his ears off that day but he never batted an eyelash. He took me through the commandments one by one and never even flinched at my muttered, "Errrr...that would be too many times to count, Father. I can't give you an exact number. Can we just say numerous times? God knows I lost track."

When I was finished we were both crying. He told me that I made his day and that THIS was the reason he became a priest.

Thank God for our priests. And thank God for good friends who don't listen to your arguments and do what is best for your soul instead.

I love you, P.


  1. When God taps on our shoulder and says "Hey you ..." He makes sure there's someone there to hand, to help us in our path back to Him.

    Paul was blinded when he fell off his horse on the way to Damascus. What a "Hey you ..." that was! Yet God made sure there was someone there to lead him back on the right track.

    In your case, God brought you your friend and that priest.

    God bless you.

  2. Hi Victor,
    I love the "Hey you" Paul got! Actually, I love reading conversion stories period!

    I was very thankful that God lined things up for me like this because imagine having to confess those kinds of things THREE times?? Yikes! Twice was hard

    Thanks for commenting, Victor.

  3. Oh Mary, I love this! I love conversion stories too, and I also think each one is a miracle. When I finally dragged myself to confession in terror, the priest took me through the commandments too. (I guess that's what they do with those of us who have been away so long.) Like you, I had no clue about how many times. I love this Sacrament so much now, even though I am still always nervous about it. How wonderful that you shared this series during Divine Mercy week. I hope many will be encouraged to trust in the Sweet Mercy of Jesus and go to Him for forgiveness.
    God bless you, Mary! You are beautiful!!! xoxox

    1. I still get nervous before Confession too. I went last week for The Feast of Mercy and my mind went blank right before I was about to enter the It came back, thankfully!

      I like when a priest walks someone through the commandments after they've been away for years - l found this very helpful even though I prepared before I went.

      Thanks for commenting, Patricia! xxxooo

  4. Beautiful Mary! I too love conversion stories. Jesus told st. faustina that conversions are always a grace from his mercy. You're working on part 4 right?

    1. Part 4? Don't you think this was long enough? Lol! Conversion is an ongoing thing and I wouldn't want to bore you with the details ;)

      There were some lingering "after effects" stemming from my time in the presence of Jesus' Mercy but I'm not sure if this is something I should write about or if God would even want me to - He would have to clarify it. I knew for sure I was supposed to share about His Mercy but the rest I have no idea. I can't even access it right now though it was clear as a bell at the time. I guess a good way to explain what I mean is that our souls have knowledge that our brains do not. God can instill knowledge directly into the soul but the person can't access it (yet?) for some reason. I'm not sure how it works exactly but it is true.
      What you might find interesting is that our souls are different from our soul and body together in that our brains don't interfere when the soul is separated from the physical body. We get a lot of static? because our brains are always going, going, going but this doesn't happen with the soul. The knowledge is pure and doesn't get analyzed and mucked up by the brain. (If that makes sense?) I think many people will be surprised at what they DON'T have to deal with once the soul is separated from the body. Our true selves are very different from how we perceive them to be. At least it seemed that way to me.

    2. I'm with Anabelle..Pt 4 please! Truly Mary, this is fascinating to read and you are helping us see just how far beyond any earthly beauty and our great God! I'll pray that you remember more things from your experience which will be glorifying to Jesus and encouraging to us. And yes..I believe there is infused knowledge which the Lord gives and which by-passes all our reasoning powers. xx

    3. Hi Trish,
      Yes, He definitely does this! I don't know about a part 4 but I definitely plan on writing about His Mercy more. Thanks for commenting, Trish :)

    4. Mary, you just made a case for part 4. I am fascinated by what you said about the soul's knowledge. The further I go in my spiritual life, I find that I don't cling on to "ideas" as much and really have no interest in brain food when my soul already knows it as a fact. Does that make sense? And when are you coming to visit so we can discuss this?

    5. Hi Anabelle,
      Yes, I know what you mean about clinging to ideas - it's another aspect of our nature that undergoes purification.

      As for a part four - I don't really know if it would serve a purpose to share it on my blog. Unless God were to inspire my heart I wouldn't know what to write about it.

      You know I'd love to visit you :) And I will if I ever get down that way!

  5. Hi Mary.
    I've had to play catch-up with your post, but, WOW, I'm glad I did! Your story is amazing and so uplifting. Thank you so much for sharing it. I'm sure that sharing something like this wasn't easy, but stories like yours are perfect proof of God's existence and love!
    I have to tell you I was most struck (on the detailed level) of the colors you described in Pt. 2. I've often wondered about the colors of the Divine Mercy. So many people show the colors as blue and red, but the painting St. Faustina had made was red and white. It's just something I've often wondered about. So now I fully feel that the real colors are closer to red and white! I loved your description of the colors BTW -- Guess it's my artsy side! :-)
    Thank you again for sharing, Mary! I'm just in awe of your whole story and I'll be thinking of you all day!

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      I guess they used blue in some of the photos to symbolize the water that flowed from His side after it was pierced by the lance but there was no blue at all in the rays that I saw. The Divine Mercy pictures are a human interpretation of something that's divine in origin so it's hard for a human to describe or paint. How can you describe or paint colors that don't exist here, for example? How can you explain light that is alive, that has life giving properties to it? I'm sure that St. Faustina must have been frustrated trying to convey Jesus' Mercy to the world in a way that would be easy to grasp but she did it beautifully.

      Thanks for commenting! Hugs to you too :)

    2. Pictures I meant. How I WISH they were photos!

  6. Hi Mary! I think that you and your confessor will have the gift of this memory for the rest of your lives. How powerful is the love and mercy of God? And what we see is just a shadow. Imagine what it must REALLY be like.
    I like the way Victor said God approached you with a 'hey you!' You could have dismissed the whole thing a some kind of weird dream, but you are witnessing to everyone instead. God knew what he was doing when he chose you. You are a modern day St. Paul. We need you! We need to be reminded of conversion.

    1. Hi Ceil,
      He has passed away but I'm sure the Lord was very pleased with him! What a kind priest :)
      I couldn't have dismissed it as a weird dream though. It was more real than anything I've ever experienced.
      There will be people who don't believe me and that's okay. My part is to tell my story so that others will hear about Jesus' Mercy and leave the rest in God's hands.
      God bless you too, Ceil :)

  7. Too beautiful for words. The sacrament of confession is a great gift, a grace, that is also too awesome for words. Gods never-ending mercy.

  8. Thanks, Colleen! Definitely a gift I'm grateful for!

  9. Mary, your blessings were too numerous to comprehend!

  10. God is good, Mallory! I guess I really needed to understand what mercy was. Before this experience I was quite afraid of God and I saw Him in a new light after this. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Thank you for always sharing your inspiring stories Mary!

    God Bless you.

  12. Glad you found it inspiring, Michael! God bless you too!