FROM DEATH TO LIFE
I was born into a devout Catholic family and culture. As a baby of just a few weeks old, I was baptized by sprinkling with water. My parents, who simply knew no better just as I did not for so many years, believed that this baptism meant that I was “ born-again.” I went to a Catholic school and was so devout that I consistently went to novenas – nine day prayer vigils to honor Mary. On Saturdays I’d go to weekly confession (the sacrament of penance ) where I would confess my sins, whether venial (minor) or mortal (punishable by hell), to the priest so he could grant me absolution (cleansing). Normally, he would then have me say penance that my repentance would be deemed real – possibly two Our Fathers or 5 Hail Marys or say a rosary or perhaps do a good deed. Every Sunday would find me at Mass; every day of the 40 days of Lent period would also find me at Mass even if I had to get up at 5 o’clock to make my first college class. I also faithfully attended Mass on each of the Holy Days of Obligation. I wore a scapular medal so that Mary would rescue me from purgatory when I died.
Yet in spite of all my attempts at holiness there was a lack of peace within me and an emptiness I could not fill though I tried to appease it with food and alcohol to a certain degree. My prayers to fill my emptiness and to give me peace were often racked with sobs as I cried out to a God who seemed always just beyond my grasp, behind a wall I could not penetrate. Then one day, in His mercy, the Lord Jesus had a friend invite me to an evangelical prayer breakfast. For the very first time in 35 years I heard the gospel of salvation, the gospel of eternal life. When the speaker asked those present who wanted to receive Jesus into their hearts to stand, my friend was amazed at how quickly I got up. I sobbed and sobbed as peace flooded my heart and filled up the emptiness that had been in me all my life. Now, now I was truly born-again:
1 Peter 1:4 – 5 AmplifiedBible
4 [Born anew] into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay [imperishable], unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you,