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  My Witness

Vol. 1, No. 4, November, 1996

My Story of Christ in Me
by Susan McCollam

My Story of Christ in Me "To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world." Rom. 1:78 R. S. V. Greetings to you all!

Five years ago I sat in a friend's living room, drinking tea and telling her I didn't know why I was Catholic. I had stopped going to Communion and had even stopped going to Mass because I didn't know why I was doing it. I had felt like a hypocrite going to church because the reason I went was in case I saw my Mom that particular Sunday, I'd be able to say I had gone. Eventually that didn't matter any more either. I walked into church with a dead, dry feeling and walked out the same way. So why go? In church I heard a lot of things that made me wonder, things like:

LOVE GOD with thy whole heart-I don't love God I thought; PRAISE was a word I heard a lot - I thanked Him for things sometimes but praise Him, never;

LOVE THY NEIGHBOR as yourself-tolerate your neighbor was more my thinking. There was a lady who lived across the street. She was divorced and struggling to raise an 11 year old son. It was hard to talk to her so I stayed away and also advised others to do the same. Once, in the middle of the night, I was awakened by screaming. It was a painful, painful cry for help. I woke my husband, threw on my robe and went out to see what was going on. It was this neighbor lady. Someone called the police who arrived with their sirens blasting. I just stood there and watched. Finally she sat down on the curb, put her head in her hands and cried. The police took care of everything. As I turned to go back in, the neighbors and I reassured each other that there was nothing we could do. After all, she needed "professional" help. I did not reach out to her. Love thy neighbor?;

He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. At this time in my life I was a very frustrated, young housewife with three small children. I searched the world for myself. I played golf, tennis, took ice skating lessons, and macram, classes. I crocheted, painted, embroidered and killed a lot of time with the neighbors. The world said, "find yourself, find time for yourself." I spent endless hours and money trying to find myself, but to no avail. Susan wasn't to be found out there; The kingdom of God is upon us. Was his Kingdom frustration, emptiness, loneliness, or hopelessness and fear? That was the kingdom in which I lived, Bible? I had one which sat on my bookshelf and gathered dust. If it is the word of God, why isn't it taken more seriously; God is love. I couldn't relate to that at all, since I knew not love;

CHRISTIAN - I called myself a Christian. It was when I began trying to teach my children Christian attitudes and values that I began to realize that I wasn't Christian at all. I was saying one thing to them but doing something else;

WORSHIP - just an empty word for me. And so I continued to wonder. Why do I hear all these things in church and yet feel empty? I became convinced that something was missing in the Catholic Church, something I had to search for.

I thought it over and approached Rich, my husband, and told him that I wanted to go out and look for this something. To my surprise he said okay. I had expected at least an, "Are you sure?" But he also said, "Susan, don't you think you had better make sure that this `something' is not in the Catholic Church before you look elsewhere?" He was right. I'd been Catholic all my life but never attentive. It was ritual, a habit that never had meaning. So I started going to Mass actually seeking God. I was paying attention to the Scripture readings, to the priests, to the songs, to the people. I dug out that big white bible we had gotten with some encyclopedias and began to read it. I began looking for adult education classes but found nothing. There was a thing called Catholic Marriage Encounter. Some friends had gone on one and I saw two people who really didn't pay much attention to God and church suddenly take a particular interest in those very things. Their relationship with each other improved greatly, too. So in November I began to ask Rich if we could go. Well, in July, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said (yes, you guessed it), "a Marriage Encounter Weekend." On the weekend, I experienced something so wonderful. I experienced love: accepting, forgiving, patient, understanding love. I directed this love to Rich and other encountered couples. But there again, I sensed I had missed something. How does God fit into our marriage? I had been told that our marriage was not just two, Rich and I, but there were actually three, Rich and I in God. I felt the Rich and I part but not God's part. We stayed active for about a year and then began to fade.

During this time I began taking some convert classes since theywere begin ning.The classes did a lot for me. I heard things for the first time. Things that had been spoken throughout my life, but now I had the ears to hear. That Easter was my first Easter. And the Easter Vigil was the most glorious Mass I had ever been to. On that night I knew that, "that Something", which I had been looking forwas in this church. Itwas in these priests. It was in these people. It was even in me. That night I knew that if I ever hoped to obtain wholeness, I would have to seek it in God. And I knew that God was in the Catholic Church. I sensed His presence so strongly.

Well, there I was, high on God, and no where to go. Convert classes were over. We were completely out of Marriage Encounter by this time. But isn't it interesting that I began seeing more of my brother, Sam, at this time. He was working for my husband part-time and I had seen a tremendous change come over him. Just a short year prior, he was a lost, searching young man, but now he had a sort of peace. It made me feel peaceful just being with him. In my sharing with him he invited me to a prayer meeting. Had I paid any attention to the name of it I would never have gone: Immaculate Heart of Mary Evangelistic Prayer Community. I had only just been evangelized and this was an 'evangelistic prayer community'. But I was searching-searching for growth, support, fellowship and guidance.

By this time I had read in the New Testament about raising hands in praise, about charisms, baptized in the Spirit and Christian communities. So, in September, Rich and I went to our first prayer meeting. At that meeting, I was both shocked and delighted. Here were people praising God, reading the Bible and serious about it, and serious too about the will of God. They encouraged growth and started classes to aid in growth. This was the place for me and there I have stayed for three years now.

Today going to Mass is one of my favorite things to do. I often receive Communion in my hands with tears in my eyes. I read Scripture daily. I am forming a regular, daily prayer life. My relationship with my husband and my children is daily being improved. And that woman I told you about-I decided to reach out to her. I found a charming wonderful lady who was broken by all of the world and its confusion. We have become good friends. You know, I can honestly say I love her. I now seek the Kingdom of God. And with that I'd like to close with this prayer: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Kingdom come. May peace prevail. May love conquer hate. May joy fill our hearts. May light flood out darkness. May we love our God with all our hearts, with all our minds, with all our souls. May we love our neighbors as ourselves. Thy Kingdom come Lord! Thy Kingdom come! Amen.

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