HOW I ENCOUNTER CHRIST IN THE SACRAMENTS
What if this world that we live in was only full of the joy and happiness that we experience when we take part in the sacraments? There would be no hatred, only love. There would be no darkness, only light. Unfortunately, this is not reality. But, by taking part in the sacraments and growing closer to God, we can make this world a better place. This idea starts with our own relationship with God. Here are a few ways that I have experienced joy and love in the sacraments that can ultimately be building blocks to change the world.
As I prepare to go to confession, my whole body trembles because I know that I have sinned against God and his Church. I fear that when I tell the priest my sins, his eyes will get real wide and just look at me and say “Wow.” These ideas ran through my head as I sat in a pew at a church in Flint this past Thanksgiving break. As I sat there, impatiently waiting my turn, I thought about all my sins that I had committed over the past several months. I thought about how disappointed the priest would be when I told him how long it has been since my last confession. After what seemed to be hours, it was finally my turn to go to confession. I slowly walked in to the room where the priest was sitting and he welcomed me with a warm smile. Then, he asked me when I had last been to confession. I was truly dreading this question. I said it quietly hoping that no one else would hear who was sitting nearby. His response to my answer really surprised me, he said “I am so glad that you are here today.” My heart skipped a beat because I normally do not hear that response from anyone. I continued on by telling the priest my sins and I asked him for some advice. He just looked at me and told me that it was so great that I came to confession today. He gave me a lot of advice and then closed by telling me that I am so loved by God. I have constantly heard people say that no matter what I do, God will love me. But, that day, God really spoke to my heart through the priest and it has totally changed the way that I think God sees me. Ever since that night, I have experienced the never-ending love of God every time that I go to reconciliation and church.
During Thanksgiving week in my junior year of school, I encountered God through the sacrament of the Eucharist. This was the first time that I truly understood what I was consuming when I put the small, circular piece of bread into my mouth. I was in second grade when I received my first Communion, and it was not until I was in 11th grade that I realized that Jesus died for me and entered my body when I received the Eucharist. After an emotional adoration, where I finally realized the immense love that God has for me to the point where he died for me, I went into Mass with an open and loving heart. When the priest broke the bread and shared it with me and the rest of my classmates, I could not do anything but cry. The thought that someone who did not even know me went through such a horrific death to save me, made me cry even harder. I knew that Christ died for me before this day, but I finally realized the amount of God’s love that day. Since that night, the sacrament of the Eucharist has helped me understand and appreciate the unending love that God has for me. Every time I am at Mass and start to get distracted, I remember the overwhelming love of Christ that I felt that night, and that helps me to stay focused and absorbed.
Overall, the sacraments have given me the opportunity to grow closer to God. It was not until the sacraments were fully explained to me that I realized how great of a gift they are. Receiving these sacraments when I was younger helped my small little mind understand God and his grace, but as I got older and knew more about world views, I had a hard time experiencing God’s presence in the sacraments. The retreats put on by my school have really helped me see Christ in these sacraments because they have taken away all my blindness. I truly believe that you can experience Christ in the sacraments if you open up your heart and listen. I have found that this process is easier when you have other people to help you. Just like in life, we struggle to find Christ, who is the way, but with the help of our fellow Catholics and an open heart, the struggle is much more bearable. You can experience Christ in any sacrament as long as you are willing to open up your heart to him.
THE 2019 FATHER CHARLES IRVIN ESSAY CONTEST WINNER
Every year, FAITH awards a $1,000 scholarship to a high school senior in our diocese, based on an essay on a topic related to life in the Church. Our goal is to promote insightful thought and excellent writing, and to encourage careers in Catholic journalism. There are many ways to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and good writing is one of them. We hope you enjoy this year’s essay by Abigail Kazmierski, who graduated last spring from Lansing Catholic High School.
Article Published by FAITH Magazine, November 2019