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May 13, 2020 235 0 Anita Sheahan
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My Best Pal !

I come from a little village in Cork, Ireland. Although I grew up in a Catholic family attending Sunday Mass and receiving the sacraments, we didn’t practise our faith very well. The Church and a relationship with God wasn’t at the heart of our everyday family life.

Filling the Void

From a very early age, I felt rejected and worthless because I was bullied a lot at school. In College, I looked for God in the wrong places, like alcohol, nights out, and other people. To remove that feeling of rejection, I tried to fill the void with something other than God, but I didn’t realize that all those passing pleasures would never satisfy me.

One night, when I returned from a night out, I was really tired and depressed. My mother gave me a little “Miracle” prayer card. I felt drawn to it by the Holy Spirit, although I didn’t realize that at the time. After I read it, I said to God, “If you really exist… if you are really there—please answer me. Please turn my life around. I feel very low. Please I need your help…”

I didn’t think about it again until a few months later when I felt compelled to renew the prayer. Soon after, my parents invited me to go to Medjugorje in Croatia. My motivation for going was to enjoy a free holiday in the sun and have a few drinks. I heard there was something religious there, but I wasn’t really interested.

Amazing Faith

At Medjugorje, I was greeted by people who radiated an amazing freedom and joy. They kept talking about Jesus and Mary, as if they knew them. They told me amazing things about the Catholic faith that were foreign to me. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I truly I desired the joy, freedom and love which emanated from them. They kept urging me to go to Confession. ‘No way!’ was my first reaction, because I was very against Confession at the time. I was worried about what the priest would think of me, that he would judge me and kick me out! However, I longed for this freedom, joy and sense of belonging. I wanted to know where I was meant to be and who I can be. Eventually, I felt convinced to go.

On my way to the confessional, a prayer came into my heart. It was the Creed that I had learnt during Mass. I didn’t know it all by-heart, but the power of the Holy Spirit helped me out. With each word, I really felt the Holy Spirit encouraging me. When I knelt down to confess, I poured my heart out to the priest about all the things that I had done wrong in my life. The mercy of God flowed over me and peace filled my heart. When I came out, I was a new woman, walking joyfully in faith, because I finally had a deep conviction that God really loved me.

A Surprise from God

On my return, I asked the Lord why He had revealed Himself to me, despite the many wrong decisions I had made in life. All of a sudden, I saw the words of the “Miracle prayer” clearly in my mind and I realized how the Lord answered my prayer. I felt incredible joy knowing God had been making this plan for months, preparing for the day when I would realize His love for me at Medjugorje.

I needed to make a lot of changes, but God helped me pull away from many people and things that were not bringing me closer to God and brought amazing friends and opportunities into my life. The Holy Spirit gave me a greater understanding of, and reverence for, Mass and the Scriptures. When I heard the Scriptures being read, I was deeply moved, because the message wasn’t just for people who lived 2000 years ago. It was for me living in this moment. God wanted those words spoken to me right now.

Bountiful Joy

After reading the Scripture and immersing myself in faith, I had a great desire to learn more, know more, understand more and love God more. This wasn’t from my head but from my heart. God Himself sowed the seed of great love in my heart.

God led people to me who had endured similar suffering. He asked me to speak with them about how I had experienced the power of prayer and confession. It was incredible to see how God worked through those simple one on one conversations, just as those amazing witnesses at Medjugorje had led me to faith. Sometimes, He would simply ask me to be silent and pray for that particular person.

One of the messages Our Lady conveyed at Medjugorje is to “Pray! Pray until prayer becomes a joy for you.” I never understood that until l persevered in prayer. Now I absolutely love praying and it has truly become a joy for me. I thank God every day for the gift of the Holy Spirit who is working through me. There is no way that I would stand firm in faith today without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially Perseverance.

O Holy Spirit, teach me to pray well. Assist me to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace. Amen.

Anita Sheahan

is deeply involved with the Holy Family Mission; a residential Catholic community for young people aged 18-30 who desire to become effective Disciples of Christ in the world. She lives in Cork, Ireland. Article is based on the testimony shared by Anita for the Shalom World TV program “My Best Pal”. To watch the episode visit: https://shalomworld.org/show/my-best-pal.

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