“Behold I am with you always, even to the close of the age.”
Jesus promised that He would never abandon His people; He promised that He would remain until the end of time. Jesus walked the earth over 2000 years ago, yet He is still present and active in the lives of His people. He is with them. However, recognizing God’s presence in our world today takes a ‘trained eye’ and an act of faith. Jesus can most readily be recognized through the witness of Christian people, people who acknowledge and testify to the power and presence of God in their lives. The ‘Encounter with Christ’ stories help to highlight how God is working in the lives of the people in the parish of St. Magdalen’s Church. These stories are meant to help those who read them to more easily recognize God’s presence in their own lives. God wants to be known by you and to work in your life—invite Him to do so.
Growing up Catholic, I heard Bible stories. Some stories captivated my young imagination – Noah’s Ark comes to mind. Would Noah have organized the animals alphabetically by name, or by size? And most important, whose job was it to clean the Ark? Unfortunately, some details were left out.
Fast forward from my childhood to 10 years ago. I read in the bulletin that St. Magdalen’s was offering a Bible study. I hadn’t studied the Bible since college, and most of those details had long since evaporated. Though I always intended to read the Bible on my own, I never seemed to find time. That first study was The Quick Journey through the Bible, with Jeff Cavins. I really enjoyed it – knowing more of the background of the stories really helped me to make connections with the readings on Sundays.READ MORE
Since my birth, I have seen the hand of Our Creator and the intercession of Our Most Holy Mother over me. I am Yamiris Marcano, born and raised in Puerto Rico. When my mother was seven months pregnant with me, she had complications of such a magnitude that they believed neither she nor I would survive. My aunt was a “Mission Helpers of The Sacred Helpers” nun. She, along with her congregation of nuns, came to the hospital and prayed with great fervor. They prayed for days to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding scapulars in their hands. God listened to their pleas and my mother and I survived. The nuns decided to give us that statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel along with their Scapulars. For this reason, I always have scapulars with me and give them to anyone who wants them.READ MORE
The Diocese of Metuchen sponsors a pro-life videocontest annually, invitinghigh school students tocarefully consider a particular pro-life theme.This year’s video themewas the “Power of One”and what one person cando to impact the Pro-Life fight. My youth group director Michele Beckman, knowing that Ihad participated in video contest before, mentioned the opportunity to me. I decided to give it a go and see what happened.READ MORE
While we can encounter GOD at many different times in our lives, one memorable encounter for me was in the Sacrament of Reconciliation many years ago. I was in my last year of law school and had been recognizing GOD’s pull on my heart to go to Confession. At that point, I hadn’t been to Confession for over 10 years. It was a struggle for me to go because it had been so long, and I hadn’t been exactly living a life of virtue.READ MORE
I would like to share with you how Jesus has transformed my life. As I look back at the past 50 years I can see how unhappy I was, living in bondage. The darkness caused me tremendous pain and suffering; my heart was aching and empty. I was yearning for so much more in my life.
In 2016, struggling with my divorce, I met a neighbor who I began to share my trials and tribulations with. He shared that he could relate to the pain of divorce and would be willing to accompany me on a new journey, one that would include Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He proceeded to pose the following questions: Have you surrendered your life to Jesus? Do you have a personal intimate relationship with Jesus? Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? After reflecting on these questions, I accepted his offer of help. I felt in my heart that God was using this man as an instrument to help me to find healing and peace.READ MORE
Dear Parish Family:
As I write this reflection on my upcoming 25th Anniversary to the priesthood, I am profoundly aware of how good and kind God is to me. Growing up a boy in Nebraska I would never have imagined the journey that has opened up before me as a result of saying “yes” to a stirring in my heart that I wanted to become a priest.
Many people have recently asked; “How did you know God was calling you to the priesthood?” You would not think so, but it always startles me. I feel like I have to reflect on it again and ask myself; “yes, just how did I know?” It is sometimes said that every vocation is a mystery. Not in the sense of figuring out a puzzle, but rather for the eyes of faith, an ever-emerging reality that becomes clearer over time. What I said “yes” to when I felt the first stirrings in my heart was not a call explicitly to the priesthood, but rather a desire to do something for God, because I felt love for Him, when I walked into a Church as a small boy. Then, one day while sitting in my 7th grade Friday religion class with the associate pastor, I began to daydream and all of the sudden I thought “I want to do what he does!” It just looked so attractive; but I didn’t know exactly why.READ MORE
I still have my rosary beads from 2nd grade. I learned to pray the rosary at an early age since I attended Catholic school. My mother was also very devoted to the rosary, praying it diligently after the death of my four-year old brother. She found peace and comfort amidst her heartache by reciting the prayers and through entrusting herself to Our Lady. I carried this awareness with me.
When I was in my early 20's I was a big partier. I was involved in a drunk driving accident which left me paralyzed from the neck-down. A few years later I realized it was alcoholism and have been sober for the last 24 years. I had always been very active so being paralyzed forced me to be still and to start thinking. My fiancé at the time could not deal with this tragedy and so broke off our engagement. Amidst my suffering, I went back to what I had known as a child—that Mary was my mother and that the rosary was a powerful prayer. I remembered how my mother had gone to Mary when she was in need and so I began to pray, hoping to receive peace and comfort. Eventually after much prayer and therapy, I was able to walk again and to return to work.READ MORE
As the only child in a loveless marriage, I felt the pressure of trying to make my parents happy at a very early age. Perfection in everything was the only way to win my mother’s love, so I did my best to excel in everything I did. Despite the fact that I was an honor student and successful in everything I tried to do, I never felt good enough to win my parents love and approval.
At High School graduation, my mother explained to me that since my father had just retired and she only worked part-time, I would now be responsible for supporting my family. The most important thing in life was to be self-reliant, strong and financially and emotionally independent, as I could not rely on them or anyone else to support me.READ MORE
Raised in the Assemblies of God Church, my relationship with Jesus was personal and secure at a tender age. However, all things Catholic were foreign to me and sadly misunderstood. A love for the visual arts motivated me to enroll in 4 years of art school where I studied the world's great artists,and traveled abroad on several occasions. I remember a particularly powerful encounter that occurred while standing inside the Vatican, at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, staring at Michelangelo’s Pietà. There was Mary, enveloped in graceful acceptance, lovingly and tenderly holding her son's limp body. I could feel the weight of our crucified Lord upon her lap. Looking back now, I see this as my first powerful introduction to our Blessed Mother. Another profound moment occurred while sitting through Mass inside Germany’s Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral). Amidst sacred music, billowing incense and grand stained glass windows, I felt strangely at home. Not yet Catholic, my heart was being stirred!Years later, by the Holy Spirit’s gentle prompting I enrolled in RCIA, and was welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church in April of 2011.READ MORE