“Behold I am with you always, even to the close of the age.”

Matthew 28:20

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.

God’s Unconditional Love

05-07-2017Encountering ChristLorraine Bello

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.  

Over the next 20 years, I tried to live up to the expectations set for me.  I was very successful in my career, made a lot of money – enough to support myself, my parents and own a franchise while I was working 80 hours a week in corporate America.   Engaged twice, I found it difficult to sustain long-term relationships, as my parents both had serious health issues that needed my attention, when I wasn’t working.  I was totally overwhelmed trying to juggle all the parts of my life (and be perfect) and at 38, I suffered a nervous breakdown.

I had to face the reality that I couldn’t do it all by myself, despite other’s expectations. For the first time in my life, I got down on my knees and cried out to God for help.  I asked Him if He was real to please tell me what to do, as I was completely at the end of myself. I now realize that God was pursuing me for a long time, but by trying to be so self-sufficient, I wasn’t letting Him in.

The Lord responded immediately by sending loving friends into my life who told me that only Jesus the Divine Physician could heal me and that a personal relationship with Jesus could transform my broken heart and help me experience real love.  I knew all about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him, so I spent the next several years studying the Scriptures, attending daily Mass, spending time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, and getting involved in service.  Over time and with the help of God’s grace, I was able to forgive and let go of all the painful memories, so that I could really experience God’s unconditional love. I often find myself overwhelmed with emotion when I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration as I still can’t believe how much God loves me (not for what I can do but for who I am) and I pray that His love will radiate from me so that others will come to know His love too.