19 Nov The Day I Encountered Christ – I Thirst
Nearly over a year ago, I personally encountered Christ for the first time in a long time.
It happened in late November last year. Even then, I still remember it so clearly and vividly.
I was travelling with my former youth ministry core team for our team retreat. We were planning on heading to the Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC. A rather beautiful place, by the way. Definitely, one of my favourites.
At the time, I was at a really low point in my life. My family had undergone a near electric fire incident mid last year. Due to unforeseen incidents outside of our control, we had to move three times until we had settled in our home today. As one can imagine, it was a difficult and testing time. One that I want to talk more about later down the road.
I was lost, yet persisted to continue my day-to-day life as if nothing had happened to continue this illusion that all was fine. Even though, it felt like my life was in shambles.
The retreat’s timing was also rather unfortunate, for it was in-between two huge weekend events that I was serving for. Despite my initial reaction of wanting to avoid the core retreat, the Lord found a way for me to attend.
I had started the day at Adoration. Since I was doing my 54 Day Rosary Novena, I needed the time to catch up on the days that I had missed. I particularly remember meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries. There was one mystery that had caught my attention and that had instantly brought me to tears.
It was the second Sorrowful Mystery – the Scourging at the Pillar. At that moment, in the Adoration Chapel, it felt as if I was standing in Mary’s shoes. Witnessing the Saviour of the world being beated and treated as criminal. I ached for Him. I watched in sorrow as Christ was hit and hurt each time. I could envision it so clearly, and had brought me great pain.
I understood, related, and knew what He felt at that moment. I felt as if I was also being beaten and hit at each strike that the world was giving me through the trials and tribulations that my family had went through. Yet, I wasn’t thinking of myself.
I thought of Christ, and His pain. But most especially, His great and unconditional love. Though He had been hurt, He still continued to love. He loved so much that He gave us the most perfect example of unconditional love – dying on the Cross.
It was a moment that I will never forget. I thirsted for Him.
Little did I know that the Lord had so much more in store for me for the rest of the day.
I met up with the rest of my core team, and we started travelling to the Abbey. Once we arrived, we had planned to attend the morning mass to start off our retreat. As I sat down preparing myself for mass, I had not expected anything to occur to me. I was already so enamoured by Christ and His love for me, just moments before.
But right before we were about to receive communion, I remembered a prayer that I read online. It had said that every time you prepare yourself for mass, remember to ask, “Lord, what do you want to reveal to me in this mass?”. So I did.
A little late, since mass was already more than halfway done, but I trusted in Him.
As I lined up to receive a blessing from the priest (I was not in a state of grace), I felt a sense of peace in me that I could not explain. I felt like I was floating on air.
I bowed before the priest, placed my hands on my chest, and awaited his blessing. But instead, I heard him speak to me.
Witnessing me with my mantilla veil, he asked, “Are you Catholic?”
Taken aback, I responded, “yes”. He then asked if I wanted to go to Confession.
Not knowing what to do, since there was a line behind me, I meekly said yes.
The priest then told me that he would meet me at the confessionals after mass.
I laughed in my mind because I had not encountered anything like that before, and I had been raised and been a Catholic my entire life. Yet, at the same time, it felt meant to be.
It was providential because I had not gone to Confession in a few years before that mass. I had always been so afraid and had held myself back due to my pride and my fear.
But at that moment, I no longer felt like a child hiding from a stern father, but a repentant daughter yearning for her Father’s forgiveness.
Once I went back to my seat, I had told my youth minister that I needed to go to confession after mass, and I would explain why afterwards. I had experienced God in an extraordinary way, and I couldn’t wait to share it with those around me.
As I lined up for Confession, I explained what had happened. My core team were in awe in hearing my story, and how I had encountered Christ in such a personal way.
As you can imagine, I was still nervous going to Confession after so long. Though I did not confess to the aforementioned priest that had invited me, I still felt light as a feather afterwards. It was a beautiful experience.
I was once again one in Him. My thirst that I had for so long was now quenched.
He had seen me in the lowest point of my life, and still wanted me. He wanted me personally, and delighted in me.
I felt so loved. The Lord was with me every step of the way, and had not let go of me since.
To this day, I still remember this encounter whenever I feel down. This story reminds me that when I hit my rock bottom, He was, is, and will always be right beside me.
He will never let me go. He sees me, loves me, and takes care of me.
A once lost daughter of God, was now found and renewed again.
“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” – John 16:22 NASB