My faith journey took me along a very bumpy and winding road. During the worst period of my suffering, the Church was important to me, but I did not yet understand the meaning of the Holy Mass or the power of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
One day, finding myself in an esoteric bookstore, I noticed a book entitled Conversations with God. I was so charmed by the book that I began recommending it to all my relatives and friends; and thus I led them into a false world. I dismissed my friend’s warning. She rejected the book, claiming it was at odds with the truth, since it denied the existence of hell. She told me Satan’s greatest triumph was in convincing people there was no eternal damnation, for then he could do as he pleased with them.
In her Diary, Saint Faustina observes that hell is full of those who believed it did not exist. Alas, I blindly believed that hell did not exist. I also believed in reincarnation and made light of sin. It suited me very well to think that people can perfect themselves in successive incarnations, so that in effect everyone comes to meet God.
In hindsight, I can see I wanted to take the easy route. I know now that the way to God involves an arduous climb and not an easy descent. It involves hardship, self-denial, and suffering. It means offering oneself to God in a spirit of child-like trust.
At the time I attached little importance to the Church; the many esoteric books I had read convinced me there was no truth to be found in it. My friends in the esoteric world told me (and I believed them implicitly) that confession was a human invention and that you could confess to God in your thoughts; as a result, I had no recourse to that great gift of God, which is the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.
I became ever more enmeshed in Satan’s snare; yet, all the while, I thought I loved God dearly and was discovering the truth about Him. It is true that I still attached importance to prayer, but I would only pray at home. The world of the occult gradually overtook my life. I consulted psychics; saw someone who claimed to be in contact with angels (she drew their portraits and wrote down their “messages”); saw someone who drew “reincarnation portraits” and someone else who claimed to purify one of bad energies. I also used pendulums, practiced transcendental meditation, had recourse to so-called “affirmations,” and sought out touch healers.
At first, I too thought I could communicate with an angel. I scrupulously wrote down the locutions I received. With these I filled up an entire notebook. At first it seemed to me they were innocent messages, full of good thoughts. But then I began to receive illuminations as though I were in possession of occult gifts with which I could help other people.
This only led me into the sin of pride. Pride, as we know, is Satan’s other great triumph, for through it he can destroy the soul. I was quite blinded then and–as I can plainly see now–very skillfully manipulated. Convinced that I was in possession of these gifts, I began to treat people with the “healing energy” of light.” At such times I always had God on my mind, and so I was convinced what I was doing was good. Now I know this was an illusion. True thoughts about God are associated with worship and humility, with a sense of one’s nothingness and weakness before God’s almighty power. But what I was doing then was more like setting myself up as God. It was the height of arrogance, which, were it not for God’s grace, should have swept me off at once to hell.
Eventually, that soft insinuating voice within me began to take on more power and expressiveness. I began to hear it as if the One using it were standing right beside me. It became more and more burdensome. No longer did it whisper to me with words of kindness and love, as it seemed to me before. What I heard now were curses, abuse, and relentless criticism. This would go on for whole days, until, utterly exhausted, I would finally manage to snatch a few hours’ sleep. That hateful Voice railed against me so mercilessly, so cruelly, that I saw myself as the worst person in the world. I began to fear that hell awaited me, if I should die; and so I had a great horror of death. How was I to go on living–I wondered–since hell awaited me anyway? The horror was so terrifying that I could not even cry. The Voice continued to dog my every step. I could not think logically. In addition, it attacked me sexually, which was one of the worst things about it. To crown all, it threatened me that if I should tell anyone about what was happening to me, it would do that person harm. Believing its threats, I remained silent and suffered terribly as a result.
I all but lost my sense of free will. I almost ceased to be myself. The simplest actions, such as making breakfast, caused me the greatest difficulty. My mind would go blank in the middle of a rote prayer and I did not know how to pray in my own words. I could not even tell God what was the matter with me. My only real prayer at the time consisted in looking at the image of the Merciful Jesus. But even then the Evil One would suggest highly offensive erotic images. I thought it was I looking at Jesus in this manner, so I feared even to look at the picture. Now I know it was Satan insinuating himself into my imagination. The offensive images were not of my making at all.
The Evil One hindered my praying in many ways. When I picked up the rosary, for example, he would say to me, “You, who have betrayed God, have the gall to pray to Him!?” My hands would shake so violently that I could hardly hold the rosary. I lack words to describe the torments I went through. Yet despite everything I persevered in prayer.
Even though I almost believed I was as terrible as the demon said I was, yet in that spiritual darkness I saw the little light that God had lit for me. I felt that light. I knew that despite my groping in the dark, God had not deserted me.
It was then that I spoke with a number of marvelous priests whom God placed in my path. They told me Satan wanted me to doubt the Divine Mercy. There was nothing to fear, they said. An honest confession would remove all my sins. The Divine Mercy is infinite. St. Faustina writes, “Truly, Jesus, I become frightened when I look at my own misery, but at the same time I am reassured by your unfathomable mercy, which exceeds my misery by the measure of all eternity” (Diary, 66). “Where are your sins, if I have wiped them clean?” Jesus asks in another locution I have come across. I also talked to an exorcist priest, who prayed for me.
My way to God is the Way of Jesus. To Him, who is now my one Lord, I have entrusted my whole heart. To Jesus and Mary I have confided my child, my family, all my friends, and myself. In God I have total confidence. Earthly desires are no longer important. I long only for Jesus. I accept everything that Jesus desires for me–both joys and sufferings. I deepen my understanding of the Faith by reading Holy Scripture. I also read wonderful books about authentic love of God. For a while I have been a member of the Renewal in the Spirit movement. I have come to understand the meaning of the Holy Mass and that marvelous gift of Jesus–His offering of Himself in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Regular adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has become very important in my life.
In the past, my relations with God consisted in presenting Him with my requests and wanting my desires met. Now they consist in my doing God’s will and carrying out His desires. I have learned to talk with Jesus wherever I may go. I tell Him everything. I confide in Him as my best Friend, who I know will never deceive me. I love these talks with Him. He answers my queries in a book I happen to read or in the words of a priest or friend. Jesus sets great store by such talks. Of this I became convinced after reading the Bolivian mystic, Catalina Rivas. Jesus asks her: “How many families are there that come to talk with me, who come to sit and converse with me, to tell me how they have fared over the last little while, to share their problems and difficulties with me, to ask me for something they need; in short, to involve me in their affairs. How often do they do this? I know everything. I search the depths of your hearts and minds, and yet I like it when you tell me about your lives, when you involve me in your affairs like a member of the household, like your most trusted friend. How many graces you lose when you do not give me a place in your lives!”
It has been my palpable experience that God never abandons us; so great is His love for us. Once I heard these lovely words: “Jesus loves us. He cannot do otherwise.” The best thing I did to tear myself free of Satan’s grasp was to make a sincere confession–to express my sorrow from the depths of my heart–and to confide myself to God in a childlike act of trust in His love and mercy. Now I know that no matter what we have done, if we regret it sincerely and ask for God’s help, He, in His unfathomable love for us, will always forgive us and come to our assistance in some extraordinary way. Finally, I have learned that our earthly life is only a brief moment, but for which we will be eternally responsible. Worldly delights have no hold on me now. What is most important is to be pleasing to God by carrying out His will. Let us allow Jesus to be Lord of our hearts–our one Master. Then our lives will take on warmer colors, embrace greater love, and consequently become happier. God bless!
The above article was published with permission from "Love One Another!" in June 2016.