Before taking part in the Discovery Faith Studies program, I was engaged in both liturgical and personal worship by regularly attending Mass on Sundays (and sometimes during the week), participating in RCIA, by following a daily Bible reading schedule and setting aside a regular prayer time.
Working with people trying to overcome addictions puts me in daily contact with deeply troubled souls, and so I have for many years relied on God to make it possible for me to be effective at work, without becoming overwhelmed about the personal challenges of my clients.
Although I felt very much in the centre of my spiritual life, I wanted more. All aspects of my relationships, feelings, attitudes, and actions (to the best of my ability), were informed by a vigilant seeking of God’s will; yet there remained a deep and abiding desire for closeness to Jesus. The Discovery program seemed to offer a way to get to know Him better, and I longed for more community within our Parish.
The Faith Study confirmed my belief that there is no limit to the closeness we can have with our Lord. However near He seemed, however moved I was by His goodness and mercy, Discovery opened a wider door to knowing Him. Before Discovery, I strongly felt His presence in the Eucharist, and then upon leaving the church, this diminished until the next time I attended Mass. Now, after Discovery, when I turn to Him in prayer, I really feel His presence. When I hear the gospel, and read the Bible, the parables speak to me in a clear voice. It’s easier to open my heart to the Lord, to feel His love. It’s like Discovery makes my relationship with Him more personal. Although I had no doubts about Jesus as my Saviour, Discovery introduced me to specific passages in scripture about the nature of God’s love, scriptural proof of Jesus’ divinity, and the fact of His unwavering presence in my life at all times. I was reminded how sin separates me from the Holy Trinity, and that Jesus as the person of God, is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
Before Discovery I was sometimes inclined to turn away from God in shame, with feelings of unworthiness about my sinfulness. Discovery refreshed my experience that our Lord already knows and understands my humanness, my personal failings; this further uncovered my need to live for Him, to make Jesus the very centre of my life, and to understand that my sinfulness is cause for rejoicing because I am made strong through my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I learned from the experiences of others during the group discussions, and came to feel more a part of Parish life. Each week the suggestions of our group leader about how to practice the learning sharpened the focus of my worship as it prompted me to think more often of Jesus throughout the day. The more He filled my heart, the more enthusiastic I became about sharing what I had learned with others (which in turn helped to reiterate the Study program learning, and codify the teachings in my consciousness).
I have become more aware of Jesus at Mass, during my scripture readings in the morning, and I search for Him in others. Now, when people seek me out at work, or in general conversation, I am motivated to search for answers that come either directly from the Holy Bible, or at least reflect the teachings of our Lord in my own words.
No matter how much or how little we are now personally invested in our relationship with Jesus, He wants to draw us closer. The Discovery program offers a direct method, in a loving and supportive community, which makes this possible. To fully participate in the worthwhile purpose for which God has created us, to find true peace and comfort in this life and the next, we can make the effort to keep Jesus in the centre of our hearts, and at the centre of our lives.