I owe my conversion to EWTN. After having a moment with something I called at the time “radiant peace” I went on to devour all kinds of religious and mystical literature for about a decade. How was it? I was just slouching in my sofa reading some inconsequential paper or magazine. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Suddenly I noticed a presence, I also noticed that presence was completely benign. Nevertheless, I was afraid for a second until something told me, ordered me gently, not to be afraid. And it was so. That peace radiated near me for about a minute and then left gradually. I looked all over my tiny Fenway apartment but I found nothing. I was expecting someone playing some kind of practical joke on me. I thought about that encounter for many days. I concluded I was either going bananas or I really had a supernatural encounter of some sort. The most obvious conclusion was that there was “something beyond” but my visitor neglected to leave a card. It was my job to complete the puzzle. So I went on to devour many books on religion and mysticism for the next ten years. The trip ended on the Baptistery of The Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in Westminster, London. There I was baptized, confirmed, and received Holy Communion in a glorious Assumption Mass presided by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor.
I said the previous ten years I was reading a lot of religious books. Unfortunately I did not have a mentor. I read many things that were a complete waste of time, and many other things that were really precious. All of that was bouncing around in my head and I was not making much progress, until one day I found Mother Angelica. At first she looked a bit too ‘nunish’. She seemed to me like a perfect caricature of a nun but I did not let that stop me from hearing what she had to say, and boy did she had things to say! Those words pierced me like sweet arrows of wisdom. It was just what I needed to hear. Then came Fr John Corapi. His chats and thoughts were so clearly organized that my disorganized mental library got tidied up in a matter of months. If I remember correctly, I listened to all his chats every day for about a year, may be longer. Some I still remember by heart: “The truth is not a concept, it is a person, Jesus Christ the Lord of History …”
I remember happily sending my contribution to Mother Angelica. I had her “between my gas and electric bills” and sometimes I made some extra donations—as I was pretty affluent at the time, making good money and living frugally.
Many years later I learned that there are Catholic “ministries” that were not as honest and straightforward as Mother Angelica was back then. There are some—unfortunately there are priests among those—who run lucrative rackets that have nothing to do with spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Needless to say, I am not among them—big laughter here—if anyone needs proof I can show you my patched jeans, worn out shoes, and “irregular” meal schedule! But I am so happy here, in front of my old patched up computer writing for you! I would not exchange this “job” of mine for any other, even if the pay is nearly nothing.
I have decided to return to the US in late winter of 2019 (early March?) and I plan to lighten my load by selling all I have, so I don’t have to pay for the move. I won’t ask you to help me this time. I pray that God will provide what is needed and I never fall in the trap of building a racket. The vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are good for those on Holy Orders but they are good for us too. They free us from a myriad worries and pains.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to that doctrine which is according to godliness, He is proud, knowing nothing, but sick about questions and strife of words; from which arise envies, contentions, blasphemies, evil suspicions, Conflicts of men corrupted in mind, and who are destitute of the truth, supposing gain to be godliness. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out. But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content. For they that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition. For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, fly from these things: and pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness. 1 Timothy 6:3-19
I don’t want this dream job of mine to become a racket. I rather play hide-and-seek with the Lord, like Padre Pio used to say: “games of love” played to grow in confidence with Divine Providence. So, when you decide to click on that PayPal image you do it knowing that no one has scared you into it, no one has called a “Catholic appeal specialist” to redact a letter that tries to give you the impression of a genuine need when there isn’t any because there is no real ministry. Remember “ministry” means to serve like Jesus served. The greatest Minister that ever was, poured Himself unto death so we can have life in Him.
Beware of rackets.