Several of you have requested to know more about my encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. In response, I include here an excerpt from my book, taken from the chapter called, “The Gold Leaf”:
. . . In 1997, the year leading up to the millennium that the Holy Father, John Paul II, had dedicated to Jesus. . . I was inspired to ask for a closer relationship with Jesus. I could not have imagined how intimately God would answer that prayer.
That summer I was given a book to read that came highly recommended, He and I, by Gabriel Bossis. As I read the author’s personal conversations with our Lord, my heart was deeply moved. The book captivated me with its intimate tone. I read and re-read that book, eventually giving away dozens of copies.
Beyond deeply moving me, reading He and I opened my heart to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. That summer marked the beginning of a new phase in my life as I entered into a personal relationship with the risen Jesus. As Scripture says: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5: 17).
After having been given a taste of the Lord’s nearness, I craved more. I decided during Advent of that year to spend a few evenings a week alone at the church with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament—that was when all heaven broke loose! The first time I went, I heard these words interiorly: “I’m so glad you came!” The words pierced me to the core.
In addition to words, during those visits the Lord poured his love into my heart, a sliver at a time, for a sliver was all I could take. These encounters were overwhelming and often left me in tears, tears that I later realized served to cleanse and heal me in many ways.
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Early in 1998, I spoke to a spiritually mature friend about these experiences. When I explained that I felt I was hearing the Lord speak to me, she said that she “happened” to be reading a booklet by Fr. Robert DeGrandis on the charismatic gift of prophecy and that what I was experiencing seemed to fit the description he gave of the gift. I read the book (devoured it). It certainly seemed to confirm what she had said.
Shortly after giving me the first book, the same friend gave me a book entitled Prophecy in the Local Church, by Anglican Bishop David Pytches, which I also devoured. In the book there was a story of a man who had a vision of an angel on the roof of a church. There was a hole in the roof. The angel was shoveling what appeared to be gold leaves onto the congregation, but no one was picking them up. The man asked the angel what this meant. He replied that the leaves were God’s gifts and that no one was bothering to pick them up.
On the same day that I read that story, we visited the cemetery where our son, Benjamin, is buried. Normally I am very unobservant, but as I walked among the graves I happened to notice something shiny on the ground. I picked it up, and to my utter astonishment, it was a gold leaf! It had been a woman’s earring; nevertheless, it was a gold leaf! A friend explained that this type was made by pouring molten gold onto a real leaf. The process burned away the membrane and left only the delicate gold-covered veins of the leaf. It was breathtakingly beautiful! Real gold and a real leaf! (photo of my gold leaf)
To this day I am amazed whenever I pick it up. I treasure this gold leaf as a beautiful symbol of the many gifts my Father has given to this unworthy creature of his. I felt it was a powerful confirmation of my gift; it has carried me through more than one crisis of faith.
I do not wish to give you the impression that this conversion experience was a smooth transition for me. On the contrary, this encounter with the living God was rather an earthquake in my life. It affected my family in unexpected ways. At one point feeling quite stressed, I was doubting the gift and grieving the loss of a “normal” life. I cried out, “I just want my life back!” Soon, I started to feel like my old self. I still heard the “voice” albeit more faintly, but I had no special feeling of the Lord’s presence. After a few days I asked him why I no longer felt his presence. He replied without judgment, “You took your life back.” It was a statement about a choice freely made.
The following Sunday, the Feast of the Ascension, I asked pardon and gave my life back to Jesus. I felt very keenly his presence at Mass, and later on felt him tell me this:
“I am still here. As you know I never left you. Even when you turned away, I stayed with you. Believe that I am leading you. Take my hand and follow. One life, two bodies, this is what I desire. . . .”
The next day, while praying the rosary I heard, “A personal encounter with Christ must change your life.”
From that time on, I felt more peaceful about my call. I remember telling a friend later on how this encounter with God had a similar effect on me as on a person winning the lottery—you go a little crazy at first!
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