On Saturday, August 7 I had the distinct pleasure of spending the day with roughly 10,000 others listening to the wonderful Fr. Corapi share the beauty of Life, Love and the Purpose of our Existence. It was a day that almost didn’t happen – but, by the grace of God, I was able to be there and get the spiritual refresher I so desperately needed.
I’ve been feeling a little distant in my faith lately – not that I wasn’t believing, but everything else seemed to be taking priority. I spent a wonderful month with family at our beautiful cabin on a lake and you would think that I would have found time to pray on a daily basis with all the rest and relaxation going on but nope, nada. That has changed since coming home and largely thanks to Fr. Corapi. I had been feeling drawn back to a deeper spiritual connection, but couldn’t seem to overcome the hurdle of getting there. I prayed about it and my prayers were answered. Its a beautiful thing!
The day started early with us leaving our house at about 7 am to make it to San Antonio by roughly 8:30. We arrived at the AT&T Center with the ten thousand other fans and waited in line to get in. As we made our way through the arena, it became clear that we had been abundantly blessed with amazing seats – third row on the floor right in the very center. We didn’t need the speakers to hear Fr. Corapi and I felt, throughout the day, that he was looking right in my eyes now and then when speaking.
While the seats were great, the message was powerful. It will likely take me many posts to cover the messages and what they meant to me, so I’m going to stick to a few choice quotes here and the experience itself. Throughout the day Fr. Corapi delivered a message that was both blunt and truthful. He spared no ‘third rail’ discussions and touched on immigration, politics, abortion, the scandal in the Church – you name it, he mentioned it. The beautiful thing about Fr. Corapi is that while his booming voice delivers a forceful and to the point message, there is always a solution given and an opportunity to know how to overcome the challenges we face.
Here are just a few choice quotes from Saturday’s conference:
“The moral unravelling of a nation always precedes the ultimate unravelling of a nation. If you don’t believe me, just look back through history.”
“Removal of leadership is a punishment for sin.”
“The story of humanity is the history of combat between humanity and evil.”
“How we live now determines how we live forever.”
“God doesn’t need anything to exist, but we need God to exist.”
“I’m an equal opportunity offender.”
Upon a Bishop once suggesting that when he speak that he be ‘smooth’ – “That’s the problem, we have nuanced the truth into utter ambiguity – just like politicians who talk forever but say nothing.”
“The world was different when Christians practiced their faith actively.”
“Socialism will reduce everyone to the same meagre level and sucks capital from society.”
“The worst thing we can do is remove a man’s incentive to work. In doing so we remove their hope.”
“When you take away the incentive for excellence, you impoverish humanity.”
“You reach down to your brother and sister, but you don’t stay down with them – you lift them up to excellence.”
“Government is a pox on humanity.”
“Begin voluntarily to be be your brother’s keeper. I don’t trust the government to be my brother’s keeper.”
“Politicians are about self interest and a consolidation of power.”
“God is a God of order. If we don’t follow order, we begin to disintegrate to a state of disorder.”
“Blood, sweat and tears are the sources of character.”
“If you don’t have to work for it, it diminishes the return.”
“Be a good example.”
‘Pray for conversion.”
“Love is the desire for the best for the beloved – to get to Heaven. Do what it takes to get them there.”
“When we go to Heaven or Hell, we go there alone.”
“A life well lived is the most eloquent sermon we can give.”
“Grace is not cheap.”
“The price of a soul is not light.”
“The number one form of penance is to accept the trials and tribulations of your state in life.”
“Offer it up.”
“Always come as a servant.”
“Love is sacrifice. You love to the degree you are willing to sacrifice.”
“God sends us all kinds of trials as a gift. The greatest is the cross. The cross breeds power into our life.”
“Unite your physical, mental and moral pain with Jesus.”
“Heaven/Hell. Saved/Not Saved. Accept Grace/Deny Grace. Light/Dark. Truth/Lies.”
“No Saint was canonized for what he knew. The issue is the will to act.”
“Sometimes there are people that need offending.”
“Are you motivated to be in this cultural survival war? Otherwise, you will be a casualty.”
“You cannot be pro-choice and be Catholic.” (incidentally, the average Russian woman has 8 abortions – eight!)
“If itsnot a human being in the mother’s womb, then what is it? It is not a potential human being – but a human being with potential.”
“Do we really believe that God will not look down upon the genocide of 40 million of His children and not offer a consequence?”
“Have I done enough to inspire people?”
“The western world is collapsing.”
“People in the US don’t realize that they have voluntarily succumbed to slavery.”
“The guilty thing is silence. All that evil requires is that good men and women stay silent.”
“If I take away my brother’s dignity, I have not helped him.”
“Its easy to get hooked on free money – its like heroin.”
“Part of love is action. Sit on your butt and perish or stand up and do something to move forward.”
“The degree of glory in Heave will be proportional to the degree of charity here on earth.”
“We, as individuals, are called to excellence and heroism.”
“What impedes people from growing in their spiritual life is a lack of willingness to sacrifice.”
“When you exercise love for others, it enriches your life.”
“What matters is a personal relationship with God.”
“To the degree we enter into God is the degree that we enter into existence.”
“Life comes through Christ alone.”
“Become all things for all people in hopes that some of them will be saved.”
“Be it done to me according to thy word.”
“No son or daughter of that many tears could ever be lost.”
“Jesus, I trust in you.”
** Not all of these are original quotes of Fr. Corapi – but they were quotes that jumped out and spoke to me. I will be writing more on each of the talks he gave and some of the ideas he shared.
During the breaks and at lunchtime, it was wonderful to see many friends from St. John Neumann! It was a blessing to be able to share this experience with them.
After Fr. Corapi finished his fourth talk at about 4:15 in the afternoon, the stage was converted into an altar in order to celebrate a Vigil Mass. The Mass was absolutely beautiful! I would guess that roughly 7000 of the 10000+ people stayed to attend the Mass. By the grace of God, the ATT Center was converted into a remarkably intimate setting in which the presence of the Holy Spirit was overwhelming to me. Michael John Poirier did the music for the Mass and it was stunning.
For the entrance procession, we sang a beautiful song to the tune of ‘O Come Let Us Adore Him’ while the 20+ Priests processed toward the altar. The procession was led by the Knights of Columbus and the burning of incense wafted through the air. We, still in our third row seats, had a fantastic view of the altar. The Mass was presided over by Fr. Antonio Anderson who did a marvelous job of bringing a sense of reverence and beauty into the space to make it truly Holy.
Fr. Corapi gave a beautiful homily. Truthfully, I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience and the presence of the Holy Spirit that I cannot honestly tell you what he even said! I do, however, remember being touched and moved by what he said.
During the preparation of the Eucharist, I was on my knees and praying – completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the Holy Spirit washing over me. I had a brief moment of consciousness when I realized that Fr. Corapi may be one of the 20+ Priests and 15+ Eucharistic Ministers that would be responsible for distributing the Eucharist to the thousands in the arena. I spent a brief moment asking God for him to stand at the end of our row so that we could receive the Eucharist from him. Part of me kept thinking ‘this is wrong. I can’t pray for this – he’s just a man.’ But I couldn’t help it! It would have been the icing on the cake. God, however, had a different idea as to the icing in store.
As I kneeled on the concrete floors with my knees hurting me from being there for some time while the Priests and Eucharistic Ministers prepared to distribute Communion, I kept thinking ‘Offer it up.’ But something more powerful happened, my body began to shake. This has happened to me several times before. I know when this happens that its the presence of the Holy Spirit washing over me. Its uncontrollable and I’ve learned to just go with it.
The first two rows in front of us went up and went to the left to Fr. Toni who was at the left end of the row. Just as they did that Fr. Corapi stood at the front of our aisle and the Usher motioned for us to stand up and go to the front toward him. I received the Body of Christ from Fr. Corapi and then walked back to my seat shaking as I walked. There were times where I felt I couldn’t continue to stand as though I would fall over.
When I returned to my seat, I knelt down again and knew that my knees would be throbbing by the time every last person had received the Body of Christ. I kept hearing ‘Offer it up.’ in Fr. Corapi‘s deep and booming voice inside my head.
The shaking got stronger and stronger and I began to cry – no, I wept. I wept uncontrollably. The prayers that went through my head were not my own and I knew that the Holy Spirit had completely overcome my and and was leading me in prayer. It was a beautiful and powerful experience. I had experienced this before, but never ever to this degree or depth. I have no idea how long I was on my knees and no idea how long I wept. Gradually, as the prayers subsided – so did my crying. I was able to lift myself off my knees and back onto my seat. I thanked God for the beautiful experience of making Himself so clearly present to me.
As we headed home after the Vigil Mass was over, I felt completely and entirely drained but also rejuvenated and alive. I fell asleep early that night and did my best to sleep in on Sunday morning.
I thought about the day on Saturday and realized that I had been called to action. The little heartstrings that God had been tugging on for the past few months as I had drifted away from Him and more toward the ‘world’ had been made clear. I knew they were there, but the need to answer the call was clear. I have since signed up to resume prayer with the 40 Days for Life campaign this fall, and have also resumed my daily rosary. I have had a wonderful couple of days since returning to the rosary and my morning prayers. What a gift. I’m also going to resume my posts to ‘Practically Catholic’.
Once again, I’ve learned that God always gives me the messages He wants me to hear by placing them in my heart. Given that He exists across all time and is all encompassing, He is truly patient and will continue to place them there until I answer. Sometimes He realizes that I’m a little distracted and places me in experiences like the one I had this past Saturday at the ATT Center to give me the wake-up call I need and remind me that He’s asking something of me and needs for me to listen.
The humour in the idea that He used an experience at the ATT Center to have me ‘answer His call’ is not lost on me either