“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.”—St. Augustine of Hippo
I have been living here in Milwaukee for thirteen (13) months now. I went to Sunday mass today at my local parish, Old Saint Mary, where Fr. Kent Beausoleil—who calls the parishioners “future saints” when he says goodbye to them—was the celebrant. I ran into him in the lavatory after mass and I told him to have a nice week, to which he replied “You too, saint.” The fact that he referred to me as a “saint” instead of a “future saint” made me feel good.
I still have a long way to go to be a saint, but I have definitely come a long way. For many years, I was the most wretched of sinners: defiant and disrespectful to my mother; rude and vulgar; curious and careless; willing to try anything once if an offer presented itself; chain smoker; heavy drinker and drug user; frequent patron of seedy bars and taverns; and occasional partaker in certain homosexual activity.
I am happy to say I am no longer any of those things. I didn’t change overnight and I didn’t have a life-changing experience which put a stop to my shenanigans. I changed gradually. I changed over many years. I did not know this at the time, but our Lord Jesus Christ was with me during all those years.
For many years, I felt that God didn’t love me. I felt He had created me to be so different from most people because He enjoyed watching me struggle and was being entertained by the predicaments I was induced into. I never understood why He created me to be sad, miserable, hopeless, and full of despair. Although loving, trusting, and caring for my family, friends, and persons I met in life led me to betrayal, heartache, emotional pain, confusion, and deep sorrow; I never gave up on people and I never blamed God for my misery and suffering.
I always believed in God and I never complained to Him because I felt the sole purpose of my existence in this world was to amuse our Lord with my out-of-the ordinary actions and behavior when confronted with difficult situations. I always thanked Him for the good and unfortunate in my life. I would ask Him the reason why things were as they were, but I never asked Him to make things better for me. I would only ask Him to take me out of this world, to obliterate my physical existence in this material world—even if it meant spending eternity in Hell. Since I have an extremely high tolerance for physical pain and I had grown accustomed to suffering emotionally, Hell didn’t sound as terrible as living in this world.
God never granted my request, though. He never allowed me to die because He loves me. He wanted to give me the opportunity to repent of my wicked ways, be truly contrite for my sins, receive absolution through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation—all of my own free will. I now realize that He loves me and that he wants me to love Him as best I can; and I finally realize that my mother has always loved me. I have learned that God always knows what is best for all of us.
My dear mother is eighty-five (85) years old now and I am forty-three (43). I have traveled a long treacherous road with many sorrows and very few joys to where I am today and by no means am I a saint, but I do feel that anything is possible with God. I am a sinner who has been led by the Holy Spirit to where I am now, who has been saved numerous times by the grace of God, and who is loved by Jesus, Mary our Blessed Mother, and Joseph, her most chaste spouse and foster-father of the Son of God. God is great because God is good.