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The Importance of a Faith-Filled Life: A Book Review

 

When I was a teenager, the Roma Downey series, Touched by An Angel, was all the rage. Millions, my family included, would tune in every week to watch how God’s angels touched the lives of everyday people – people like you and me. We would watch and wait for the last scene, when the angel looked into the heart of the one God had helped to say assuringly, “God loves you.”

At that point in my life, I devoured one angelic testimony after another, savoring each tale of how an angel guided someone through difficult trials. These books were more than just testimony to the incredible nature of God’s creatures… they provided hope for the readers. They reminded us that God is around us, providing miracles as signs of his presence for those of us trudging through life.

Therefore, when I was provided a free copy of Once I Was Blind But Now I See, a testimonial by Charles Piccirilli with Kimberly Cook, in exchange for an honest review, I jumped at the chance. To read about a man who, having dabbled in the occult, made his way back to God through to the Catholic Faith, and experienced God’s hand and voice in his life? Of course I had to review that book!

Mr. Piccirilli actually doesn’t go into depth about his life with the occult. He chooses instead to gloss over that dark life so that he may focus on what came after; adamant that once he banished the demons which used to invade his space and embraced a life with Jesus, his life turned around.

As I read how Jesus has physically, emotionally, and spiritually touched Mr. Piccirilli, I was moved, but in ways I did not expect.

Mr. Piccirilli’s experiences were just as hopeful and well-written as the best angelic testimonies, and made for a real page turner. I read the entire book in one day.

Simply put, Mr. Piccirilli’s story is amazing!

For one who reads this book, however, I must caution that Mr. Piccirilli’s experiences are outside the normative experience for most of the faithful. But, it does not mean it can’t be true. Throughout the bible, we are told of prophets who will be in our midst – and, simply because a man may be a prophet, does not mean his faith will not be tested like the rest of us. There is no discussion of Mr. Piccirilli’s test of faith, but it can be argued his time with the occult is test enough.

When reading this book, I wondered how Mr. Piccirilli’s claims can be true? How is it that God could bless this man’s life so much? What could Mr. Piccirilli have done to deserve these incredible and miraculous experiences?

Reading Once I Was Blind But Now I See challenged me, in a positive manner, as well. I asked myself where my faith had gone – the faith of my childhood, which led me stay up hours past my bedtime to finish a book of angelic miracles I had purchased that morning?

As I sat in prayer on this book, I was gently reminded of one of my favorite bible passages. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 highlights the gifts of the Holy Spirit. While one of my gifts may be writing, Mr. Piccirilli’s gifts seem to be healing, working of miracles, and prophecy. While that may be uncomfortable to some, it’s a good reminder that we are all called to recognize the gifts we have been given, embrace those gifts, hone them, and then use them for the glory of God.

Like any gift from God, there is nothing neither I nor Mr. Piccirilli could possibly to do to deserve what was received through His grace.

Once I Was Blind But Now I See serves as a reminder that God does answer prayers – perhaps not on our schedule or in the manner we would like, But He answers them in the ways that are in accord with His plan. This book also highlights how God allows for us to use our free will… to choose to follow His directions and His plans for us.

It is a testament to how loving and forgiving God remains, even when we try to strike our own course, instead of following His path.

In a manner which is engaging and easy to read, Mr. Piccirilli shares how he has been touched and immensely blessed by God. His book reminds readers of the importance of living a life filled with faith – not in expectation of the miraculous, but rather because God is here, providing miracles all around us each and every day.

And, no matter what way miracles may manifest in this world, this book is a testimony to the greatness of the glory of God.

Because, with God, all things are possible.

**This book was provided free of charge to the author of this piece, in exchange for an honest review. If you are interested in further information about this book, or would like to purchase this book, please visit The Lion of Design.**
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Communion Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Mary P. Sacraments

Approaching Communion with the Faith of a Child

Approaching Communion with the Faith of a Child

This past weekend, my oldest daughter, Rose, received her First Holy Communion. My husband and I were primarily responsible for preparing her for this incredibly special day. We did her lessons from the required First Communion book; we took her to Mass every week (as we always have); we took her to Confession often; we talked to her about what Communion is. We also tried to model respect and reverence for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We got some compliments on her First Communion day about how reverent she was, and how well we prepared her. It would be easy for me to bask in the glow of these compliments and pat myself on the back– that is, if I weren’t so acutely aware of my own shortcomings in this area, and how much Rose has actually taught me through this process.

Seven years ago, I wrote a Facebook post about how Rose– then just barely more than one year old– was teaching me about seeing the dignity in all human life. (I published the note here a couple of years later). Just like she did so many years ago as a baby, Rose has shown me once again what Jesus meant when he talked about the importance of becoming “like little children.”

I have more book knowledge about Jesus and the Church than Rose does, and I intellectually know more about what postures and behaviors are most appropriate in Mass. I can communicate those things to Rose fairly easily. But I think she is the one who more fully recognizes and appreciates Jesus present in Host and Cup. Children are much more able to simply trust in Jesus without full understanding. Their innocence and imagination help them to have a confident assurance of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist that eludes most adults. It’s real to them in a way that it might not be for many of us – even those of us who know and believe all that the Church teaches on the matter. They don’t just believe with their heads, but with their whole hearts and souls.   

Approaching Communion with the Faith of a ChildI can’t begin to describe the excitement that Rose had for months leading up to her First Communion, and especially on the day it took place. There was a time when I thought that maybe she was just looking forward to wearing a fancy white “princess” gown and getting a lot of attention; but in talking to her about Communion, I realized I was wrong about the source of her excitement. She really knew Jesus is present in the Eucharist and she really could not wait to receive Him. She came home from the First Communion practice the night before the ceremony with the biggest smile on her face, and it didn’t leave her face until well after Mass the next day. She was positively beaming. When was the last time I felt excited about receiving the Eucharist, and full of joy at the prospect of encountering the Lord there?

After she received for the first time, she told me that she was sad that Sunday Masses were an entire week away from each other because she wanted to receive Jesus more often (I reminded her that Mass happens every day, but it’s somewhat difficult for this pregnant mama to get her three little ones to weekday Mass alone). She received for the first time on a Saturday, so she did get to receive again the very next day– and she was more excited than ever to go to a regular Sunday Mass! How often do I long for Jesus in the Eucharist during the week, or make an extra effort to get to daily Mass to meet Him?

A few days before she received First Communion, she asked to go to Confession even though it had been less than a week since she had last been (she frequently has asked to go since her first time in November). She had been having an especially difficult time behaving herself in the days leading up to First Communion (I wondered if she were under a little spiritual attack), and she knew that you need a clean heart and soul to receive the Eucharist. We weren’t able to get her there since our access to weekday Confession is very limited, so I explained to her that her sins were not so serious that she couldn’t simply pray and ask for forgiveness and the grace to behave better. But, I was in awe of the fact that she understood how important it is to be well-prepared to receive the Lord. How often have I put off going to Confession for a long time and didn’t think twice about all the “little” sins that made my heart and soul less-than-pure for the Lord? I pray at each Mass, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” but do I really think about the meaning of these words, and how I could prepare better so as to be a little more worthy next time? It’s so easy for adults to take reception of the Eucharist for granted, as if we are entitled to it under any circumstance. 

Rose may have learned the proper words, actions, and doctrines from her father and me, but the proper interior disposition of joy and reverence can only come from the Holy Spirit. It’s acquired most easily by those with an innocent, child-like faith. I confess that despite my head knowledge and my going through all the correct motions, I frequently fall far short of the mark when it comes to that proper disposition of heart and soul. We adults can all too easily feel overly secure and superior in our faith because of our theological intelligence and our years of practice at doing things the right way. We can forget that, while important, these things do not equate to a close relationship with the Lord, or a strong faith. Rose inadvertently reminded me of that, and inspired me to try to do much better so that I can be more like her.

I’ve been thinking with sadness about all the children who made their First Confessions and received their First Communions this year with the same joy and sure-faith that Rose demonstrated, but whose parents will not bring them back to the Sacraments on a regular basis now that they have reached this milestone. First Confession and First Communion (like Baptism and Confirmation) are too often viewed by parents as boxes to check off because they are just what Catholics are supposed to do. Then, their children’s innocent longing for the grace and freedom of Confession and for the deeply personal relationship with Jesus through the Eucharist goes unfulfilled – and eventually fades away. It’s an incredible tragedy. I may not be responsible for the genesis of Rose’s pure love for Jesus in the Eucharist, but I am responsible for nourishing it. I pray that I will always take that grave responsibility seriously, and that, in the process, I can continue learn just as much (or more!) from Rose as she is learning from me.