My Journey and Mama Mary

Featured article from March's Spirit of Medjugorje
My Journey and Mama Mary
By Stephen Galdo

     Early on in my teenage years, I struggled with my faith and barricaded myself from God and His love. I got caught up in lust, pride, and various pleasures of the world. After hitting rock-bottom and experiencing depression after my freshman year of college at Penn State Behrend, I immersed myself in volunteer work and my Catholic faith. I knew there was something different about interacting with the poor, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, I made a TEC retreat (now called Divine Mercy Encounter) and I saw Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist. I felt God’s merciful love for the first time and realized I had been seeing the face of Christ in those I served. I had found my “meaning” and, since then, have never looked back. After coming to know Jesus Christ, I felt God telling me every day in prayer to “Pray the Rosary.” I decided to give it a shot. In the beginning, it was really tough; in fact, I would venture to say it took me about six months to learn how to pray the Rosary. I would fall asleep, and felt I was not able to meditate on the mysteries. However, it was through the Rosary that Mary formed me into who I am today.
     While working a Divine Mercy Encounter retreat, I publically confessed I was open to the priesthood. God really blessed this, because the next day the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Renewal showed up at Penn State Behrend for Mass. I was so amazed by their humble witness to Christ that I felt called to visit them in the future. During this time I started praying a vocational prayer each day, asking for Mary’s intercession, and of course remained faithful to the holy Rosary. During this time of confusion, my campus minister handed me a book called 33 Days to Morning Glory. I began the process of consecrating myself to Mary, not really sure why, but it seemed like God’s will.
     Finally I made it out to visit the Capuchin Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York City. While I was there, I was totally captivated by the friars’ holiness, joy, love, peace, deep prayer life, and service to the poorest of the poor. Most specifically, I love their devotion to Eucharistic Adoration and Our Blessed Mother. This was radically living out the gospel, to the fullest. My heart desired this, but I wondered if it would be too tough for me. During my visit with the friars, one of the founders, Father Glenn, encouraged us to give the Lord 40 days, like Jesus in the desert, for our discernment. The idea was that God would give us an answer about our vocation. I was inspired, and gave the Lord 40 days, and promised to offer up various sacrifices and prayer. During this period, I consecrated myself to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013. Ironically, I was told this is the same day that Msgr. Peterson [former spiritual advisor of The Spirit of Medjugorje] died – someone whom I never met, but God keeps bringing into my life.

Medjugorje Bread
     Also, during this time, Our Lady led me to the Medjugorje devotion. One day on a service retreat, Joseph Goodwin, now a seminarian in the archdiocese of Denver, told me he was hungry and had not eaten all day. He explained to me this so-called “bread and water fast” Our Lady had asked us to do. Instantly, I was intrigued, and after some prayer, decided to take on this practice myself on Wednesdays and Fridays or at least attempt to. In the past, I had never really fasted and did not really understand it. However, I saw the Lord started to bear fruit through this. The Holy Spirit was totally convicting me of my sins and introduced me to this concept of redemptive suffering. This became a new weapon for me in the spiritual life! I started to research Medjugorje and found all the messages fantastic and fruitful in my own life!
     During this period of 40 days, I managed to fail at keeping my commitments, thinking less and less about my vocation, and even worse – forgetting I was doing the 40-day discernment! Towards the end of the 40 days, I, too, like Jesus, ended up in the desert – but in Las Vegas, Nevada for a wedding. I truly was in “sin city,” and never had felt a more evil presence in my life. Peddlers would try to hand me and my siblings cards for “call girls” and I avoided them by making the Sign of the Cross. It was very sorrowful to experience this. As Our Lady of Fatima says, “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh.” After the wedding, before I went to bed, I was utterly frustrated with the Lord. I remembered the first promise of the Rosary was that Mary will send you signal graces. So that night, I asked Mary to give me a concrete sign about my vocation. The next day, on my return home to Pittsburgh, I ran into a Friar of the Renewal in the Pittsburgh airport! Thank you, Mama Mary! When I arrived home, I realized it was the 41st day of my discernment. How merciful Our Lord is and always honors His word. I realized it was time to start taking this call a lot more seriously. After further discernment with my spiritual director and additional visits to the Friars, the Lord convicted me that this was my call.
     I was instantly hit with a roadblock after I desired to enter the Friars: educational loans. However, through God’s Divine Providence, I was led to a group called “The Labouré Society,” which helps people with religious and priestly vocations overcome student loans through a fundraising ministry. I am fundraising with my class of 18 aspiring vocations, who are all prevented from continuing formation in priestly and religious life due to our educational loans.
     In fraternity, I ask for you to join me in support for my vocation. I have applied to the friars, and the community would like me to enter formation as soon as possible. As Christ needed Simon on the path to Calvary, I need your help to give my life to this calling. I am working with The Labouré Society to raise assistance for the hundreds of vocations like mine that are turned away because of student loans. We have prayed unceasingly for vocations, and I assure you, God is answering them. Please consider a tax deductible gift to Labouré to enable these calls to be answered. Most importantly, please pray for me and my fellow aspirants that we may have the courage to respond in faith and echo Mary’s “Yes” to God.
Editor’s note: Stephen is from Plum, PA. To learn more about The Labouré Society, go tohttp://labouresociety.org. What a worthy cause for Lenten almsgiving – an investment in our future!
Source http://www.spiritofmedjugorje.org/index.php 

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