Baptised at the age of 9, I prayed fervently as a child, but as I grew older, studies and hobbies became more important and faith increasingly took a back seat. In my late teens and twenties, I had many questions about the Catholic faith. I questioned how we can know for sure that Jesus Christ is God. How do we know the Bible is true since other religions also preach goodness and virtues and have their holy books? I could not believe that good Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus would not go to heaven. I did not want to be a part of any religion that said so.
Although I had all these questions, I did not have the humility to ask a priest or read up for answers. I discussed these things with a friend who was a lapsed Catholic, and we decided that there were no answers to be found, that all is relative. So I gradually lost faith. It became increasingly difficult for me to say “Amen” at mass during communion, to “Body of Christ”. From becoming a Sunday Catholic, I gradually became a lapsed Catholic.
After some years, my mother had trigger finger illness. I thought I could make a deal with God – if I came back to church, would He cure her? In my desperation, I put aside all my intellectual questions. When I started coming back to church, my mother was so happy she said: “I’ve been praying for you to come back to church.”
I felt a decided meaninglessness in my life. The question that kept coming to mind was: If I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret not having done?
Meanwhile, I had finished my studies and worked in the newspapers for about 5 years first as a reporter, then a page designer. In my late 20s, I felt a decided meaninglessness in my life. The question that kept coming to mind was: If I were to die tomorrow, what would I regret not having done? I felt drawn to study nature, so I quit my job and went to New Zealand to study biology, specialising in ecology. Looking back, I realise it was a healing time for me, because up till then, I had been leading a very worldly life, following the values of the world. Yes, nature is healing.
At the end of some years study in New Zealand, I was training to be a teacher, when the opportunity arose for me to attend a 10-day Catholic retreat there in Christchurch, New Zealand. At the retreat, I felt attracted to the religious life, seeing many priests and sisters there who were obviously intelligent, joyful and leading simple lives of service. They were free. But I felt I did not have a burning love for God. So I thought, “No lah, not me.” Then at a praise and worship session in the retreat, I had an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. I heard His voice say gently but firmly, “Do not be afraid because… I love you.” Now, I had the necessary love for God, because He first revealed His love for me. I was intensely seeking His will, and when He revealed His will, He showed me that He does not command – He invites and reassures. That kind of love is irresistible.
I had a dream one afternoon, after praying the rosary, where I saw a house and a circle superimposed on it, and felt myself drawn directly towards the circle and house.
Not long after that retreat, I had a dream one afternoon, after praying the rosary, where I saw a house and a circle superimposed on it, and felt myself drawn directly towards the circle and house. I thought I had been seeing too many computer games and target practices. But suddenly, I saw a cross stamped on the circle and felt it stamped on me so strongly that I immediately awoke. I knew God was telling me that He is present in the Eucharist, and present in me, and that I belonged to Him.
These experiences started a process of discernment that has led me to this happy day 🙂
By the way, I have since happily found out from the Vatican II documents and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, that the Catholic Church has a deep respect for other religions and sees elements of truth in them. I realise with deep joy that “God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God” (1John 4:16) and that Jesus Christ is that Love made incarnate; He is Lord. May He help us to seek Him whole-heartedly.
I’m also very grateful to all who have prayed for people like me, lapsed Catholics, to come home to Jesus.
Let us continue to pray for this intention because God truly answers our prayers, in His time. Amen.