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Sometimes God answers prayers so profoundly it blows my mind. I had one of those God-moments back on 26 May and I’ve been waiting since that Saturday morning to tell you about it. And now, after several weeks of preparation, I can finally share it with you as it is coming to fruition.

I mentioned in a couple previous posts that I am training to become certified as a Catholic Spiritual Mentor. Through the teaching of the Sisters of The Apostles of the Interior Life, and the Holy Family School of Faith of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, my classmates and I are both growing in our relationship with God and learning how to help others purposefully grow in their relationships with God and their neighbors, as well. It’s an amazing program and I feel blessed to be part of it.

With three semesters down and one more to go, we were told at our week of in-residence training in May that our homework for this last session would be to find a person to mentor. To be honest, all that I’d been eagerly anticipating for a year and a half seemed a little daunting now that it was upon me. This was the real thing.

The Sisters of The Apostles of the Interior Life are an extraordinary community of women who exude a holiness and happiness that can only come from an intimate relationship with God. In forming our interior lives, we are fortunate to be beneficiaries of their relationship with God through daily talks, lessons and meditations.

Sister Michela’s meditation on that Saturday morning was entitled, The Art of Giving Thanks. It was based on Luke 17:11-19, the Cleansing of the Ten Lepers, specifically zeroing in on the Samaritan leper, who, “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice, and then fell at the feet of Jesus thanking Him.” Jesus responded by saying, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

This one leper proved his faith by recognizing Christ’s mercy in healing him. Unlike the other nine, he showed his true gratitude by returning to give thanks. He glorified God in a loud voice, not caring what others thought or said, and indicated his total surrender. He demonstrated his humility by falling at the feet of Jesus. And, his giving thanks was an act of justice that recognized God’s love for him.

It was a powerful meditation which was strategically placed immediately before an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. It would have been impossible to not spend that hour on my knees at the feet of Jesus giving thanks for every blessing ever received, every hurt ever healed, every lesson ever learned, and every loving relationship ever built.

I specifically said a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving me the desire to grow closer to Him; the desire to reach out to other men and help them grow in holiness; and for the training I was receiving. I prayed for the grace to recognize the opportunities to help other men that He would put before me. And, acknowledging that all I have is because of Him, I prayed I would be able to repay Him in the only way I know how – to bring others to Him.

At the end of the Adoration hour I left the chapel and walked back to my room to retrieve a notebook in which to write during the half day of silent retreat coming up next. It was less than a 60 second walk to my room. As I stepped inside, I heard my phone, which was on the desk on the opposite side of the room, give a “chirp” indicating an email had just arrived. It was a forwarded email from our deacon back at home saying, “Jerry, I received this email this morning and thought of you.” It was an email from Elizabeth’s New Life Women’s Center in my home town.

Elizabeth’s New Life Center is a faith based pregnancy resource center serving Southwest Ohio. Their mission is to empower individuals to choose life instead of abortion by showing them the compassion and love of Christ . Their life affirming programs strengthen families and save thousands of lives annually. It’s an organization which I’ve gladly supported financially and with prayers over the last few years.

Their email said, “ENLC is looking for a few good men to participate in their new mentoring program for expectant fathers. Some qualifications for the program are: he must be a believer and focused on God…is motivated by his faith…is a man of prayer with a strong dependence on God…has a passion to help young men as expectant fathers, and meet them in their situation…is unafraid to share the Gospel with others…must be an example of a good father…and he must be capable and willing to show a Christ-like love to young men who at times may seem unlovable.”

I could hardly believe what I was reading! I had to support myself on the edge of the bed to keep from falling over. I had just prayed a minute before for God to place opportunities before me to help other men, and He didn’t waste a second. This wasn’t quite the spiritual mentoring I had in mind but the qualifications met all that I was being taught and it was certainly a worthy and desperately needed ministry. And, as I thought about it, it was one that could parallel and would complement the individual mentoring for which I was being trained.

And, as I sat there pondering the possibilities, I no longer viewed future mentoring sessions as daunting encounters. I suddenly had a welcome confidence that, if God was calling me this clearly to work for Him, He would send His Holy Spirit and not leave me hanging.

I replied to my deacon friend explaining what had just happened and confessed that I couldn’t pass this up especially when God, in answering my prayers, placed the opportunity right in my lap.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been volunteering a couple hours per week at the Women’s Center learning their policies and procedures. Finally, this last week, I had the chance to meet with two young expectant fathers who, along with their childs’ mothers, have chosen life for their unborn children. As I get to know them and build relationships with them I expect I’ll have many opportunities to coach them on the responsibilities and the happiness that comes with fatherhood, and possibly, if they choose marriage, on how to be loving, faithful and servant husbands, as well.

But, mostly, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to introduce them to Jesus and the eternal love of our God.

Please pray for me and the expectant fathers.

“Good and Gracious God, I shout out with thanks for Your love and all the many blessings You have bestowed on me and my family. Thank You for answering my prayers and for Your confidence in my service to others. Thank You for placing the desire in my heart to serve others and bring them closer to You. Thank You for giving me a loving father from whom I have learned much about fatherhood. And, by Your Grace, I pray that by helping young men learn to be loving and responsible fathers, their love for You and family will perpetuate for generations to come. Amen.”

(God Answers Prayers of Thanksgiving was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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