By “Monnica” (not her real name), an anonymous EnCourage mother

I was in such a fog of anguish that first night after our son told us that he was “gay”, that I couldn’t sleep. All night long I just prayed “Veni Sancte Spiritus” (Come Holy Spirit). Early the next morning I began to look for help online. Surely my favorite Catholic radio priest would have something helpful to say on the subject of homosexuality. When I went to Father John Riccardo’s podcast site, the first thing I saw was a video of him preaching about Psalm 23. He spoke about how — when we find ourselves in the “valley of the shadow of death” — it is not enough to just know about God, but that we have to actually know God.

Being a Christian is more than just knowing the facts about our faith, and it’s even more than just following the rules of a good moral life. It’s living in union with the God who made us. And I wasn’t living that way. I knew lots about God, but my relationship with Him was primarily intellectual. Sure, I went to Mass on Sunday, but I didn’t have much of a prayer life. I only went to Confession a couple times a year. While I avoided serious sin, I had made little effort to really grow in holiness and virtue. In the busyness of being a dedicated full-time mom, prioritizing making sure that my children knew about God, I had simply been too busy for God Himself.

So Father Riccardo went on, “If you don’t know God, then cry out to the Holy Spirit and beg Him to break into your life.” Well, “crying out to the Holy Spirit” was exactly what I had been doing all that previous night! I took that as a confirmation that God was already leading me.

Totally stripped of any illusion of self-sufficiency, utterly unable to control the situation, I threw myself into the arms of a God I finally realized that I desperately needed, and, lo and behold, I found He was actually there! I began to see His action in a wonderful series of small and sometimes more dramatic incidents that when taken together I could no longer write off as mere coincidences.

My favorite story of God’s personal care began with a divinely orchestrated meeting with a holy priest. He told me that what my son needed more than anything else was an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, but that I couldn’t give him what I didn’t have myself. So, the priest encouraged me to work on my own relationship with God. He suggested I start by praying with a poem by St. John of the Cross called “Living Flame of Love”. The poem and John’s commentary are about the depths of union that God desires with each of us. Then, in a suggestion which struck me as odd, the priest also recommended that I give my son a song version of this poem.

I found a couple of song versions that I did not like at all, and quickly dismissed that idea of sharing a song version with my son. Still, I did go ahead and slowly pray my way through the poem and commentary. It spoke deeply to my soul.

A few months later, while I was praying in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I found myself led to pray for a young man I barely knew who was going through a particularly difficult time. I got the sense that I should give him John of the Cross’s poem. At first I protested — I barely knew this guy! But just in case it was the Holy Spirit prompting me, I figured it was worth the risk of looking foolish. So I tracked him down on Facebook and sent him a short message with a link to the poem. I didn’t hear anything until a month later when he wrote back, “I can’t thank you enough for sending me the poem. As soon as I started reading it, I knew I would be setting it to music.” It became this gifted young singer’s very first chorale composition. A few months later I attended the concert where his college choir performed the song for the first time. I wept uncontrollably at its breathtaking beauty.

(Listen to song here. Follow along with the words of the poem here.)

Remember that the priest had suggested I give my son a song version of the poem? Well, now I had an exquisitely beautiful version to give him. I sent him an mp3 file with a short explanation. He never replied, so I don’t know what he thought or if he even listened. Still, I hold out hope that one day, he will be able to see this song as tangible evidence of God’s very personal love for him.

In the meantime, when I am tempted to despair, this song reminds me that God is very much alive. He intervenes in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones whenever and however He pleases. He has neither forsaken me nor my son.

*    *    *

“Monnica” has been an EnCourage member for about 10 years and serves as a lay facilitator for a local EnCourage group.

The opinions and experiences expressed in each blog entry in “The Upper Room” belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage International, Inc. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.