“Love, Marriage and Family”

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“I had the privilege and blessing of going to the WYD2016; it was a 3-week pilgrimage to beautiful holy places with amazing people. Even though every single day was an experience of joy and love for the Lord Jesus, there was this specific place where I was able to experience, in a very personal way God’s love, mercy and healing power in my life. This special encounter happened at Nepokolanow, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s monastery and place where the Nazi army persecuted him.

But before I tell you how simple and gentle God talked to me that day, I think I need to give you a little background information about my personal life.

I am the only daughter between my mom and dad’s marriage. They got divorced two years after I was born and even though I received lots of love from both sides of my family, from a very young age I became the mediator of my parents’ broken relationship and unhealed wounds. When I turned seven, my mom decided to get married again and her new husband embraced me like a true daughter.  So I finally got to experience what it was like to have a family, to have a dad living with me and to have two beautiful siblings. They became my immediate family and I loved them, but regardless there was still something off. He was a loving stepdad, but an abusive, prideful and an alcoholic husband to my mom.

My dad also got married when I was 12 and I only got to experience this side of my family 5 years ago, when I came to live in Canada. Here the story was different. The relationship with my stepmother was not the best and I always felt that I didn’t belong to the family. Eventually I moved out of the house to let them restore their marriage, just to find out that a few months after, she left my dad and the divorce papers were on the table. There was a lot of pain, wounds and broken hearts; especially from seeing my little brothers confused and affected by the whole situation. Then just a few years after, when things were getting back to “normal”, my mom’s family fell apart. The family I used to call my immediate family, the stepdad I used to love, and the only true family I thought I had, was gone. My stepdad left my mom and once again, I had to experience the pain of another thorn family. That was it for me. I wasn’t going to believe in families or marriage anymore. I was sick and tired from seeing myself and my four innocent brothers suffer for a family. I just didn’t believe in the concept of family anymore. Forget about love.

At the end, all I could see around me were broken and unhappy families. So why believe in a family? I just kept living my life as if it was okay with me to not want to have a family. I was okay with not trusting anyone. I just had to focus on myself, my career and whatever activity that would keep me away from looking at my inner feelings. But then at Nepokolanow, the Friar who was giving us the tour around the museum, asked us if we knew that St. Maximilian Kolbe is considered to be the patron saint of families. Immediately I felt curiosity for knowing why and he soon explained how St. Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to give up his life for a prisoner who was about to be executed, just so that this guy could meet his family again.

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At this moment I felt like a veil fell in front of my eyes. HE GAVE UP HIS LIFE! And he gave it up because he knew the importance of a family. He knew the beauty of love and he knew about the love that God intended for a family. He knew how sacred the covenant of marriage was. He knew the beauty of a family. A Catholic Priest, who did not have a family because he chose to serve God, gave up his very own life, at a Nazi concentration camp, just so this other guy could encounter his wife and children one more time?

I just did not get it!!! I just started crying and after asking myself  why a person would do that, after asking St. Maximilian why he did this, God whispered very gently to my heart:

“Because it is worth while giving up your life for a family. Trust in me. Learn about the love that I want to give you. Let me heal you. Don’t be afraid. Don’t judge your parents. Don’t fall into all the fake loves the world is trying to offer you. Look at my love. Look at my son, who also gave up his own life to redeem you. To set you free from all the sins, all the chains, all the fears, to heal all the wounds. Open your heart to love, but first let me love you”

Of course I was in shock and I kept crying, but this time my tears were of healing, freedom, acceptance and self giving to God’s will for my life. Ever since that day, I’ve been learning a lot about the beauty of love; learning how to love; how to love the way God loves us; how to give myself to others, to be selfless, to serve those around me and most importantly to let God love me with His tender Fatherly love. Just like Mary did, just like the message St. Maximilian Kolbe was trying to spread through the Holy Mother of God, I need to allow God do unto me according to His will, not my fears.

Niepokalanow was the place where healing and these three beautiful lessons were given to me:

1) To allow myself to experience God’s personal love for me through daily prayer and daily learning of His love.

2) To have the Blessed Mother, whose acceptance of God’s will for her life led to the salvation of the whole world, as a guide and intercessor for my vocation in life. –St. Maximilian’s devotion to Our Lady

3) To understand the importance and the beauty of the covenant of marriage and a family.

Thank you St. Maximilian Kolbe; thank you because your life stirred up the desire in me to experience more of that love you had to give and that love that God has for me in a very personal and healing way. What a perfect way to show God’s mercy in the life of a girl who came from 3 broken families!”

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-Stephania

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