Pope St John Paul II and Me

This first appeared in the April 2015 edition of the Westminster Record.  

I came back to the Catholic faith at 9.37pm on 2 April 2005 after nearly 10 years. I’m precise about the time and date because it was at the moment of the announcement of the death of Pope St John Paul II that I had a profound experience whilst watching television.

At the moment of the announcement I had an overwhelming feeling that I had to ‘go back home’ that is, go back to Church. I felt alarmed by the feeling, not really knowing where it came from and why. Until that moment I had acquired a ten-year distaste for all things Catholic. As far as I was concerned I was as dead to the Church as it was to me. I remember telling my wife that I was coming to church with her on Sunday. Her look was as bemused as my bemusement in saying it to her!

Where to start with this strange intervention in my life? I deferred such questions and went to confession and received the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in nearly 15 years. One thing led to another as I gradually got involved in the life of the Church. I felt the Lord wanted more of me; not to do more, but to be more. This all led to my ordination as a permanent deacon in July 2012.

My wife passed away in January 2013 and now the Lord has come knocking on the door of my heart again and I start a period of formation later this year for the priesthood. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the death of Pope St John Paul II, I am reminded of John 12:24: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’ I certainly recognise that as true for me in my vocational discernment. 9.37pm on 2 April 2005 is when the grain died and bore fruit in me.

Deacon Brian McMahon

Prayer for Vocations

Lord Jesus Christ, Guide and Shepherd of your people, touch the hearts of our young people, that they may, for the love of you, give their lives in the service of the Church. Renew the hearts of priests, that they may model their lives on the mystery of the Cross, and imitate the Sacred Mysteries they celebrate at the Altar. Strengthen our families, that they may generously support those of their sons whom you call to serve you as priests. Amen.

Prayer for Seminarians

Lord Jesus, we ask your special blessing on those preparing for the Sacred Priesthood. May their hearts overflow with love, understanding, and generosity. May their desire to serve inspire others to answer Your call. Lord Jesus, fill the hearts of seminarians with the fire of your love make them holy as You are Holy. Amen.