Tuesday, July 20, 2010
MEDJUGORJE TESTIMONY - Lisa Burns (22), from Manchester, gave her testimony
Reprinted with permission from Glasnik Mira, January, 2010
At the Youth Festival in August 2009, Lisa Burns (22), from Manchester, gave her testimony. She talked about how the death of Pope ]ohn Paul II returned her to ]esus.
I was raised as a Catholic in a Catholic family. In our diocese, I was the only such case, because as a seven-year-old, in one year, I had received all the sacraments. When I was about 12 years old, everything that I had learned, everything that I had received with such joy had ended. I didn't remember anything. Even though I came from a Catholic family, we actually didn't practice our faith. We didn't go to Church every Sunday, and they didn't do a good job of teaching me the foundations of my faith either. I went to Catholic school in which, even though it was Catholic, the mutual maltreatment between the young people was in full swing. Since I was a good student and wanted to be a good person, and that people would like me, and because I just wanted to help people, the school pests (bullies) immediately saw me as an easy target. They began to systematically harass me, and one by one, my friends left me out of fear that they would become maltreated as well. I felt very isolated. Since I felt so helpless and isolated, I began searching for answers, how I might come to some strength, how I might gain control over this situation.
I remember one day sitting in school during catechism class, and next to me sat one of the popular girls, one of the abusive kids, and she was reading a book on sorcery/witchcraft. When I looked at that book, the first thing I saw was the sentence: "Sorcery formula for how to overpower violence and become popular". At that moment I thought, that's the answer! That's it! That's what I need! The girl closed the book, and I was thinking I need to investigate this further. I began to make progress in sorcery. It began with magazines for teenagers, who in England, and I think all of Europe offer pages with sorcery formulas, supernatural phenomenon, and occult practices under the guise of something harmless - the guise of a joke that has no con¬sequences. I went to a bookstore, a regular English bookstore and found an entire wall full of books on occult themes and sorcery, and there was one section that was exclusively assigned to young people who were interested in sorcery. Let me add that these books were found right next to the Harry Potter books. They were so attractive to me, so tempting. And so from the age of 12 to 15, I was constantly progressing in sorcery. My life started becoming darker, and darker, and darker. One day, I opened one of the books to a page that said, "Now call on the name of Lucifer. Do not be afraid, he is not the devil." It was saying to me that the devil does not exist, that the Church is corrupt, that it hates women. Those are all lies.
When I was 16 years old, I understood that the sorcery was not helping me and I stopped it, but I did not have a firm foundation of faith in Jesus, so I did not turn towards Him. Instead, I was lost. I was searching for Him with my whole heart, but I didn't understand it. I remember I used to lie in bed at night and cry to God in hopes that my life would come to an end. I thought there was no reason for living. Why are we even here on this earth? I was cynical, I didn't believe that love could possibly even exist.
That's when the Pope died.
I remember the newscast in which they announced that he had died. John Paul II had died, and my life changed. He was a man whom I had never met, a person who didn't interest me at all, but in that moment, I didn't know for what reason, something hit me. During the following days I followed the news about his life and I began to change, but I didn't understand why. He contradicted everything that I knew. Here was a man who devoted himself to the Church and to the people, here was an intelligent person who believed in Jesus, and that Satan does exist, and I thought it was all mid-century religion. He loved with his entire heart, and even though he was 84 years old, and had Parkinson's disease, something radiated from him that I had never seen before in anyone else. I was 17 years old, I was depressed and hopeless, I wanted to end my life. I looked at him and, not knowing, saw Jesus himself and I said, "I want what he has."
God's love melted the ice that was enslaving my heart.
The day came for the Pope's funeral. I was fascinated. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the TV screen. My heart was broken as if a member of my family had died. I was comical unto myself, I didn't understand what was happening to me. Then Cardinal Ratzinger, our current Pope, stood up to give the homily. During the entire homily I constantly heard; follow me, follow me! And then the one sentence that changed my entire life, He said, "He is standing at the window of the Father's house and is blessing us." Yes, bless us, Holy Father. I don't know for what reason, I cannot explain it, at that moment I felt as though something hit me. In my heart, which had been as though marooned in ice, at that moment God's love, God's grace descended, and melted the ice that was enslaving my heart. That reminds me of the words from the Bible when God said, "I will remove your heart of stone and give you a new heart of flesh." For the first time in many years, I once again felt like a human being. I felt that I had hope and that I once again can dare to believe in love. I took my grandmother's rosary and said to myself, I have to go to confession.
There was a battle waging within me. I didn't understand what was happening in me. When I kissed the cross and looked at Jesus, I said to myself, all this time, He was here. I was looking for Him but I didn't know it. For all these years my heart was yearning for Him.
I was cursing Christ, when in fact, I was searching for Him.
The next day I went to confession. I was shaking like a leaf. When I went into the confessional I felt a heavy burden, and I told the priest that I had been very stupid, and that all these years I had been cursing and rejecting Christ, and that I didn't know that, in fact, I was searching for Him. When I came out of the confes¬sional it was as if I had risen out of the tomb with Jesus. I didn't know that there is an entire theology behind that. I had simply felt that way. While I was standing in the Church, I felt an enormous spiritual and physical burden fall off of me. The darkness that had surrounded me for so long had ceased. Once again, sun¬shine and hope returned. As I was standing there like that in Church, and looking towards the tabernacle, I didn't comprehend that Jesus was there, but I thought it was just bread there. I heard it said to me, "You have returned home." I cried like a baby for two days. From that day my life was completely transformed.
That transformation did not stop and it will continue until my dying day.
Thanks be to God and to John Paul ll. I can love, I can believe in love even in my worst days. Now I know that, no matter how isolated I may feel, I am never alone.
The risen Lord gives his love which forgives, reconciles and opens souls for hope.
I would like to tell you, if you have friends, or if you yourselves are occupied with occult practices or sorcery, I warn you with much love and concern in my heart that the devil does exist. As tempting as those things may seem, it is of itself repulsive, and wishes to separate you from Jesus Christ who loves you and who died for you. My words are so poor. At the end, I would repeat the last words of John Paul II to the world and to the youth, which I had read prior to my confession. It was as if he spoke to me. Maybe he's speaking to you as well. Listen, "To all of humanity, which seems so lost today and under the power of evil, selfishness and fear, our risen Lord gives his love which forgives, reconciles, and once again opens souls for hope." Thank you, Jesus.