Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Witness to God's Infinite Mercy by Jeff Gares through Our Lady of Medjugorje

A Witness to God's Infinite Mercy by Jeff Gares

Dear Friends:  Jeff Gares has graciously allowed me to share his story with you.  I know that you will find his story to be very inspirational.  Always be assured of my daily prayers.   Fr. James 

In Matthew 7: 13-14: Our Lord tells us “Go in through the narrow gate.  The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow.  A lot of people go through that gate.  But the gate to life is narrow.  The road that leads there is difficult, and only a few people find it.”

I think that we can honestly say in our own time that there has never been more opportunity for people to choose the road to perdition.  Whether it be through drugs, sex, pornography, or vain pursuit of material goods, the opportunity to turn towards sin is rampant in today’s society.  It seems that the darkness is everywhere.  However, we must remember that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. I would like to share with you how the Lord (through His mother’s intercession) pulled this wretched sinner from the depths of sin, and brought me into His own marvelous light.

My childhood got off to a rocky start as my father died when I was 17 months old.  I have no memory of him, but from all accounts he was a great man (although not Catholic).  A couple of years later my mother remarried.  The man she married was physically, emotionally, and psychologically abusive to her and to a lesser degree my brother and myself.  Needless to say this type of environment was not conducive for growth in virtue and/or love.  My mother was very badly wounded and I know now that my step-father was too. So basically I grew up not knowing that I was loved and thinking that I was unlovable. 

My teenage years followed, and in order to dull the interior pain that I felt, I began to experiment with all kinds of different remedies to try and alleviate that pain.  I was pretty popular and a decent athlete so I always had girlfriends and that meant fornication for me.  I also began to drink a lot of beer in my junior and senior years, which led to all kinds of drunken revelry.  I also began to experiment with Ouija Boards, and I began to see “shadow” type figures on occasion.  This fad did not last long, but I believe it opened the door for demons to cling ferociously to me.  The kind of demons our Lord said can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.  College was more of the same; sex, drugs, sports, and rock and roll.  I was killing my conscience.  During this time, six friends of mine (including my best friend and another good friend) were killed in two separate car accidents in the matter of one month.  Now this did give me pause to think about the four last things, death, judgment, heaven, and hell.  However, after a few weeks or months I was back to my same lifestyle.  My conscience was pretty much stone cold dead, and I could do basically anything without feeling guilty for my actions.

After graduation, I moved to Kansas City, MO and by this time the darkness around me was almost palpable.  For the first time in a long time I began to think that something had gone awry with me.  In 1999, at the age of 23 I had a cancer scare (luckily it turned out not to be cancer), but once again the scare gave me pause to think about my own mortality, and once again after the fear subsided I returned to my ways which were now growing more perverse.  I was living with my girlfriend, I was addicted to pornography and I would get so rip roaring drunk that I would go through blackout spells close to once per week. 

Enter September 11, 2001.  The events of September 11 shook me to the core.  I don’t know why I was so affected, but the terrible events on that day made me think long and hard about good and evil, and I became more introspected than I had ever been before.  Shortly after the events of September 11, I began to search for more meaning in my life, and by God’s providence I stumbled upon a book about a Marian Apparition site in a remote village in Bosnia.  I remember reading, no, devouring that book.  The messages of praying the rosary, penance, Mass, and confession began to light a fire within my soul, and I knew from the depths of my being that what Our Lady was saying was true.  Our Lady was saying that we have to return to God and do things His way if we want peace in our lives.  Our Lady also answered a very profound question I had throughout my life.  I wondered why, that in all my misery would God not help me, even though I would cry out to Him often in my wretched state.  One of our Lady’s messages answered that question in this way: Dear Children:  Today I am calling you to complete conversion, which is difficult for those who have not chosen God.  God can give you everything that you seek from him , but children you only seek Him when sickness, problems, and difficulties come to you, and then you think that God is not listening, and that he is far from you, and that he does not hear your prayers.  No children!  That is not the Truth.  When you are from God, you cannot receive graces because you do not seek them with a firm faith.  Day by day children, I am praying for you, and I want to draw you ever more near to God, but I cannot help you if you are unwilling to give up sin.  Therefore children put your life in God’s hands.

Well there it was.  The answer to why God never helped me no matter how many times I called out to him.  The reason God did not help me in my misery was that I was not ready to give up sin.  I was not ready to do it God’s way. So God had always let me do it my way, but my way was not the right way because He said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  So from that time on I knew I had to change.

The first thing I did was I began to pray the rosary, and through the rosary, Our Lady led me back to confession for the first time in 8-10 years.  Then I began to attend Mass as often as possible.  Our Lady, through the power of the rosary saved this wretched soul from my hell I had created for myself on earth, and possibly from the one that I was headed to after death.  Our Lord brought me back to life through His sacraments in the Church. He healed me and sent me on my mission which is continually unfolding before me.

Currently, I am married to a very beautiful and brilliant woman.  We have three beautiful girls ages 7, 4, and 6 months.  We pray the rosary together every night, and try our best to teach our children the truths of the Catholic Faith.  I have also co-founded a website with John Quinn called Courageous Priest.  Courageous Priest is dedicated to those brave priests who are not afraid to stand up to the rampant evil that is overtaking our nation and our world.   It is dedicated to those courageous priests who tackle controversial topics like contraception, abortion, and homosexual marriage. So if you would like to follow courageous priests like Father Corapi, Archbishop Burke, Archbishop Chaput, and yes, Father James Farfaglia, then stop by Courageous Priest and check us out.  

God Bless,
Jeff Gares

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