Just for Catholics - Testimonies

FORGIVEN AND FORGIVING

By Joan Carmody

I was a good Catholic girl all my life, keeping all the rules of the church, receiving the Eucharist every day at the Catholic college, but I never knew Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, nor did I realize that I was a sinner. After all, I went to confession, so I couldn’t have been that bad. I was to learn later that all those years of Mass and confession did not erase one iota of my sin.

God took many years to reach me; he used my love of reading to do it. Back in 1978, I came across a book called “The Bible Jesus Read Was Exciting,” written by a Jewish believer. That set me on a quest to know God’s will for my life and to study the Scriptures. I became like the two men Jesus met on the road to Emmaus. I wanted to know everything Moses and the prophets said about him.

At that time I was married to my first husband. He deserves a medal for putting up with me for 14 years. My Dad died when I was 12, and I took out all my anger and hostility on my husband. I also suffered from depression. I was in therapy, for which I am grateful, because that kept me off the funny farm, but all those years of therapy did not plumb the depth of my hatred for my father. Then I left my husband because he did not want to have a child with me. Do you blame him? What “chutzpah” I had. Yet I still did not realize that I was a sinner.

By 1999 I was on the precipice of complete self-destruction and at a point of no return with God. I was still going to Mass and communion every Sunday, yet somehow the Holy Spirit finally got through to me. I became conscious of my sinfulness, and I was born again in May 1999. I turned over my life and heart to Jesus Christ. I am saved!

The changes Christ wrought in me have been nothing short of miraculous. I could have stayed in therapy the rest of my life and never forgiven my father, but Jesus enabled me to finally do that. The anger and hatred are gone. I am still a work in progress, and will be until my last breath, but I know I am a child of God.

One Sunday during Mass, I thought, “This ‘sacrifice’ of the Mass must wrong.” Hebrews 10:18 says “…and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no more sacrifice for sin.” Either Jesus saved us completely, or we still have to save ourselves. It can’t be both. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.” There is nothing left for us who believe to do to merit forgiveness. The Gospel is so simple: JESUS DID IT ALL.

I believe Jesus is coming again soon and that I will see him face to face. I thank God for saving me, not because of any merit of my own, but only because of his overwhelming love.