For many of us seeing is believing, it was so for the people of Lourdes when Our Lady first appeared to St Bernadette. It was a very ordinary day for St Bernadette when she and her companions went to collect wood for the fire. However, the most amazing thing happened while she waited for the others to return from across a stream, Our Lady appeared to her, dressed in white robes and a blue sash. St Bernadette described the vision as the most beautiful lady she had ever seen. She was amazed at the changes this beautiful lady brought to her life and her family. But the rest of the town’s people found it very hard to believe and thought that the young saint was making it all up. Little did they know that many more miracles would happen through the intercession of this beautiful lady.


On a holiday in India, when I was eight years old, I developed a bad infection on my right leg through a mosquito bite. I took lots of different medicines to try to cure it but the infection just got worse. Within a few weeks it had spread to my whole body and I ended up with blisters everywhere. After two years trying various treatments, the blisters on my body had cleared up but the initial area on my right leg still remained infected and it used to bleed constantly. But to be honest, I wasn’t too bothered about it because I thought no one would ever see it. It wasn’t something I even prayed about because I thought that there were far worse diseases so I shouldn’t complain.


Ten years later, I went to Lourdes with my family. My mum suggested that I should pray for healing for my leg. I had heard many stories of miracles occurring in Lourdes but I had not thought that it might happen to me. While we were in Lourdes, we attended the torchlight procession and I have to admit that I had never felt the presence of Our Lady so strongly before. As we processed, holding our candles and saying the Rosary, I felt like Mother Mary was with me through the whole procession. Just like St Bernadette was in awe after seeing her vision, I had the most heavenly experience that night. Getting into bed, I took a final look at the infection on my leg and prayed in the hope of never seeing it again.


The next day we visited the baths in Lourdes. Every moment I waited in the long queue to go into the baths, I prayed earnestly for a cure. Finally the moment came when I had my chance to bathe in the Lourdes water and as soon as I put my foot in the water something filled me. An extraordinary power, it was so strong and overwhelming that tears came to my eyes. Words cannot express what I felt at that moment. After being dipped in the water I walked out feeling an immense joy and love.


I wanted to check my leg but was scared that I would be disappointed if it wasn’t better. As I waited for my family to return, a woman, who I didn’t know, came over and started speaking to me. She asked about my experience in the Baths and I awkwardly replied, “Emotional is one way to put it.” She smiled and said to me, “Young Lady, you’ve been healed by Our Lady.” After saying this she disappeared into the crowd. My mind was blank and confused. It gave me faith to check for a healing and before my very own eyes I could see my skin all clear and glowing with not a speck of scab or blood. There wasn’t even a scar left behind. I told my family and friends and they were overjoyed. After ten years I was healed!


“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.” Luke 1: 46 – 47



When things go wrong in our lives, we try many different ways to fix them but we forget to ask for help from the Creator himself. We fail to have faith in our Heavenly Father but seem to have faith in everything else. Our problems might be big, our disease might seem incurable but our God is bigger and there is nothing impossible for him.

Loving Father, I pray for everyone reading this, that whatever trouble they may be going through, that their faith in You might be increased, Heavenly Father. Lord, I pray that you will touch their lives and bless them abundantly. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!


Written by Janet Jose



As a teenager, I spent a few years living apart from my father and I guess that impacted how I relate to him now as an adult. All our experiences as we grow up mould us into the person we are and shape how we relate to different people. Recently, I was with a friend and we were talking about our relationships with our fathers and how that can make a difference to the way that we see and relate to God. It became clear that the kind of relationship one has with our earthy father will affect the way that we relate to our heavenly father. In our conversation, I came to realise that as I had struggled to receive and accept the love of my natural father, so without knowing it I had never really felt in my heart the love of God. I knew in my head that God loves me but I did not know it in my heart.


Recently, I was reading a passage of Scripture which talked about God’s love being lavished on me so that I can be called his child, his daughter and I prayed to understand the passage with my whole heart, for I long to experience God’s love in my heart. I hope that my struggles and this prayer encourage others to seek a closer relationship with God, our heavenly father. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (1 John 3:1-2)


The Bible says that when Jesus walked on the earth He knew what it meant to be the beloved. He had no struggle with His identity; because He knew who He was and what He was here to accomplish. I still struggle to comprehend the true meaning of God’s love for me, some days I am able to appreciate His love through His beautiful creation or through the joy and happiness that I receive from the people around me, but I know that feeling is only a small part of what God feels for me. I know that He wants me to experience His love more fully. Maybe the problem is that I am trying to use my head to understand this concept of love, and I am trying to understand a truth that is beyond human understanding. It is a Divine Truth, for in this human form I am not made to comprehend such truth. Maybe the fullness of truth will be revealed to me when I take on a form that can withstand such truth.


For now, let us seek the Lord and pray that the Holy Spirit of truth will guide us and help us to experience more of the love of God in our lives. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20) Let us pray for a taste of the life to come, because we want to know the truth. We need to seek the Lord with our whole hearts and pray for a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father every day of our lives.  For we are lost and need to be found, we are thirsty and hungry for the truth and need to be satisfied. We feel naked before our enemies and need to be clothed with the power of the Gospel. We are imprisoned by our sins and need to be set free by the Blood of the Lamb. We may feel alone, but we know that God lives in us. My prayer today is that by the power of your Holy Spirit, I may continue to hold on to the promise of your love for me, the promise that you will make me pure, like you. Even though I may struggle, may my heart never forget that I belong to you and that I am a child of God.


Written by Valerie Anne

The God who gives Victory


Just after Easter, I was trying to revise for my fast approaching GCSE exams, but it was no use because when I tried to revise, nothing seemed to be going in. So one day, I asked my dad what I should do. His advice was to watch an episode of Abhishekagni, which is a series of programs in Malayalam given by Fr. Xavier Khan Vattayil. These programmes contain Bible talks and include praise and worship, as well as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He also suggested that I read the Bible and claim the Scriptures for myself before I began to revise. So every day, before I started to study and before each exam, I used to watch one episode of Abhishekagni and prayed that the Lord would teach me what I needed to know, and write every exam with me.


From the first day that I tried it, I started to notice the difference; God helped me to work hard and not to waste time. My concentration, as well as my memory, improved and I even had the desire to study! Before I went for each exam, I praised and worshipped God and prayed just before I did my last minute revision on the morning of the exam. Through all my prayers I found that God had strengthened my faith and helped me to believe that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

“Give praise for His mighty deeds, praise Him for His great majesty.” Psalm 150:2


Every day I get a blessing from my parents before I go to school, but on the day of my exams I would ask my dad to especially bless me. He would always reassure me with the bible verse from Habakkuk chapter 3:17, “For though the fig tree blossom not, nor fruit be on the vines, though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment, though the flocks disappear from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God.” So even when my exams did not go as well as I wanted, I would remember this Bible verse, and praise the Lord because I knew that God had a plan for me.


My dad also used to pray for me “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6: 33) and my mum would bless me with, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your children.” (Isaiah 54:13) I myself would claim “Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the holy one of Israel: I, the Lord your God, teach you what is for your good and lead you on the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17) By claiming these Bible verses and many others I knew that nothing was impossible for God.


On the 22nd of August, my results came through for my GCSE’s and by the grace of God, the girl who was predicted to achieve B’s and C’s, ended up achieving 10 A*s and 2 As. All glory belongs to Jesus!


Written by Brijil Joseph


Refresh is a familiar word that we hear all the time. Googling it brings many results in a few seconds. A well-known mobile phone provider in the UK has a tariff plan called ‘Refresh’. The ad says that it’s a new kind of contract that helps you upgrade and change your old phone. Fizzy drinks ads often say that they are refreshing as they give us new energy and revive our tired spirits. We all spend time to refresh our bodies and our minds. A shower or even a quick splash of cold water on our face wakes us up and refreshes our tired bodies. Listening to music or reading a book can refresh our minds. Treating ourselves to a relaxing holiday refreshes our body and mind.



But we are more than body and mind. In the depth of our being each one of us has, what the Bible calls ‘the heart’, where we can choose to follow God or to reject him. Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” (Luke 6:45) This does not refer to our physical heart but to that part within us where faith dwells. The Bible says that sin also originates from the heart, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness and slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19) The heart is a very special place because “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) but when we sin or turn away from God our hearts are wounded and we are unable to love as we should. The state of our heart is important as it says in 1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” But how do we refresh our hearts in Christ? We do this by remaining close to the heart of Jesus Christ and his church. To refresh my heart in Christ is to have a Christ-like heart! Let us look at how we can make our hearts more like the heart of Jesus.


There are times when we get angry and wish bad things on other people but ‘stop hating and start loving’ should be the motto of our life. The heart of Jesus is full of love for us. The Bible says “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). So let us live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2) Let us be more loving in all that we do.


In the materialistic world of today many people look for power, popularity and possessions to make them feel good. They proudly show off their latest gadgets, knowing that their friends will be jealous. Pride is in fact a thirst for praise and honour. The Bible says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Let us try to live this verse by following the heart of Jesus. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) Humility is putting other people first. Let us always think of others and their needs before we think of ourselves.


When we are hurt, our hearts are miles away from being able to forgive. The one who let us down could be our best friend, a close relative or even our parents but remember how much more we gain by forgiving rather than by holding onto our hurts. When we hold on to anger our hearts become bitter and we are punishing ourselves not the person who hurt us. Even in times of agony and suffering, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke: 23:34) When Christ was crucified on the cross, he prayed for those who persecuted him. The greatest thing that he did by dying on the cross was to purchase for us the forgiveness of our sins. Let us forgive others by following his example.

“A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26


Jesus wants us to have compassion towards others, just as he did. In Mark 1:41, when Jesus saw a leper, he was moved with pity and stretched out his hand to heal him. When he met the widow, weeping because her son had died, he told her to stop crying, touched the coffin and commanded the young man to rise. The dead man sat up and began to speak and Jesus gave him back to his mother. (Luke 7:13) Jesus always noticed the people who needed him. Let us ask the Lord to give us a caring heart to help those around us. Are there people we know who are marginalized or bullied who need a friend to help them?


Lying is a real problem. It is so easy to lie about not doing your homework, drinking alcohol, where we have been or who we have spent time with. Usually, it is easier to tell a lie than to face up to the fact that you have done something that you shouldn’t. “Everybody else is doing it” is a common lie which can have serious consequences. When we do not tell the truth about little things, then we find that we have to lie more and more to cover up our faults and this creates suspicion and affects our relationships with others. We all sin and fall short but by being honest and open we build up trust and respect in others. Jesus was truthful at all times, even in the most difficult situations, regardless of the cost to himself. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22) Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Let us get into the habit of always speaking the truth.


The bible teaches us that Jesus always wanted to do his Father’s will. His only thought, his only wish and his only aim was to do his Father’s will. Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” (John 4:34). Even at a very young age, Jesus had a clear vision of his purpose here on earth. When Mary and Joseph found the twelve year old Jesus sitting among the teachers in the temple, Mary told Jesus that they had been very worried about him. But he told them that he was doing his Father’s business (Luke 2:49). Also Luke 22:42 says that even during Christ’s agony in the Garden of Olives when he knew that he was about to die on the cross, he only wanted his Father’s will to be done. Let us try to be more submissive to the will of God by devoting ourselves to more prayer and Bible reading.


Most of us have a tendency to take things for granted! Let us remember that even the basic necessities that we enjoy are a luxury to many people in other parts of the world. Having a grateful heart is one of the best cures for complaining. Jesus openly expressed his gratitude to God, so that others would trust in the Lord. When Jesus prayed that Lazarus would be raised to life in John 11:41, it says that Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.” He also thanked God for both physical and spiritual food. While eating the Passover meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread and gave thanks to God for it (Luke 22:19). He then broke the bread and gave it to each of the disciples. Jesus also said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (Matthew 11:25). We too can inspire others to have faith in Jesus by being thankful to God for all the blessings that he has given us.


The most common excuse for not praying is the lack of time in our busy lives. Most of us complain that we are bombarded with homework and other projects. Some even say that prayer is boring! But prayer works miracles! A simple form of prayer is talking to Jesus, just like you are talking to your best friend and listening to him by reading the bible. Jesus called us friends in John 15:15. Even during his busy schedule, Jesus found time to pray. Mark 1:35 says “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Today let us take the decision to talk to Jesus, our best friend each day.


We can renew our hearts this advent by going to Confession and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We can go to Mass and receive Holy Communion more often. We should find more time for personal prayer and for reading the Bible. Let us ask for the help of the Holy Spirit as we pray with Saint Augustine of Hippo, “Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there your cheerful beams.” This season of Christmas, let us pour out our hearts to God, praying as King David did in Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” In the Beatitudes it says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”. Let us pray that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7) This Christmas, let heaven rejoice over our repentant and changed hearts! This Christmas, let us give Jesus, the best possible gift, which is our own pure and refreshed heart!


Written by Mili Rengi

Christmas Eve With The POPE

How did you first meet Pope John Paul II?

It was Christmas Eve when reality set in: Here I was, spending my first Christmas away from home working as a Swiss Guard in the Vatican. In Switzerland, the big event at Christmas time is Christmas Eve. I was to report to my shift at 8 p.m. and serve most of the night. Before I left for my duty, I called my parents and spoke to my mother. Naturally, it was a very emotional conversation. You know, my mother, having her youngest son on the phone, his first Christmas Eve away from home. Needless to say, there were tears; from her, and then from me as well. But eventually I prised myself away from the phone and went to report for duty. I was assigned to one of the exits of the Pope’s apartment that night. It was dark and lonely up there. I had plenty of time for being sad, thinking about my family in Switzerland celebrating Christmas without me. I missed them and I was pretty miserable.

It was a lonely night?

Yes. Then, at about 10 p.m., I received a two-minute notice that the Pope would use my exit to go to celebrate midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. I had just enough time to straighten out my uniform and stand properly. The door opened, and Pope John Paul II came out and stood opposite me. He stopped, looked at me and said, “We’ve never met. Are you new? What’s your name?” I told him. As he got closer to shake my hand, he took a better look at me and my cover was blown right then and there. He said, “You seem to be sad. Is this your first Christmas away from home?” I confirmed that it was. He held my hand and elbow for what seemed to be an eternity. He looked at me with his intense, light grey eyes. Nothing else mattered to him at that moment. He was paying 100% attention to me. Then he said: “Well, I thank you for the sacrifice you’re making for the Church. I will pray for you tonight.” It was an extraordinary experience for me: Here was the leader of the Catholic Church, with all of his concerns, with the whole world to consider, and he took the time to focus just on me, for that moment, and reach out to me in my time of need. That touched me deeply. From then on, he knew me by name, and our meetings continued, each time we talked he picked up the thread of the conversation. How he did that with all the people he came in contact with is beyond me, he really focused on the individual.

What other encounters did you have with him?

I became accustomed to my work at the Vatican and I quickly got the hang of it. The work schedule as a guard was split into three days: two days of work and one free day. Well, it’s supposed to be free. On that day, the “free” guards were assigned to serve at any special events the Pope may hold. And with the schedule Pope John Paul kept, the third day became the “special events” day. One day I was assigned to serve as a guard of honour during a Mass that he held for the sick and disabled. It was after two long days of service, and I had been looking forward to my day off. I really needed it. As I took my place in front of St. Peter’s, next to the open-air altar, I really did not want to be there. I spent the entire one-and-a-half-hour Mass absorbed in my resentment, in self-pity and anger. Finally, the Mass ended. A few more minutes, I thought, then he’ll leave, and I can enjoy the rest of my day off. But on his way out, Pope John Paul II looked into the crowds and walked down the stairs into St. Peter’s Square to the first row of pilgrims. I wanted to shout, “Hey, stop that, that’s not in the plan. You’re supposed to leave now.” But the Holy Father began to greet and bless the first, then the second, then the third pilgrim and he took his time doing it. My impatience boiled over, my feet hurt, my back ached and I was sweating and uncomfortable from standing in the glaring sun for hours.

That’s when you saw the Pope?

I don’t know what triggered it, but my eyes came into focus on the Pope talking to a handicapped man. The person had no arms and no legs: his body was severely malformed. As an interpreter communicated with him by touching his hands in certain ways and sequences, I realized that this person was also blind and deaf. Yet the guy was beaming with happiness. His face was pure joy as he interacted with the Holy Father. I was dumbstruck: Here I was, absorbed in my own petty complaints, yet I was healthy. I was suddenly happy to have legs that hurt. As I looked out over the square, I saw hundreds and hundreds of wheelchairs and hospital beds with pilgrims wanting to see the Pope. And John Paul II went to row after row, blessing them and talking to them. They had the opportunity to experience what I had on Christmas Eve in the palace and that made me feel ashamed. I realised that I was privileged to be part of Pope John Paul II’s ministry, yet I was too absorbed in my own little world to realize it. I’m sure the Pope was also tired. It was four hours since the Mass had started, yet he took his time, making sure he did not miss anyone and that he gave the same amount of attention to each person.

How did this affect your work?

It opened my eyes: He was a Pope of compassion. He took his ministry beyond officiating at Masses and audiences. He approached the pilgrims as a pastor, focusing on them, hearing their stories, one by one. After this experience, where the Pope showed me that I was taking part in his ministry, I started to pay more attention to his speeches. His actions inspired me; they made me want to listen more carefully to what he had to say. He actually made sense.

I started to collect some of his speeches so I could read them again in peace. It was like discovering a treasure, pearl by pearl.

Did you see a side of him that we didn’t see?

Yes, we’d invite the Holy Father to lunch at our barracks once in a while and he was very happy to come. He was interested in our lives, what we were doing and how we were doing. We’d try to cook something Swiss for him. One guy took pictures of our daily life, and we showed them to the Pope. It was very funny to have him comment on the things that he didn’t normally see. You hear in the media about people in the Vatican living as if they are in an ivory tower but I was impressed with how connected with the world the Pope was. I once talked to him about meeting a young woman from the United States, who was studying in Rome, Michelle, who is now my wife.

How did this come up?

Our exchanges, short as they may have been at times, always seemed to pick up from where they left off. At my final meeting, he asked me what led to my decision to leave, and I told him of meeting Michelle. He was very supportive and understanding; we had a very nice, albeit short, discussion about the relationship and my future in which he gave me his parting advice. He again assured me of his prayers and he blessed our young love at that time. What struck me specifically is that he always knew how to talk to a young person: He joked, teased a bit, yet during all of it, he actually conveyed very profound and helpful guidance.

Like a parish priest!

Pope John Paul II was a pastor who deeply understood the human heart and psyche. Anyone who doubts that should read his books, Love and Responsibility and The Theology of the Body. He had a keen understanding of the human condition.


Written by Andreas Widmer

Heavenly Joy


It’s been two years since I really met Jesus for the first time and ever since, by his grace, people keep asking me, ‘How can you be so happy?’ and ‘Why are you always smiling?’ The truth is that it is because after experiencing his love so profoundly, his words became to me the joy and the delight of my heart (Jeremiah 15:16). Meeting with Christ gave me this joy and nothing else!


Pope Benedict XVI said, ”Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hiding in the Eucharist.” Young people today are searching for happiness, they run around seeking something, someone or somewhere that can give them the love and joy that they crave. Unfortunately, the worldly joy that we experience is often mistaken for the real joy that lasts for ever! Have you ever thought about why we sin? It’s because it gives us a momentary feeling of joy. However, this ‘joy’ will only last for a few seconds. I have tasted life without Jesus and life with him and I can tell you that only he can give you true joy, a happiness that I cannot describe properly with words! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “In your presence there is fullness of Joy!” (Psalm 16:9).


We cannot expect to have a life without problems and Jesus never promised that if we followed him, life would be easy going. St Paul was a man who had found momentary joy in rounding up members of the early church and killing them, but after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, the profound joy of the Holy Spirit filled him completely. He says in Romans 8:35, “What will separate us from the love of Christ?” Even though he, himself was persecuted, beaten and put in jail, he was full of joy, praising and worshipping the Lord. Our Blessed Mother endured many trials in her life time, but she could bear them all because her “soul rejoiced in God, her Saviour.” Why? Because Jesus, the king of love, promises to be with us when we suffer and when he is with us, the joy of heaven that he brings is amazing!


Jesus never commanded us to be serious. He never said don’t laugh or tell jokes. The Bible says that there is rejoicing in heaven all the time. Jesus, talking about the lost sheep in Luke 15:7, says that there is rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who has repented. In Romans 14:17 St Paul, filled with the power of the spirit, says that the kingdom of God is not food or drink, but joy in the Holy Spirit. Many people don’t understand what having faith in Jesus Christ really means, they think that if you want to be spiritual then you have to be serious. That’s definitely not the call of Christians. The call that we have is to become an instrument of peace wherever we are sent by Christ and to sow joy where there is sadness (as St. Francis of Assisi prayed). Blessed Mother Teresa said, “Joy is a net of love in which we catch souls.” Let’s use the joy that we have inside us to win souls for the kingdom of God.


The joy that we receive is a fruit from Holy Spirit dwelling within us and it will never end. We have a life time guaranteed supply! Jesus says that “your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22) Are you filled with real heavenly joy? If not then just say “yes” to Christ Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit to come and turn your mourning into dancing. (Psalm 30:11)


Written by Nimmy Biju



You are unique! There is only one of you. There has never been anybody the same as you before and there never will be anybody the same as you again. You are a complete oneoff, created by God in his image and likeness. And God did not create you just to make up the numbers. He didn’t create you randomly or accidentally. No, he made you because he loves you and therefore you are planned and absolutely necessary to God. He tells us: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). I like to imagine God smiling, ‘knowing’ us before we are even born. Smiling at the beautiful plan he has for each of our lives. The story I want to share with you is how I discovered God’s beautiful plan for my life. “God has a plan for my life?” you may ask yourself. Yes he does; a beautiful plan. And just as you are unique, so the plan that God has for your life is also unique. He wants you to be joyful, happy and full of love.


But before I begin my story, I want you to imagine for a moment what it must feel like to live without ever knowing God’s plan for your life, without ever becoming the beautiful person God created you to be. It must be so sad. You would never quite feel happy, never quite feel fulfilled, and never quite feel yourself. Something deep inside of you would always be restless. Well this is just how I felt as I graduated from university and entered my twenties. When I was younger, I never once asked God what his plan was for my life. It never even occurred to me that God might have a plan for my life. And even if he did, I had my own plans and what could be better than my plans for my life? My plans would make me happy; they would make me successful, and perhaps even rich! What could be better than this? And so I followed my own plans and to some extent they did begin to make me successful and wealthy, but they certainly did not make me happy.


After leaving university I applied for a job as a trainee Chartered Accountant. I’d heard that the salary doubled within three years provided you passed all the exams and this was my motivation for becoming an Accountant. Well I passed the exams and after three years qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Then I landed a dream job in the finance department of a dynamic and growing company and after a couple of years I was promoted to Finance Director, all by the age of 28. This meant that I was responsible for all the financial decisions of the company. Initially I thrived on this. I worked in London and flew regularly to Hong Kong for business meetings (and parties). I played the role and lived the lifestyle of a young executive.


But over time, I began to realise that despite the generous salary, the lifestyle and the sense of status and success, I felt unhappy. I sometimes felt lonely and was often quiet and sad when I was alone or with my family. I felt like I was wearing a mask, that I’d adopted a lifestyle and personality that was not really me. But for all of this, I couldn’t understand why I was so unhappy. After all I had everything, or so I told myself. I had plenty of money, success and status, but none of these things made me happy. It was around this time that I went on my first ever pilgrimage. I’d been brought up in the Catholic faith and always went to Mass, but I’d never really connected with my faith. Church was just somewhere I went for an hour on a Sunday morning but the rest of the week it had little relevance to my life. So how the Lord managed to get me onto a pilgrimage is something of a mystery. I think the prayers and example of my parents played a large part, but however it happened, in 2006 I ended up on a pilgrimage to a place called Medjugorje, in Bosnia Herzegovina.


I remember vividly the bus journey from the airport. It was dark, cold and wet. I felt anxious and nervous, but also excited. I didn’t know it at the time but this was to be a very significant bus journey, because it was on this bus that I first opened my heart to Jesus and began to discover his plan for my life. The way it began to unfold was by no means dramatic though, I simply started to pray! I can still remember the words that I prayed. My prayer was to Our Lady and I simply said: “Please Mary, help me to open my heart to your Son”. That was it, this was my prayer, it was short and simple but it was one of the most important prayers I’ve ever prayed because it came straight from my heart.


I was amazed at how this prayer was answered. Within a few days I felt joyful, peaceful and happy. I couldn’t remember feeling this happy and at peace before. The mask I had put on started to slip and I began to discover my true self and God’s beautiful plan for my life. It’s difficult to describe how it happened, it just seemed to dawn on me, somehow I realised that God might want me to be a Priest! It felt like a new thought, a new idea, but also that it had always been there, something I’d always known. It seemed to rise up inside my heart from somewhere deep within me and yet it also seemed to come from elsewhere, from God. You want me to be a Priest? … Me? … A Priest?! I must confess I was terrified by the prospect. Why on earth would I want to be a Priest? How does one become a Priest? What would people think? I’d have to give up my career! Everyone would think I’m crazy!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Wisdom 3:5-6


God seemed to be asking so much of me and holding out so little in return. How wrong I was! God was actually revealing his beautiful plan for my life. He was showing me how to be joyful, how to be happy and how to love. I was afraid because I was not yet in a position where I could trust in God and his plan for my life. At first, I struggled to let go of my plans and to allow God to make me happy. When I returned to work after the pilgrimage something had changed deep within me. At first I tried to ignore any thought of the priesthood, but it kept coming back to me until eventually I began to think seriously about it. Could I really be a priest? Could I live the life? Could I be happy as a Priest? Is that why God created me? These were the sort of questions I was asking and the answer to each one was YES!


About a year later I finally said yes to God’s beautiful plan for my life and left my home, career, lifestyle and all my plans behind and entered seminary, where men train to be priests. I was finally ordained as a Catholic Priest on 13 July 2013. This was the happiest day of my life! I can honestly say that I have never once regretted giving up my plans and following the Lord. It wasn’t that my plans were bad; I have friends who are Accountants and love their jobs. But the problem was that it wasn’t God’s plan for me. It wasn’t why God created me.


God created each of us for a very specific purpose. Saint Catherine of Sienna once said “Be who you are meant to be and you will set the whole world ablaze!” God wants you to set the world ablaze by your life, by your love. I now know that God wants me to do this by being a Priest. The question is: what is God’s beautiful plan for your life?


Written by Lee Marshall

Meeting Jesus in Confession

Transforming young people

The Bible says, “In the last days God declares, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophecy, your young men shall see visions, and you old men dream dreams.” (Joel 2:28) In the last few years the Holy Spirit has started to move in the hearts of many children and teenagers in the UK. The lives of these young people have been transformed and they have begun to lead a life striving for holiness and prayer. The anointing of the Holy Spirit has also begun to spill over to other members of their families, to their schools, teachers and friends. The Holy Spirit is doing a beautiful thing and there is now a growing number of people who are being used powerfully for the building up of God’s kingdom.

I didn’t want to change

Up until the age of fifteen I would say that my life was ordinary, much like everyone else’s. I was very interested in music, fashion, entertainment and the many distractions that the world offered me. These gave me pleasure for a short time then I moved on to something else. My parents were very upset about my lifestyle and I remember that they were praying for me for many years. But I had no intention of changing who I was. Jesus was not part of my life, and I wasn’t interested in loving God, because I had lots of other things to love, the things that this world gave me. Also at the time I was being greatly influenced by my Muslim friends, in terms of believing in their God. Despite all this, I knew that deep down inside I wasn’t happy. I had a feeling of emptiness and sadness that I just couldn’t shake off, but I kept myself distracted by regularly getting into trouble at school, and taking out my anger on others. At that time I put the voice of the Holy Spirit on mute. I didn’t want to listen to anyone’s advice. I thought, I’m young, let me live my life as I want to now. But although I didn’t realise it, someone was watching over me and soon Jesus would transform my life!

“There is more joy in heaven over one sinner, who repents than over ninety nine righteous persons who needs no repentance.” Luke 15:7


I need to Know

It was then that the Lord inspired me to attend a retreat where, on the second day I felt the stirrings of the Holy Spirit. We were having a session on the topic of sin and I began to get restless because I felt like the speaker was talking about me. During the talk I suddenly felt the urge to know if Jesus was real, and in my desperation I cried out in prayer, “If there is a God out there, I want to know today if his name if Jesus. I need to know.” The word of God says “call to me and I will answer you.” (Jeremiah 33:3) I called, and that day he picked up my call.

I confessed everything!

After the session and a time of preparation I made my way to Confession. I walked in, knelt down and suddenly found myself bursting into tears. I was thinking, “What is happening to me?” All I did was kneel down and then suddenly I felt a huge heavy burden, as if someone had put a big rock on my back, and something told me that this was the weight of my sin. That day, I made the best Confession of my life. Without holding back one single sin, I confessed everything! As soon as I had finished my Confession, I felt the powerful presence of God around me. His glory, power and joy flooded into my heart and in my kneeling position I felt like Jesus was walking around me and his love made my heart melt.

I met my creator

I walked out of Confession feeling clean and I found myself crying for joy and this lasted for almost an hour. I had just met my creator. That day I realised that Jesus longs for us to love him, but he is gentle. He doesn’t kick open the door into our lives and try to control us, he simply waits. The word of God says “Listen, I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Revelations 3:20) It had taken me fifteen years to quieten my soul, so that I could hear the voice of my loving God. I truly believe that there was a party in heaven that day for the word of God says that there is more joy in heaven over one sinner, who repents than over ninety nine righteous people who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)

Open your hearts to God

My message to all teenagers and young people is to open your hearts to encounter God. I have tasted life without Jesus and life with him, and clearly found that that the love of Jesus, which lasts for ever is so much sweeter. My heart’s desire is to love Jesus, and everyone on the retreat made a decision to live for him. We don’t want to waste our time watching movies, fighting or doing things that are no use to our soul. We want to build our relationship with our loving God. We want to grow as a generation ready to serve him and be used by him. We want nothing but to love and serve our God. Glory to Jesus!


Written by Sheril John


Powerful words

There is a beautiful passage in St John’s Gospel which tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. When the Scribes and Pharisees brought her to Jesus before being stoned, his response is so powerful; it always gives me goose bumps. Jesus says: “Let the one among you who is without sin, be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7) WOW! The power of these words are so great that the only option the Scribes and Pharisees have is to walk away. Jesus is so awesome.

My life was empty

When I think about my own life, I can see that Jesus has done the same for me. He has saved me and brought me into a personal, loving friendship with himself. Before meeting this incredible person called Jesus Christ, I was depressed and my whole life was in a mess and it felt meaningless and empty. At night, when I went to bed I would ask the Lord, “God, why did you create me? I am worthless, a total waste of space. My parents deserve so much better than me”. My heart would ache and I would often cry myself to sleep. This was my life in a nutshell before finding God. I would sometimes try to make sharp objects to cut myself but I didn’t have the guts to actually do it. To the outside world, I seemed like a perfectly normal girl enjoying life, but the real me would be desperately searching to fill the void inside me. I remember trying to fill this emptiness through heavy metal music, films, boys and friendships but none of these could fully satisfy me. Things grew so bad that sometimes I couldn’t see any hope for the future but I knew deep down inside me that there was something to live for.

God loves me

My mum has a very strong faith and at the age of sixteen, through the power of her prayers, I attended a retreat in London. Even deciding to go was a miracle in itself because my family didn’t usually drive very far or stay away from home much. The first day of the retreat went okay, but nothing really touched me, I couldn’t see why it was such a big deal. On the second day, my family was able to talk to one of the team running the retreat. While he was praying for us, the Holy Spirit revealed to him my suicidal tendencies and as soon as he mentioned it I was in complete shock, I didn’t know what to do or say, I was astonished. I didn’t know which was worse, this random guy telling me about my life or the fact that my parents were sitting next to me listening to my deepest secret being revealed. Somehow I managed to hold back the tears and then the Holy Spirit revealed to him a message for me and it was that God loves me. This really touched me and my tears began to flow because I knew deep down that it was true, he wasn’t making it up. God really did love me.

I surrendered myself to him

I felt so happy and wanted to know more about Jesus. I went back to the Church and surrendered myself to the Lord and said, ‘God you know me, you know my inner thoughts, you know everything and I need you’. It has been two years since that moment and ever since then the void inside me has been filled with the greatest person ever to walk on this earth, the Creator of the universe, Jesus Christ. Each day with Jesus I feel like I grow more and more in him and his love. Although I often turn away from him and I’m unfaithful, he reminds me that he is enough. There is nothing in this world that can ever give me the fulfilment that he alone can give. He has worked wonderful miracles in my life, such as in my A-level exams. In secondary school, I was in the foundation groups for most of my subjects and I barely passed my GCSEs. So when I started college I really struggled with my first human biology lesson where they were talking about different neurochemicals. I remember leaving that first lesson at college thinking that I have no idea what they were talking about so I prayed to Jesus asking him to help me. The next day, the teacher decided to go back to basics and teach us about the human body. I understood it much better after that lesson. Before my exams I asked Jesus to only bring up the questions that I had revised for and nothing else and each time he has done it. Praise God. He has also blessed me with an amazing friend who prays for me and I can honestly say that Jesus has helped me to pass my A-levels.

A testing time

As I walk daily with Jesus, I realise that he is so good. Not only does he help me but he also teaches me that sometimes in life I may not get my own way or have my prayers answered the way I expect. But I have learned to trust that God’s will and His purpose for my life is so much bigger than my plans. It can be confusing at the time but eventually everything will fall into place. He taught me this through my dad’s healing. My father was perfectly healthy until one day he started to become weak. At the time, my Mum and sister were in India so I, with the help of family friends, had to look after him. One day his condition became so bad that we took him to hospital for a check-up. They found that there was something wrong with his chest and suspected it may be pneumonia or tuberculosis and admitted him. It was three o’clock in the morning and I was worried because I would have to go back home by myself. By God’s grace, our family friends let me stay with them overnight. For a week and a half my daily routine was to go to college during the day, return home and then go to the hospital and then back home. I was alone most of the time, everything seemed to have happened so fast and I was very frightened. I would often cry to the Lord and ask him to do something. He always answered in one way or another by comforting me in the silence or by speaking through others. He never let me down.

My father was healed

Dad was discharged but he reacted badly to the tablets that the doctors had prescribed and he began to act differently. He wasn’t able to sleep, he wasn’t hungry and he was often scared. It was very difficult for us to handle the situation but we trusted in the Lord. We knew that he wouldn’t give us anything that


“god, who is rich in mercy, out ofthe great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with christ.” Ephesians 2: 4 – 5

we couldn’t handle even though the situation was very tough. Dad’s condition got worse and we took him back to the hospital where they found that his sodium level was very low and he was at risk of having a seizure and going into a coma. By God’s grace, we were in time before anything serious happened to him and they took him to the High Dependency Unit. There are a few Malayali families where I live and they have a weekly prayer group. Whilst praying together one Saturday, the Holy Spirit gave this verse to one of the members: “I saw their ways, but I will heal them and lead them; I will give full comfort to them and to those who mourn for them, I, the Creator, who gave them life” (Isaiah 57: 18). We trusted the Holy Spirit and believed the Lord was healing my dad and we thanked Him. After several days my dad was perfectly healthy again by God’s amazing grace and mercy and the doctor who treated him couldn’t understand how it had happened. But we knew that nothing is impossible for God.

My faith was strengthened

Since this happened, my faith and relationship with Jesus has grown stronger. He always remains faithful to me despite my failures. I know his love is way beyond human understanding and through the sacrifice he made for us, by giving his own life, his grace is greater than our sins. Now that I have Jesus in my life it is worth living and I am living it to the full. He has a wonderful plan for each one of us and his love for us is so great that all we need to do is to accept it and let him work his purpose out in us. I’m not ashamed to share my testimony because as St Paul says: “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9) I thank God for all the opportunities he has given me and pray that all of you who read this may experience him and his grace in your own personal life.

Written by Merin Thomas