Chris: When I went into the Marine Corps at 18, I fell away from God because I was on my own, no one to tell me what to do. I was just doing my job. I fell away from the church for close to 20 years. I was in and out.
Then it was just small moments in my life. I was in the Pentagon on September 11th when the plane crashed. I’ve been to Afghanistan. I felt God again. If you don’t have God, it’s tough to mentally survive over there. I went back to church. I was part of the choir. That helped me get through that period of time.
It was little peaks and valleys of God, but I wasn’t truly with God. I wasn’t truly practicing my faith. I was going through the motions.
Then I met Suzy in 2017. We tried to go to church here and there, but we were going through the motions. One day, this lady said, “There’s a women’s ACTS retreat.”
I said, “You need to go to that.”
ACTS stands for adoration, community, theology, and service.
Suzy: It’s based on community. It’s growing closer with God, but also with assistance. You can’t do anything alone. You can’t do it without God, but God provides community for extra strength too. God works through people around you.
It’s easier to stay on the path, especially as a beginner. When you’re first starting that path again, the enemy tries to veer you off. That’s where the community part really comes into play, to be there to support you.
Chris: God used her to get to me.
When she came back from the retreat, it was overwhelming. It was so beautiful I don’t even know how to explain it.
Suzy: And then he looked at me through different eyes.
Chris: That was the beginning of my conversion. It was a 180.
Suzy: We went from hardly going to church to praying the Rosary every day.
Chris: I went to Mass every day for about a year. I went to adoration and confession. That was life changing for me.
That’s how I came back to God.
I came to Medjugorje with all these expectations. I’m not going to lie to you. I had been praying for three years, “I want to see the Blessed Mother’s face.” I wanted to see Her so badly, and I came here with that expectation. I really believed I was going to see Her.
I came here and we went to Apparition Hill for the first time. I felt nothing. It was like a normal day. It was nice, beautiful.
Then we went to the Blue Cross on the day of the apparition. Everyone was overwhelmed. I saw this guy kneeling in awe. It was nice to see a young man with a rosary, kneeling and praying the whole time which was amazing to me.
I felt nothing.
I went to confession with Fr. Leon, and I told him the things I struggle with. Then I said, “I heard your story, and I really want to see the Blessed Mother.”
He was like, “Are you sure? Are you ready to see the Blessed Mother?”
And I said, nonchalantly, “Yeah I am.”
He said, “Are you willing to give up everything? It’s a big responsibility.”
I said, “Yeah I think I am.”
He said, “No. First, you have friends that probably still send you bad messages or you see things on social media. They’re bringing you down. You have to be pure of heart before. Then, you still don’t deserve to see Her. You don’t need to see Her. It’s a big responsibility. You’re a good man, but you need to stop the bull***t. Get rid of all the other distractions.”
I was like, “Okay. Yes, sir.”
What I learned from that and all the people here in Medjugorje, is our faith is not as strong. We come here from different countries looking to see something and we have it already at home. We have the sacraments. We have the Holy Eucharist. We have adoration. We have confession. We have everything we need, yet we seek some supernatural thing.
Suzy: We even saw the sun dancing. I was like, “That doesn’t even matter to me.”
Chris: I saw it too. It didn’t appeal to me anymore like it used to. It wasn’t fascinating anymore.
I see the Blessed Mother through other people. I see Her through my wife.
Suzy: I see Her in Mirjana. You walk through the town, and you can see Her in people’s eyes.
Chris: I prayed for my wife so that we could grow together in our faith. I think my mission was for me to bring my wife here, not to see all these things, but to bring my wife here so we can spread the word together and be on the same level.
Suzy: And I think he came here to quiet himself down a little bit, be a little more humble.
Chris: Medjugorje is a beautiful place, a peaceful place, a holy place. There is no other place I’ve seen where the Rosary is like brushing your teeth. It’s normal.
It’s a place to enhance your spiritual life. Just being in the environment alone could transform you.
Definitely don’t have expectations because I had them and I was humbled.
It’s really strengthened my awareness and what I need to focus on. I definitely need to focus on the Rosary more. Of course, by praying the Rosary it brings you closer to Jesus.
I’m just happy that we’re coming together in union spiritually. That’s what makes me happy about this whole trip.