Thank you for your investment and prayers.
Before theASCENT February weekend I have been very apprehensive regarding my faith. I want to be involved but I don’t feel like what I am doing is right. At the October weekend I didn’t feel very engaged so going into this weekend I decided that this time I was going to do it properly. I was going to immerse myself fully. I would take lots of notes during talks and really try to engage in worship sessions.
Of course, I was still apprehensive on Friday and Saturday, but during the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on Saturday I felt a change. Before it started, I prayed. I said, “If you’re really there please show me, please tell me that that I’m not wasting my time and that I’m meant to be doing this.” Within thirty seconds of the beginning of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit I felt tears building in my eyes. Throughout the prayer tears were streaming down my face but I kept on smiling. What the two leaders were telling me really related to me so much, I was amazed. They told me everything that I needed to hear and more. After the Baptism of the Holy Spirit finished, I sat through the rest of the worship – still crying and smiling – but I couldn’t stop saying thank you over and over again. I still am so thankful for that moment I had on this theASCENT weekend.
In terms of what I’m doing now, I have a little prayer journal that I jot prayers down in when I feel like I should. I just feel as though I can talk to God now and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t know exactly what happened on this weekend, I just know I am going to try to be better than I was before and keep on following this path that God has laid out for me. I now know that I need to do this.
Before signing up for theASCENT, I didn’t really have many catholic friends who I could discuss my faith with, or people my age who I could talk to about God. I can remember feeling apprehensive before going to my first weekend, convinced that I wouldn’t have the promised mountain-top experience described by the website or others I knew who were on the programme. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Getting to know other young Catholics has been one of my favourite parts of the whole programme.
Through theASCENT, I’ve formed amazing friendships which I know will be life-long, and I couldn’t imagine not having these people in my life. The friends I have made on theAscent keep me rooted in my faith and have really helped me through difficult times when I’ve felt lost or confused. I am also incredibly grateful to be part of a PoD (Pocket of Disciples), where I have learnt so much about how to defend my faith and how to be a better follower of Jesus. PoD has also given me the opportunity to ask lots of questions and to really go deeper with the content, so I am able to extend my knowledge constantly.
Overall, I feel far more confident in myself as a disciple and daughter of God since joining theAscent, and want to say a massive thank you to all the leaders and participants who have journeyed with me so far!
It goes without saying, that theASCENT has changed every candidate that has gone through the experience. This might have happened by experiencing God’s presence vividly, by being inspired by one of our peers, or by being able to openly talk about our faith for the first time. Personally, I have mostly been struck by the first of these experiences. This happened during the February weekend in my second year, where I experienced God’s wonderful and soothing presence so vividly that it completely transformed me.
For some context, I am an incredibly restless person. I like being active and to take an outward approach to almost everything. This meant that I, having been incredibly lucky, knew a quite a lot about the Churches' teaching and about God. Therefore, I felt confident explaining the different aspects of the faith to others.
However, I always noticed, that no matter how much I knew about God, I didn’t actually know him personally. And I really struggled with that, because I did believe that he existed, but I couldn’t perceive his influence, because I never stood still to just listen. So basically, I felt like I was praying to an abstract God who was supposed to affect my life, but just didn’t seem to do it.
This changed during the first Saturday evening of my first year in theASCENT, where finally I made out that God was present. And although it was a wonderful experience, it was rather short lived because I wasn’t able to bring that joy into my daily life after the weekends.
This all changed in my second weekend of my second year, where I decided to go to adoration at 12:00 pm. This gave me an opportunity to be completely alone and still with the Lord for the first time in my life. This peace of being alone, one to one with God brought me a lot of joy, so unintentionally I just continued being there, in God’s presence, all the way until morning.
However, I didn’t really feel tired, but instead I was very energetic and inspired, since I had finally had a proper conversation and overall quality time with God. That night helped me answer many questions that I had, allowed me to lay on the table all my bottled-up feelings and helped me understand and get to know God in a personal way. And, what made this experience even more special, is that I was finally motivated enough to bring this aspect to my life. My prayer life improved substantially, as I was now able to stay still, not get altered easily and to have a one to one with God. In addition, it now allowed me to share my experience, so that when I talked about my faith, it wasn’t an abstract idea that I knew about, but instead is a real part of my life, which has a big influence on me and my way of being.