Wednesday June 18, 2008
It is really a joy to be here with all of you. My name is Fr. Michael Brady and I am a priest in the diocese of Stockton, California. I am the chaplain at Central Catholic High School in Modesto, California—a coed high school of about 441 teenagers.
This is my second time to Medjugorje. I am a convert to the faith. On April 14, 1990, I was baptized, confirmed and received First Holy Communion at St. Joseph’s in Modesto, my home parish. I came here in 1995. I believe that I became Catholic because of the Blessed Mother. My friend, who later became my Godfather, came to Medjugorje in 1988. When he came home from the trip, he was much at peace. I remember saying, “Doug, why do you have all that peace?” I use to be a machinist. I would go to work fit to be tied, angry, not happy and I saw him come home—he is a respiratory therapist at the hospital and deals with life and death—and he was really relaxed. I said, “How do you do that?” He said, “Well, go to Mass.” And I went, “Yeah, right.” But then I kept watching him and kept seeing that peace. I started going to Mass with him. I started going to Mass with him in July of 1989 and I haven’t missed Mass since. I started RCIA, not actually to become Catholic—my intention was never to be Catholic—I just wanted to learn what Catholics believed. I wanted to learn where the foundation of Christianity came from. One thing led to another, and I realized philosophically and theologically I believed the same thing as Catholics believed. But I didn’t believe in two things: the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. I told the priest in RCIA, “You know, you would think after two thousand years, Catholics would really understand that is just bread and wine.” He just kind of looked at me.
About a month before the Easter Vigil in 1990, I was at work and I was kind of angry at the boss. The parish has an Adoration chapel, and I got this little strong voice in the back of my head that said, “Go to that chapel and pray.” As soon as I walked into that chapel—normally I went out for a beer after work—but not this day—I went to the chapel. As soon as I knelt down, my heart started beating and I started sweating. I had to leave because the experience was so intense. I had spent probably only about two minutes there, kneeling and praying, and I left. It felt like I was there really about two hours. As I left, I said, “Michael, you just met Jesus Christ.” And I said, “Yeah, I know.” Then I said, “Well, what about the Blessed Mother?” I said, “Well, Jesus is there, the Blessed Mother has just gotta come with the whole thing.” So I went and told the pastor, Fr. Pat Walker, the associate pastor in charge of RCIA, and I said, “I am going to be baptized.” He looked at me and said, “What changed your mind?” I said, “I was praying in the Adoration chapel.” And he said, “Oh, yeah.” So on April 14, 1990, I was baptized, confirmed and received First Holy Communion. My family disowned me because I became Catholic. They are kind of like Jehovah Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventist mixed, and I haven’t spoken to my mom or my dad in eighteen years. That’s okay. I still love them. God loves them. The Blessed Mother loves them. Life is life. You can only change yourself. About twenty seconds after I received First Holy Communion, this little voice in the back of my head that had said go to that chapel and pray a month earlier said, “See Fr. Pat up there?’ Fr. Pat was distributing Communion at Communion time. And I said, “Yeah.” And the voice came back and said, “That is what I want you to do.” And I said, “Noooooo. Send me a woman. I want to get married. I want to have kids.” So for a year and a half, I didn’t tell anything to anybody, and I just prayed. I always went to that chapel and prayed. Everyday I said, “Lord, send me a woman. I want to get married.” No woman came. I am not that bad looking.
I was home watching the Giants game, and I was laying there and my Godfather came in. As he walked in, he had his stethoscope around his neck and his white scrubs on, he said, “Michael, have you ever thought about becoming a priest?” Then I jumped up and said, “Shut up. Where did that come from?” He said, “Well, I think that you have many gifts that would make a great priest.” I went into my room and started praying. I said, “Lord, you know that I can’t do this. I don’t want to be a priest. I want to get married. I want to have kids.” Finally I went back to Fr. Pat and I said, “You know, I think I am being called to the priesthood.” Then he said, “Well, go talk to this other priest.” I thought he would say, “Shut up. Quit thinking about it. Move on with your life.” He didn’t say that. So I went to this other priest. You have to realize, I was a sinner. I’m still a sinner. I thought I had many experiences that would mean that I shouldn’t be a priest. So I went to Fr. Bill who was the vocations director for the diocese and I told him my story. It took about two hours to tell him my story. He leaned back in his chair after two hours and he said, ‘You know Michael, I think you are being called to the priesthood.” And I went, “Noooooooo.” But I remember walking away, thinking that I was very happy and thinking, “You know, Michael, you have to say yes until you can’t say yes anymore.” I am still saying yes.
God has a plan for each and every one of us. I have been a priest for 7 years. On Monday I celebrated my 7 year anniversary. In dog years, that is 49. You know, I love being a priest. I don’t like all the politics that comes with being a priest, but who likes politics. But I love being a priest. I love the vocation that God has given me to spend with young people. Young people have many challenges in their lives. We live in 2008 and technology and everything—everything is coming at them. One thing that I have learned about young people is that they are attracted to everything—the good, the bad and the ugly, but they are especially attracted to the good. They will always come back to the good. They might stray, but they will always be attracted to the good. The Blessed Mother and Jesus and all the angels and saints are asking us as baptized Christians to always show the world out goodness.
Today’s Gospel is about our relationships. If we are angry with somebody, we should go and reconcile. We come to Medjugorje, we don’t really know why. I have no idea really why I am on this trip, except that a friend asked and you don’t say no to her. So I am here to heal myself and to heal my relationships. We are all here to heal our relationships and to actually nourish the relationship we have with Jesus Christ and the angels and the saints. We come here to open our hearts to His love and His mercy and His forgiveness. Today, our prayer, in a special way, is to help us to have the courage to constantly follow the Gospel, especially when it is most difficult, especially when it is unpopular. God asks us for our whole selves. Are we willing to give it to Him? The Blessed Mother is our role model. She gave Her all to the Gospel. She didn’t know exactly what all was coming at Her and neither do we. But we ask the Lord for the courage to always follow when He asks us too. Amen.
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