Catholic Charismatic Renewal Center for Chicago
By Angelus Virata
In my experience, there are three keys to discernment: a relationship with God, a prayer life and an abandonment to God’s will. My journey began when I was in second grade and people prayed with me for the gifts and charisms of the Spirit. For the first time in my life, I felt the presence and love of God. It was a realization that God is madly in love with me. It so touched me at the core that my heart felt full. Then, I started to speak in tongues. When I spoke in tongues, it was as if I was responding to God’s love for me. Words can’t express beauty beyond description and love beyond human love. From that moment, God became a part of my life and we journeyed together.
Then, my mother taught me how to read, meditate and pray with Scripture. Having a foundation of prayer and discipline to listen to him was instrumental. I had to get to know God and have a relationship with him before I started trusting him.
After college, I worked in “Corporate America” which is where God called me to evangelize young adults. Many of them move to a big city upon graduation for jobs. Most are achievement-oriented with a desire to climb the corporate ladder. In retrospect, I saw God’s hands leading me into the corporate world where most young professionals work. Climbing that “ladder” entailed working many late nights to meet deadlines: I found my prayer life suffering because of working so much. I found that the higher I went up the ladder the more I experienced fleeting happiness and emptiness. There was much insecurity, materialism, and restlessness in maintaining a certain lifestyle and a “perfect girl” image – beautiful, smart and fun.
In the corporate world, most young adults have stopped going to church. Many are consumed with working toward material success, yet the craving for meaning and purpose exists. However, they are not turning to God to fill the longing in their hearts: instead they turn to possessions, wealth, status and relationships. Their identity is not rooted in God but in their work, in their title and what the world says they should be. It’s easy to believe the lies that a person has to be a certain way to be accepted, to be loved, and to be worthy in this world.
I saw a hunger that fame, glory or achievements could never satisfy, yet here I was with the answer to this real hunger and it’s in the person of Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit. So I turned to God in prayer and asked him to use me. Many times, God presents opportunities for us to share him with others but we are afraid to say anything.
Deep inside, I wanted to do God’s will but was afraid of what others would say or think of me. I learned that I had to get out of the way so that God could bring me to a new level of freedom. It was a freedom from pleasing people and having to be perfect. Perfectionism brings only fear and anxiety. I realized that I had to move my focus from myself to others. I needed a mind shift so that I could be unafraid to b›e God’s witness in the world. The more that I went out of my comfort zone, doing what God has called me to do and trusting in him, the more I began to gain confidence and became bold in sharing God’s love and mercy, I was and continue to be inspired and empowered by St Paul’s words to the Corinthians when he said, “When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I do not come with sublimity of words of wisdom for I resolved to know nothing while I was with you excerpt Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1Cor 2:1-5).
Angelus Virata serves as Director of Adult Faith Formation at St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Arlington, Virginia. She assists Arlington Renewal with coordinating events and young adult ministry. She is a member of the NSC Council for Young Adults.