Bookmark and Share

Journeys of Faith

With the stories of people's journeys in search of beauty, goodness, truth, in search of the desire of their heart.

Music by Daniel Weatherley.
You can subscribe to this Totus2us podcast here on itunes or here on the RSS feed. To download the free mp3 audio recordings individually, right/double click on the play buttons 

7) with Leanne      
from England

"After the pizza, we had some games and met each other, and then I had the opportunity to ask questions. Now throughout High School I'd had all these questions building up, constantly building up, and I'd never had the right people to ask them to, but the parish priest was there and this youth worker was there, and I just knew I could trust them with my questions. So I asked them a lot of questions around suffering, around like 'why do bad things happen to good people?' and that kind of stuff because those were the things that really effected me the most. And they gave answers and they were good answers, like fully to the book answers. But it wasn't the answers that they gave me that kept me coming back, it was the fact that I was able to talk about what I thought and what I believed without being judged. And so the next week I went back, and the next week and the next week, and we kept going to these youth Masses followed by youth groups. And in that I just found, I just found truth. You know when you know something is true and you just can't deny it because it just hits you in your heart. And that's what it was like with God and me, like He just hit me in my heart and I just couldn't deny Him and I haven't been able to since."

6) with Eleanor      
from England

"I had a real struggle a couple of years ago with self-worth and just seeing yourself as beautiful .. and I really struggled with body image, I suppose most girls do.  Anyway I kept coming to the New Dawn conferences and there you can feel the Holy Spirit in you, He's working in you and He's giving you the strength. You're told by society you're something that you are not and it gets into your head. But at these conferences, you are just taught that Jesus loves you, no matter what you look like, no matter how much you weigh, He loves you so much. And this brings me on to Mary - I feel like Mary has been really strong in my life. If you look at her as a woman, as a woman of Christ, how much she just loved Jesus and how beautiful she is. She has really helped strengthen me. Anyway, I went through a rocky part in my life - I took Philosophy & Ethics A level and I felt that really put me off my faith. I had 5 hours of lessons a week and for that 5 hours I was told why God is not omnipotent, why God isn't omnibenevolent, why God isn't this, this and this, which I was told to believe. And then I came to these conferences and I really felt like God was just telling me the truth, the absolute truth. And I went to confession.  .. And that's when I knew that Jesus truly loved me for who I am."

5) with Nick      
from London

"Then in the closing months of the year I sort of came back towards it all. I really got the sense that I lived the life without the faith and it's a very dark one, one that there's a real sense of being lost and one that quite frankly isn't worth living. I'm very grateful now for the fact that I've got my faith back, and I'm a young person involved with God and Jesus and that to me is the most important thing in my life. Here I am now, 22 years old, 'going forward home' as they said at the end of the Youth 2000 conference and looking forward to kicking off a good life."

4) with Suzy      
from the UK

"After WYD Rome I went off to uni and rebelled. At the time I felt I was asserting my independence and finding out who I was, and I think all that time I was just lost. I was very lucky in that I had family and friends who prayed a lot, and I'm eternally grateful to their prayers and at the time I'd have hated to admit that.

It just so happened that 6 or 7 years later, I went to work in a place where I had some Catholic colleagues. I was very objective about the experience and I said 'Well, OK, I don't practice but these people are good people.' As I worked with them, I just saw something in them that made me realise that they had something; a lot of people I knew were good people but these people had something else that made them see a value and a dignity in the human person that maybe other people didn't see. I slowly observed their behaviour and got to know them and became good friends and gradually that took me back into the Church. From there, I very suspiciously I suppose would go and sit at the back of the church. Then one day a friend of mine said 'Come on, Suze, come and say the rosary.' And I was like 'No, I haven't said the rosary in years.' She was like, 'Come on, come on.' So I went off to a church and prayed the rosary and I'd have to say that that probably was what brought me back. From then on I just felt that, if nothing else, I could maybe attempt to say the rosary. Slowly Our Lady worked her way back into my life. From there I guess I began going to the Sacraments, I went to confession, I started going to Mass regularly.

It's been years now since then and I've never looked back. I actually went to the more recent World Youth Day in Madrid a couple of years ago and it was really interesting revisiting that event after so many years of maybe being lost. The World Youth Day really is a great opportunity because you realise that all those times you think you are on your own, that common culture is against you, that society is against you, that you can't express what you believe for fear of being hailed an extremist or a conservative, that actually there are hundreds of thousands of other young people out there who share your faith and have a joy. Ultimately the Catholic faith is nothing to be ashamed of, it's nothing that restricts you, it's nothing that lays down any rules, it's simply showing you how to be happy.

3) with Brother David      
from the United States

"So that has kind of been the key in my faith, music and community. I’ll put those two together because I think they're important. So I guess you have to start back when I was 6 years old. At six I had this idea, the idea was to go sail boating (because I loved sail boating when I was younger), and while I was on the sail boat I would go to different countries and places and spread the Word of God. Now I found that kind of odd later on in life because like I really wasn't big into Church. It was one of those things that kind of sit with you and you let it just sit and you forget about it after a while and then you move on."

2) with Erin-Thérèse      
from the United States

"My husband and I got married in the Easter break of our last year of university and after graduation, we moved from London to Devon where we made our first home together.  We were in love with the Devonshire moors and chose to live in Ivybridge, which is a town that forms the gateway to the Two Moors Way, so we could spend as much time exploring the moorlands as we could.  Many of my afternoons were spent walking up to Dartmoor, particularly around the area known as the Western Beacon, and looking back, I would call that moor my Damascus.  It was here finally, that the beauty of God overwhelmed me, seduced me, drew me into Him---I would pass through groves of hawthorn, hedgerows laden with wildflowers and spicy with the scent of summer, and when I issued out into the open moorland with martins swooping above me, it was as though a veil had been lifted, and I was gazing beyond the beauty of the landscape into the face of the Author of Beauty, the Great Mystery Himself.  I could say with Wordsworth, in his Lines Composed above Tintern Abbey,
“And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.”

I think what changed at this time was that God was no longer a philosophical question, He was a personal presence in my life and would only grow to be more so.  I would call it a mutual inbreathing, He was visiting me, stretching out His hand to me, filling me up with His Spirit, and there was such a sense of intimate communion that I discovered God to be not a ‘what’ but a ‘who.’  This was the turning point and this was what enabled me to become a Christian, encountering God became the great romance of my life, and it was from here that I fell in love with Jesus Christ, who is the incarnate Presence of God among us."

1) Francis Thompson      

from England (16 Dec 1859 – 13 Nov 1907) wrote

The Hound of Heaven

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
            Up vistaed hopes I sped;
            And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
           But with unhurrying chase,
           And unperturbéd pace,
       Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
           They beat—and a Voice beat
           More instant than the Feet—
       “All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

   I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
    Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followèd,
            Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
    The gust of His approach would clash it to:
    Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
    And troubled the gold gateways of the stars,
    Smiting for shelter on their clangèd bars:
            Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o’ the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
    With thy young skiey blossoms heap me over
            From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
   I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
    Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
    Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
          But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
        The long savannahs of the blue;
            Or whether, Thunder-driven,
          They clanged his chariot ’thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o’ their feet:—
    Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
            Still with unhurrying chase,
            And unperturbéd pace,
        Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
            Came on the following Feet,
            And a Voice above their beat—
        “Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.”

I sought no more that after which I strayed
            In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children’s eyes
            Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
            With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
“Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share
With me” (said I) “your delicate fellowship;
            Let me greet you lip to lip,
            Let me twine you with caresses,
            With our Lady-Mother’s vagrant tresses,
            With her in her wind-walled palace,
            Underneath her azured dais,
            Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
                From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.”
                So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies.
            I knew all the swift importings
            On the wilful face of skies;
            I knew how the clouds arise
            Spuméd of the wild sea-snortings;
                All that’s born or dies
            Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful or divine;
            With them joyed and was bereaven.
            I was heavy with the even,
            When she lit her glimmering tapers
            Round the day’s dead sanctities.
            I laughed in the morning’s eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
            Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine;
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
            I laid my own to beat,
            And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
            These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
            Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
            The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
                My thirsting mouth.
                Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
                With unperturbèd pace,
            Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
                And past those noised Feet
                A voice comes yet more fleet—
            “Lo! naught contents thee, who content’st not Me.”

Naked I wait Thy love’s uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou hast hewn from me,
                And smitten me to my knee;
            I am defenceless utterly.
            I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
            I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o’ the mounded years—
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
            Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist.
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
            Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amaranthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
            Ah! must—
            Designer infinite!—
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou can’st limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i’ the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
            From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
            Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpséd turrets slowly wash again.
            But not ere him who summoneth
            I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know, and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man’s heart or life it be which yields
            Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
            Be dunged with rotten death?

                Now of that long pursuit
                Comes on at hand the bruit;
            That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
               “And is thy earth so marred,
                Shattered in shard on shard?
            Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!
            Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught” (He said),
“And human love needs human meriting:
            How hast thou merited—
Of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot?
            Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
            Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
            Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
            All which thy child’s mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
            Rise, clasp My hand, and come!”
    Halts by me that footfall:
    Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
    “Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
    I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.”