|Image from The Chosen TV-Series|
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1-3)
As a child, I always felt a close connection to God. I remember attending my first-communion classes which were taught by nun. She liked to talk a lot and I liked to listen. The most memorable thing she said to me was, “God loves you so much that He thought of you way before you were even born.”
One day when I was sixteen, I had a sudden urge to read the Holy Bible. It kept coming to mind for a few days, but I didn’t know where I could find a Bible. One morning as I hurried to school, I ran by a church. From afar, I could see an object on the floor right in front of the temple; as I got close to it, I could make it out to be a book. Don’t tell me it’s a Bible, I thought to myself. When I finally approached it, I leaned over to pick it up and discovered that it was, in fact, a New Testament, Psalms & Proverbs Gideon Bible. Years later, I shared this story with my college English Professor who asked, “Could it be that God is calling you?”
As a young adult, I continued to feel God’s presence in everything I did. God became my heavenly Father; He allowed me to make my own choices and suffer the consequences of my mistakes, but His Mercy was always there to catch my fall. At twenty-three years old, after a bad break-up with a girlfriend, the death of my grandmother - who had showered me with unconditional love and taught me to pray - and as I cared for my mother’s health after a serious operation, I was overwhelmed and full of anxiety. One restless night, I lied in bed thirsty for peace. In my heart was a need to surrender to God. I eventually prayed, “Lord, forgive me for all of the wrong things I have done. I give myself entirely to you. I’m all yours!” God gave me the most amazing peace that night; my faith had been renewed.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. (Psalm 31:7)
I began to read the Holy Scriptures, pray and take Holy Mass seriously. I was accepted to UCLA where I studied English Literature and continued to deepen my knowledge of film and media. In my second year of study, a priest invited me to volunteer at a local Spanish-language Catholic radio station; I helped broadcast Sunday Mass on their radio and television channels. After graduation, I took on a full-time position at the station where I had the opportunity to meet men and women whose lives changed after an encounter with the Incarnate Word.
In May 2017, I travelled to Cuba with a priest and a few friends. I had been mesmerized at a Mass we attended one morning; the priest began the Holy Sacrifice with the proclamation of the Psalms. Somehow the Word had a deeper meaning in a communist country. On our last morning in Havana, I took a walk along the pier and prayed the Holy Rosary. I walked far from the hotel and ended up at a small plaza. I knew that walking around with a Rosary in my hand was a risk, but one I willed to take. On the plaza floor was a booklet. I picked it up and discovered it was a book from the Bible1 – the Psalms to be exact. God was preparing my heart for something I couldn’t yet understand. When I related the story to the priest I travelled with, he commented, “God’s calling you.”
During Lent of 2018, I began to think deeply about my career; I had been working in church ministry for ten years by then. I felt I had reached a roadblock, professionally. I wanted more out of life, but couldn’t figure out how to go about it. One Friday evening I attended Holy Mass at Sacred Heart Church in West Covina, California. In the homily, the Pastor talked about the severe need for prayer in the Church.
From that moment, the interior dialogue I had regarding my professional life changed. The main focus was no longer on my career, per se, but on my relationship with God. I began to replay my life in my mind; I saw how God had been present at every moment. I saw how much love He had for me, guiding my path toward His Grace, Love and Mercy. It was a powerful revelation. I realized that God had been inviting me to something beautiful and special. As I lied in bed - just like years before - I surrendered to God again. A great sense of peace came over me and my heart began to burn with love for God.
Needless to say, my life has changed; this perfect love, lit by the fire of the Holy Spirit has led me on a journey to discover God’s plan for me. As my English professor and priest had wisely noticed, God had been calling me – just as He calls us all to partake in a deeper relationship with Him. Every day I discover more of His plan for me through the meditation of the Sacred Scriptures, participation in the Sacraments, and thanks to the prayers of the Church.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. - Psalm 107:8-9
Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker
1 Nihil obstat & imprimatur, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.