Back in 2000, I was living with a friend in Dorchester and decided it was time to buy my own place. Even though I had started out with nothing, I had a good job, making good money, had made good investments, and now seemed like the right time. So, I went off to a real estate agent and started looking for condos in the Fenway.
A few weeks went by, and time after time, it just didn’t seem like the right one. So, one day after returning back to the agent’s office, we were looking at all the condo listings on the computer screen, when I saw a particular address. Something inside of me moved, like a “yes” inside of me, and so I asked the agent if we could go and look at it. “Sure,” he said, “we can go tomorrow at noontime.”
On my way home then, I did a little drive-by. When I passed by the front of the building, I sensed that same “yes” inside of me. So the next day at noontime, I was there a little early. I got the grand tour. It had just been refinished, a garden-level condo with its own private entrance, on Beacon and Fairfield Streets in the Back Bay, great location … everything inside was saying “Yes,” so right away I put an offer down. It was accepted, and we moved into the next stages of closing.
Well, in the meantime, life was of course going on and one day I was on my way with my girlfriend to visit her sister’s house in a suburb. Driving along, I noticed a side street: Fairfield St. Hmm, I thought. But then the next street really surprised me: Beacon St. No way, I said to my girlfriend, did you see that? Well, the next street passed by, and when I saw the street after that one, my heart sank: Kiely Rd. Now, I was not a prayerful guy, and so I thought something reaaaally freaky was going on. I wondered if the new place was haunted. I checked on the internet, and then I had my ears open when I first moved in. But no ghosts. Only a mouse or two.
Living in the new place was a joy. I had five different ways to get to work: I could walk or jog down beautiful Charles St, or bike along the Charles River, I could take the subway, or drive. The neighborhood was almost pindrop quiet, even though it’s downtown Boston, and the local architecture is historic and beautiful. My girlfriend helped me set it up into a home, and everything was off and running. And every once in a while, we would drive by a certain church in the Back Bay. Whenever I did, I always got that same interior “yes” that I heard when buying the condo. I thought to myself, “I have to go in there someday.”
I was in the condo about six months, and things were sort of coming to a head in my relationship with my girlfriend. Everything was great, except there was a problem that was a show stopper (and would be in any relationship), and we couldn’t overcome it. One night I was exasperated after a long discussion, and after putting the phone down I thought that it was time to move on. Just then, a big inspiration came to me. It was so strong and clear that I was convinced of it, even if it sounds absurd to you now. I believed without a doubt that God had brought me to that condo, to go to that church, that very night, and meet my wife! I know it sounds absurd, but I knew it without a doubt. So, I put on my jacket and headed up the street to the 8pm Mass at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine. I got to the front door, and it was surreal walking up the front steps. I was thinking, “This is really happening!” When I opened the door, there was a quiet church filled with young adults. I had never seen anything like that before: the times I had been in church, it was usually elderly folks with a smattering of different types. I thought to myself, “It’s going down!”
So I walked down the side aisle and entered one of the pews, moved to the middle, and the thought came to me that at some point, a young woman would come and sit next to me, and that would be my wife! Now, I don’t recommend that guys make moves on the women next to them in church, but bear with me for a bit. So I’m sitting there and the priest comes out and starts to say Mass, and I never saw anyone say Mass like that before. He had a fire and inspiration, and I really believed that He actually knew Jesus Christ, or even more, that He was actually with him and somehow in him. I was captivated. And then, when he said the homily – and I can’t remember what it was about – he was so inspired and what he said pierced my heart very deeply and moved something deep inside of me, so that my whole interior said “YES!” and I thought “I want to do that!”
In that moment, right in that moment, like a flash of lightning, a whole bunch of thoughts came together at once. The thought came to me of being a priest. The wife of the priest is the church. And I looked over next to me and there was no one sitting next to me. O LORD, you have duped me, and I was duped. (Jer 20) To top it all off, after the Mass, there was Eucharistic Adoration, which I had never seen before. It was a very real encounter. The whole Mass was a very personal and private meeting with Jesus Himself.
All the yes’s inside of me, those inspirations? They are the little things that made all the difference. They are the action of Mary. She is the Yes to God, and it was she who came to seek me out and bring me to Jesus. When I started saying yes to her Yes’s inside of me, then I began to walk with her. She became my Lady.
Blessed Mother Teresa said about Mary in a letter to her sisters that “Her role is to bring you face to face, as John and Magdalen, with the love in the Heart of Jesus Crucified.” If you hear her Yes’s in your heart, then know that those Yes’s will make all the difference. If you say yes to them, she will personally accompany you and bring you to Jesus.
Then she can become your Lady.
I rejoiced when I heard them say: “Let us go to God’s house.” And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. (Psalm 122)
Happy Feast of the Annunciation!