1 May 2011

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

What a glorious, wonderful day! I have spent so much of the day on the cusp of crying (some happy, some sad) tears. We didn't get up early to watch the beatification live, so as soon as we got home from mass we turned on Sa.lt and L.ight TV to watch the mass (we were also trying to see if we could get a glimpse of Mr. JB's brother who was a Eucharistic Minister at the mass, but we didn't).

I credit Pope John Paul II for my reversion back to Catholicism in my 20's (I guess this could be "Faith Story Leila, better late than never, right?).

I am a cradle Catholic, although my family didn't attend mass every Sunday, it was something that we did on a regular basis. I was lucky enough to attend a Catholic elementary school with a church at the front of the property. The priests would come out a recess and talk to the kids in the schoolyard, and we always went to first Friday mass as a school.

It wasn't until we moved to the suburbs that we started to attend mass every Sunday. I credit my best friend at the time and her family with my renewed interest in the church. Her family went every Sunday and I slept over at her house very frequently, so I just went with her. I started to push my mom to take me and she couldn't think of reasons not to go. My dad, still to this day, doesn't always attend mass on Sundays, but he would if I pushed him.

When I went away to university and tasted freedom for the first time, I continued to go to mass. My parents would often visit on Sundays so they could take me to lunch after mass. In my first year of university I was still dating my high school sweetheart and we would often attend mass together, even though he wasn't Catholic.

Things started to change when I met an older boy. He volunteered at the campus radio station where I also did a show (yes, I wanted to be a journalist before I became a teacher). I fell for him quickly and hard, and at the end of my first year I broke up, amicably with my high school boyfriend. Around the time I met this new boy I decided that I was going to go to the campus doctor to get put on the pill. I was tired of the horrible cramps I was experiencing, and I figured that it was okay since my family doctor had suggested it first (my mom had refused to put me on the pill because of religious reasons and the doctor gave me stronger pain meds).

I can admit now that the pain was second on my list, but at the time I had fooled myself into thinking that it was my main reason.

I ended up dating the radio boy for almost three years. I even followed him out west after I graduated because I was so in love with him. We didn't have the healthiest relationship and I also struggled with clinical depression throughout the entire time we were together.

And I wasn't taking the pill just to manage my pain, if you know what I mean.

While I was living out west I applied to a Masters program at the university where I did my undergraduate studies and as soon as I was accepted I packed my bags and returned home. Living out west was tough and I was so far from my family, and I knew in my heart of hearts that I belonged back in Ontario.

Pretty much immediately after moving back into my student house (I was lucky enough to find a room with my old roommates, my fertile bf being one of them), I met another boy. I didn't plan on breaking up with radio boy, but after a couple of months and being flirted with by engineer boy, I broke up with my boyfriend and quickly moved on to a new relationship.

This relationship consumed five years of my life, and not in a good way. He was incredibly charming, good-looking, but so incredibly toxic. In retrospect I know that he dealt with horrible demons and because I am a fixer, I wanted so badly to take his pain from him. Unfortunately, I spent so long trying to save him that I almost lost myself in the process.

We broke up and got back together so many times that I can't even count, nor remember. When I returned home from France I thought that we were actually going to stay together, forever. We even lived together for a year before I broke things off for good. It wasn't until he got physically abusive that I realized that I needed out.

One Sunday I went to mass, like I did every Sunday. As I sat in the pew and said my prayers before mass started I saw a dad with his little kids. I thought to myself, "I want a husband like that. I want my entire family to go to church together."

That is when I realized that I had to stop living sinfully and that I had to end my relationship. I knew that he didn't love me and I knew that I loved myself so much more to let myself be treated the way that he was treating me.

I moved out of our apartment the next day.

Which bring me back to JPII. I was one of my many rain-soaked faithful that went to the Papal Mass. I was teaching ESL at the Uni.versity of T.oronto the summer of 2002 and I signed up to take some exchange students. I can't remember who the kids were, but I remember the wonderful feeling of peace and holy power that came over me as the Pope John Paul II passed by us in the crowd. I spent most of the mass crying tears of joy.

I don't think that it was a coincidence that I had the realization about my then-boyfriend almost a year to the day later.

Being in the presence of a saint forced me to realize that I had to live a better, holier life. I know that it took me a year to figure it out, but as soon as I did my life became so much easier.

Three months after breaking up with engineer boy, I met Mr. JB. We went on our first date on October 26, 2003 and haven't been apart since.

I may not have a baby, but I have a wonderful, Catholic husband that holds my hand throughout the entire mass.

As soon as we were engaged, Mr. JB and I wrote the papal office to see if our marriage could be blessed, unfortunately JPII passed away three months before our wedding and Pope Benedict was not in Rome when we were there. We did, however, visit Pope John Paul II's tomb under St. Peter's and I felt the same power that came over me at World Youth Day.

I cried that day too, that time, tears of joy and thanksgiving that I could be somewhere so beautiful with someone that I loved and who loved me just as much back.

I am so grateful to belong to a faith that can forgive sins, sins that I still carry as regret in my heart, but I know that the rocky path that brought me to my wonderful husband was all worth it. I credit Pope John Paul II for bringing me home. Although I was never really far from the church, every doubt and question that I had about my faith and everything that I took for granted, was erased when I felt JPII's immense holiness around me.

I know that this cross infertility that I carry will serve its purpose in my life. Pope John Paul II stirred something in my soul that needed to be disrupted. I know now that seeing him in so much pain, but able to persevere and continue his holy works, should be example enough for me to carry this cross longer and with more dignity, and definitely more patience.

Thank Blessed John Paul II!

Job update: Thank you for all of your wise advice. I took the job and my boss seems so happy that I agreed to return. Now to decide what that money is going towards: surgery or adoption.


  1. Just linked your amazing story to my blog! Thank you for the inspirational story! JPII, we love you!

  2. You are such a blessing to me, and to all of us. God Bless you!


  3. Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. JB-I loved your story. Very beautiful. our stories are similair in that I too was not happy ab the way I was living and Mary brought me back! I love JPII and his theology of the body- I never understood chastity until he broke it down that way! Your story is inspirational!!!
    God Bless you!

  5. Thanks for the story JB! So glad you have Mr. JB now! :) (And so sad an Engineer had to play the villain! D'Oh!)

  6. What an honest, beautiful story and it sounds like you smooched a few toads before finding your prince :)

    So glad JP brought ya back to the fold and that you are now a special part of all our lives!!

    surgery or adoption?? Bless your heart, pray and follow the leading signs :)

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