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conversion

How Mother Angelica And EWTN Saved My Life

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak at EWTN studios

On May 2, 2014, I was invited to give a talk to a group of Catholic leaders in Birmingham, AL. In attendance were many of my heroes, including Catholic TV/Radio personalities, EWTN executives and founders of Catholic ministries from around the world. At first, I was overwhelmed. What could I possibly offer to these individuals? I was relatively new to full time ministry and (in my opinion) hardly successful. Since the conference was sponsored by EWTN, I decided to talk about Mother Angelica and how she inspired me to get to know Jesus and to respond when I felt Him calling me to full time ministry. I shared how Mother helped me to keep going, even when I felt like quitting. As a tribute to the life of Mother Angelica, I am sharing a transcript of my talk with you. Even if you are not involved in full time ministry, there is a message here for you. Jesus loves you and wants to be your friend. He is the answer to any problem you will ever face and through Him you can have eternal life in Heaven. As you grow closer to the Lord, you may be asked to carry a cross or take on a task that seems impossible. That is never the case. The life of Mother Angelica gives us proof that all things are possible with God!

Walking By Faith With Mother Angelica


(Transcript of a talk by Gary Zimak to a gathering of Catholic leaders in Birmingham, AL on May 2, 2014)

After being asked to do this talk, I was concerned. What can I say to a room full of All-Stars? Then I realized that I do have a very important message and it’s one that only I can deliver. It’s the story of how I’m trying to follow God’s plan for my life even though, on the surface, it doesn’t make sense. It’s a message that I hope will inspire you to continue doing what you’re doing and to remind you that “with God, all things are possible”! As the author of “A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible” and “From Fear To Faith” and someone who travels around the country speaking about overcoming anxiety, I feel a little funny admitting this, but…

I have a BIG FEAR!

What makes me feel a little more comfortable is that someone I admire greatly also has the same fear. I’d like to share a quote from that person and let’s see if you know who it is…

“I’m not afraid to fail, because I’ve always learned something when I failed. I’ll tell you what I’m afraid of – and when I think about it I break into a cold sweat – I’m scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more’. I’m petrified of that.”

My Story

Let me tell you my story…

I have suffered from anxiety from the time that I was very young. I am a hypochondriac, a coward, I love comfort and I am not a risk taker. I am a cradle Catholic who up until late 2004 (with the exception of a few brief periods) was very lukewarm about my faith and had no personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I went to Mass each week and was too lazy to even pursue other denominations. In late 2004, a mystery ailment scared me and I thought that I was going to die. I knew that I wasn’t a good Catholic and was afraid to be judged. I was determined to learn more about my Catholic Faith. I began to listen to EWTN Radio, watch EWTN TV, attend daily Mass and pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

A couple of interesting things happened…

I felt great peace even though I still thought I was going to die.

I started out thinking I was going to learn more about my Catholic Faith and become a better Catholic, but I also ended up meeting and growing to love JESUS CHRIST!

Eventually, the symptoms went away and no diagnosis was ever made. I resolved never to go back to my lukewarm way of life.

In 2008, I felt the need to share what I learned with other lukewarm Catholics and FollowingTheTruth.com was created. I started blogging, doing numerous EWTN radio/TV programs and signed a contract to write a book, all while working full time as a project manager. I began to feel a call to work full time for the Lord and went on numerous Church related job interviews, getting turned down for each one. My wife Eileen and I prayed that I could work full time for the Lord, however, we thought that it would be in some sort of traditional job.

In January 2012, our prayers were answered in an unexpected way. I was laid off! For the first time in 30 years, I was not collecting a weekly paycheck.

Eileen and I prayed about it and reached the decision that I should do the “impossible” – become a FULL TIME Catholic Evangelist. In my mind, it was “impossible” to make a full time living and support my family as a Catholic Evangelist, but this is what I felt the Lord was calling me to do. The first year was difficult for me, as I struggled to obtain paid speaking engagements. Fortunately, we had some savings. I continued to pray and asked the Lord to “let it all fall apart” if it wasn’t His will for me. New doors kept opening up, but very little money was coming in.

At The End Of My Rope

Last year, I attended this conference for the first time and I was very discouraged. I was just about out of money, had very few speaking engagements lined up and spoke to several of you saying the same thing:

“My apostolate is on life support. Anything you can do to help me get more speaking engagements would be greatly appreciated”.

When I arrived home, I spoke with my spiritual director and he thought that maybe the Lord was telling me that it’s time to move on and get a more traditional job. He told me to pray about it and give it a little more time. I decided to take a ride to one of my favorite places, The Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. As I sat in front of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and glanced at the image of Our Lady with the Baby Jesus, a very strong message came to me:

“It’s going to be okay”.

While I still didn’t have any new speaking engagements or guarantees, I left there feeling that I was doing what God wanted me to do and things would somehow work out for me.

Mother Angelica To The Rescue

I decided that I should finally read Mother Angelica’s biography so that I could look for signs that I was on the right or the wrong track. After all, she was asked by the Lord to do “the impossible” and maybe I could learn from her story. Before I read the book, I assumed that everything always worked out perfectly as she built EWTN. I thought that if God wants you to do something, then everything just falls into place. I thought that if you run into problems and that you don’t get a lot of donations or if you’re not booked solidly for the next year then the Lord is telling you it’s time to move on. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Mother Angelica failed sometimes. I also learned that the network that the network was on “life support” many times. The most important lesson that I learned from Mother is that quitting is not an option. I asked myself the question, “Did I really give it my best shot?” I kept saying I did, but did my actions support my words?

I needed to make sure that I truly “gave it my best shot”and realized that there were still some things that I could do. I started mailing books, letters, making phone calls and networking. I also kept praying and asking Our Lady and Our Lord for guidance. By the grace of God, I am still working in full time ministry. We live month to month, but my family and I have never been more peaceful. We are all learning what it means to TRULY trust in God and I will not quit. I’m willing to fail or be defeated, but I won’t quit until I have done all that I can.

If God Brings You To It, He Will See You Through It!

Many of you know this, but I’m going to say it anyway. The fact that I’m able to be here today and address you is proof that if God asks you to do something, He will give you what you need to do the job. My job (and your job) is to let Him work through us.

I also want to emphasize that I am doing something which the world says is “impossible”. I have a business degree. I have no radio, television or writing credentials. I am a shy person by nature who has always been afraid to speak in public. On the surface what I’m doing for a living makes no sense, but somehow it’s working.

I can totally relate to Mother Angelica’s statement, “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re getting pretty good at it.”

I know my work will come to an end one day, as will yours. My goal is to make sure that I don’t quit due to lack of trust. I pray every day that I will continue to say “Yes”, just like Abraham, just like Moses, just like Our Lady, just like Mother Angelica did and just like each of you. Through my two plus years in full time ministry, I have learned a valuable lesson. It’s a lesson that I try to learn better each day. It’s a lesson that Mother learned and lived every day:

“Never put a lid on God. You can’t give God a thimble and ask for a quart. It won’t work. Your plans, your projects, your dreams have to always be bigger than you, so God has room to operate.”

Final Thoughts

Now I would like to briefly speak to each of you. No matter how successful your apostolates are, you have probably experienced moments of discouragement. You may be tempted to give up, thinking that you’re not making a difference. I’m here to tell you that you ARE making a difference and many of you have impacted my life. I’d like to speak to those of you who are involved in any way with EWTN. Mother Angelica has expressed the opinion that the whole network may have been created to help one soul. I would like to thank you for being a part of that network and to let you know that EWTN has saved my soul. Without EWTN, not only would I not be addressing you today, but I would never have gotten to know Jesus personally.

Thank you for saving my life, Mother Angelica. I will continue to do my best to continue your work of bringing souls to Jesus Christ. May you rest in peace.

“You may be the only Jesus your neighbor will ever see.” (Mother Angelica)

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Here’s How I Came To Know And Love Jesus Christ

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak tells how he met Jesus on the EWTN program The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi

My name is Gary Zimak and I love Jesus Christ! Even though I went to church every week for all of my life, I never had a personal relationship with Jesus . I didn’t know Him and, furthermore, I didn’t think it was possible to know Him personally. All of that changed in 2004, when a medical scare got my attention and motivated me to seek the Lord. I now can say that I not only know Jesus personally, but I love Him and we speak every day! I recently sat down with Marcus Grodi on the TV series The Journey Home to share the my conversion story. You can watch the episode by clicking on the image below.

I hope you enjoy the story of how I found Jesus Christ. You know what’s funny? As I look back now, I realize that He was there all along!

I’d Like To Share Something Personal With You…

 

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak will be the guest of Marcus Grodi on EWTN's The Journey Home on Monday night

When I look at the above EWTN program listing I feel like scratching my head and saying, “Is this for real? ME…on The Journey Home?!!!”

On Monday, January 26, I will tell my story on EWTN TV’s The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi. I have to be honest and tell you that I never thought that I would appear on this program. In fact, I never even thought that I had a “story”. After all, I’m a cradle Catholic who never fell away from the Church. I went to Mass every week for as long as I can remember. Big deal, right? Not much of a story…

Over the past year or so, I’ve accepted the fact that I do have a “story” and I want to share it with the world. As you watch the program (which we taped in December), here’s what I hope you’ll take away from the interview:

1. It is totally possible to go to Mass week after week and have no (or a very limited) personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

2. The Lord is so merciful and loves us so much that He never ceases to reach out to us over and over again. Even when we repeatedly ignore Him, He continues to call us in new and creative ways.

3. It is not only possible to meet Jesus Christ and have a personal relationship with Him through the Catholic Church, it is the best place to have that encounter!

4. Having a close, personal relationship with Jesus is a life changing experience that will fill your life with great joy…even if you are struggling with many difficulties.

I hope you’ll tune in and let me share my story with you. You’ll hear all about how lukewarm and self-centered I was for many years. As the details unfold, you’ll be able to see how the Lord continually reached out to me and, for the most part, how I ignored Him. What’s really important, however, is the fact that I finally accepted His amazing offer and invited Him into my life. I now have a personal relationship with Jesus and I’m really glad that I do. In fact, I plan to spend the rest of my life working on that relationship and telling others about my friend Jesus.

Please join me on Monday night as I share my personal story with Marcus Grodi…and with you!

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Announcement Number Four – My Journey To Jesus!


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak tells his conversion story on EWTN TV's The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi

Here’s my final announcement (for this week, anyway!)

As many of you know, I am a cradle Catholic and I have attended Mass every Sunday for as long as I can remember. Given that information, it may come as a surprise if I tell you that for most of my life I never knew Christ personally, worried constantly, rarely prayed and made no effort to live out my Catholic Faith in the world.

On January 26 at 8 PM Eastern, you’ll have a chance to hear my conversion story as I visit Marcus Grodi on the EWTN TV series, The Journey Home. I hope you’ll be able to watch the show, especially if you’re eager to have a closer personal relationship with Jesus. No matter how distant the Lord seems to you, He is closer than you think and He wants to be your friend. Tune in on January 26 and let me share my story with you!

My Journey Home


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak discusses his conversion with Marcus Grodi on The Journey Home on EWTN TV

Yesterday I had the great pleasure to film an episode of EWTN’s The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi. Even though I am a cradle Catholic and never stopped going to Mass on Sundays, I was completely lost for many years. I didn’t know Jesus personally and was miserable. What changed, you may ask? It wasn’t the Lord, because He was always calling me. Rather, it was me who changed.

Due to a variety of problems and situations that developed over the course of forty years, I finally started paying attention and responded to the Lord’s offer of friendship. I revealed lots of details in this sixty minute interview that I’ve never discussed publicly in the past.

Tentatively, the show is scheduled to air on January 26, 2015. I hope you’ll be able to tune in. I’d love to share with you the story of how I got to know Jesus.

The Greatest Offer You’ll Ever Receive…


 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak invites readers to come closer to Jesus

Jesus said:

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

What is your response? What do you have to lose? Just your worries, sadness, hopelessness and loneliness. Today’s the day to accept the Lord’s offer and move closer to Him, my friends. I plan to do it. How about you?

Have I Grown Closer To Jesus Today?


 

Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak offers advice for assessing the status of your relationship with Jesus

As we journey through the forty days of Lent, it’s easy to lose our focus. Even if we remain faithful to our Lenten sacrifices, we can still lose sight of our main goal – growing closer to the Lord. While it is entirely possible that giving up sweets, coffee or beer can draw us closer to Jesus (by uniting our suffering with His or recognizing that we may be chasing after the comfort provided by worldly things), it’s also possible that we can become so obsessed with our self-denial that we may lose sight of Him entirely.

Every day, our relationship with the Lord can do one of three things. It can grow stronger, it can weaken or it can stay the same. Our goal in Lent (and really throughout our life) is to grow closer to Jesus every day. Therefore, at the end of each day we should ask ourselves the following question:

“Have I grown closer to Jesus today?”

While it sounds like a simple question, it’s sometimes a difficult one to answer honestly. Therefore, I find it helpful to look at a series of practical questions which will help to assess our relationship with the Lord.

Was I grateful for everything that happened to me today (good and bad)?
Was I kind to everyone I met?
Did I love my enemies?
Did I speak to the Lord throughout the day?
Did I listen to Him speak to me (in silence, in the Bible, through the teachings of the Church)?
Were my actions a good example to others?
If I experienced any kind of suffering did I offer it up?
Did I thank Him for giving me another day?
Did I use my talents to serve Him (by doing the best I can in performing my duties)?
Did I ask for His help in overcoming my imperfections?
Did I tell the Lord that I loved Him?

Now, if you’re like me you probably answered “no” to some of these questions. Don’t panic. That’s what Lent is all about. Tell God you’re sorry and ask for the grace to do better tomorrow. If you’re honest with yourself and keep trying, you and the Lord will grow closer and you’ll be on the road to receiving the ultimate reward…

Life with him in Heaven!

If you’d like some help during Lent I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan). You can find out more HERE.

Give Up Worrying For Lent!


 

Since A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible was released, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking about anxiety. As I visit various parishes, I encounter many people who are worried about a variety of things. And I have to admit that some of their problems are monumental. I have also met several individuals who have serious problems, but who are at peace. What gives? How can some people be peaceful even though storms are raging around them.

In his letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul touches on the key to achieving this kind of peace. It’s something that he knew about first hand and it enabled him to remain calm and peaceful in the midst of many sufferings:

Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)

Despite all the suffering that Paul endured, he understood that there was a bigger picture. Looking at that big picture, and not focusing on our problems, can allow us to feel peaceful even though the waves are crashing around us.

So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor 5:6-10)

Mindful of the fact that this life is temporary, St. Paul confidently states that “we walk by faith, not by sight”. Or do we? Whenever we begin to worry about the problems in our lives and lose sight of the fact that our ultimate goal is to reach heaven, we do the opposite of what Paul recommends. So many of us are anxious and miserable precisely because we are not walking by faith. Instead, we are walking by sight. When we do that, we allow the problems we see in our lives to rob us of God’s peace.

So, what’s the answer? As I mention many times in my talks, FAITH is the answer to FEAR! If our faith is strong, our fear will fade away. A strong faith allows us to trust in God and His providence. We know that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28) and that everything that happens in our lives can help us to achieve our ultimate destiny – life in heaven! If you’re looking for some Biblical evidence to substantiate my claim, try this on for size:

He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. (Matthew 8:23-27)

Why were they afraid? Because they had little faith! Despite the fact that we many not want to admit it, fear and faith are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. Given that this is the Year of Faith (as declared by our Holy Father) and that we are entering into the season of Lent, wouldn’t it be great if we could use this holy season to move from FEAR to FAITH? Well, the good news is that we can and I’m going to be doing something on my daily radio show to help us achieve that goal!

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Feb 13, I’ll be leading a Lenten Retreat which will help us journey from FEAR to FAITH. The theme will be “Purification” (don’t worry…it’s not as bad as it sounds!) and it is designed to help us take our eyes off of earthly attachments and focus on our heavenly destination. In addition to the daily Mass readings, I’ll be using the book My Daily Bread by Fr. Anthony Paone, SJ as the basis for the retreat. Originally written in 1954, this outstanding little book uses Ignatian principles to help free us from our inordinate attachment to “things”. The basic format of the retreat will be as follows:

Week 1 – Conversion (A Thoughtful Look At Human Life)
Week 2 – After Conversion (Facing The Old Routine With A New Spirit)
Week 3 – Temptations (Their Nature and How To Control Them)
Week 4 – Conquering Bad Habits
Week 5 – Self Conquest Through Mortification

As we walk through this Lenten retreat together, we’ll find ourselves concentrating more on the things of heaven and less on the things of earth. As a result, we’ll not only grow closer to the Lord, but we’ll experience a great deal of peace. If you’re interested in participating in the retreat, please
email me
(gary@followingthetruth.com) and put “Lent” in the subject. I’ll send you further directions and let you know how you can listen to my radio show. It will cost you nothing. Why not make a pledge to make this your best Lent ever? Together we can travel the road…

From FEAR To FAITH!

Have You Burned Your Boat?


 

Last week, I was speaking to my good friend, mentor and fellow Catholic Evangelist Richard Lane. As is usually the case when I speak with Richard, I was feeling energized and inspired when I hung up the phone. In particular, he told me a neat story about the importance of “not looking back” once you commit your life to Christ. A few days later, I was listening to the radio and I heard the exact story. Considering that I’ve never heard the saga in my 50+ years, I assumed that there is a reason I heard it two times in a week.

The story involves Spanish con­quis­ta­dor Hernan Cortes and his arrival in Mexico in 1519. Along with 600 men (none of whom had protective armor), Cortes prepared to conquer the land that for the past 600 years had been unconquerable. As they marched inland to battle their enemies, the conquistador uttered 3 shocking words to his soldiers:

“Burn the boats!”

This radical command left this Spanish soldiers with only two choices: emerge victorious or die! The lack of an exit strategy caused these outnumbered warriors to fight as if their lives were at stake…and they were! As a result, Cortes became the first man in 600 years to conquer Mexico.

While it’s a great history lesson, what does it have to do with our faith? In reality, it has EVERYTHING to do with it! One of the costliest mistakes that we make as followers of Christ is failing to “burn our boats”. Although we profess to follow the Lord, we often have a tendency to “look backward” and hold back a bit. We’re afraid that if we get too close to Him, we might have to suffer excessively. We’re nervous about giving too much to charitable causes because we might “need that money one day”. We fail to expect miracles when we pray and often pray for “safe things” in order to avoid disappointment. While we want to be called Christians, we’re sometimes unwilling to speak out and defend our faith when necessary. If we say too much, people might not like us or think we’re strange. By holding back in these ways, we never really FULLY commit our lives to Jesus and always entertain the possibility of reboarding our boats if the Christian life becomes too challenging. What did the Lord say about this?

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62)

Once we make the decision to truly follow Christ, there can be no turning back. Even though we’ll be tempted to backslide and “take the easy way out”, we have to remain firm and not look to the past. We all have “boats” or “safety nets” in our lives…those tendencies, possessions or attitudes which hold us back from following the Lord as fully as possible. If we truly expect to be “fit for the Kingdom of God”, we must cease looking at what was left behind and start looking at what lies ahead.

Have you identified your “boat”? Once you do, burn it and remember that when it comes to following Christ and one day living with Him in Heaven, failure CANNOT be an option!

Sometimes The “Healthy” Are The Ones Who Need Healing


 

Even though I’ve never met her personally, I’ve been touched by the plight of Angela Faddis, a young wife and mother who is currently in hospice care as she battles Stage 4 colon cancer. Responding to the plea for prayers by her husband, Chris, I used my website to organize a spiritual bouquet for Angela. To date, over 34,000 Hail Marys have been prayed for her by visitors to my site. Although remaining open to the Will of God, I have been praying for a complete miraculous healing for Angela. While the Lord may still bring about that physical healing, an unexpected phenomenon is taking place. Although Angela has not been healed of her cancer, many people who are praying for her are being healed. What’s interesting is that many of them didn’t even realize that they were sick! Chris Faddis recently posted this on the Support Angela Faddis Facebook fan page:

I’ve heard from several people this week who have begun going back to Church because of Angela’s inspiration. I can’t tell humbling that is as a husband. But I want to just go ahead and encourage anyone else who is reading this page. If you are feeling a tug at your heart to pray more, or go to Mass or Church, or to go to Confession, or to begin seeking forgiveness from someone or to recommit to your relationships… whatever you are being moved to do because of Angela’s journey – PLEASE DO IT! Be not afraid!

You have no idea how much it means for us to know that God is healing other souls through our family’s journey. Angela and I will be praying for all of you who are feeling a tug to get back to Church this weekend, if you need specific prayers, please message us.

Love,
The Faddis’ Family

As Christians, we know that Jesus can heal the sick. We’ve seen many instances of this in the Bible and in our own lives. What we need to learn, however, is who the sick really are. Many times those who are seemingly healthy are the ones most in need of healing. Spiritual sickness is much worse than physical sickness because it can affect our salvation. Although we are saddened when we look at the Faddis family’s situation, much good is coming out of it.

Through her illness, this brave young women is teaching us the value of redemptive suffering. From her bed, she is instructing us in a way that far surpasses anything that can be found in a text book. By accepting his wife’s illness, Chris Faddis is reminding each of us that faith involves looking past the difficulties of life and trusting that the Lord has a better plan. If you want to learn a powerful lesson, please take a few minutes and watch the following video. Let Angela speak directly to you and then listen to singer Tom Booth as he delivers a message that we all need to hear.

This, my friends, is what faith is all about…