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Seize the Moment: The Night My Son Met the Real Me by Nicholas Hardesty

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I prayed over my five-year old son the other day. He was on day three of a stomach bug, and I was willing to look like a fool if it meant his healing.Even a couple months ago, I would not have done such a thing. I’ve prayed over other people before: co-workers, friends, random strangers on the street – but never my family.

My Evangelist Hat
It’s easy to fall into a strange dynamic when evangelization is your job. You get up, get dressed, put on your “evangelist hat,” then it’s out the door to do the Lord’s work. But, the reverse also happens. You get home from work, change clothes, take off your “evangelist hat,” and fall back into your old, comfortable habits of living.

Truth talk: That’s what I’ve been doing. It might sound weird, but praying over strangers is safer than praying over your family. Strangers don’t know you from Adam. They assume this is what you’ve always done. But, your family? They know better. They know how you are when no one else is watching. They know your bad habits. They know your history. They know the “real you.”

The real me: I’ve been thinking a lot about who that person is. Am I the guy who laughs at irreverent humor around the campfire? Or am I the guy who initiates faith conversations with waiters, cashiers and poor people on the street? Am I one, or the other or both?

A More Authentic Life
Since September I’ve been attending something called Encounter School, and it’s got me hungry to live a more consistent and authentic life. Drawing from the riches of our Catholic identity, Encounter School seeks to teach, equip, activate and deploy disciples to demonstrate the supernatural power and love of God in their spheres of influence.

Every Monday night I force myself, against every tired impulse, to drive to the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood and attend this school. It has become many things for me: challenging, fulfilling, convicting, inspiring, accepting and liberating.

Above all, it’s made me realize I’ve barely scratched the surface of what a Catholic, living in the power of his baptism, is truly capable of. It has taught me what it means to be a “beloved son of the Father,” and it has filled me with a desire to live more fully in that identity.

Taking it Home
Sure, I make mistakes, sometimes really big ones, but, I am redeemed. I have a new nature. I am a “saint,” a man set apart to be priest, prophet and king. And on day three of my son’s stomach bug, I finally decided, “It’s time to take this home.”

It didn’t quite go according to plan, but it was still beautiful. Allow me to paint the scene:

My son is autistic. He’s lying in his bed after another bout of sickness. It’s late at night. He’s exhausted, irritable, and in no mood for visitors. I told my wife, “I’m going in there to pray over him for healing.” “Be careful,” she replied. “He wouldn’t let me come near him just now.”

“Let’s do this,” I told myself. I sat on the edge of his bed and put my hand on his chest. He grunted at me, loudly. He was not having any of it, so I took my hand away. He grunted again, not liking that I was still sitting on his bed. I moved to the floor and raised my hand in the air. Still not good enough. I put my hand down and started to pray out loud. Another grunt.

Before long I was on the floor in the opposite corner, as far away from him as possible, my hands in my lap, quiet and motionless. I told myself, “This will have to do.” Then, with all the authority of a priest in his domestic church, I prayed: “In the name of Jesus, I command all sickness to leave my son. In the name of Jesus, I command this to leave this house and never return.”

The next morning, he played with all the vigor of youth … and I was closer to the man I want to be.

Nicholas Hardesty creates content and leads workshops for Contagiously Catholic, an archdiocesan initiative that seeks to empower parishes and schools to equip the laity for evangelization. nhardesty@catholiccincinnati.org

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