As St. John says in his first letter, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself.” (1 Jn 5:10)
Víctor Liera, a parishioner of St. Michael in Mount Pleasant, found that this transformative power of Christ is found in the sacraments. During a moment in his life when he needed hope the most, God won over his heart.
“He changed my life through Jesus in the Eucharist, the confessional, my vocation as a husband, and through the work of the Holy Spirit through baptism,” Victor testified.
But he did not always think that way.
Víctor received all of his sacraments in his youth with much joy and enthusiasm. He came from a big, simple family dedicated to agriculture. But his childhood was marked with a difficult level of extreme poverty. At 14 years old, he moved to the United States to live with his sister. He was determined to find work.
But little by little, he stopped receiving the body and blood of Jesus, then stopped approaching the sacrament of reconciliation until he completely quit going to Mass.
He left the Church.
“I walked through life trusting in my own strength and in the strength of those who surrounded me,” Víctor explained.
His joy and enthusiasm faded. And with them, also his spirituality, faith, and sacramental grace.
“My love for the Church and for Christ himself turned off to the point that I felt no need for God,” Víctor said.
His faith in almost all the sacraments, except baptism, had disappeared.
“I knew it was necessary to be baptized in order to join the family of God,” Víctor said.
Everything changed when his first son was born. The doctors detected a severe form of autism in him.
“That was tremendously difficult for me,” explained Víctor, “I heard a second and a third opinion, but the results were never encouraging at all.”
Since doctors believed his son would not become independent, he felt devastated.
“At that moment, I lost the strength of my knees. The news really shook me,” Víctor said.
He strongly rejected those results. The last doctor, from the spiritual point of view, told him, “Do you want to hear that your son has a chance? Well, of course, he does. Just keep in mind that there is a 1 percent chance he will gain independence.”
They were asked to seek school help and followed that plan with the teachers and the specialists who gave him therapy.
“It is important to find support groups and live each day with the confidence that he will be that 1 percent who achieves his independence,” the doctor said.
This answer was very encouraging for Víctor and his family. On the way home, he meditated on this new reality.
“That’s when I remembered that I have a powerful God and that he has the last word. I had to recognize my disobedience towards almost all of my responsibilities as a son of God,” Víctor said.
He wanted to be a disciple of Christ and an unconditional member of the Catholic Church.
“Fortunately, I was never afraid. Surely it was because, in the depths of my heart, I always knew that God was merciful. I placed all of my trust in him,” exclaimed Víctor.
The family took pre-baptismal classes to baptize their son so that he would become part of God’s family as well.
“In this way, I was able to cry out to God with even more trust and ask him to intervene in my son’s life,” he remembered.
He had a very strong experience in that class. The word of God pierced his heart, so much so that he came away with a strong desire to know God more deeply through his word.
In three years, he read through the entire Bible twice from beginning to end.
“After those long days, I walked with the confidence that God would work wonders in my son’s life in his time,” thought Víctor.
Day by day, Víctor transformed into a man of prayer and meditation. He practiced works of mercy, but still did not approach the Church within those years.
It was during a quinceanera Mass when his son, who struggles to speak, began asking profound questions.
“What are they doing up there [on the altar]?
Why didn’t you and Momma go [to Communion]?
How can you know whether or not it is the body and blood of Jesus?
Why don’t you study?”
Once again, these questions were a new and strong experience that the Lord gave to Victor and his family.
“I left there meditating on this gift. With a lot of enthusiasm, I signed up my son in catechesis. I started going to Mass every Sunday. I approached the sacrament of reconciliation. Even my wife accompanied me and was encouraged,” Víctor said.
They reconciled with Jesus in the sacraments and with his Church.
By the second year of his son’s studies, Víctor became a volunteer; by the third year, he served as a catechist. He went on to teach the pre-baptism classes, RCIA classes, and organized formation and evangelization retreats.
The Lord immensely blessed the life of Víctor’s son.
“My son graduated from Mount Pleasant High School third in his class! God willing, in December of 2023, he will graduate in technology engineering from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.”
Víctor and his family continue persevering each day to live in holiness.
“Above all, I want to know, love, and serve our Lord Jesus Christ even more with my entire heart,” finished Víctor, “I sincerely hope that this transforming power that Jesus gives us in the sacraments touches the heart of every soul. And may every heart have a generous response to his merciful call.”