I cannot tell if we were at Pentecost, gathered in the upper room in one accord, united in prayer, spirit, and mind, or if I simply fell into peer pressure, but despite dreading the idea of leaving the state, and even more of going to Missouri, I paid my $25 and signed up for SEEK. I praise the Lord for giving me the grace to take this leap of faith. Going to SEEK has been a great motivation in advancing my wrestle with God. There, I learned more deeply to confide in Mary my Mother, run to Christ in confession, and love as the Father loves.

In the past I’ve been very skeptical of the apparition to St. Juan Diego, but after going to a talk on our Lady of Guadalupe and hearing her special care for her children I was able to grow in my Marian devotion. I understood that all who hide under her mantle are taken to Christ. As his mother, she knows what he loves, and what he loves is our souls, and so she brings us to him. Therefore to be guadalupano is to be a missionary of Christ, to be Marian is to be an evangelist, for anyone who follows her footsteps brings souls to Jesus.

I was also given the grace to feel the pain of sin. In praying the rosary and sobbing my way to confession I understood the gravity of our offenses to God, but also his infinite mercy and love, despite our failures. At confession we are taken to calvary, we become the thief who says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”, and Christ in his gentleness says to us “today you will be with me in paradise.” The words of absolution are nothing less than an oath of love. And just as in Calvary, Christ waits for us in the confessional, his feet are nailed to the cross; he will not walk away. His arms are extended wide; he will not reject us. His heart is pierced open; he is ready to love us.

The main takeaway from SEEK was the Father’s love for us. Jesus tells us, “Be perfect even as the Father is perfect,” and this perfection is found in love. For a long time, I dreaded my existence, finding living a tedious task; however, what joy it is to know that God created me out of love and not only me but also you. Falling deeply in love with the idea of us, he desired us and acted upon his desire. The infinite God, who needs nothing, desired us and so brought us into existence! Knowing this, how can I not love every person I see? And how can I not acknowledge their existence, the workmanship and desire of God? We must love as the Father! And so, as I reflect on this great gift I see that I have but one purpose in life, and that is to love and to love without restraint.

SEEK 2024 Testimony – Israel Aguirre