But, as I grew up, our family stopped going to Mass regularly. I started to learn formal prayer (prayers written by others) and found it boring. I thought my old way of praying was just make-believe and eventually I just slowly but surely started to lose my Faith altogether. I would still go to Mass because I had to and because I wanted to go to Heaven but nothing more... I then later didn't even care too much about Heaven either.
In high school, I used studied hard and really didn't have too many friends. Towards my junior year, I wanted to have more of a social life so I started to go to parties and started drinking. In my senior year, I started doing Exstacy and going to clubs in downtown Houston. I started to listen to more hard core alternative music and getting towards the darker side of life. I remember one club in particular called "Numbers" where I would be dancing to what I now realize was satanic music and in the music videos on the TV monitors they would be blowing up live animals and everyone didn't really care. Another club my sister went to had someone dressed up as Jesus hanging upside down on the Cross and someone else playing as a "slutty" Blessed Virgin Mary and everyone just kept dancing to the music with no care in the world that they were blaspheming God directly... and neither did I.
On the weekends I would get drunk or do Exstacy with all my buddies and we would go to clubs looking to have sex with women. I would even go to Mass with my parents on the following Sunday all hung-over and sick and would still receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. One Sunday Mass I was so sick and hung-over, after receiving Holy Communion I ran outside the front of the church and puked out the Body and Blood of Our Lord. I just covered up the Eucharist with dirt, and walked back into Mass next to my parents and didn't think anything of it. It is amazing to me that Jesus says: "Hot or cold, or I will spew you out of My Mouth!" because, I realized He doesn't have to do it to us, we do it to HIM.
In college, the darkness grew even colder and darker in my life. I started getting depressed and didn't care about my studies anymore. I got a job at Outback Steakhouse and was moving towards management (just when it was starting to expand out of Florida and had the first store in Texas in my hometown). I was geared towards a degree in International Business and Marketing. Just about that time, Outback went onto the stock-market and all those involved with starting the company were instant millionaires. The owner of the story I was working for was headed to Colorado to be a district manager for the area stores and he wanted me to work with him. I was headed for great success in the world.
My situation continued to get worse... I moved away from home and stopped going to Mass altogether. My roommate at the time was a cocaine dealer and I actually went on a run with him to sell an 8-ball. We partied every night and got drunk...and the darkness was pulling me down even more. I started to feel it in me. Well, one night I really had a lot to drink at the local bar we used to hang out in after work. I remember getting into my car and starting it... but nothing more....
I woke up in my room on the floor in a pool of my own vomit with the keys to the car in my hand and wondering how in the heck I got home. But, then I realized I still had the keys to the car in my hand.I walked outside to see if anything happened and I saw the car (my dad's minivan by the way) was all smashed in on the passenger side in the front all the way to the engine. I don't see how I could ever have driven it after wrecking it.
I retraced my path (after a few flashbacks in memory) and realized, thankfully, I didn't hit any other car or person... I hit a huge garbage bin which was just outside of the parking lot at the bar I was at the night before. Next to the garbage bin was a huge electric pole and on the other side was a huge ditch. If I had swerved just a little more to either side of the garbage bin, I would not be living. Also, I was more than thankful I didn't kill or even hit anyone else on the road. I still have no clue how I could have missed anyone on the road... but I guess I will have to leave that to my Guardian Angel (Nathaniel) and his protection over me and everyone else on the road that night.
Well, I knew that if I had died that night where I was headed... and it wasn't Heaven or even Purgatory. I KNEW I would have gone to HELL. No Doubt. It scared the Hell out of me (literally)! I got on my knees and knew that I wanted to go HOME to Heaven and the road I was taking in life was headed in the opposite direction. I told God that for the rest of my life, I just wanted to be headed Home and knew that I had to have a REAL relationship with Him in my life and I also had a deep desire to help everyone else that was lukewarm like me to come back to Our Lord.
I went to Confession with a priest I knew back at home with my parents, and started going back to Mass on Sundays (without missing... because I DID NOT want to MISS HEAVEN). I eventually started to pray the Rosary every day (as Our Lady asks of us as her children) and even started going to daily Mass. It was soon afterward that I received my calling in the Priesthood… but that is a whole other story.