The first speaker is Fr. Michael Lightner. Former college lineman, he’s a seriously big guy (6’4″ 330), with a great conversion story.
Raised in a Catholic family, his dad was one of General McArther’s bodyguards. His mom was a daily communicant, very devout.
Fr. Lightner went off the rails in college, doing all the things wrong that some of us do at that time. Was hurt by a woman early, became bitter and started using women etc. Became a band security guy, did a lot of Lollapaloozas and so forth.
Became an intermedia between the athletes who wanted drugs and the art people who had drugs. Picked up the nickname as “The Kingpin”, because he hooked up people with jobs, drugs, and more.
Then one night he brought some pot home, stashed it under the couch and his three year old niece found it … “Grandma, what’s this?”.
His mom confronted him with his sister, who was a drug abuse counselor at the local VA hospital.
His mom then forced him to attend a pilgrimage to Medjugorge with her that Christmas. On that trip he was so angry that he wanted to beat people up (which he did for a living), so freaked out by the trip that he actually started praying a bit. Kept having panic attacks, a big one as he got to the location itself.
His mom told him … “if you do only one thing here, go to confession”. Outside of a resignation he accepted.
His first real prayer was “God if you exist … and I don’t think that you do … you have 7 days to show me. Otherwise I’m living my life my way”.
After a 40 minute confession the priest gave him 5 Our Fathers, which made him mad. But then with the absolution he felt a presence, which pushed him to his back, against the back wall of the confessional. He was pinned against the wall, couldn’t move.
Then he felt release, had no idea what to do. Everything changed. The five Our Fathers took him 45 minutes, and he wept the whole time. Kept flashing through all the women that he’d hurt, women who sought comfort and protection in him.
He then offered his second prayer, which led to a mystical experience, an infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Four months later he went on a second trip, and they went to a monastery where there were miraculous headings, truly astonishing. He waited for 20 minutes behind a woman in a wheel chair, and while they were praying over her he heard a voice … “if I get this woman out of the wheelchair, will you enter the seminary?”. His obvious answer … “no”.
He was thinking of upcoming tryouts for the NFL, so he put conditions “if she walks around the church …”, when she did he said “if she steps on that block” and she did, … well, he entered the seminary and is obviously now a priest.
A bit later he had a dream that he was in the NFL, in which he had a deep sense of deja vu, which allowed him to see ahead as to what was going to happen. They win the game, has a party, and he’s weeping. At three that morning he woke up to a dream in which he was shown that he’d fulfilled his childhood dream, now it was time to fulfill God’s dream for him”.
So he was convicted, but it was hard because he was dating (closely) a woman he’d met on pilgrimage. But, he followed the call, accepted the conversion.
What is conversion? The Holy Spirt is asking us to change, asking us to receive His mercy. That is the tug, that is the sense conviction that we’re sensing during those times.
We want to change, but the world and sin keeps the anxiety on us, does not bring us peace. If we ask for God’s mercy, if we use the tools in our tool belt that the Catholic Church has given us – Holy Scripture, the Euchartist, Confession, fasting, prayer – we’ll be fine, we’ll slay the dragon.
This is the path to conversion, this is conversion.
Step into this, try increasing each one a little bit at a time. The Holy Spirit will make it work, will lead us through conversion.
Perhaps start by going to the Eucharist one more time a week (+1).
All of this can only happen with God’s mercy … if we set our pride aside even a little bit, He will make it real, He will make it happen.
If you ask God to reveal Himself to you, He will do so, make you a son with all of the inheritance that He already has ready for you.
God elevated our state of humanity – fallen humanity – above the angels, they are hear to serve us. That is nearly incomprehensible, if you think of what that actually means, given that they are created above us.
We need these chops now. The government is attacking us, a battle looming. If we do not teach our wives, our daughters and sons, our grandchildren, then they will not even be able to fight the battles that loom
Those battles will come our way, whether we ask for them or not.
The problem with our families, our Church, our society, our government, and more is that we have forgotten how to serve – we are self-centered.
If we change our hearts, all the rest will inevitably change.
Finished by telling a great story about a friend of his who followed God’s call to play the piano, if he would serve him…
anything is possible. Anything is possible.
If we hear God call us, we need only answer, and he will call us forth so that we can be His son’s in glory. We don’t see that glory right now, but one day we will. If we hang on his mercy and persevere, we will change this country, we will change the world.
Great first talk.
Btw he started a motorcycle club, the “Sons of Mercy”. He’ll help others start the same, provided that a priest is involved.