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Turn to Jesus (Article)

God’s Mathematics
Vocational Testimony of Fr. Carlos Macías, LC

Testimonio vocacional del P. Carlos Macías L.C.
Fr. Carlos Macías L.C.
My name is Carlos Alberto like my dad, and I am the oldest of four children born to Carlos Macías and Maria Antonieta Berrueta (now enjoying the glory of God in heaven). They gave us a good Catholic education, especially through their example. I always saw them going to communion and confession. My parents were part of a Bible study group that my father still attends to this day. My mother very rarely missed daily Mass, and on Sundays we went as a family. When we grew up and started to get jobs, they were flexible and let us go to Mass with friends, or to the youth Mass at the parish, but they never let us skip the Sunday precept.

I have no doubt that a determining factor in my vocation was my mother’s perseverance in confronting our religious apathy. She always insisted that we get involved in some Catholic formation program like catechesis for first communion or confirmation, or in a discussion group led by the nuns who took care of the catechesis programs at our school.

A Motion of the Holy Spirit
When I was confirmed and thought I was free at last, my mother insisted that my sister and I go to a presentation at the parish about various parish groups. She wanted us to choose one to participate in. Without much enthusiasm, I showed up and sat in the last row of the auditorium to listen. Among the presentations, I remember hearing the name of Regnum Christi, a group that a cousin of mine had started to go to in Irapuato. He had told me about the group with some enthusiasm, which piqued my curiosity, so I left my information at the end of the presentation. A few days later, I got a phone call
Testimonio vocacional del P. Carlos Macías L.C.
and an invitation to go on spiritual exercises the next weekend. It seemed absurd to me; I had already made plans to go to a party, plus other commitments with my group of friends. Besides, I knew next to nothing about the group… Even today, I can’t explain how I made the decision to go. I think it was a discreet motion of the Holy Spirit.

Many years later, I can see that this decision was a watershed moment in my life. Not because I came back converted into a saint and an apostle, but because in some imperceptible way, those spiritual exercises awakened something in me that was sleeping. They opened a window in my life to an unknown dimension.

On spiritual exercises, I deeply experienced God’s love for me for the first time. Not just a generic love for all humanity. “He loved me and gave himself for me.” During those exercises, Christ came to be a real person for me, someone I could talk to and put my trust in.

In addition, I was able to make a general confession of my whole life and experience his mercy. I think that this was an aspect of God that has most captivated me throughout my whole life. He is able to understand and forgive our miseries. His mercy is infinite, omnipotent, greater than our sin, greater than all my sins together. I would sooner tire of sinning than he would tire of forgiving me.

From then on, I had St. Augustine’s deep certainty: “You made us for yourself, oh Lord, and my heart is restless until it rests in You”. God left me restless, and at the end of spiritual exercises, I decided to get incorporated into Regnum Christ. Every year since then, I have done spiritual exercises of three, eight, and sometimes even 30 days.

Regnum Christi as a Way of Life
My decision to get incorporated into Regnum Christi was not as unimportant as I thought it was at that time. It wasn’t just about another form of catechesis. It wasn’t a question of going to some meetings once a week or of having a periodic retreat. As I discovered little by little, it was more than isolated activities; it was about a way of life that, little by little, was transforming my whole life: my expectations, my way of relating to others. My way of seeing myself and my future stopped being worldly and began to become truly Christian. It was a fruit of the grace of God that penetrated my life thanks to frequent confession, the Eucharist, prayer, which I began to do every day for the first time, and especially, spiritual direction, which is offered and recommended to all Movement members. I have much to thank my spiritual directors for from those years.

In these initial moments and in the entire process of discerning my vocation, a fundamental element was the figure of the great Legionary priest, Father Jesús Blázquez, who knew how to be patient and demanding at the same time. He encouraged and helped me to discover and follow God’s will for me.

During this period, I gained some certainties in my spiritual life which became the pillars on which I could discern and follow my vocation. The first great certainty was that of God’s great love for me, which I already mentioned. A second certainty was that God has a special plan of love for every man, and that our deep happiness depends on it. I got this certainty in life from a question that was raised during a moment of preaching: When have you been happiest in your life?

The response that I gave was: in the moments when, forgetting my own plans and without thinking about the personal cost, I gave myself to what God was asking of me. Concretely, this happened in two episodes of my life. One was in the first Gente Nueva congress, and the second was on the 50th anniversary of the Legion of Christ in Rome. Looking back after some years, both events were very similar for me. I was asked to help as an usher along with other Movement members, which meant leaving aside my own plans for that period of time. It was an intense rhythm of work for a few days, almost without eating or sleeping. At first, I had to face a lot of disgruntled people and carry part of the responsibility for the fruits that God wanted to harvest for so many people in the event. Seldom have I experienced a happiness like what I felt when I was giving myself during those days to God’s cause.

My Mathematics… and God’s Mathematics
From these certainties, a question arose in my heart: What does God want of me? I think that this is a question that has to be asked at one time or another by anyone who has realized what it means to be a Christian, a creation of God, and not the god of one’s own life. It came to me halfway through college. Maybe it was always there, but I had always told myself that I would be a good father and a successful professional, and certainly Catholic and committed to my faith. A few times, I was even convinced I had found the woman who would be my wife.

One day, I was talking with a companion and friend from Regnum Christi. He was a member of the team I was leading. At one moment, he broke down in tears and told me about the problems that were overwhelming him in his life. I consoled him and guided him as best I could. From there, I ran to my spiritual director’s office to share the interior joy I felt at being able to help a friend. “I have to be a father of many children that I can help,” I told the priest. But the sophism fell pretty quickly and I left the office with the commitment of starting to think seriously about whether God could be calling me to give him my life.

I started to think about it without reaching a clear conclusion. I made my mental list of the reasons for and against, and I ended up 55% in favor of the vocation and 45% against it. For me, that wasn’t enough, so I unconsciously left the question hanging. I got to the end of my college years and started filling my schedule with academic and professional commitments: the thesis, social service, work interviews, an application for a scholarship and a master’s degree in the United States… Without realizing it, I started skipping my Regnum Christi prayer commitments and activities.

After the Legion’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Rome, I came back renewed in my interior life and in my desire to follow God’s will no matter what it might be. At the same time, I felt a sense of urgency about finding out for sure what God was asking of me, since I thought I had found a woman I wanted to share my life with. That was the first thing I told my spiritual director when I came back to Mexico. He told me: “Well, we can talk, but first tell me how it went for you in Rome.” I told him how happy I had been, and when the priest asked me about why I had been so happy there, I realized that the true cause had been my generous self-giving to the apostolate. With that, the vocation issue came up again in my interior, and wanting to resolve it, I asked the priest: “How sure do I have to be?” The answer pierced my soul: “If you want to be generous with God, about 50% certainty is enough.”

My mathematics up to that point had been different, and I had wanted an absolute certainty before leaving my plans, my studies, my future marriage… The priest’s answer laid my selfishness bare. Why, in doubt, give preference to my plans over the vocation? The mathematics of God and of generosity are entirely other. Faced with such a clear alternative, God helped me to choose him, to opt for the way of generosity, not that of selfish calculation.

A Generous God
Two ideas helped me at this point: God does not let himself be outdone in generosity. I was going to give it a try with generosity, and if at the end it turned out not to be my path, I could trust that God would not be stingy about giving back even more than everything I had detached from in that moment. The other idea that helped me was to realize that everything I could do for others would depend on my own relationship with God. I couldn’t hope to make another person happy if I wasn’t even able to make myself happy. The happiness that I could share with others would come from my self-giving to God. If I opted for a path without God, I would have nothing but unhappiness to share.

God immediately rewarded my generosity. A few hours after my decision, he filled me with such happiness that I was certain I had made the right choice. Since then, I have never been able to doubt the truth of my call.

Having staked my entire life on God’s will, my only desire was to do his will in every circumstance. Through personal circumstances, I discerned that God wanted me to follow my call in the consecrated lay life in the Movement, which would give me the chance to finish the year of study that I still had pending, and also satisfy a condition that my parents had set for me. At the same time, this allowed me to avoid postponing my answer.

Although I was fully happy as a consecrated lay man, a moment came when, through circumstances and with the help of my spiritual director, I discovered that God was asking me to pass over to the Legion of Christ and start my preparation for the priesthood. Eight years of study have gone by very quickly, but now that I have reached the steps of the altar, I can continue affirming that God does not let himself be outdone in generosity, that he fills the soul with a deep happiness that does not run out or pass away, and that this is not even a shadow of what it will be to contemplate him face to face at the end of it all.

Father Carlos Alberto Macías Berrueta was born on August 31, 1969 in Irapuato, Guanajuato (Mexico). He studied to be an actuary at Anáhuac University at the campus in the north of Mexico City. From 1991 to 1999, he was a consecrated lay man of the Regnum Christi Movement. He helped in the territorial administration in Mexico City. After finishing a master’s degree in administration, he returned to Anáhuac University as a professor and participated in pastoral work in the university. In September of 1999, he went to Salamanca, Spain to start his novitiate. He is currently earning his license in theology from the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum in Rome.



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