Sunday, March 31, 2013

Finding My Way Back To God - A Blessed Easter Sunday

I would like to wish everyone who has come into my life a Happy Easter, however you view and spend this special day.
As a practicing Catholic, I am grateful of my Christian values, beliefs, and traditions. In this, I have maintained that in order for a Christian to embrace their faith, they must embrace so much of their Jewish faith, tradition, and history too.  Nevertheless, I must say that I have not always embraced my faith nor the lessons that are shared in my faith. In fact, I have denied God's existence. And in the midst of my denial - the anger, rage, and betrayal I felt allowed me to act in ways I am not proud of. I

In denying God's existence, I did more than reject Him - I rejected myself too.
Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that in order to be a good Christian it is necessary to embrace much of Jusiasm. This view has been one I have held for a long time. In fact, one of the main protagonists in the Christian spiritual novel 'Cloning Christ' is in fact a remarkable Rabbi - one inspired by one of the most incredible, kind, and loving individuals I have ever known.
The message Rabbi Morton Kohn, my adopted grandfather shared, is one that Pope Francis is not only preaching, but demonstrating by act: to act in humility, love, and connected kindness toward everyone around you.
The message shared by Pope Francis and Rabbi Kohn are the same message of Jesus Christ.
Speaking of Pope Francis, I must say I am so deeply inspired by the Pontiff's accessibility, humbleness, and belief in our equality.  His Holiness has reached out to his flock in ways not seen in a very long time.  He is leading his Catholic Church in ways that are indeed demonstrating change that is needed - and I am thrilled.
With an open heart, I celebrate Easter Sunday. I thank the God I worship for the blessings I have been given, and ask Him to continue to guide me in my life. In my humble request, I take deep thanks in Jesus Christ, who sacrificed his own life so that my sins would be forgiven. Just like yours.
I acknowledge that I  have not always been the picture of a person of faith. My beliefs in Christ and God's existence have wavered. I have denied God's existence.
But how blessed are we to know that God has never denied our existence, nor withdrawn His love.
So here on Easter Sunday, I would like to share a very personal day that changed my life forever. It was a day that I denied His Existence. It was a day He showed up.
I remember the day the way a person remembers their deepest secret: Friday, December 7th, 2001.

I had been continuing my work documenting the hoped-for rescue and ongoing recovery efforts taking place at the World Financial Center due to the terrorist attacks on freedom that occurred nearly three months early on that perfect blue-skied morning of September 11th, 2001.

Three months had gone after the attack, and though the 'pit' - Ground Zero was draped in thick layers of floating carbon and ash that ascended past the clouds, the weather had not interfered with the indefatigable first-responders and steel worker efforts that were taking place.

Then December 7th showed up, and with it hail ice balls as big as golf balls that pounded on your body while you tried to balance your feet in the grey sludge of broken-down carbon that could have been just about anything. My mind still shudders at this thought.

It was in the early evening while I was in the middle of the pit that something happened to me that till this day still remains deeply personal. Perhaps one day I will share it, but for now, I will keep it to myself.

Needless to say, what occurred was very difficult for my sensors - my sight, my smell, my taste, my taste - I wish I never experienced what I did.

Literally and figuratively in shock, two friends I was with were smart enough to take me to Trinity Church - one of the oldest and grandest cathedrals in New York - that sits atop the slopping hill of Wall Street.

It was there, and upon entering the church and seeing the symbolic cross of Jesus of Nazareth that I began to rage within. My anger caused me to begin screaming at the crucifix that if God existed, he would not have allowed for the September 11th, 2001 attacks - when I lost 72 friends - to have occurred. 

My words were harsh, crude, and cruel. They were words not simply doubting God's existence, how the whole thing - faith - was just one big horrific joke played on humanity.

And on and on I raged, screaming in the middle of the night dimly light in candles, the scent of the floating carbon of Ground Zero filling my nostrils, covering my face, my hands, and any other part of flesh exposed to the burnt air.

I remember throwing dozens of the church missalette's toward the alter as I voiced my anger over the suffering and horrors of Ground Zero.

In the middle of my rage, I remember shouting (with lots of vulgarity) that I simply wanted to go home - and that I no longer wanted to play the role requested on me to record for prosperity the events that were taking place.

In the middle of my rage - I remember feeling something very surreal cloak my spirit, covering my spiritual body in a warmth and love I have ever known.

It was so strange: literally at the height of my rage God shows up.

And everything was okay.

Now I must say, I was not looking to begin a journey on the road to Damascus. Far from it.

But in His own way, He had other plans for me, and that included an understanding that His plans are much more extensive than anything I could ever understand.

In coverning me with His love, He provided to me a deep sense of strength and clarity.  Some of what He provided to me are strenghts that I use today with my work trying to assist families in crisis.

Moving forward nearly 10 hours, and near 7:00 a.m. that morning, I remember leaving Trinity Church. Yes - I was inside Trinity all night.

What was I doing?

Seated in the second row inside Trinity, I was writing the story that God does exist in each of us - and that our God - is much bigger than one religion.

Whatever you may want to think covered me in the midst of my rage - causing my anger to immediately stop and have my heart open - I know it was God's touch coupled with my belief in each of us.

So I share with you today where and why I wrote CLONING CHRIST.  It is a multi-layered theological thriller I am very proud to share with each of you for it is a story more than anything about a man coming back to the House of God. 

And in the spirit of the God I worship, please know that should you desire to purchase a copy of Cloning Christ,  100% of all e-book purchases are donated to the I CARE Foundation in order to assist children at risk. Also know that if you can't afford a copy of this book, write to me at and I will do what I can to get you a free copy.

On this Holy Easter Sunday, I wish to each of you God's Blessings.

-Peter Thomas Senese -

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