*BEST OF DTB #118* The Catholic Defender: Forever Shall I Sing

Posted by John Benko - December 18th, 2011

With the many blessings that I have recieved from the Lord, my journey has not always been a rosy path. Jesus never promised me a rose garden without thorns. I remember so long a go the promise I made to the Lord in my college days at School of the Ozarks:

“One particular dream had the greatest impact on me. After a major debate in the room where I took on a number of those attacking the Catholic Church, I went to bed troubled. I slept hard, but I dreamed that God’s Church, the Catholic Church, was dead. I felt such despair, and sadness I began to cry. I felt that the Church was in ruins and that Christ was sheding tears for His Body, the Church. I never felt such anguish, I cried so much that I woke up out of my sleep totally wet from crying. My pillow, the bed, and the blankets were all wet. I sat up as it took me a couple of minutes to realize it was a dream. I recalled my Confirmation that took place in Blue Springs Mo on September 23, 1968 by Bishop Sullivan. I renewed my vows and told the Lord that I will be a soldier for Him. I will not betray Him and leave the Church even when people around me do. I will do my best to remain loyal and stand for Him. A promise that I have tried to keep since 1978″.

I never would have imagined how much pain I would suffer as a result of those close to me who have abandoned the Catholic Faith. My immediate Family members have been struggling against their Catholic Faith to the point that several of those closest to me have given up the faith.

I have been blessed to have been an instrument in helping many find the faith, but it is a sadness that members of my own family have fallen. I remember talking to Steve Ray, a great Catholic convert of our times, tell me about how emotional it is for him at Mass. To him, Mass is a welcome home to God’s Church.

Many times for me it is emotional but for a very different reason. When I see young parents with their children at Mass, I remember my own children going to Mass with me in the same way. Through the echos of time, today they no longer go to Mass.

While I was sitting in a foxhole in Saudie Arabia in 1990, my ex-wife was playing the trojan horse teaching our children anti-Catholic material she was using in homeschooling. She became involved with a local homeschooling group who influenced her into anti-Catholic teachings.

I would not become aware of this until the 1994 when I went through the mail and finding some of this material in my mailbox. Up to this point, my ex-wife had been concealing her agenda in leading our children out of the Church. It became manifest while I was serving in Korea from Jan 1998 – Feb 1999.

After I returned back into the United States, I was away for another couple of months for senior NonCommissioned Officer School (ANCOC) at Fort Sam Houston Texas. When I finally returned from home, I could not even pray over our meals without a major fight.

I had five Catholic Priests who became aware of my situation wondered how I could have lasted so long in this marriage relationship. I did not believe divorce was an option and it was for the sake of my children that I stayed in it.

It was March 6, 2,000, that finally broke the camel’s back. I wanted to take my sons to a “Youth 2,000″ event hoping that it would be a positive experience for my boys, but because it was a “Catholic” event, they thought it would be “weak”.

My ex-wife thought this was so funny and happy that they did not want to go because she didn’t want them to return to the Catholic Faith. The more she laughed the more infuriated I got.

I finally lost it yelling at her that she is going back to Arkansas. It was my middle son who tried to calm the situation telling me that he would go to the event, he just wanted me to stop arguing. This is when he confessed to me that he had “attempted suicide” five times. This separated my head from my shoulders. I had not been there long enough to see the signs.

I was trained by my profession to see signs and symptoms of suicide, but this hit me like a mack truck.

This is when I felt that divorce was inevitable. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. Even though it has been more than 10 years now, I still have tears for what has happened to my children.

It was for their sake I stayed in this marriage. I was not your kind of Father that spent 7 seconds a day with his children. They were my life. From their earliest ages, I was out there teaching them how to play baseball, soccer, football, basketball, and when they got older, music. Every week there was all the practices and then games on the weekend. I would lead my children in prayer every night in devotions and when they went to bed, I prayed over them. Prayer was vital! But the deployments to Iraq, Panama, Fort Irwin, and Korea was just to much time away allowing for a trojan horse to cause cracks in the family unity.

I remember when my Oldest Son missed his first Mass, I had carried him to the Altar when he was one week old, he was now 20 years old and was going to his Mother’s church now but coming to Mass at Ft. Campbell at a later time.

I was lectoring the Mass this day, and when he did not show up, I was so distrought that I read the second reading first and the first reading second. Father joked with me about it afterwards telling me he didn’t think anyone noticed.

Now none of my children are following the Faith and some of them are far away from Jesus Christ.

My wife Gigi encourages me to love them and just be Dad, but it is most difficult especially when they are making terrible mistakes in life. I realize that much of what I have experienced has become common place among American Catholics.

Many families have been hit hard because of their loved ones forsaking the Catholic Faith. This is why it is so important to teach and understand our Catholic Faith and to be able to respond to the threat of anti-Catholics who will try to take your children. If they can steal away your spouse they will do it.

Anti-Catholics do not have any respect, they are not afraid to throw their attacks on Mary, the Saints, devotions, the Papacy, Purgatory, even the bible itself. As I recall my promise to Our Lord, there have been many blessings.

I have participated in the RCIA Program for many years and have seen many conversions. I’ve had the chance to see many from Islamic Countries convert to the Catholic Faith. I’ve had the chance to witness to many over the past 30 years. It is my enduring hope that what we have done with deepertruth has helped confirm many in their Catholic Faith.

That has been the goal because we understand the challenge faced today. As I have shared from my own experience, we pray for all who have become Prodigal sons and daughters. For me, I will do my best with the help of His Grace to continue to fulfill my promise, to be faithful to Jesus even when those close to me should fall.

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