GERMANY, Peter Hagmann •
In this second evening of the Men’s Workshop trilogy “Life crises that led to faith”, Milan recounts his journey: As a Croat in Bosnia, he was brought up as a Christian, but in his environment the Christian faith did not have much importance and this lasted for a long time. —
Due to the bad environment, his life went off the rails. He experienced all kinds of drugs that led him straight to addiction: from hashish to heroin to synthetic drugs and alcohol.
Again and again he tried to get off, underwent therapies, but nothing helped. His wife and mother also hoped that his wedding and daughter would be turning points, but Milan could not find a way out of his problem. At a new low point, his wife informed him of the separation and that she wanted to prevent his daughter from having contact with him. That pushed Milan even lower.
Accepting a cross
“I didn’t know that without the Holy Mass you are easy prey to darkness,” he said, “especially if you are prone to depression, as was my case, because since I was born, I suffered a lot because of the congenital anomaly in my foot. God wanted me to have no toes on my left foot, and it’s only three years ago that I am very grateful for that, because that anomaly is my cross. But it took me 42 years to understand it, to realize that it is a gift from God. Before that, I suffered a lot for it. I didn’t want to accept it, and if you don’t want to carry your cross, you can’t follow Jesus, and then you are closed to God’s grace but open to sin. And I sinned a lot.
He hit rock bottom and after several suicide attempts, he invoked Jesus, begged Him to help him if He existed, but after a few days he was convinced that God did not exist and that Jesus was also an invention of men. So he came back to drugs, and on one of those nights, at a friend’s house, he suddenly felt as if something had suddenly changed in his brain, he experienced fears, but also the clarity that he had to repent and get on the road with Jesus.
This experience produced a radical change in his life. He wanted to start over, found a priest, after some detours, who recommended confession and conversion. He accepted the proposal and felt relieved and renewed after confession. By attending daily Mass and praying the rosary that the priest suggested, he was able to come to Jesus and to the faith, which became more and more the most important matter of his life. This turning point was in 2018.
In 2020, at the time of the Coronavirus crisis, he set out on the ancient Spanish pilgrimage route “Camino primitivo”, which runs 350 km through Spain to Santiago de Compostela. On this road, he asked God how he should continue his life professionally. He met a truck driver who impressed him so much that told himself: “This is my way” and he took the training course and got his driver’s license. He didn’t want to continue in his previous jobs as a mechanic and social worker.
Today he feels in his truck like a hermit in his hermitage, leads an intense prayer life and deals with religious subjects that also interest him a lot.
Eternally grateful for faith
In the next round of discussion, at the request of the almost 20 participants, Milan shared the role played by his mother, who always accompanies him with prayer and who has suffered a lot with him. She was also the one who recommended him the place of Schoenstatt, where he has had many interesting encounters that have helped him move forward.
Milan does not want to be a truck driver in his truck’s wayside shrine forever, but he lets himself go and trusts that God will show him the way to follow at the right time.
The participants were deeply impressed by Milan’s journey, which led him from addiction to an impressive faith, which accompanies him in his daily life, gives him strength and courage and for which he is infinitely grateful.
In collaboration with: Markus M. Amrein, Vallendar
Original: Spanish 2023-05-13. Translated by: María Aragón, Monterrey, México