Peace at Last
Maurizio graduated in Social Policy, is part of the Service Team and leads NOW – a team working with youth in drug rehabilitation centres.
The youngest of 6 siblings, the thread of my story goes back to my experience of being raised in a typical Maltese family, where I tended to be the centre of attention. My brothers and sisters were very protective of me wherever I went, not hesitating to stick up for me if I ever got myself into trouble. Although superficially this made me feel secure, deep down I always felt watched and under their thumbs, without the opportunity to prove myself. Filled with a sense of frustrating limitation, as I grew up, I nurtured anger in my heart.
Down the Slippery Slope
My reaction was to rebel and try to impress those around me. As early nine years old, I began to drink, smoke and use bad langauge – it made me feel stong and accepted. By the age of fourteen, I dropped out of school and started working in the family bar. This led to an escalation in my destructive behaviour on the weekends – from weed, to alcohol, LSD, Ecstacy and Cocaine – there was no stopping the freefall down slippery slope I was rapidly descending. As all this wasn’t enough, I also began to be dominated by a terrible addiction to gambling – the more money I had, the more I gambled it away.
When at nineteen I took my first shot of heroine, its immediate and deceptive effects were profound, giving me a false sense of momentary security and fearlessness. Its devastating effects on my life however began to take their toll – physical sickness, relational problems, alienation from those who were close to me and trouble with the police.
There was no stopping the freefall
Peace at last
By the age of twenty-seven, I had reached rock-bottom. In despair, I enrolled in the Caritas rehabilitation program at San Blas. I clearly remember that as I moved in, I looked back at my life and saw my dismal failures in a flash. I knew I had to start my life from scratch.
My first breakthrough was a good confession and attending Mass. Slowly but surely I opened my heart to Jesus in prayer, making it very much my daily routine. I began to experience His unconditional love and routinely read the Bible the priest had given me. As my thirst and desire to know Jesus more and to read the scripture grew, words like these became alive for me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Another ‘new’ voice within me whispered that I should forgive.
Now that I had begun to take my faith seriously, it wasn’t long before it was put to the test. Although by God’s grace I had overcome my sinful addictions, I couldn’t easily let go of the resentment I felt towards someone who had wronged me. The culture I was brought up in and my bruised ego urged me to want to pay him back. However another ‘new’ voice within me whispered that I should forgive. I had always believed that that was a sign of weakness but I decided to give heed and chose to forgive this person from my heart. A new peace flooded my soul and the sense of security I found in doing God’s will was unparalleled to the illusionary effects the drugs had had on me. I had really discovered a new life and a new meaning to the word ‘rest’!
A family and a mission
On the first weekend I was allowed to leave the Rehab Centre, I went to a retreat called ‘Come and See’ organised by Youth Fellowship. The prayer, the presence of God and the welcoming community I experienced that day have remained me with all these years.
Today I am one of the leaders in the Service Team of Youth Fellowship. Not only do I receive support to help me in my journey and spiritual formation, but I have the privilege of reaching out to others who like me were searching for peace, security and meaning but in the wrong place. It is with gratitude to God that together with my fellow community members, we can make a difference in the lives of youth and young adults by witnessing to the truth that Jesus is Saviour and Lord who ‘is able to save completely those who come to God through him’ Heb 7:25