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“Blessed are the pure of heart because they will see God” (Mt 5, 8)
My name is Andrej, and I am from Slovakia. I was like any other child, full of desires that I hoped would come true. Thanks to my mother’s help and the commitment I put into my studies, school always went well; I often got the best grades in the class. I was active, playing soccer at the community center; and I was happy. I began to suffer when I saw my parents fighting. Their division caused me to suffer on the inside, especially when I heard others call their fathers “papa”. I only saw my father in the morning before going to school; and when he left for good, I suffered a lot because I lost the most fundamental figure in my life. From that moment on I began to isolate myself more and more. I began to create illusions by telling lies in the hope that things would change, and I had more and more fear of making mistakes and losing the image of the “good boy” that did everything well. When my mother married another man, I found hope again. I wanted to live in a “normal” family; and, even if this new authority in the household often caused me to suffer, I tried to obey and make friendship. When I was thirteen years old, I met a group of guys that were older than me; and I began to smoke my first joints with them. At first I said “no;” but when I saw how “tranquil” they were, I said “yes.” My conscience was telling me that I was making a mistake, but I suffocated it and didn’t listen. In the beginning everything seemed under control; but when I began to steal money from inside my house, to always put on a bigger mask, and to not come home when I should have, the descent into dependency on synthetic drugs began. They weren’t “only” joints anymore because it wasn’t enough; I always searched for something “more,” something new. I began to go to “rave parties” with the belief that a “trippy life” was true fun, that it was perhaps a “beautiful life”. I no longer listened to anyone, and I thought I was free. I believed I could do whatever I wanted until I was arrested. It all ended there! Everything crashed down on me and became unsupportable—my relationships at home, with my girlfriend, and with all my friends. I went to a psychiatrist to make my mother happy, but I told him what I wanted to tell him. After two detoxifications, I entered a rehab. For one year I lived in a harsh situation with young people who had the same problems as me, and I was very angry. I couldn’t accept being sixteen years old and locked up inside. I realized that I could no longer live in falseness, but I didn’t personally know what the word “truth” meant. I remember well a night in which my conscience wouldn’t let me sleep. For the first time I asked God for help, saying, “God, if You exist, help me see the right path!” After a few months a guy arrived who told me about the Community from which, sadly enough, he had escaped. He told me about guys who came from all around the world that live, pray, work, and make friendship together. His testimony touched me a lot; even if he left, he said good things about the Community and transmitted a lot of hope. He said that even I would be able to do it.
Thus I began to go to the meetings in Slovakia, and I entered in Austria. Everything was strange—the guys’ smiling faces and clean eyes and a peace that I hadn’t encountered for a long time. I felt accepted for who I was and didn’t feel the need to show off for who I wasn’t. I wanted to become one of those guys who had welcomed me, but I didn’t think it was possible without using substances. By cleaning and accepting myself, but above all by welcoming my past, I began to go forward. At the beginning I thought it was enough to stop taking drugs. But then being chosen to be part of the group that opened the house in Loreto and my encounter with Mother Elvira changed me. I remember her words: “You must truly put yourself on your knees, with faith.” From that point I began little by little to pray, entrusting my past to Jesus. Everything changed—the fatigue, the difficulties… everything finally made sense. This was the step that was missing to begin a true walk.
I believe today that, if there had not been the Community, I would also not exist. I learned to carry my cross and found the faith that I didn’t have, faith that I found thanks to the guys that helped me make my first steps. Today, with the help of God and my brothers, I want to live a clean life, a life of truth.
I want to thank my mother and my father for the life that they gave me and for their forgiveness; thanks to the Community because it never stopped believing in me. I want to thank the Madonna for the clean desires that I carry in my heart and for the brothers that help me in my walk.

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