Cathedral parishioner publishes spiritual reflections


book_coverBy Claudia Mathis
Staff writer

Beverly Ann Wernet is living a life that’s filled with joy and peace. It wasn’t always that way. After losing both her parents within a nine-month period, her young brother-in-law the following year and weathering the divorce from an abusive spouse in her first marriage, she felt unhappy and her life was fragmented by doubts and unanswered questions. Wernet began to read the Bible. After a 30-year absence from the Catholic Church, she said she suddenly felt driven to visit a priest to see if she could reenter. She was welcomed back.

Wernet’s new book, I Open Myself to You, Oh Lord! Reflections of My Spiritual Journey, illustrates how Wernet developed a more satisfying and intimate relationship with God. Her writings reflect the very close relationship she has with the Lord. She tells how God gave her spiritual gifts as she began to open herself to Him.

Prior to Wernet’s opening to the Lord, she didn’t have the ability to write such reflections. “I feel God has given me this newborn talent, a spiritual gift, to reach out to others so that they too may experience His love and gifts,” Wernet said.

Xulon Press published the book on June 16, 2010. Wernet and her new husband decided to self-publish her writings with the company after interviewing a number of other publishers. “We felt it would reach out to people of all faiths,” said Wernet.

Wernet has held a number of book signings to promote it and said the book has generated positive response. “I’ve been told that it is ‘very spiritual writing,’” Wernet said. “It makes me feel that I’m doing the right thing.” She also mentioned that clergy from Lutheran, Methodist and Jewish congregations have attended the book signings.

Wernet’s next book signing will be held on the weekend of Dec. 11 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, after each Mass.

Wernet was born and raised in Massillon, Ohio. She attended St. Barbara Elementary School and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1969. She received her master’s degree in nursing at the University of Akron. Her 20-year career in nursing included working as a nurse in intensive care and also as director of nursing practice and research.

Wernet is married to Douglas and lives in Liverpool, N.Y., overlooking Onondaga Lake. Also residing with them are their two Aussiedoodle dogs, Amos and Annie. The dogs are pictured in the book.

Wernet serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and as lector at her parish, the Cathedral in Syracuse.

Wernet met Douglas, who is very supportive of her writing, at their class reunion in Massillon. “He’s been very encouraging,” said Wernet.

Wernet said Father Thomas Cebula, pastor at her parish of St. Barbara’s, has played an integral role in her spiritual journey. He has served as her spiritual mentor. When she returned to the church and began to attend Mass daily, she started to write her reflections. It proved to be a healing process for her. “It came fast and furious,” said Wernet. “I shared them with Father and he encouraged me to publish them.”

Wernet travelled back to Massillon to give a presentation on the meaning of the season of Advent at St. Barbara’s on Dec. 7. She said she would like to do more presentations in the future.

Another part of Wernet’s faith journey was her participation in a Cursillo weekend, which she attended as she began to attend Mass. “I was able to pray and talk with other women,” she said. “It was reassuring and reaffirming. The theme for the weekend was, ‘I Am With You Always.’ After that weekend, I rediscovered the Lord and my questions, fears and doubts melted into the past, revealing a glorious future with the Lord.”

Wernet believes that her reflections in the book will help those who have strayed from their faith in God or suffered personal loss, such as that of a loved one through death or divorce. “Through one’s self-recognition of trust and openness with the Lord, they will be able to experience a rebirth or reawakening of love and acceptance, culminating in a communion with the Lord beyond description,” she said.

Wernet’s book, which is enriching and inspirational, tells of her spiritual relationship with the Lord. Scripture passages are interspersed throughout the eight chapters of her reflections. She wrote that she opened herself to the Lord and gave Him control through prayer and contemplation and also in receiving the Eucharist.

Wernet tells of a remarkable experience she had while serving on the nightshift of the Eucharist Adoration on First Friday at the Chapel at St. Barbara’s. “It was there that I experienced one of the most spiritual, uplifting, indefinable ‘gifts,’” she wrote. “I felt as if my heart was ‘encased’ by the Christ’s Sacred Heart and that His Sacred Heart was actually within me, beating, sustaining my human existence. It was as if my heart was replaced by Christ’s Heart. I had opened myself and He was and has remained within me!!!”

Wernet wrote that the most meaningful spiritual support she has received has been through her attendance at Mass with the reception of Holy Communion. Receiving the Body of Christ inspires and uplifts her soul.

Wernet said that reading the Bible inspires her to write even more. She envisions writing several more books in the future. “God was knocking on my door and waiting for me to put it all together,” she said.

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