Saturday, June 06, 2009

YOU'VE GOTTA BE KIDDING ME!...

Why the heck did I, Susie Melkus, become a Catholic? Is that a question that some of my friends have asked of others, or of themselves or of God? Why would Rich and Susie leave a fine fellowship like Trinity, with great music and wonderful, powerful teaching...why would they even consider a return to the Catholic Church? What with all the variety of fine fellowships out there, and fine 'inter and non' denominationals sprouting up all over the city, would they go back to the Catholic Church of all places?

It's had to have "bugged" a few friends of mine, I mean, it's had to have. It surely would have bugged me, and probably made me curious enough to ask. Then again, maybe no one has asked or really cares about the "why.?" The thing is, no one has asked me that question, and I really rather wish they would or would have back then or even now. I guess it's because to them as it was to me, it "doesn't matter where you go, as long as you're being fed." Actually it DOES...what out there beats the Bread of Heaven? The Bread of Angels? The HOLY EUCHARIST? I raise my hand, waving it frantically like in grade school, when I KNEW the answer. Exhuberantly and with absolute certainty, she says, "NOTHING!"

I've not been able to express the deep gratitude to others that I have now, for the grace given to my husband and to me for the blessed "guidance to the Fullness of Truth" some 4.5 years ago. Since Mark writes so much more eloquent and clear than I, I'm going to copy and paste one of his posts here and include two or three other posts for further reading, should you so desire. Perhaps there's someone out there like I was, searching for True North...Truth, the fullness of Truth, the complete Truth, not "opinions" of men/women, even if they were great teachers, and expositors. There is a part of the Truth here and part of the Truth over there. There's "this church" and "that church" but where is HIS CHURCH? The ONE Jesus Himself built (as He himself said/says) in the scriptures?

I'm not trying to be 'divisive' or 'argumentative' so PLEASE don't misconstrue my meaning. I found Jesus and Jesus found me in a VERY PROFOUND way in 1974. Feb 1 to be exact...I "accepted Jesus as my personal Savior and into my heart in a deep and REAL experiential way, in the living room of very dear and wonderful friends, my "mentors" for a number of months prior, while I'd been searching and questioning religion/Jesus/the bible since the death of my friend, Eleanor, who was killed in a horrific car crash in Oct of 1973. I certainly WAS Born Again, no doubt. It was powerful! It was real! It was a "sure thing" as they say! It was great.

I found and made good and dear friends and the music! The music during worship was "rockin!" The JESUS PEOPLE movement could really set my 'heart aflame' and my feet a'dancin! The experiences of God's love, mercy, forgiveness set me on a miraculous, joyous, delightful, scary, tumultuous journey for almost 30 years...and still is, (only in the depth and vastness and SAFETY of the Catholic Church, where Tradition and all 7 Sacraments are found.) It's like my friend, Russ, says "I'd found Jesus, but "lost" His Church along the way." That's exactly what I did. I'd "found Jesus" but had NO CLUE about His Church!

I would never have said it, or even thought my journey would take me to the threshold of the Cathollic Church. NEVER! But then, one Friday, Rich came home, told me of his desire to return to the Catholic Church and I KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that he was SERIOUS and determined to go, even if he "left me behind." That got my attention and made me question deep inside myself, honestly asking, honestly seeking once again TRUE NORTH. THE TRUTH. JESUS. The FULLNESS of TRUTH could really be nowhere else by IN THE CHURCH HE BUILT ON PETER, THE ROCK and "prime minister" of His Kingdom on earth, when HE was to ascend to heaven and not be here 'physically' any longer.

That's what a GOOD SHEPHERD does, if and when he ever has to leave his flock. He WILL NOT leave his flock to "fend for themselves!" EVER! So, Peter was the "leader" the one in charge, the VICAR of CHRIST on earth and has been for 2000 years, through his appointed (via the Holy Spirit) by Christ the HEAD of the BODY. There's ONE BODY. ONE CHURCH. ONE FAITH. ONE BAPTISIM. And THAT is what I've come to learn, know, believe in my heart of hearts, by the truly AMAZING GRACE OF GOD. SO with that said, Heeere's Mark:



YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!

SCANDALS, shortcomings, and sinfulness.

When many people look at Catholics and the priesthood in particular (especially through the biased lens of the secular media), the Church seems to them anything but Christian.
True, the Church has incurred many sins over her two thousand year period through her members—times when her actions have been anything but a reflection of the Gospel of life and love. Because of this, many have been deeply wounded, betrayed, and emotionally, spiritually, and even physically damaged. We need to admit this, and not only admit it, but repent of it.
And this is what Pope John Paul II did in an extraordinary way as he traveled throughout several nations of the world asking particular groups and peoples forgiveness for the sorrows caused by the sins of the Church, past and present. This is also what many good and holy bishops have done to make reparation, in particular, for the sins of pedophile priests.
But there are also many people who’ve never heard the words "I’m sorry" from a priest, bishop, or layman who has wounded them. I understand very well the pain that can cause.

A WISE SURGEON

Yet, as I reflect on this, I cannot help but ask a question: If it is determined that a member of the human body, say the hand, is overcome with gangrene, does one cut off the whole arm? If a leg is wounded and beyond repair, does one also amputate the other leg? Or more accurately, if the pinky of a finger is cut, does one then destroy the rest of the body?
And yet, when one finds a priest here, or a bishop there, or a professing Catholic there who is "sick", why is the whole Church cast out? If there is leukemia (cancer) of the blood, the doctor treats the bone marrow. He does not cut out the patient’s heart!
I am not minimizing the illness. It is serious, and must be treated. In some cases, the sick member must be cut off! Jesus’s most stern warnings were reserved, not for sinners, but for those religious leaders and teachers who did not live what they preached!
Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Revelations 3:16)

A MATTER OF THE HEART

Indeed, when I speak of the Catholic Church as that one Church which Christ established; when I speak of her as the Fountainhead of Grace, the Sacrament of Salvation, or a Mother or a Nurse, I am speaking first and foremost of the Heart—the Sacred Heart of Jesus which beats at her very center. It is good. It is pure. It is holy. It will never betray, hurt, harm, or damage any soul. It is through this Heart that each of the members of the rest of the body live and find their sustenance and ability to function accordingly. And their healing.
Yes healing, because which one of us, especially those of us who reject Christ’s established Church, can say that we have never hurt another? Let us not be counted then with those hypocrites whom Christ will spit out!
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? (Matthew 7:2-3)
Indeed, as the Apostles James tells us,
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. (James 2:10)
St. Thomas Aquinas explains it this way:
James is speaking of sin, not as regards the thing to which it turns and which causes the distinction of sins… but as regards that from which sin turns away… God is despised in every sin. —The Summa Theologica, Reply to Objection 1; Second and Revised Edition, 1920;
When anyone sins, he turns his back from God, regardless of the nature of the sin. How sanctimonious of us, then, to point our finger at someone faced away from God while our own back is also turned away.
The point is this: Jesus comes to us through the Church. This was His desire as He Himself commanded in the Gospels (Mark 16:15-16). And what does Jesus come for? To save sinners.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life… God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8)
If we say, "We have not sinned," we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10)
If we are sinners then—and we all are—then we should not cut ourselves off from God’s gift to us, which comes to us through the Church, because another member is also a sinner. For there are two ways to be cut off from Christ: one is by the Father Himself who prunes the dead branches which no longer produce fruit (John 15:2). And the other is our own refusal to be grafted on to Jesus the Vine in the first place, or worse, to choose to remove ourselves from Him.
He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ… You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me…’ —St. Cyprian (died A.D. 258); Unity of the Catholic Church.
For the Church is the mystical body of Christ—battered, bruised, bleeding, and pierced by the nails and thorns of sin. But it is still His body. And if we remain a part of it, patiently enduring the suffering and sorrow within it, forgiving others as Christ has forgiven us, we will also one day experience for all eternity its resurrection.


FURTHER READING:
http://www.markmallett.com/blog/?p=298

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/?cat=11

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/?p=400

Thanks for taking the time to read 'my little story' and Mark's post(s). Something's wrong with 33,000 to 40,000 different denominations in the world, and new off shoots starting up every week. A man or woman and her bible, starting up a "church" with their "own" interpretation of the Word of God, is NOT how Jesus our Good Shepherd left His flock. He took care to make sure His appointed shepherds would take care of His sheep. Some have done poorly in that regard. Some have been truly excellent in their vocation pastoring His sheep. I know this 'one thing'...I will never leave His Church, or look anywhere else, because there is NOWHERE else that is the ROCK, the SAFE HARBOR for my soul on this planet. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you…

Your fellow pilgrim on the road to heaven,

susie

6 comments:

Jairus said...

Hi! i read your March 7 post about your Holy Hour with the Intercessors of the Lamb and I got so excited when I learned that you're from Omaha! I am a Companion Intercessor of the Lamb form the Philippines and it's a dream for me to go to Bellwether in Omaha even for an hour! Time, cost of flight, everything seems to make it impossible. I hope you'll post more about the Intercessors of the Lamb! God bless you!

Joyful Catholics said...

Jairus! Hello! I've only been to Intercessors Thursday evening prayer and Holy Hour one time, but it was very sweet, holy, joyful, tender. I DO hope you can come here sometime. If you do, please let me know! We could arrange lodging, so you'd not have to worry about the cost of that, at least, if there might not be a room at the "inn" we would have one for you! God bless! Keep in touch, ok? ~ susie

Jairus said...

I will tell you if ever God "send" me to Omaha! Thank you very much for your offer!

Tiber Jumper said...

HEy Susie!

Just wondering. Do you still keep in touch with the folks from your old fellowship? Has anyone inquired about your conversion?
If it is anything like our experience, we found a deep silence from many that we were close to for years. Not just one question?
Let me know how it went with he folks form your old church, if you have had meaningful interactions.
I suspect as in my case, the ex Catholics are the most non-communicative and in some cases we found actually hostile to our conversion.
God please open their eyes to what they are missing.

Joyful Catholics said...

Hey TJ~ Nope. Not one question from the closest friends. We'd run into someone, and tell them 'we went back to the CC' and they just have the "deer-in-the-headlights look...and don't have anything to add. The two I was closest to still email me from time to time, but they've not called at all any more, and I can't say I call them either. I do email that we should get together sometime, but you know how that goes...more and days and weeks slip by and now it's been almost 4 years since I've seen either one. We did get together during our first year back, but with my rosary hanging off my rearview mirror...maybe that was just "too much" eh? :) SILENT they all are! It's weird. I think if it had been the other way around I would have wanted to know "why?" and asked them. And not been silent at all..but then, I've been a 'seeker' of Truth and I think maybe that if they 'ask' they'll then have to confront their own theology and status and that's probably too frightening for them...? I'd rather we have honest conversations but they don't even want to "go there" so, God's given us new friends, but at the same time, I sure wish they'd ask and "taste and see" that the Lord is GOOD in the EUCHARIST. One said she'd like to go to Mass with me about a year or more ago, but after writing back and telling her what times masses are and putting forth the effort to tell her I'd love to meet her there any time, she's not ever said so again. I'm sad for them, because they're really good folks, really "God fearing" and generous, kind Christians...who are content to just 'wander' in the fray, from church to church in search of the 'best worship music'...you know the drill. : (

Tiber Jumper said...

We have had almost identical experiences. Yet if our friends had found the Catholic Church first and believed with their whole heart that Jesus was in this Church, would we not have been angry if they didn't share it with us?
Dialogue is always good. Silence is not. But all we can do is try to live lives that will bear fruit and hope they see a change in us that would make them want to hear more.