Tuesday, February 02, 2010

One Fine Line. Thank you, Douglas Adams.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."

This sums up my entire spiritual journey back to the Catholic Church. After nearly 30 years, enjoying wonderful praise and great sermons in 3 separate fellowships, the "long arm of Jesus" and the nudges of the Holy Spirit were finally able to 'bring us back' Home - to Rome. I must admit, I "never" thought I would end up a Catholic! I was so content for years, to just be a "non-denom" that 'knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior.' I'd accepted Jesus into my heart at 19, back in 1974, actually 36 years ago last night to be exact. Wow how time flies! But you know, now with a Catholic understanding, to "live the Christ life" takes more than a "one time" decision, praying/ repeating a "sinners"prayer, no matter how genuine. It did start me on a glorious path to be sure. It was a 'epiphany' that lit up my soul to the love of Jesus and gave me a desire to learn from others, to read the bible and 'walk with my Lord' in a way I'd never done up to that point. To be a Christian, however, takes DAILY conversion. Why? Because...I still sin!! That's something I never quite understood in those 26 + years.

I was "saved" (so I was told and believed) but yet, having at times 'wandered away' from Him, needing to 'rededicate' my life, after "leaving the Lord" at times...which meant I sinned, and fell from God's grace, not always "mortally" but venial sins DO ADD UP! And more than once, I'd go up front, to the "altar" which was really a stage but you get the idea... and looking back on it, there is really some cause for "understandable confusion." Once your saved, your saved. That is what I was told. But what about when you 'fall away?' What about when you sin? Well...now I know GOD'S DESIGN and HIS ANSWER.... be 'reconciled' to God in the Sacrament of Confession! That's really what I did as a Evangelical...but never would have called it such. I 'confessed my sins' to another (sadly unable to be absolved) and then "got on" with my life. After those years, and the same patterns emerging in my life, I could see the dangerous 'presumptuousness' that could creep in, if allowed. To "cheapen" the grace of God is always a concern, but yet how many stop to think of that? There is a "call to holiness" which a lot of people I knew believed in, but yet, what is the "BEST" way to 'Live that out?' Being a Catholic is!, as I understand it now. I don't say that with "arrogance" so please don't misconstrue my words.

Being a Catholic who's FAITHFUL to the magisterium and the Pope's words/teachings, doing things "God's Way" and accepting my daily crosses, offering up my own pain whether physical or spiritual is how best to "live the Christ life." Certainly there are many holy people in Evangelicalism, and other faith communities, but I was seeking TRUTH more than I knew, for when TRUTH flooded my entire being that December weekend, while reading three books, that's when I KNEW ONE THING... I HAD TO BE CATHOLIC. No other Church on the planet claims what the CC claims. Now it's either false, and a horrible joke or worse, a terrible cult (as some think) of it IS THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT on this earth to GUIDE US INTO ALL TRUTH by the HOLY SPIRIT'S LEADING. There's NO middle ground. It's the "T" intersection I came to as have many others. You must go to the Right or to the Left. You must 'stay' or you must "go.' Leave all for Christ, or remain w/ the 'status quo.' I for one had to take the road to Rome. Taking the plunge, crossing the Tiber to where "PETER" is. History would allow me no other choice! Being a lover of history, (beyond) the Reformation to the inception of the One Holy Apostolic Church could take me nowhere else.

I need that "sinner's prayer" daily. And that prayer, to "receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior' is BEST PRAYED at MASS! The ULTIMATE SINNER'S PRAYER! That is where I receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior in the 'way he designed' in the EUCHARIST , the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, that fills my heart with such pure joy! I want all my Evangelical / Protestant friends to understand that, to 'come Home' too, but I know it's a struggle for many of them. Many of them probably think I've lost it. Many of them still harbor misinformation and sadly such 'anti-Catholic' sentiment it may never hapen for them, and that makes me sad. It was ike that for me, too, until the "lights went on" and my heart was flooded with Truth and gifted by grace to 'see' the Truth of the Catholic Church and Faith.

So...When I saw this quote today,
I smiled, chuckled a little and knew I had to post on FB and here on my blog. TRULY it is One "FINE LINE" to say the very least! - Thank you, Mr. Adams and may God rest your soul.
Douglas Adams, English humorist & science fiction novelist [Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] (1952 - 2001)


Joyful Catholic said...

Dang Blogger! I've tried everything imaginable to change the size of this post text. Nothing works. I'd prefer it to be smaller but oh well...

Garret said...

Hi Joyful Catholic!
I see the irony here of the reverse solution to your personal internal dilemma. It was the same dilemma, that of never being satisfied and fearing not being good enough that drove Luther to the Biblical realization that peace with God is the gift of God! The debt is settled, when you have Christ, the enmity of God has been settled through the cross of Christ. Luther, who frequently spent hours a day in the confessional never felt peace in his soul, until he realized that God, through Paul, was telling us that "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through or Lord Jesus Christ" Ro. 5:1. That is in the past tense in the greek too Joyful!
I too am joyful, and all praise to God for my (and I pray) your Salvation!
God bless you, and by all means, remain Joyful!

Caroline said...

The font size did not bother me at all. I still got the message. Excellent quote at the beginning.

Joyful Catholic said...

I sinned again AFTER confession, AFTER my 'commitment' to Jesus when I was "born-again" at 19. It's a "nice reminder" shall I say, to be absolved in the confessional by CHRIST THROUGH HIS PRIEST that he's anointed to bring GOOD NEWS to the captives, the prisoners...not just literally incarcerated but imprisoned by the slavery of sin. I'm more at peace being reconciled to God, via HIS design, not mere man's way. We are justified by faith, but that doesn't mean we don't have our part to "confess our sins, one to another" as Jesus said. "Whose sins you forgive will be forgiven. Whose sins you retain will be retained." That's got to mean that the one you tell your sins to, must know what you did and deem what to do about it, whether to retain or forgive. What about the Red Sea? If the Israelites were led by Moses to be led free from Egypt, when were they really "FREE?" When they were led across the Red Sea, they were "free" but not yet IN the Promised Land. They needed to be disciplined back into the "People of God" and were given the 10 Commandments. His concern was not to only set them free from captivity but to restore the relationship with God and ultimately be led INTO the Promised Land. So when Jesus died we were set free from the captivity of sin, but we still have to be disciplined INTO disciples..."Go therefore into all nations and teach, make disciples of all nations." As the Israelites were led, so the Church leads us to Heaven. St. Paul gives us the 'justified by faith' yes, but Moses never got to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience. There are consequences for our disobedience to God, and that is OUR part to "work out." I've never seen God "face to face" on Mt. Sinai, so I think I might do well to "be reconciled to God as He designed, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession...telling my sins to Jesus who is IN the Priest, and be absolved of my sins, to leave the confessional in truest peace.
Thanks Garrett for your comments. I appreciate your prayers, we can all use the prayers of others. I call on my friends here on earth as well as in Heaven, the Saints. I'm thankful that Jesus forgives my sin, but I'm always distressed when I do sin, for I drag His Name through the mud, and that makes a tender soul, who does love her Lord, sad and long to 'run to my Father' and ask his forgiveness, even though I've been forgiven, it's nice to "pay up" making "amends"to the one I've hurt. Like a boy breaking a window of a neighbor, he can say "I'm sorry" and the neighbor will say "That's alright" but how much better for both the boy and the neighbor when the boy goes "one step" further, and says he'll "pay" to replace the window. Does that make sense? I hope so, for that is what Confession is in the Catholic Church. Reparation is best for us, when we confess and get our 'penance' to 'do' we are then OBEYING Jesus, and that's where the TRUE PEACE comes. Obedience. God bless.

Garret said...

Hi Joyful,
Reparation is best for us, when we confess and get our 'penance' to 'do' we are then OBEYING Jesus, and that's where the TRUE PEACE comes. Obedience.
There couldn't be a untruer representation of the new covenant than this. Saying that obedience is work that you do in order to be forgiven is the opposite of grace. When you earn something, payment is not a reward, or grace, it is your due- then God OWES you his grace because of your obedience. That is boasting in your works, and declaring them necessary FOR forgiveness over and above others who do not earn forgiveness past baptism! The Scriptures teach us that you cannot even believe in God without his grace, the Bible is CLEAR on that. John 1- "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. It is not your decision, it was God's grace that gave spiritual birth to you. How can you then add to that? Returning then to Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We are to repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ for our salvation, to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. Peace comes from the gift, not the work we do to earn forgiveness- our faith being a gift itself, you cant earn what is already given, and nothing you can do after you receive the gift is meritorious towards that gift- it has been given!
God bless,

Tiber Jumper said...

Garret you said:
"Saying that obedience is work that you do in order to be forgiven is the opposite of grace."
No Garret you have incorrectly understood a 2000 year old principle that Jesus established called penance.
Penance is not working to be forgiven- only the blood on the cross can buy our forgiveness that we receive through faith . Yet we are still responsible for the repercussions of our disobedience as Joyful explained to you. Jesus said if you steal something, you will spend time in prison until the last farthing is paid. penance is making amends for the temporal consequences of our already forgiven sins. Catholics believe in grace but not cheap and sleazy grace. We know God requires us to repent and do penance for the repercussions/consequences of our sins. Sometimes that entails, fasting prayer, sometimes doing good for others, feeding the poor, wearing an uncomfortable item of clothing to remind ourselves of our sin and Christ's love and painful suffering for us.(as John the Baptist wore a hairshirt)
We can't earn our forgiveness. You are misrepresenting Catholic belief here. It is by God's grace we receive forgiveness, but our behavior(work) is definitely involved in our final destiny(salvation) Because faith without works is dead. but penance is a separate issue.
When Jesus forgives our sins though confessing our sins to a priest(Whatsoever sins you forgive they are forgiven John 21) we still have to make satisfaction, or penance, but not earn that forgiveness.
Here's the catechism:
The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent's personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, "provided we suffer with him."63

The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of "him who strengthens" us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth "fruits that befit repentance." These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father.64

I hope that helps you understand a little more clearly Catholic doctrine of penance which is firmly rooted in Holy Scripture.
God's richest blessing to you