Growing in holiness…struggling with the Church, growing closer to Him

jesusteacher

If you are a faithful follower of Jesus Christ you will suffer.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  It is it’s definition.  Jn 15:20.  Do you dare accept the terrorizing challenge of baptism?  Do you?  Have you? :/

If you are growing closer to the cross, imho, and a few saints’ opinions, you are doing something right.  The point is not suffering in itself, for its own sake.  That would be a symptom of less emotional health than desirable.  Suffering is a consequence of the Truth in this world, doing the work of the Master, and growing closer to Him in all things, holiness and the crucifixion, being united to Jesus Christ in ALL things.  His love is so great, His conquest so complete, His power so redound, suffering can become joy, for the sake of the beloved, i.e. a parent for their child, in earthly terms, as a practical example, but His goes so far beyond that.

How does the old joke go?  If you want to lose your faith, go to work for the Church?  🙂  Get over your being scandalized, quickly.  Get on with it.  There are lives and souls to be saved.  For me, there is endless comfort in the Gospels, not only in the words of the Lord, but especially in the antics, hi-jinks, lo-jinks, pure and plain sinfulness of the Apostles.  Goofballs.  What a bunch of Keystone Cops!!!?  Endless comfort.  Humans do not change much in history, do they?  Blessed be the God Who saves us, from ourselves, especially!!!  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you.  Don’t need a Redeemer?  Really?  I do.  I most certainly do.  Praise Him!!!

I relate distinctly with Lauren’s experience, though maybe not in the details, and heartily endorse her prescription.

Ask questions –  it’s the thing I like most about being Catholic.  Never listen to anyone who says Catholics are not supposed to ask questions.  They don’t know what they are talking about and are therefore a bad source.  Asking questions will get you crucified, undoubtedly, but here we have no lasting city.  Heb 13:14.

Find reliables sources – the world is replete with stupidity and ignorance.  Keep pushing.  Find your reliable, faithful, holy resources for those endless questions.  Find good teachers.  Those who can speak to you in the way you can most easily relate.  It is your right, your are entitled to good, relevant, understandable answers as a child of God.  You are.  It just is so.   The Church, as one may hope and pray, has excellent answers.  The Church’s ability to communicate those into digestable, everyday, everyperson answers needs a lot of work.  I kind of think/hope that is the point of the New Evangelization.  Let’s pray.

Pray – Amen!  Jn 15:5.  Prayer is life and breath for the Christian.  ‘Nuff said.  There is a story regarding Mother Teresa and the enthusiastic young women who would come to her, ready to save the world and deal with the worst of the worst of human suffering.  Mother would say to them, “Come and pray.”  They would respond, “But, Mother, there is so much to do.  Let’s get started!!”  Mother would patiently, calmly repeat, “Come and pray.”  Her postulants would insist, persist in wanting action.  Mother would calmly, patiently, repeat “Come and pray.”  Mother finally said to them, “If you don’t pray, you won’t last.”  Wise words for all of us.  Amen.  Amen.  Be creative in your prayer.  Do what works for you, that good spiritual wisdom would advise.  Give Him glory, honor, and praise always in ALL ways!!!  As you can probably tell, blogging and reading are forms of prayer for me.  I also enjoy quiet meditation and reflection, as well as the many other forms of prayer the Church recommends.

Persist!!!!  Be TUFF!!!  No louts, no wimps in Heaven!!!! Rev 7:14 – pray for the grace of final perseverance.  Struggle, fight, work, not that our efforts have any primary merit whatsoever, but out of sheer joy and gratitude for God’s amazing grace and love, we respond, in response to that gift of unmerited grace, in utter, sheer joy, with every gift God has given us in praise of Him and to His glory.  We work, we shout, we rejoice, we suffer, we proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified with ALL we have!  1 Cor 2:2.

laurenmeyers

-by Lauren Meyers

“I would like to say that my faith is uncomplicated — to say that I accept and embrace every teaching of our Church with a gleeful smile and without a shred of doubt. There was probably a time when this was the case; maybe in my later teens or early twenties, when the love that I had for the Lord and the excitement and novelty of living in such a counter cultural way filled me with zeal and a promise that the world could be changed and could be a better place.

Ten years later, I still love the Lord, I still desire to draw close to Jesus, and I still have hope and joy, I still love the Catholic Church, but it’s not as easy as it once was. It was easier to accept the Church’s teaching on contraception before I was married and had to face that temptation. It was easier to go to Mass when I was in college and had more free time than I ever realized. It was easier to trust the Magisterium before I read beyond John Paul II and into history, and it was easier to hope before I had experienced any significant, personal loss. Over time, I have grappled with the Church and with God, and in that struggle I have found that there are a few ways to enter into that interior conflict and emerge closer to Jesus and His Church.

Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions. The greater threat to our faith is not that we ask difficult questions, but that we become too indifferent to even consider them. Ask questions. St. Augustine was correct when he said that, “The truth it like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” Take time. Ask questions. Seek truth, because the Truth can handle it.

Seek reliable counsel and documents. I hate to say it, but I really like “sound bite” information. I’m not one for reading long books or encyclicals, and so this is a difficult thing for me, but it is essential. When we are able to ask those difficult questions about the Eucharist, about morality, about the clergy, the sacraments, the abuses, or anything else, we have to seek out real and reliable information and anwers. Seek the advice and guidance of a few, diverse people. Ask for answers from individuals without twisted agendas, who are more experienced and more knowledgable, and who can give new insights. Ask for books, articles, encyclicals, and scripture commentary to delve into. It will take time, and that’s OK. You can’t cover thousads of years of history, theology, and philosophy in a sound bite.

Pray. Whenever I’m strugging with the Church’s teaching on something, I always remember playing that childhood hide and seek game. The one where someone had hidden something and, as you search, they tell you if you’re getting “hot” or “cold” on your search. That’s sort of the prayer that I pray as I am questioning and seeking. Lord, open my heart to your truth. Is this leading me toward peace? Am I being motivated by selfishness or by sincerity? Am I seeking Your Truth or my own will? Lord, reveal Yourself to me in this search. When we seek God, we ought to ask for His guidance. Take time to pray, to ask the Lord to guide your steps. He isn’t trying to hide from us, He wants us to find Him and He can help us, if we ask.

Do not give up and do not let go. This is so difficult, because it’s the easiest thing to do. It is so easy to tire and become indifferent in the journey toward Truth, and I feel like indifference has just made a cozy little home in this place called relativism. So many times I have thought it would just be easier to forget about seeking truth and instead, to do whatever I think feels right. Where did we come from? Why are we here? Is there objective moral truth? Do our private choices have communal ramifications? Does what I believe really matter? All of these questions demand real thought, and work, and change within ourselves. And although giving up on it all and choosing indifference and relativism seems like the easy way out, I beg you, do not give up and do not let go.

First, do not give up the search for truth. Do not give up on these questions as though they were unanswerable. The answers may be hard to find, and we may seek those anwers for our lifetime, but that does not make the search meaningless. In fact, the search for Truth may be the most noble of pursuits that we can take up. Second, do not let go of Jesus and the Church. Leaving the Church, the community, and the sacraments is not the way to reconcile yourself with the teachings of the Church. Keep praying. Keep going to Mass. Keep serving the poor in the community. Keep receiving the Sacraments as your conscince allows. Seek the Lord in his Church. There are times of conflict and struggle in all of our relationships, but it is when we are faithful and steady and don’t give up that those relationships and shared love grow strong. Let your love for the Lord and his Church become strengthened and solidified in your struggles and questions. Stick with it, expect great things, and don’t be afraid.”

Love,
Matthew

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