Where you are is but a state of mind.
So my little brother went to confession at church for the first time. He was in the confessional for about 15 minutes and when he came out my dad asked him what he had to confess that took so long and my eight year old brother looks at our dad seriously and says “Dad, you’ll never know the things I’ve done.” And I swear the look on dad’s face was absolutely priceless.
I love that feeling you get when you don’t remember that you’re reading. When you’re so captured by a book that you forget you’re reading the words. All you see is the descriptions and conversations that being to play out like a movie in your head. You don’t even think about it. Then before you know it, you’ve read 100 pages without realizing it. That’s probably the best feeling in the world.
Wow! Truly a wonderful heart of love. Makes me want to run to the Eucharist right now in Adoration. Welcome home. It’s statements of faith like this that make me wonder how anyone can leave such an amazing and real gift to mankind: Christ, Himself.
Ok this is going to be a really long answer, and I have no intentions of offending my non-catholic followers as most of them are my favorite followers (no really guys), but I will be completely honest.
I have considered myself a Christian since I could think. My parents are of no particular faith. I guess you could say they are agnostic. As a child I was a creepy little person who had an obsession with the bible, God, and church. I attended anything my parents let me. Everything was always Protestant. I attended the youth groups with friends, different services, read books about Calvinism (hahaha no…really) and spend my nights playing the “flip to random verses in the bible” under my covers. I stared out my bus window and played the “God if your real…”
As I got older, I kept my faith more inwardly like most parts of my teenage self. I continued to read scripture, becoming somewhat horrified by some of the things I read but couldn’t understand. I remember asking various pastors about readings or thoughts I had, and I was dismissed with up lifting words like “you don’t really need to think about those sorts of things, you are saved, that’s all that matters.”
I kept my hunger for spirituality for myself. I lived a very worldly life as a teen and young adult, still starving spiritually, hopping from church to church.
What was I looking for? Better music? Younger parishioners? A great daycare? Pretty soon it wasn’t about being spiritually fed, it was about fitting my life. My faith was my own, I had my own “religion” and that certainly didn’t involve any sort of special denomination, some “man made” building with rules and regulations constricting my free faith. I was my faith, I built it around my values, what I liked from the bible, what was best for me. Me. Me. Me.
And you can bet that the last church I would ever enter was those idol worshiping Catholics! Stale music and incense…no thanks!
Sure, I loved Christ, but He died, He suffered for all of us. He suffered so I could go to heaven. It didn’t matter what I did, how bad or awful or sinful I was, I had a free ticket that said “Saved”. I could never be as good as Christ! He is perfect! So why bother? I did my “best” to be a good person. What ever that meant in between the times I had a real life.
Then I realized I was spiritually dying.
We are born to seek the truth, to seek love. Fish swim, birds fly, we love. I began to understand that the only place I had looked for love and for truth was inside myself. Its all I could see.
I thought, my faith should be simple, like Christ. I don’t even need a church, I don’t need music, I don’t need anything. I have faith. That’s enough, its always been enough.
Then there was just me, just me and God. I looked up at God and I told Him “THIS is how I am going to follow You, THIS is how I am going to worship You, THIS is how I am going to love You.”
Then, I began to search for the Truth. I left myself behind and I said to God, “How I am I going to follow You, how am I going to worship You, how am I going to love You? I am small, and I am weak, and I cannot do it on my own.” I left myself and went searching for my cross, so I could follow Christ.
You see, I had always made Christ what I wanted him to be, now it was time I gave Him all of myself, and let Him do with me what He willed.
And I found that one place. I was tired of what people were telling me about the Catholic faith. I was tired of being told that they were idol and devil worshipers, and I wanted to see for myself…I didn’t want an “opinion” from my pastor, or some random blogger, I wanted cold hard facts. I want to tell you it was information about the reformation, about Martin Luther, and the King with a lust for new wives…I want to tell you it was the Chair of Peter, the reflection of Jewish tradition, the scriptural support, I want to tell you that it was that fact that Catholics were the only Christians for 1500 years, and that they most definitely do not worship saints or Mary because that all played a part in my conversion, but really for me the greatest and most powerful was the Eucharist.
You see as a little girl I read in the bible where Christ held himself up and he said “This is my Body,” and in my heart I knew it was so. In my heart I knew that Christ would not deceive us. When the men heard Christ say this and they were quite disgusted and left, Christ didn’t say “hey guys wait come back, I meant “spiritually”. No, He said “This is my Body, and this is my Blood” and then He carried that cross for each and everyone of us and was nailed to the cross and shed His Precious blood, with each of our names in His most precious heart.
I attended protestant church service after church service and they passed that communion tray around with the little pieces of bread and the plastic cups of grape juice and I thought to myself, “Jesus said this is His body and His blood.”
I didn’t realize that could only be found one place. I didn’t know that the Last Supper, was the First Mass. I had no idea that the one Church I didn’t want to attend was the one and only place that had the one for sure thing about my faith; the Eucharist.
God was made Flesh, and He is and always will be.
I still remember the first Mass I attended. I watched my Catholic friends go up to receive Christ and I sat behind in the pew weeping. Weeping because I could not receive, weeping because I had walked by so many Catholic Churches, never knowing that Christ was present, that He was here waiting for me. Weeping because I went my entire life seeking for something that I didn’t know I went without; life itself.
See, you won’t find day cares in a Catholic Church, because there is no such thing as “adult only worship”, you won’t hear music that suits your taste, you won’t see an empty cross hanging above your head. We don’t need to soften it down, spice it up, add coffee shops or youthful pastors, we have the Body and the Blood. We have a room of quiet people, waiting patiently for the Feasts of all Feasts, the Meal of all Meals.
I know Christ died for our sins, I witness it every day of my life. I don’t want a faith that tells me I can be anything I want and still get a ticket to heaven. You can’t assume that. You can’t abuse Christs mercy as He shed every drop of blood against the thorns in His head, every swing at the scourging of the pillar… from the nails in His hands. He is full of love and mercy, and He did pay the price for us, and trust me, it was far then enough, but that doesn’t mean I don’t even have to make an effort. It doesn’t mean that I can’t try to not sin every day.
Will I fail Christ and fall into temptation? Its (highly) likely, but because of the Body of Christ I have been given the graces to get up again and again, and when I have fallen so many times, that I am covered with dirt and my knees are raw I look up and I still see Christ waiting for me to keep following Him, waiting for me to seek His Love and His Mercy for as long as I live. I found that place that believes you need to take up your cross to follow Christ, I found the place with the “old fashioned music” and the incense, and the photos and statues of my brothers and sisters in Christ who devoted themselves and their entire lives to Gods will, bringing Glory to God alone. I have realized that God will never change, He is and always will be “old fashioned”, its me that needs to “get with the times”, the times in which was, is and always will be; Christ. Christ doesn’t need to change for me, I need to change for Christ.
And trust me, there is always something. There is always something you are not doing that you can do better for Christ. You can smile when you sweep that broom across the floor, you can pray for that person that hates you, you can fill your time with spiritual food instead of TV, and when you have mastered all of these things, there are still more.
To be in union with Christ feels like joy and peace in both suffering and blessings.
wow. such an amazing thing to read. God bless you.