Friday, October 24, 2008

Two

I often marvel at the inability of some of my fellow Catholics to get it.  Now, this is not a slap; it's an observation about perception.  You see, I have this experience as a convert that most Catholics who were raised in the Faith don't have and never get to have.  (Yes, it's a generalization so if it doesn't fit, I'll admit fault and let you to the secret club.  Handshake notes are on a secure server.)  I call it the "flipped on the lights" moment.

As a convert, I have a very clear recollection of what my life before Christ was like.  I have this very clear recollection about the day of my baptism, the Easter Vigil of 1991.  I encountered Christ like St. Paul; getting up on that Easter Sunday the day after and knowing there was a place to go, a place that my heart had longed for without knowing it, the sunlight had a different, unfiltered character.  It was like I was seeing reality for the first time.  The person raised in the Faith, I suspect, doesn't have this experience not because they don't want to, but because at some level they can't.  They have lived in the world, knowing of God and if fortunate, knowing God, and so the lights have been raised little by little until all is illuminated.  If they have this "flipped on" experience, I think it might come forward as "Oh, someone turned up the lights."  It's more surprise than wonder.  But that's an assumption.

I was looking at the comments to the post Fr. Philip put up and to which I linked, and an anonymous commenter said that he had abandoned Christ and His Church, yes, even after being a seminarian, because there was nothing better than this life.  He claimed that people of Faith live in a delusion and should get on to doing something better with their lives.

Now, I don't know what led this man to make those statements, but I am going to comment on what he did say.  If he thinks that there is some way for there to be a better world without the presence of religion, dare say Catholicism and Christianity in general, I think he is the one who is not facing facts.  We have lived with the weird idolatrous decadence of the last, oh, seven or eight millenia and we still can't figure out that we can't save ourselves.  The poor will be with us always and we are the poorest of the poor.

Consider what you must take from the world as we know it by lifting Catholicism out of the picture.  Art, literature, law, architecture, music, in short, everything that is good within our culture springs out of the humane and reasonable proposition that the Church is the only thing which prevents one from being a degraded child of his own age.  He must listen to a democracy of the dead as well as a democracy of the yet to be born and a democracy of those who go before us marked with the sign of Faith.  He must listen to a creation that groans no longer but breathes a sigh of relief to know that the true master is Head over all, directing creation back to its proper end.  (That's just another way of thinking of the sacraments.)

And yes, to point out that Christians perpetrate crimes doesn't eliminate the point that religion is needed.  Rather it points to a strange gratitude.  Imagine what monstrous crimes they could commit if not for the minimal influence of the Faith upon them.  And if they have sinned, and all Christians have and will, the sacrament of Confession tells them to try again and gives the grace to get it right.  Yes, the person must cooperate, but that doesn't change the fact that a different path, a second way exists.  Thankfully, the Church is right when I am wrong.

They are two ways then.  The way that leads to everything and the way that leads to nothing.  To the gent who made that comment on Fr.'s blog, you could do nothing better than ask yourself this question.  "When I read this newspaper, I don't see people striving to get out of the muck.  Why is that?  Could it be that without seeing that life is more than it appears to be, I'll hang out with the animals rather than to soar with angels?"

Further, why even comment on a religious person's blog, unless you realize that perhaps your position is not as strong as it seems?  Does it scare you to think that perhaps, there is something lovely and wonderful you have left behind.  In that case, think of this as "take two."  Go back to Him whom your heart truly desires.

3 comments:

Danielle said...

I think you're correct in that many cradle Catholics miss that "aha" moment, but some of us do get to experience it. I've been blessed to experience several, actually. Right now I can recall in particular a high school diocesan conference, the moment of my confirmation, and the SEARCH retreat I made at St. Thomas More. All of them gave a much-neeeded and appreciated jolt of awareness of God's grace.

I'd like to go on, but preschool expects me to show up and take my child home. God bless you, Shane!

Faith said...

Why would a self described non Catholic read a religious' blog? Me thinks he dosts protest too much.

vasanth said...

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