ChristianityRichly

Welcome to Christianity Richly

In Christianity on February 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Psalm 63:5 “My soul will be filled as if by rich food” (Jerusalem Bible).

Christianity Richly chronicles the ongoing conversion of a Catholic Christian drawn to the Faith by its truth, goodness, and beauty. That said, “The Church proposes; she imposes nothing,” wrote Saint John Paul II (The Mission of the Redeemer). May non-Catholics and even unbelievers always find that attitude here.

If you are not a Christian or are not sure, see my story. Your life and mine all have a stories to tell, don’t they? My reasons for Christian faith are creating love, caring intervention, and God’s constant presence with us in Christ.

If you are a Christian curious about the Catholic Church, see the About link at the top of this page, under the headline “Christianity Richly.”  About explains the reasons for the blog. See the links certainty, history, unity, authority, liturgy, community, and sacramentality.

Comments on posts are always welcomed, but if you are planning to add your thoughts, then please read On Posting Comments.

All original content on this blog is Copyright ©2009-2019 Christianity Richly.  All rights reserved.  Posts may be linked or quotations of limited length reproduced with attribution to Christianity Richly. Questions and requests for more extensive reproduction may be sent to the author at this address: christianityrichly [at] gmail [dot] com.

We Believe in a Person

In Christianity on March 18, 2019 at 7:53 pm

My original title for this post was, “Before a Crucifix.”

Then I realized the point of the post was not so much the Crucifix itself, as important as it is, but rather that Christians do not have an abstract faith. We don’t take a “leap of faith.” We don’t say things like, “I have faith everything will work out,” without knowing why.

The why is is a person, Jesus Christ. We could better say, a Person. In the words of the Nicene Creed, adopted by the Church in 325 A.D., Jesus Christ is:

The only begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father.

One must recognize not all men and women believe in God. Yet many who do, or claim to believe, seem to believe in an abstract God—a noble ideal, or a moral standard, or a systematic theology, rather than a flesh and blood reality.

Saved by a Person
The Crucifix reminds us Christ was much more than an noble ideal and certainly was not a disembodied moral standard. This is the deficiency, and sadness, of using an empty cross as a symbol. We can say that it is empty because Christ has risen. He has. But we risk missing the equally important fact that a Person died and rose:

No man understands sin until he sees it in the light of the face of Christ. He [or she] may feel mortified at the fool he has made of himself, but he will sorrow only when he sees the Beloved crucified.¹

Saved by a Look
How was Christ crucified? Lifted up on a cross, among thieves, in full view of the men and women of His day. Jesus Christ said in John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself.”

Simone Weil describes the Crucifixion as the definitive event in our lives, i.e., that we are saved by a look:

One of the principal truths of Christianity, a truth that goes almost unrecognized today, is that looking is what save us. The bronze serpent was lifted up so that those who lay maimed in the depths of degradation should be saved by looking upon it … It is an act of attention and consent.²

Venerable Fulton Sheen writes that the Crucifix remind us of our sin, our own degradation:

  • Crown of thorns: Our evil thoughts and sins of pride
  • Torn flesh: Our sins of lust; cowardice; injury to others
  • Nakedness: Our avarice; covetousness; grasping
  • Thirst: Our abuse of alcohol, drugs, and other excesses

Looking at Christ on the cross, do we see our our sins being borne by a Person? Do we appreciate the truly supernatural intervention, that God Who created us would, out of love for us, come to earth as a man and die for our sins?

We don’t believe in an abstraction, or an ideal, or a moral standard. “When I am lifted up,” Christ said. And in Him, we should see ourselves and the price of our redemption.

The ultimate sorrow is related to the Crucifix, where each of us can read his autobiography

 

¹ Fulton Sheen, The Priest is Not His Own, location 2654, Kindle edition.

² Simone Weil, Waiting for God, pp. 125-126.

³ Fulton Sheen, The Priest is Not His Own, location 2667, Kindle edition.

I Believe in God

In Christianity on March 1, 2019 at 12:38 am

Waking up in a hospital bed focuses one’s attention. “What happened?” “How did I get here?” “What’s wrong with me?” “Will I recover?”

On a Sunday in early January, my wife and I were hit head-on by a large, heavy pickup truck. Our car was destroyed. I had to be cut out of what remained. She and I were taken to the hospital in critical condition. Doctors were not certain I would live. Recovery will be long.

At the beginning of 2019, I wrote in my prayer journal, “Lord, increase my faith.”¹ This request has been answered in a thousand times since the crash. The answers began with a simple conversation in my mind:

Q:  Do you still believe in God?
A:  I do.

Q:  Did He know this would happen?
A:  He did.

Q:  What is your response?
A:  God is in control.

When we say “I believe in God” (the first four word of the Apostles’ Creed) we acknowledge that God is. He is real. Not all men and women acknowledge that, of course—so the first step for you and me is to decide if God real. “I believe in God.” Few words. Many consequences.

If God does exist—and if He is loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful—then when bad things happen we are forced to face the existential question Job faced: “Why did this happen?” In most cases, the answer doesn’t come quickly, if at all.

That’s when we must say, “God is in control.” If He exists and He is a loving God, then we can only say like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”²

The Christian’s everyday life is the “amen” to “I believe.”³

One last thought: please don’t interpret this post in the way I would have as a child—i.e., if you surrender yourself to God, something bad will happen to test your faith. For example, I remember thinking, “If I surrender myself to be a missionary, God might send me some place I’m scared to go.” God doesn’t do that. Yet, even if we are to be tested, He goes through the testing with us.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Psalm 91:15-16

“Lord, increase our faith!”

 

¹ Luke 17:5

² Job 13:15 (KJV). For many years as a child and young adult, I studied and memorized scripture from the King James Version. In some instances, this verse being one such case, the language is so transcendent and grace-filled, I still prefer the KJV.

³ Summarizing and paraphrasing paragraph 1064 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.