ChristianityRichly

No False Starts

In Catholic, Christianity on December 22, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Today’s post is the third in a three-part series (see the bullet list, below).

No forced feelings:  The first post in this series points out that the Catholic Christian does not rely on feelings, but rather on the fact of Christ’s atonement. The merit of His death for us, is made ours by grace through faith, the benefits of which are lovingly conveyed in the Sacraments.

No forced faith:  The second post reminds us that true conversion never rests on forced faith. “Forced faith” is an oxymoron and faith without content is false hope. True faith is the willing response of the heart to the historicity and reality of the Gospel, prompted by God’s Holy Spirit, not something we prompt in ourselves.

No false starts:  Having said that our reconciliation with God is not based on feelings, and that saving faith is all of grace—the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9)—we can live and pray with the confidence that God makes no false starts.  In the words of St. Paul, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). “Perseverance unto glory,” Father Garrigou-Lagrange calls this confidence.

Does this mean we will live every day in joyous hope and untroubled confidence? No! The publication of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light shows that one of the most Godly women of the twentieth century experienced decades of spiritual aridity, and even pain.  If you don’t have time for the book, a well written summary appears here (although the musings of atheist, Christopher Hitchens, who went into eternity in December 2011, also make a brief appearance).

What does all this mean? Just this: Christianity and Catholic Christianity in particular, is real; even “gritty,” in the words of George Weigel.¹  While at times we may be blessed with effusive joy and abundant sense of God’s closeness, at other times we may not. Yet Christianity is based on fact, not feeling. Rejoice when walking in blessed communion with God.  But in more difficult times remember:

When people came to John the Baptist asking, ‘What should we do?’ (Luke 3:10-18) he gave them the most reasonable, commonsense reply.  He said, in effect, ‘Live reality.’ God is asking you to be faithful to the ordinary circumstances of your life. He will make Himself evident there

Press on, in good times and in bad. God is faithful. Eternity is real. Meanwhile, never forget that “His love endures forever” (Psalm 136).  That is Christianity Richly.

¹ See George Weigel’s wonderful short book, Letters to a Young Catholic, Chapter 2.
² With thanks to Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P., and the staff of Magnificat, for these thoughts in their preface to the liturgy, Third Sunday of Advent, p. 177.

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