Wednesday, November 21, 2018

My Confession

I wrote this to a friend recently.
I thought I'd blog it.

I was raised Catholic.
Good priests as family friends.
One of these took on the parish we were in after the priest that came on to me in the confessional (when I was a teenager) resigned the priesthood.
I went into the service and became agnostic.
I was in a hotel in Germany when in the middle of the night I had some sort of abdominal attack that reminded me of the appendix I had previously had removed.
I had nowhere to turn for help.
I then called out to that invisible "god" that if he fixed this, I would find him and serve him.
The problem went away immediately.
I then began my search for him.
It took a few years.
I never considered Christianity, as it had no power (it seemed).
I read about black magic, Eastern Mysticism, New Age, all kinds of stuff.
I took to reading the Bible to be literate. The first words of Moby Dick (Call me Ishmael) were a biblical allusion that I was ignorant of.
One day, a girl I was dating gave me a tract that listed all the prophecies concerning the "Messiah" of the Jews, and every thing that Jesus did that fulfilled them.
Shortly after, in my living room, as I read it, I became convinced that Jesus was the One I was looking for and submitted myself to Him.
That is how I became a Christian. I made Jesus my Lord.
I later learned I had a sin problem I was unaware of (I thought I was "good enough") and made Him my Savior.
Like Catholics, I believe that Jesus died on the cross as the payment for my crimes against God (sin). He broke down the barrier that separated me from God.
Unlike Catholics (or the majority of) I believe (and this is what is regarded as Protestantism) that our right-standing with God can not be earned by what we do (keeping rules and regs, or the "Law") but only on what Jesus did for us.
If what Jesus did for us was not enough, then He isn't much of a savior.
But in turn, I live my life for Him, because he gave it back to me.
Catholicism turned what should be a personal relationship into a version of the Old Testament with works, structure and a priesthood between man and God.
God wants an individual relationship.
I do not espouse a religion.
I attend a church of a particular denomination, but could join (and have served in for awhile) another, easily. 
As I type this, and thanks for the opportunity to do so (I may post this), I am filled with the joy of knowing that I am safe with God and am reminded of the many times He has delivered me.
God made us for a purpose out of love. Not to blindly "serve" Him. He'd like the love returned.
He wants to fellowship with us like when Adam and Eve were in the garden with Him.

I don't know if you know this, but when Israel was in captivity in Babylon, a man named Daniel (who wrote the eponymous book) prayerfully asked God if what the prophet Jeremiah had said about Israel returning to Jerusalem in 70 years would be fulfilled (which it was). 
Daniel was told not to worry about that, but that in 70 times seven years, Messiah would come.
That prophecy was what inspired the Wise Men to seek the Babe when they did.
Jesus was born in the right year, in the right town, fulfilling what had been written hundreds of years previously.
It's stuff like that that convinced me of who He was/is.
When he broke the power of death and left an empty grave behind, He proved that He was the Messiah.
His disciples went to their torturous deaths avowing that they had seen Him after His death when all they had to do to live was deny Him.

Well, thanks for listening.
The takeaway about Protestantism is that Martin Luther, a priest, realized that we are saved by God's unmerited unearned favor (grace) towards us through faith in Jesus.
Saying so many prayers, paying so much money, denying yourself so many things doesn't cut it with God. To think that It's Jesus + anything to get into God's organization, devalues and scorns the gift God gave us for free.

Happy Thanksgiving.

32 comments:

  1. What can I say? I know that if I were to just say thank you for the edification would sound trite and insincere, but I do truly thank you for your post.

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  2. I am still a card-carrying Catholic.

    While I am in agreement about your observations about "most" Catholics, the same shortcomings can be found in most "Christians".

    We get stuck with an eleven-year-old's understanding of the faith and find it falls short when we plow into adult problems.

    Is the failing in the particular denomination or is the failure in how it is passed on?

    Catholics are supposed to believe that Faith and Good Works are two sides of the same coin. Think of it as a couple that is dancing. Won't be much of a dance if either partner is not dancing to the music.

    One of the joyous things about this model is that it can give a ray of hope to those who feel little when they PING their faith. A strong Good Works dancer can make the Faith dancer grow. It is called cognitive dissonance. It is one of the ways that God gave us to invite the Holy Spirit...fake it until you make it.

    Not to quibble. I agree. Christianity (of which I consider Catholics to be a subset) is a great package and western civilization would not exist without it.

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    1. Trust me. There are "Christians" of every denomination that don't "get it". And I've prayed with Mormons who claim nothing more than faith in Jesus and our Father's forgiveness.
      https://ed-bonderenka.blogspot.com/2016/07/pushing-envelope.html
      And I thank God for my Catholic upbringing, the nuns and brothers who invested in me.
      I just don't rely on the church for my salvation.

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    2. Works are the manifestation of faith.

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    3. Amen.
      Too many slackers abound. :)

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  3. i think we are all sinners, but there is a degree of the sinning.

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    1. I wonder if we'll be surprised who we see in heaven.
      The Apostle Paul wrote most of the New Testament after killing an torturing Christians.

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  4. Thanks for the post and for sure, God's grace is free, all-sufficient and unmerited.

    We find this, covenanted to us by the Lord, in the sacraments and in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. That said, it can be hard to see at times.

    For what it's worth, I'd say that the 16th/17th C grace battles and the fracture of Christendom that came about at the Reformation are becoming moot points in the face of increasingly aggressive secularism and its strange bedfellow, Islam.

    We must stand together in the fight and doubtless that'll lead to the Cross, as it should, but victory's assured. And think, if Christ can rise from the dead, what can't He do, even with the appalling state of the Church as is?

    I take hope from that!

    Blessed Thanksgiving.

    God bless.

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    1. And the same to you.
      "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

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    2. I did not adequately convey the awe I read your comment with.
      Thank you.

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    3. I was scared that I might have given offense and so glad I didn't!

      Your confession of faith was inspiring. If only the nation's Christians would step up to the plate and be counted. One day we will and probably won't have much choice in the matter.

      In the meanwhile, have the most blessed Thanksgiving!

      PS. My dad, no mean theologian, used to describe God's election like this, "It's the same as Providence, calm down."(!) I always stood rebuked...

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  5. This was indeed a blessing for me, Ed.
    Thank you.

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  6. You said it truly, and you said it well. Thank you, my friend and brother. Blessings!

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    1. Thanks Rev. May you and your family enjoy a great Thanksgiving Day.

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    1. Thanks Joe. Enjoy that pie. Memories are part of Thanksgiving.

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  8. Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a great day!

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  9. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from another one of your Catholic friends!

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    1. Thinking of you, buddy!
      Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

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  10. Happy Thanksgiving. Humility, a contrite heart, love unfeigned, and using Christ as our example in all things irrespective of the religious label one may with to affix is a more abundant way to live and it leads to true happiness.

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    1. Amen! Happy Thanksgiving to you again, Larry.

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    2. Mr. Wolf, are you recommending the Beatitudes?

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  11. Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving from me and mine.

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  12. Grace is a gift that we cannot possibly earn but which we can all hope to receive. I guess that's a lesson for us about giving grace to those around us.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Ed.

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  13. Well said, by his grace are we saved. THEN it is up to us.

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