Be an Amazing Catechist
Love Is the Thing, Even if I Want to Judge
If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. ~ Psalm 130:3-4
I'm working on not being so judgmental. I wonder why I judge people, what the need is to reckon another person's rectitude with God. It's a dangerous path I walk when I judge. But it feels so good to pronounce the words that condemn or belittle. I kid myself that I say it out of concern for their souls.
I'm sitting in on an RCIA program this year, and I'm learning some things I didn't know I didn't know. For instance, did you know that the indelible mark of Baptism on your soul made you a Christian? No, it was not accepting Jesus as your Savior, or growing up in the Church. It was Baptism.
You might not accept the fact of your Christian soul, intellectually. Or you might believe, but not obey. You might reject Christ, embarking on a path of resolute evil, and finally spend all eternity in the loneliness and desolation of hell. But in your human lifetime the mark endures. You are a Christian, adopted into the divine family of God against your will. Ha!
I love the Church. I was an ignorant cradle Catholic who wandered into adulthood poorly armored against sin, fell badly from grace, and descended into a habitual bitterness that ached physically. Years of disappointment and rage at God led me to a precipice, where grace found me teetering. Conversion erupted in me, an agonizing rebirth, exploding in the darkness of my heart almost against my will, and led me home to the Catholic religion.
Sacramental life—Eucharist, confession—put my shattered Humpty-Dumpty soul together again, so I love the sacraments passionately. The Church's wisdom answered my questions and delighted my imagination. My resistance to faith, so great that I had for months prayed with my fist in the air, began to subside. And after much questioning and probing, I found, at last, the grace to yield and really believe.
Suddenly there were angels on my journey with me, and saints—incomparable brothers and sisters—to follow into a greater love of Jesus, of forgiveness and healing, of holiness itself. The adventure had begun in earnest, and continues to this moment, almost twenty years later.
Catholicism saved me, I tell you. This Church that is broken in some ways, is still pure, powerful, and holy in its essence. As Matthew Kelly says, "The answer to everything that is wrong with the Church, is everything that is right with the Church." She is our mother, our family, our Lord's body alive among us and within us. She is everything to this poor sinner, saved from her designer hell. I have been loved into new health; beckoned again and again to go still further into love, the steep and demanding road home.
Yeah, Catholicism, pure and simple, means a lot to me. So I leap to judgment when I see disobedience and disrespect for proper authority within the Church. And instead of seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ, I see the danger their errors represent. I see souls in peril, like mine once was. And it makes me cranky.
I've been praying about this a lot, lately. How sad that divisiveness within the Church so often kills off our love for one another. We're a family, and our family is precious and sacred. But, this not being heaven, it's kind of a mess. I've been begging God to give me wisdom about this, to teach me how to love His wounded Body no matter what the obstacle.
Lisa Mladinich is a Catholic wife and mother, catechist and workshop leader, and the author of the popular booklets, "Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children," and "Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation" available from Our Sunday Visitor. She is the founder of www.AmazingCatechists.com.