To Get Back to Basics

After a week wandering in the wilderness, I find it’s Sunday again. What a miracle! A chance to begin again! God is merciful. Sunday is an invitation to get back to first things. Because I let my life get too complicated sometimes. This business of being a Catholic is not that difficult.

Being Catholic means believing a short list of things, understanding them as facts, and living my life moment to moment as though these facts were true.

If God exists—
If God created me and you and the laws by which our world works—
If God loves his creation so much that he sent his only Son to live among us as a real, living, breathing, loving, suffering man two thousand years ago—
If this “Jesus of Nazareth” came into contact with real people like John and Andrew, performed miracles among them and taught them how to live, and then really was crucified, died, and rose from the dead to appear among them once more—
If He, Jesus, then promised and delivered the Holy Spirit to guide his followers after his final bodily disappearance from this earth—
Well, these facts have consequences. I need to bring my life in line with them.

But how can I do so when I forget most of the time?

Most of the time I do not live my life conscious of God, the way a child in a classroom is always aware of the teacher at the front of the room—and not a nasty, critical teacher, by the way, but the wisest, kindest, most forgiving teacher you can possibly imagine.

Most of the time I act as though I created my life and control my existence, as though what I do with my life is “my business, keep your hands off.”

Most of the time I act as though Jesus were a really good dead guy, a nice thought, a word to warm my insides, a slogan to wear on a lapel pin—not a Presence in my life, as real as the Man who appeared walking beside some of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Someone I can see and talk to and learn from moment to moment. (Heck, even those disciples were oblivious to His Presence, to who he really was. And they were walking alongside the most significant figure in earthly history. And he wasn’t going to be around that long. No wonder we’re usually oblivious.)

Most of the time I cower under the fear of death instead of living my life as if Eternal Life were not just a wish or a dream but a reality.

Most of the time I forget the implications of Pentecost and of what the Apostles carried forward, the Church and its teaching. 

Most of the time this past week I have lived this way: forgetful, oblivious, self-absorbed, keep your hands off.

But it is Sunday again, the day the Lord made for us to rest from labor and to honor and especially to remember him. Sunday is his ever-returning gift, like Christmas celebrated for the children of his family once a week. God’s offers us his forgiveness, he invites us to return to his courts, where one day is worth a thousand elsewhere. We just have to remember and ask and the door will be opened. We just have to remember.

  • EPG


  • Frank

    Amen. Lord Jesus Christ, as You know and as You will, have mercy on me a sinner.

  • Daily Grace

    You sound a bit like all of us from time to time.But, like I tell my husband, don't worry as long as we have life we can be assured that we have the oppurtunity to turn around those things in our life that we find displeasing. That's the simple truth. We acknowledge the sin (whatever that might be), we sincerely ask for forgivenss and then we set out to make it right.Have a blessed Sunday Webster

  • Mary P.

    We're all on the same page, Webster! Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Yes, Yes, good to know I am not alone…with this forgetfulness of who is in control and why we need to stay close to the basics of the faith.I have been busy and away from this site as a regular. When I have a moment I check the site. I have read between the lines and sense your struggle…and it seems to be to the same struggle I have…Jesus really loves us and wants a personal relationship with us…I keep thinking of Mother Theresa she often said, "We go not want to run ahead of Jesus"…and I find I keep doing that…like a child.Thanks for the website…thanks for all the people who visit here!

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks, all. I think it's relevant to note that I went to Confession yesterday afternoon, and the load is lighter today. I was a double-dipper, too, reading at 8.15 mass and singing at 10.30. Now a quiet afternoon of reading before the Super Bowl. Is everyone caught up with Mere Christianity? No???? Then what are you doing reading this???

  • James

    Who among us can be can be consciously aware of God's love and Christ's presence in our lives 24/7. That would be akin to being aware each moment of each heartbeat and of the very breath we draw. Our daily challenge is to 'let go and let God' which I know for me often proves very difficult. Oftentimes when confronted with a delemna (philosophical or otherwise) I can become totally consumed by it obsessing and constantly cycling through every detail. Fortunately when I get that far either my son or wife will step in and tell me,"lighten up – you're overthinking it!". Your life is your own Webster and doubt and uncertainty and the battle with selfishness dogs us all. Furthermore, we are the laity and not the clergy whose faith must face much greater challenges than ours. We have secular lives and while our moral decisions and actions should always be informed and guided by church teaching and the Holy Spirit we're entitled a healthy balance between our religious life and our life in the world. Not every book or film or activity or even relationship need be church or theology centered. We're human beings and as such notoriously inconstant but gratefully God's love and His Church are constant for us. Don't be so hard on yourself Webster. You're very,very involved in Church life and I wouldn't like to see you burn yourself out. When things are tough and I'm faced with intellectual or faith issues or sin becomes between me and God (all too often) I like to recall Robert Lewis Stevenson's phrase (or paraphrase) "Saints are the sinners who kept trying". Don't get discouraged buddy – your on pretty solid ground.

  • Matthew

    Webster,I can identify with the post very closely. Finding a path to God has been one of the primary purposes of my life and yet I still find that I can't seem to focus on him near as much as I want or even most of the time for that matter. A few months back I went through a period of semi-depression because I felt that I simply wasn't doing enough to be a good person and that I wasn't making enough of an effort in my relationship with God. Providence brought a small book into my life at that time. It was by Mother Teresa and she was telling some parts of her own story. I can't remember the title but I will see if I can find it when I get home from work. In this book though she talked about how she suffered so much and how she felt so far from God during many periods in her life. I was floored. Here is a woman who was widely recognized as a living saint and yet inside she felt very far from God. She never gave up though and she continued her outward actions no matter what she was feeling inside. This to me was a really inspirational moment to know that someone I admired so greatly and who obviously was doing the work of God, still struggled to find interior peace. It gave me the courage to know that I can just keep on getting up when I fall down or keep on fighting through the desert to find the oasis.God bless and keep fighting the good fight.

  • Frank

    Abba Serapion said,”When the soldiers of the emperor are standing at attention, they cannot look to the right or to the left. It is the same for the man who stands before God and looks towards Him in fear at all times; he cannot then fear anything from the enemy.”

  • Stefanie

    The battles continue until our Lord comes for us.But remember, the real war is already won.At the cross.

  • Anonymous

    Your reverence for the Sacraments is both humbling and inspiring. I'm ashamed to admit that I've gotten very lax about going to Confession. Except for missing Mass here and there, I didn't think I was committing any mortal sins. Now I realize that there is a very long list of behaviors I need to address, so that my next Confession will be sincere and have the promise of ammendment. Anger, Cowardice, Fraud, Drunkenness, Impurity, Faithlessness, Disrespect of ones's parents (no matter how old you or they are), Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Envy, Jealousy, Quarelling… and of course, the kicker: Communion received while in a state of Mortal sin. Does RCIA address this issue clearly? I think many of us could use a refresher course. Thank you for your strong example.