Catholicism saved me, I tell you. This Church that is broken in some ways, is still pure, powerful, and holy in its essence.
I was at the point that many of us reach–those of us who were products of a post-Vatican II Church that eschewed authentic Catholic dogmas and moral teachings in favor of a Kumbaya campout with a hippie named “Jesus.” He was a pleasant chap, but he was worthless at bringing meaning and hope to a life bogged down in sin and blinded by ignorance. I know. I lived it.
When you hear the Catholic Church referred to as a “sleeping giant,” it’s largely because for generations since Vatican II, the jettisoning of solid doctrinal teaching and the peddling of a soft, plush-toy Jesus put most of us to sleep. And tens of millions of us sleep-walked en-masse right off the deck of St. Peter’s Barque.
But even as we drowned we thirsted, unknowingly, for the Living Water of faith in Jesus Christ–not the mushy one, the fiery one; the one who spoke the truth in full, no matter what the cost; the one who embraced suffering and made it redemptive; the one who showed us that virtue was a treasure and ego a thorn. I wrote about my conversion, here at Patheos, a while back:
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…
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. (Read more…)
Even with all the divisions in our Church, I love this beautiful Mother very deeply. She is mine and I am hers, and I will never leave her. She is packed to the rafters with sinners–always has been and always will be–so I do my best not to be discouraged by my own failings or those of any other broken-down Catholic I meet along the way. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for the elite.
Through the saving love of Jesus Christ, through Catholic sacraments and teachings, and through the maternal love of the Blessed Virgin Mary, my soul and my life have been made increasingly healthy and increasingly whole; and the holy joy of our salvation in Christ is a durable, dependable source of grace and healing; it is mine, every single day, whether in sadness or in celebration.
This Church I love is a haven for all souls–no matter what the past looks like from where they stand–and Jesus Christ is our Lord and King, welcoming us into the shelter of His Sacred Heart. His is the way of radiant purity, courage, redemption, forgiveness, sacrifice, and unfailing mercy. His power crushes evil and sanctifies our feeble attempts at love, making more of the good in us and less of our sins.
I am home at last and free at last, with all my warts and all my blessings.
Now, as your reward for reading my little rant (HA!), enjoy a tiny girl with a big voice–Imani Bradford–bringing it home with a gorgeous version of “His Eye is On the Sparrow”! Rock on, little girl!