Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I read the following excerpt from my friend Bret's blog. Although we disagree on spiritual matters since he is a Baptist minister, I thought it was descriptive of my new journey.

If any one supposes that religion consists merely of self-denial and painful austerities, and that it is filled with gloom and melancholy, to the exclusion of all happiness, he greatly mistakes its true character. False religions, and false views of the true religion, may be liable to this charge; but the religion which has God for its author, and which leads the soul to God, is full of peace and joy. It renders us cheerful amidst the trials of life, contented with all the allotments of Divine Providence, happy in the exercises of piety and devotion, and joyful in the hope of an endless felicity. Heaven is near in prospect; and, while on the way to that world of perfect and eternal bliss, we are permitted, in some measure, to anticipate its joys, being, even here, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.[2] We are enabled, not only to pursue our pilgrimage to the good land with content and cheerfulness, but even to "delight ourselves in the Lord."[3] Our happiness is not merely the absence of grief and pain, but it is positive delight.
If we loved the truth as we ought, we should experience equal delight in receiving it; and careful investigation of it would be a source of pure and abiding pleasure.

I feel that when I was attending the Baptist church many years ago that it was indeed burdensome to try and live a Christian life. Perhaps it was my youth and the fact that I didn't understand certain things along with my selfishness, but I never felt at home in the Baptist church. I found that religion didn't really help me with my struggles and it simply added to them. I've often heard people talk about the Catholic Church involving a lot of "guilt", but I can say that there was plenty of that back then too. This is how I responded in Bret's comments:

That is a very interesting excerpt. It's how I feel about becoming Catholic. I felt the other way (no offense) in the Baptist church. I felt it was too difficult and too draining. I have yet to feel like I don't want to go to mass. Even those days when I'm exhausted, I still feel uplifted by simply going to mass. I know you still have doubts about my choice, but I am thankful for it. I feel really blessed and eager to learn about God's graces now. And I am at a greater peace than I have ever been and honestly feel really joyful about life. It's been a long time since I've felt that way.

Bret did respond in kind to me stating: Jennifer, of course I still have major doubts about your choice to become Catholic. I don't doubt your feelings as of late. I also don't doubt your feelings in the past when you were at Fellowship Baptist. But feelings, a Christian do not make. Not that emotions are not involved, of course they are.

But I do wonder, have you simply become comfortable with yourself within modern Catholicism, or is your life truly converted to Christ-centeredness? Is it the love of Christ, revealed purely in the Scripture who you now whole-heartedly follow?

The only response I can make is that I think I'm still a work in progress... but I am making progress. I am certainly trying to follow God's will, I am building a relationship with Christ, and I am studying the scriptures so that I can truly call myself a Christian. I am by no means perfect, nor will I ever be. But there is more hope of me getting there now. I know I have changed. I have put a lot of my old ways on the shelf. I'm not so concerned about my relationships with people as I am about my relationship with God. I think at least right now I'm on the right path.

And he's right, it's not just about feelings although they are involved. It is a very conscious decision and effort on my part to devote myself to God's word. And I am trying. Like all relationships, they take time to build. So I'm taking those steps to know Christ, know His will, and build that relationship. And since I've been so terrible at relationships thus far, I know that it may be more difficult for me, but at least I know that God is not one who will abandon me. He's waited this long after all.

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