I spent the last 5 days with my friends from Capernwray who are some of the most genuine evangelicals (in every good sense of the word) I know. They've re-taught me alot about the faith and the importance of the Bible and the necessity for a personal relationship with Jesus.
I hope I never forget the first time I ever went to Mass, I just sat in the back row the whole time, I refused to kneel, there were no songs, and I didn't know any of the prayers, but I remember the homily. It was on the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus and that it is the centre of a living faith. I'm not for a second pretending that the Roman Catholic Church I go to actually teaches what Wesley would call "true Christianity" or Schaeffer "True Spirituality" - that is, a faith based in the grace of God and the finished work of Christ on the Cross, rich in good works flowing from the power of the Holy Spirit. But it must have been an off night. I'm Catholic because the Christian tradition, Logic, and Scripture oblige me to, not because it does anything near a good job in actually preaching or practicing the gospel. But enough complaints.
I wanted to write about my personal walk with Christ and how it has strengthened this year. I've been reading the Bible again with an open heart and praying that God will teach me things. Starting with 2 Corinthians, a bit of Romans, and 1 Samuel I feel that God has re-inforced the most important parts of salvation to me. He has shown me that he has unlimited grace and love for me as long as I am in Christ. He has taught me about the significance of my baptism and faith in Christ. But most importantly God has reassured me in what my Catholic friend Philip once said in an email, that becoming a saint is not only possible for those in Christ, but it is an inevitability. I still find that the most difficult dogma to believe. The infallibility of the Church/Pope wasn't that difficult, the immaculate conception was difficult, but the complete Regeneration of a Christian in this life and the next (purgatory) - that seemed impossible.
I've learned alot in the past year about my sinfulness and as I sit here writing I find it humorous. My Atheist and Humanist friends always talk about the "freedom" from Relgion and Morality and how they can do whatever they want. Well I've been home 2 days and I've fought through God's grace, and my cooperation (which is still a grace) the temptation to fall back into the sin which has been a 'thorn in my flesh' so to speak. I'm pacing around and stressed out and at that moment I realized that in sin I'm not free at all. As one Protestant theologian said "the most free you will ever be is as a slave to Christ". I tend to agree with that alot. So now I pray and read my bible and read the words "Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the Flesh?" (Gal 3.3) and trying to have faith in the power of the Spirit. And so I wish always to be an Evangelical Catholic who is given grace through faith and the sacraments, and who is fed by the word of God and the Eucharist, and is always seeking to become what Christ is.
I close with St. Augustine's words which a friend gave me and which will annoy all my Reformed friends:
"God, oh Lord, grant me the power to overcome sin. For sin is that which you gave to us when you granted us free choice of will. If I choose wrongly, then I shall be justly punished for it. Is that not true, my Lord, of whom I indebted for my temporal existence. Thank you, Lord, for granting me the power to will my self not to sin." - St. Augustine