Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No, I don't have a personal relationship with Jesus

I have an ecclesial relationship with Jesus. All baptized and confirmed Catholics who are in a state of grace and regularly participate in the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession have a personal relationship with Jesus stronger than any Protestant on earth even if they don't think of it in those particular terms.

I've noticed that a lot of Catholics are using Protestant language in the "New Evangelization." Maybe it's just a marketing technique they're using in a predominantly cultural Protestant nation like the US. Maybe they think the Catholic Church got it all wrong for 1,962 years, statistics about the sacraments notwithstanding. Maybe they think "modern man" is different in kind and not degree from Renaissance man, or medieval man. Whatever the reason, the difficulty with using Protestant language is that eventually you'll begin to think Protestant thoughts.

A "personal" relationship with Jesus is just that, personal. I define it. I can end it. If it's just me n' Jesus, then ultimately I only have my own feelings to guide me. For Protestants, the church community is not so much the Body of Christ but a gathering of like minded believers who listen to each other, help each other carry their crosses, and enjoy Christian fellowship. The skeptical Christian reader reads this and scoffs, "What more could you possibly be looking for?"

I want an objective body of doctrine that makes objective demands of the believer. I want Christ himself present on the altar. I want the good teacher to explain what I must do to have eternal life.

I suppose that's why corruption and weakness within the Church has always been far more difficult for me to handle than whatever the Godless heathens might be up to. They don't know any better. We Catholics can and should know better. But there are forces within the Catholic Church, and all Christian churches for that matter, that are determined to make sure we don't know better. I can't think of another way to describe it. Priests, religious, and professional lay people get downright angry if you suggest that the people must repent, confess, and do penance.

Sometimes it almost feels like I have to take the "Just me n' Jesus" approach even though I became Catholic in part because I wanted to get away from that kind of Christianity.

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