It would seem I got a bit of a buzz over my Clarity article, for all the wrong reasons, but you must roll with what comes. So here’s the question that I don’t think I could even begin to answer with any real experience, so perhaps those who are reverts could shed some light. My salvation Journey was far from sacramental. It was an ask-Jesus-in-my-heart sort of deal at the ripe age of 5 or 6. I had an affection for Him, but by the time I hit my teens I was knee deep in a flood of depravity. At twenty, the prodigal returned to the loving Father, and ten years later I made my way to Rome.
I fail to understand the nature of being in the fullness of the faith–receiving sacramental Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation–are these sacraments effectual or not? Was not even a mustard seed of faith present during all the graces received? Many consumed the Lamb countless times before making the break.
You were born again in baptism, and I hardly believe that mortal sin was present at first communion, for most baptized. Some are sharing in the life of grace, and have already been grafted into the body of Christ; others may have made it all the way to confirmation. I even know people that had a deep encounter with the Holy Spirit while at the Catholic Church only to leave for these same Christian churches I described in my prior post.
God didn’t start talking to me about the Catholic Church and its claims until I came to a place of humility about my own ideas. I think the great blindness in our American culture speaks volumes about this, as we are born and bred to rebellion. To be Catholic is to be counter-cultural. It removes the ‘me’ and replaces it with the ‘we’; it takes ‘I believe’ to ‘we believe’. Individualism and private self-direction is trumped by ‘Peter has spoken.’
I had a prejudice in me toward Rome before I even gave my heart back to the Lord at twenty. I assumed their doctrines were of human origin, because I couldn’t quote it chapter and verse, all the while wielding my own private magisterium in my little head. Arrogance of spiritual knowledge and an over-inflated intellect contributed to this dilemma. Humility of my own abilities brought me to my senses, and that came with a little age and experience.
This is not too complicated; faith, hope, and love sees the perfect, even the Church in her fullness. Where these are lacking, spiritual blindness grows. Self-love, even under the guise of me and Jesus with bible in hand, has more to do with all of this than we care to admit.
Now I will give a defense to these souls, whether still wandering or not. The current state of things in the western Catholic Church is anything but EWTN. Selfless love takes a measure of personal sanctity that can take awhile; my motive for joining the Catholic Church had more to do with God’s calling than my private desire. There is no way I would have even looked in this direction in my younger years. My wife and I stopped at the first church that we were loved by. At twenty all I knew was I needed Jesus, and that meant going to Church. I have endured more silliness being a Catholic than I could have even stomached all my years as a protestant evangelical.
The Church is more than Sacraments and the Communion of the Saints; it is made up of you and me. Many of these new Christian communities have a vibrant faith life amongst the people themselves that is contagious because it is real. Sadly many lapsed Catholics have been drawn to this, and it is the failure of our communities to live a life fully alive in Christ.
I wish EWTN would have prepared me for what I was going to encounter. A church-little-c within the Church, a reformation without leaving the household of faith. This leant a great deal of confusion and hurt for me personally. What am I trying to say? Well if an authentic Catholic faith full of hope, love, and Christ’s life were lived out as it should be, this problem would all but go away. The reverts bring a zeal that is rare amongst the faithful, so in God’s name why is this lacking in His Bride at all?
I have found throughout the years many of our separated brethren have left the Church. Prior to my conversion to the Catholic Church, they would say things akin to, “I didn’t know the Lord, they didn’t preach the gospel, they didn’t teach the Bible.”
Why would this be communicated at all if there were not some grain of truth in it? Where is the breakdown?