“If you really wanted to confess something, why not just talk to an empty chair and pretend Jesus is in it? Why would you put yourself through that when you can see you’re talking to another flawed human,” asked my indignant high school friend.
Fair point, I had to admit.
Why trouble myself with the humiliation of naming my sins and shortcomings to anyone else, when I could just speak them into the void and call it good?
Is Catholicism worth the hassle? There are so many seeming add-ons that other traditions don’t ask of them.
Growing up I was surrounded by friends who deeply loved Jesus, who knew Scripture and wanted the same for me. They just didn’t seem to imagine I could find that in the Catholic Church and challenged me on it frequently. It turns out I was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of coming to an intimate understanding of the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Tradition present therein, so naturally I wondered if they might be right.
Their questions and promptings came from a good place and didn’t allow for me to become stagnant. Ultimately, their curiosity and prompting led to a place of discernment.
Was the Faith I’d been Baptized into my own? Did I want it to be?
I remember my mom encouraging me to give a final fair chance before I let it go completely.
I scheduled a time with my parish priest for Confession and to talk over my questions and the inherent struggles in deciding whether or not to stay Catholic.
“Shouldn’t the Faith I’m choosing serve to comfort me? Why choose a Faith that asks so much of me?” I demanded indignantly.
He listened to me lovingly and patiently. The conversation was a beautiful one, one in which he shared his own deep need for Sacraments–specifically Confession–and the grace that comes with self-awareness, humility, and a contrite heart. I was so touched by his sharing that I knew an empty chair (for starters) could never replace the grace promised for bringing myself, warts and all, to the Redeemer who knows my heart better than any.
The invitation to be on a journey with the Lord (rather than inviting the Lord along for my journeying) served to help me come to the decision to remain on the days when choosing faithfulness means choosing to be refined by the struggle.
// What has challenged you/challenges you about your Catholic Faith? What has inspired you to remain and make it your own in the past? Now?
// Is your faith experience one where you invite Jesus along from time to time, or one in which the Lord is ever present, even amidst the struggles?
P.S. Grab this free wallpaper for your phone or computer to remind you of your focus during this summer series (and beyond)!