Conversion by Fr. Timothy Reid

In 12 Converts on 2014/02/21 at 12:00 AM

• During my college years I struggled a great deal with where to go to church. While I was raised in a very wonderful, little Methodist church, I experienced some difficulty finding a church at college where I felt comfortable intellectually.

• The advice I received from well-meaning friends was that I should check out various churches, get a feel for what they believed as a community, and then choose the church that came closest to my own personal beliefs about Jesus and our Christian faith.

• While most of my friends were comfortable with this approach, I wasn’t. The question that constantly dogged me was: “Which form of Christianity is fully right and true?”

• I knew there could be only one truth. I knew that in areas of disagreement amongst the various forms of Christianity, one church had to be right and the others in error. And it was this theological questioning that eventually led me to the Catholic Church.

• And now, 20 years later, I am so grateful to our Lord, Who so very mercifully led me to the one true Church that He founded Himself during His time on earth.

• Especially now, as we continue to witness the moral degradation of our society, I am so grateful to know that I need only to turn to the teachings of our Catholic faith for truth.

• There’s lots of confusion in the world today about what is right and wrong. Disparate voices, often acting with political motives rather than a genuine search for truth, propound various moral or amoral philosophies as to what is sinful and what is not.

• This has led to conflicting beliefs on several very serious moral issues like abortion, contraception, same-sex unions, and euthanasia.

• Of course as Catholics we know these actions to be sinful, but others believe these things to be rights that must be protected to safeguard personal liberties. More shockingly, there are those who believe actions like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex unions are actually good.

• While our country continues to debate these topics in political arenas, we must understand something important: despite all the values of a pluralistic society, our pluralism must not engender moral relativism.

• We must recognize that there is only one Truth, and we will only find unity as a country in the Truth.

• And the fullness of truth can only be found in the Church that Jesus Christ Himself founded and to which He entrusted the fullness of His revelation: the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

• This is not a proud statement. In fact, it’s a statement of humility. It’s simply the humble recognition of what our Lord has done by founding the Catholic Church and entrusting her with the fullness of revelation.

• When it comes to these serious moral questions in our society, we need to seek truth so that we can recognize the sin in our life, repent of it, and find forgiveness and healing. The beautiful thing about truth is that it is both rational and beautiful.

• And so when we study the moral teachings of the Catholic Church and begin to understand why the Church teaches as She does, we begin to see that her teachings are beautiful and make sense.

• Rather than trying to limit man’s freedom by her teachings, the Church’s teachings shine the light of Christ upon our intellects so that we can be free in truest sense rather than enslaved to our passions.

• Both our first reading and Gospel today speak of the people who walked in darkness who have seen a great light. The light, of course, is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Light of the World, the Light shining in the darkness that the darkness has not overcome.

• And while the people who walked in darkness is literally a reference to the Gentiles living in the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, in a spiritual sense it refers to all of us, for all of us are born in the darkness of sin.

• Whether we know it or not, sin is a tremendous burden, and our sins affect us in a very real way – even those sins we believe to be insignificant. Sin casts a pall over the eyes of our soul, darkening our spiritual vision and distorting our understanding of the truth. So we must avoid sin at all cost.

• The more serious our sins are, the more darkened and distorted our spiritual vision becomes, making it all the harder for us to know the Truth and act in accord with it.

• Indeed, sin doesn’t just darken and distort the way we see the Truth, but it enslaves us, taking away our freedom to do what is right and good.

• The more we commit a particular sin over and over, the harder it become to say no to that same sin in the future, and the easier it becomes to rationalize the sin to ourselves.

• In the worst cases, we can begin to believe that our sinful actions are not sinful at all – and that’s when satan’s got us.

• Sin damages the charity in our hearts, making it harder for us to love God as we should, or to love our fellow man as we should. If our sin is mortal, it doesn’t just damage our relationship with God, it cuts it off altogether, jeopardizing our eternal salvation.

• And it’s for all of these reasons that Jesus Christ came into the world. Jesus came to save us from our sins, not just to forgive them. And this is a very critical distinction that we must bear in mind, especially if we’re battling a habitual sin in our lives.

• We all know that when Jesus died on Calvary, He died in order to redeem us, to make the forgiveness of our sins possible. We know that our sins are forgiven every time we receive Holy Communion worthily and every time we make a good confession.

• But through the grace of the sacraments, Jesus does more than just forgive sins. There is grace in the sacraments that strengthens us to say no to temptations when they arise. There is grace in the sacraments that impel us as well to acts of virtue.

• The sacraments communicate God’s divine life to us. They give us a foretaste of Heaven. When we receive the sacraments worthily, we have an encounter with Jesus by which we are strengthened in holiness.

• Therefore, if we hope to be those people who have seen a great light, then we must humbly submit ourselves to Holy Mother Church in all things, for She is the Body of Christ.

• While in her humanity she is, at times, a frail and imperfect instrument, the Catholic Church is, nonetheless, the visible manifestation of Christ’s light to the world, and it is a true blessing to be numbered among her children.

• For within her bosom we find not only the fullness of Truth, enabling us to recognize sin for what it is, but we also find forgiveness for our sins, as well as the remedy that will heal us of all the harmful effects of our sins.

• My dear brothers and sisters, our blessed Lord has no greater desire than to see each and us in Heaven. He desires that all of us be saved. That is His explicit will.

• And the grace of salvation is open to all of us, no matter who we are or how numerous or terrible our sins have been. There is no limit on His mercy if we are truly contrite.

• And His mercy is most perfectly given to us through the sacraments of His one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church.

• Just as the apostles were moved to drop everything in order to follow Christ, let us rid ourselves of every burden of sin through the grace of the sacraments, so that we, too, may shine with the light of Christ and become fishers of men.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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