Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You're Catholic? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

You’re Catholic? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”

Written by Dave Brokke.

Many people acknowledge that Catholics are Christians and many people know that Catholics believe that Jesus is true God and true man, but still many will question whether or not Catholics have a living and personal relationship with Christ. It is sadly and unfortunately true that a large amount of Catholics have completely missed the mark on this issue, but we were told that there will always be tares among the wheat. They have made Christianity into a program, a system of doctrines, a moral standard of rules and beliefs. But as Pope John Paul II said, Christianity “is not a concept, a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God” (Redemptoris Missio, 18). It is all about Jesus Christ, it is not about this or that and the other, it is not about a belief, it is about a PERSON, the PERSON of Jesus Christ, who has come to seek and save the lost! So many people who look at Catholicism from the outside see saints, rosaries, Mary, smells, bells, the authority of the Pope, sacraments, etc… which is true those are in Catholicism, but many see these things as a hindrance to Christ as something that gets in the way and that Catholicism is about all those things and not about a relationship with Christ. The truth is that those “extras” are not something that hinder us from Christ but are ways to experience MORE of Christ. They bring us to Christ , they bring us Christ. We believe that Christ truly became Incarnate and thus has made His presence in and through the world, especially through the Church. It’s not an either/or “you have to choose Jesus or the saints or the sacraments or the Church” it’s a both/and “you can choose Jesus in Himself as well as in those people and things around you.” Even St. Louis de Montfort, the saint with the highest Mariology in Catholicism admits,

“Jesus, our Savior, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and end of everything. "We labor," says St. Paul, "only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ.” For in Him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue, and perfection. In Him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; He is the only Teacher from Whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and
He alone can satisfy all our desires. We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection, and glory than Jesus. Every one of the faithful who is not united to him is like a branch broken from the stem of the vine. It falls and withers and is fit only to be burnt. If we live in Jesus and Jesus lives in us, we need not fear damnation. Neither angels in heaven nor
men on earth, nor devils in hell, no creature whatever can harm us, for no creature can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. Through him, with him, and in Him, we can do all things and render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbor a fragrance of eternal life. If then we are establishing sound devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only in
order to establish devotion to our Lord more perfectly, by providing a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ. If devotion to our Lady distracted us from our Lord, we would have to reject it as an illusion of the devil. But this is far from
being the case. As I have already shown and will show again later on, this devotion is necessary, simply, and solely because it is a way of reaching Jesus perfectly, loving Him tenderly, and serving Him faithfully.” ("True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin" ~ St. Louis de Montfort, paragraph 14, 61-62)

The core, the heart of Catholicism is the Kergyma, which proclaims that:
1) God loves us and has a plan for us (Jer 29:11)
2) Sin destroyed this plan (Rom 6:23)
3) God sent His only Son, Jesus, to save us, He is the only Way (John 3:16, John 14:6)
4) Turn to Jesus by joining the Church, the Body of Christ (Acts 2:37-38)

Catholicism is all about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – the Lover of our souls!

(If you are Catholic and are asked if you have a personal relationship with God, I hope and pray that you can emphatically answer, “Yes!” if you cannot, you have missed the mark and I challenge you to re-examine your faith, because if you have missed the heart of it, the very core of it, you have missed it completely!)

"What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God." ~ Pope Benedict XVI, April 2008 in New York Address to the Youth

“Our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship” ~ (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 53) Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation published in 1975

“This conversion must be taken as an initial one, yet sufficient to make a man realize that he has been snatched away from sin and led into the mystery of God's love, who called him to enter into a personal relationship with Him in Christ.” (Ad Gentes, 13) Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church published in 1965

“The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance… There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him… If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation” (Pope Benedict XVI, 24 April 2005).

“Man [has a] right to a more personal encounter with the crucified forgiving Christ” (Redemptoris Hominis, 20) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1979

“Rather, he [who prays] seeks an encounter with the Father of Jesus Christ, asking God to be present with the consolation of the Spirit to him and his work. A personal relationship with God and an abandonment to his will can prevent man from being demeaned and save him...” (Deus Caritas Est, 37) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2005

“At such times, a living relationship with Christ is decisive if we are to keep on the right path, without falling .... Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.” (Deus Caritas Est, 36) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2005

“Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with Him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with Him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.” (Spe Salvi, 27) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2007

“Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into His “being for all”; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with Him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole.” (Spe Salvi, 28) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2007

“Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40). It gives real substance to the personal relationship with God and with neighbour” (Caritas In Veritate, 2) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2009

“Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature.” (Caritas in Veritate, 11) Pope Benedict XVI in an Encyclical published 2009

“Accordingly, the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people not only in touch but in communion, in intimacy, with Jesus Christ: only He can lead us to the love of the Father in the Spirit and make us share in the life of the Holy Trinity.” (Catechesi Tradendae, 5) Pope John Paul II in an Apostolic Exhortation published in 1979

“The kingdom will grow insofar as every person learns to turn to God in the intimacy of prayer as to a Father (cf. Lk 11:2; Mt 23:9) and strives to do his will (cf. Mt 7:21)..” (Redemptoris Missio, 13) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1990

“Missionary cooperation is rooted and lived, above all, in personal union with Christ. Only if we are united to him as the branches to the vine (cf. Jn 15:5) can we produce good fruit.” (Redemptoris Missio, 77) Pope John Paul II in an Encyclical published 1990

“The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by God’s love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator.” (Gaudium Et Spes, 19) Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, published in 1965

Catechism of the Catholic Church 299 The universe, created in and by the eternal Word, the "image of the invisible God", is destined for and addressed to man, himself created in the "image of God" and called to a personal relationship with God.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2558 "Great is the mystery of the faith!" This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 35 Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2591 God tirelessly calls each person to this mysterious encounter with Himself. Prayer unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation as a reciprocal call between God and man.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2567 God calls man first. Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2560 "If you knew the gift of God!" The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2659 We learn to pray at certain moments by hearing the Word of the Lord and sharing in his Paschal mystery, but his Spirit is offered us at all times, in the events of each day, to make prayer spring up from us. Jesus' teaching about praying to our Father is in the same vein as his teaching about providence: time is in the Father's hands; it is in the present that we encounter him, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today: "O that today you would hearken to his voice! Harden not your hearts."

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Kingdom is "the union of the entire holy and royal Trinity . . . with the whole human spirit." Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1101 The Holy Spirit gives a spiritual understanding of the Word of God to those who read or hear it, according to the dispositions of their hearts. By means of the words, actions, and symbols that form the structure of a celebration, the Spirit puts both the faithful and the ministers into a living relationship with Christ, the Word and Image of the Father, so that they can live out the meaning of what they hear, contemplate, and do in the celebration.