Journey with Christ Alive
Blog Article posted by Kathy McNicholas – September 12, 2017
The weird and wonderful thing about being in my position of accompanying others on their faith journey is that for every negative comment or criticism I hear about God, about religion, about being Catholic, I hear ten times more about the wonder and awe of beginning a journey with Christ Alive. When I have the opportunity to sit with someone who is just awakening to the living spirit within them, and I feel their excitement and anticipation – their longing for MORE Christ, for a deeper connection to the love they are experiencing – I know it’s all real. The power of our oneness in Christ is real.
So how is that many people don’t experience this aspect of religion? My opinion? Could be they’re not ready – too young, too busy, too fascinated by the distractions of this life. Timing is everything. Also, let’s be honest; there’s a lot of thick, dark, ego junk in religion, too. I encounter the “Dark Side,” the power of control, the judgment, the lack of respect. You can’t be in this Church for more than about ten minutes before you bump into it. Hard. Maybe that’s the simple reality for an “institution” that’s been around for two thousand years – it’s going to have some baggage. And maybe for some people, that’s all they’ve EVER encountered in religion. It can be really easy to lose your sense of Jesus when you’re getting ignored, condemned, belittled, or dismissed by the very Church that is supposed to be the Living Christ in the world.
What do I do about it, when I’m confronted by the menacing side of religion? I look inward. Don’t I have a dark side, too? Anger? Jealousy? Impatience? Haven’t I cut someone with my words, with my failure to listen? I remember hearing once that the Church is both human and divine, just like Christ. (Although He was without sin; the Church is not…) For every tear I’ve shed at the hurt feelings I’ve experienced, I’ve felt great peace, comfort, and love even more – and stronger than I can find anywhere else. Jesus is here, so powerfully that I can’t deny Him.
I wear a Fit Bit, and you know what I’ve noticed? When I’m in Mass, my heart rate drops to its lowest numbers all week. I’m usually resting around 62-63 (not going into my health issues now – save that for another time). Sitting in the pew one Sunday, I was stunned to see my heart rate in the mid 50’s! It’s never that low any other time or place, even when I’m half asleep! Just being in the presence of God is consistently good for my heart.
And I’m not the only one having this experience of reality. That’s what I love about my job. To give you just a little example of what I mean, this is a letter written to me by a 14-year-old girl, whose mother had died. She had been raised “without faith,” and her new step-mother (a Catholic), wanted her to explore joining the Catholic religion. Like the daughter of Jairus, I watched this girl awaken and arise. I believe that in Christ, she began to find answers to the meaning of her life and death questions. These are her own words:
“My path to becoming a Catholic was a magical and a breath-taking event. When my stepmom first told me that I would be attending Catholic classes, I groaned thinking that it would be a lot more work added to my current busy schedule. I was wrong, and I learned to love being together with the other young people preparing to receive their Confirmation; but only I would be receiving Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. It was beautiful, and I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to experience something that not many people do, I am grateful to my family, the entire parish and all of my fellow classmates for supporting me through this life-changing time.
When it was the night of the Easter Vigil Mass, I was nervous, afraid that I would somehow mess up, thankfully, I didn’t. I was ecstatic when I approached the Baptismal water to become Baptized. The mass was beautifully prepared; I was overjoyed at the rupture of applause I received when I was welcomed into the Catholic Family. My family raved about how marvelous everything took place, and commented on how I was glowing (unless that was the oil from being Confirmed on my face)! I’m sure I was, as I am proud to say that I am now, and forever will be, a Catholic.”
— Kathy McNicholas