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Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Awakening of a Catholic

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The Awakening of a Catholic

I was born, baptized, and raised as a Catholic. I went to Catholic schools from Elementary to College. I followed every Catholic tradition and went to church every Sunday. I prayed to Mary and other saints and prayed for the dead to go to heaven. I prayed the rosary and other repetitious prayers. It was something that my parents and my grandparents were born into.
My parents were devout Catholics who imposed their belief on us. It helped build a good foundation for me to take my religion seriously. However, it also made me question a lot of things. Even at a young age, I was already wondering why I had to pray a repetitious prayer. No matter how I tried concentrating and focusing on each word, I still could not understand why I had to be like a parrot reciting some prayer that I've learned from my parents or from school. I also remember having so many different pictures of Jesus and Mary in our house. I used to smile and nod at each picture as a sign of respect and it made me dizzy looking from left to right.
I was not what Catholics considered a good girl. I was rebellious and very rough around the edges. A big part of me wanted to be modest, pure, and good, kind of like the aura of Mother Theresa. Yet, the real me was so totally the opposite. It was so frustrating trying to be good but not being able to do it. I made promises to God that I wasn't even able to keep. I was walking half-guilty all the time.
I also found the devout Catholics so rigid and straight, which was so unlike me. I felt I didn't fit into their culture. My mom wanted me to be a part of the church youth group or choir but I just thought it was so "uncool".
One day, a friend of mine asked me this question: "How many sins do you think you commit in a day? He told me not to tell him but to just think about it. Then he said: "Multiply that in a week... in a month... in a year... Did you know that Jesus died for all those sins and even for those you haven't committed yet"? That's when it dawned on me that Jesus didn't just die for mankind but for me personally. HE DIED FOR ME. Then my friend asked me if I want to receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior, this time making that decision for myself and not just because my parents told me to. That was the beginning of my awakening.
As I embraced my new-found personal relationship with Jesus and as I got more immersed in His Word, I realized how much I've missed all those years. I never read my Bible until then. I mean I heard Scriptures in church and I did my Bible reading as a requirement in school for some of our assignments in our Religion classes, but never out of my own desire to hear from God. Nobody ever told me that. Daily Bible reading and meditation of the Word was never a part of my life as a Catholic. No wonder I was lost! No wonder I didn't know the Truth. No wonder I was just like a robot following whatever I've learned. I was praying to God but was never hearing from Him. And my prayers were just my own personal desires and requests and were not in accordance to His Word. How could I??? I didn't know His Word.
Praying to Mary and the saints also hindered me from focusing on Jesus and His Words. There were so many prayer books and so many different saints to call. So when I read the Scripture, I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE, NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME (John 14:6), I was like, "What in the world was I doing going through Mary and the saints when I could have gone straight to Jesus?"
One other thing I've realized is that my baptism as a Catholic was not even out of my own choice. I was a few months old when I was baptized so how could I have known? All I had was a religion but not a relationship with Jesus.
Though I was walking half-guilty all the time, I had the assurance that I will go to heaven because if I end up in purgatory, then my family can pray for me to go to heaven. What a great excuse to sin. I was also told that if I prayed the Novena consecutively, then I can go to heaven. I did that! So even if I could not be good, I still had other options. It was all based on "works".
When I saw the Scripture, FOR IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, THROUGH FAITH AND THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD NOT BY WORKS... (Ephesians 2:8-9), everything about my "trying to be good but could not" started making sense to me. My Bible says that my works will not save me. It also says that it is by GRACE, which means FAVOR I DON'T DESERVE, through FAITH that I am saved. So where in the world did the teaching about "me praying the novena to go to heaven come from"? No wonder I couldn't change myself. I didn't have the power to. Only God could. My part was to believe in Him. And believing means to cling to Him, abide in Him, and remain in Him.
I thought I knew Jesus just because I've been so familiar with His name. Yet KNOWING is not just being familiar. I know President Obama because he is the President of the U.S.A.; but I don't really KNOW him. How could I have known Jesus without being intimate with Him? How could I have been intimate with Him without spending undivided time with Him everyday? How could I have known Him without knowing His life, His thoughts, His Words? How could I have known Him intimately without the power of the Holy Spirit which only comes when a person gets reborn?
Now I have the power of the Holy Spirit to be good and aim for perfection. Now I have the liberty to be who God made me to be and not be who people expect me to be. Now I have the wisdom to understand the meaning behind the words in the Bible. And that's because I have been reborn. I now have a relationship with Jesus and not just a religion that I was born into.
If you are a Catholic, I strongly advice you to read your Bible. But even before you do that, make that personal choice to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Then get baptized, this time, out of your own volition. Get to know Jesus intimately. Read the Bible as if it was God writing a love letter to you. Get out of your religion and establish a true relationship with the man who died for you. Don't worry about your family or about your traditions or about your other beliefs. Take one step at a time. Get immersed in the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit lead and guide you.
Lisa Maki is the founder of God'z Gurlz, a Bible-based online magazine for women whose mission is to is to provide a place where women can learn to manage their emotions, experience healing, receive love and acceptance, be free to be who God made them to be, and be the best they can be in their homes, schools, professions, relationships, and calling, through sharing of insights and experiences, counseling, prayer, and devotionals, thereby learning from and supporting each other.  For more of Lisa's articles, visit http://godzgurlz.com/ Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lisa_U_Maki Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6734774

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1 comment :

  1. Wow! Beautiful story. Mine is the exact opposite with the exception that I met Christ early on in my life (11 years old) at a charismatic evening service. I worshiped in the same church for years and began to see how shallow my church/my faith was. I read my bible daily, worshiped daily, I have and have always had a relationship with Jesus Christ, but it was empty, lacking order, and seemed overly emotional. I have always looked to the scriptures for answers and I found them the answers I was looking for. I am so grateful that God brought me home to the Catholic church. The Catholic church is like a giant treasure chest. It is so full of beauty and life. Full of Christ's life. Full of Christ's love. Your hardness of heart is very evident in this post. To say that your experience in the Catholic church is what all or most Catholics experience is false and leads to division. You would do well to share your testimony without condemning a Church that reads the scriptures out loud at every daily mass throughout the world. You didn't believe in Christ when you were growing up because the Holy Spirit didn't reveal Him to you. When you believed, it was because God revealed Christ to you at the appointed time. God bless you.