Monday, February 28, 2011

Seeing the world with new eyes.

I see the world entirely different than I did not long ago.

The other day I went to my first Protestant service. There was lots of singing, praying, and talking. It was a great new experience. However, there was much missing. Much, much missing.

I know that there is at least one Protestant who reads my blog, and I would encourage that person (and people from other Christian traditions) to understand why I am writing the way I am, and that it is not out of arrogance nor malice. Protestant and non-denominational churches, as I understand them, empower the individual to interpret scripture as they understand it, with a limited guidance on their interpretation from their church and/or pastor. One can essentially believe whatever they want, with some exceptions.

However, in the Roman Catholic church we believe that truth exists, and we have found it. Protestant churches view other denominations or beliefs as those who have looked over the evidence in the Bible and come to a different conclusion; the Catholic church is drawing its conclusions not only from the Bible but from tradition passed down from the apostles. How can we defend sola scriptura by saying that God trusted us with interpretation of scripture when we still come to different conclusions? Why would Jesus ascend into heaven, telling His disciples "Just figure it all out for yourselves." Why would He leave us behind with even the remotest possibility that we would disagree on exactly what was going on in the Gospels and the rest of the Bible? He is God, after all. Doesn't that seem like a mistake, that so many Christians could be left simply disagreeing on what it all means? God doesn't make mistakes. God would want us to agree on what He was trying to achieve by dying on a cross.

That being said, I hope anyone who objects to this post can understand my reasoning on why I feel obligated to speak the way I am. It is not out of arrogance, but out of a clinging to what I know is true. I don't see it as an opinion but as something valuable to know! :)

What I found to be missing in the service was the focus on Jesus at mass. His presence in the Eucharist, our praise of Him, our focus on foreshadowing our lives in heaven. I was sad that the people at the service I went to earlier that day were missing out on so much. I knew that they were there because they were seeking God and loving God, but they have probably never known what it is like to fully participate in the mass as even many Catholics do not! I was so upset at this thought that I burst into tears talking about it with my soon-to-be-Catholic girlfriend. I was imagining what it might be like to have everyone I know, and the whole rest of the world as well, truly taking part in the sacrifice of the Mass, as Jesus spoke of when He told us "do this in memory of me." I imagined what it might be like for everyone to take part in what St. Paul described in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 when he said, "The bread which we break, is it not a sharing in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread." The one bread! The one Christ! Not the many symbolic breads!

I imagined what it might be like. Then I realized that it wasn't so...and it broke me. I was so hurt, reader. So, so hurt. I couldn't even understand why, thinking about the experience later. I always knew not everyone was Catholic, and that not every Catholic really lived out their faith nor appreciated it. And then I understood something new about myself that crept up so quietly, that I was shocked.

I don't see the world in the same way anymore. When I first thought of my blog as one giant text, "The Dream That I Dreamed", I imagined it as a sort of melancholy tale of how my life is lived only to try and fulfill a high and lofty dream that may never be achieved. I viewed it as a determination to keep alive a view of all that my life and the world could be if only things were different, somehow. A full outline of what I'm saying can be read here in my first blog post.

These days, my blog is more about Christ's vision in my life, and the beauty that He has created if only we could see it. It should be more like "The Dream That He Dreamed" rather than "The Dream That I Dreamed." But I won't change it now, if only because I like the consistency.

If you need an example of what I mean, I'll tell you a story. Today I was praying the rosary with my girlfriend when I noticed outside that it was a beautiful day. Partly cloudy, and enough wind that the clouds would block the sun for a minute and then move away to let the sun shine again. I thought that it looked like it was glowing outside, and then I realized "maybe God made it that way just so it would look pretty on days like today" and I started crying because I felt so loved. Then I thought about how much I love everyone I know, and how happy I am, and how it can only be unimaginably better in heaven, and I started crying more! It was such a great moment...and then I went to mass! ALLELUIA! I shared in the infinite mercy of mass with a bunch of my fellow Catholics and friends, and it was so beautiful. What a wonderful thing, and it was all a gift from God!

And all this...I never understood. I thought I did, but I did NOT...and I'm not even sure when it all changed. I'm so happy. I used to think that it was impossible to cry tears of joy. I thought it was a I do it all the time.

There was a dream that I dreamed, and that dream was His dream.