They Came to Believe

04-01-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

And I came to believe in a power much higher than I
I came to believe that I needed help to get by
In childlike faith I gave in and gave him a try
And I came to believe in a power much higher than I

“Came to Believe” by Johnny Cash

Welcome to all our members, part-time members, sometimes members, associate members, family members of members, not-so-sure-you’re-a-member members, Spring Training visitors and anyone who just wandered in on this Easter Sunday to see what Catholics do on an Easter Sunday.

Last night at the Easter Vigil we welcomed, through the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) almost two dozen new members. They each have completed a long process of discernment and by many different paths and circumstances, God has lead them to the Catholic faith. But why be Catholic?

The simplest answer is because they each came to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of the world. The proof of that is His death and resurrection. Believing that means Jesus is their ultimate concern, their center of gravity, the meaning in their lives. That being so, believers are willing to organize their lives around the teachings of Jesus Christ as they have been expressed in the Gospels and in the teachings of his Church. This is what they believe.

They have also come to believe that Jesus Christ established the Church to be his continuing presence in the world and as such a force for good in this world. They are now full members of the Church and are commissioned to carry out its mission in the world. This is why they believe. At some point in their lives they each encountered the person of Jesus and His Church and sought to make a decision. Their entrance into the Church confirms their decision.

From the time of his conception in the womb of Mary until now, Jesus of Nazareth causes every person who encounters him to choose to be for him or against him. The shepherds and the magi bowed to worship him, Herod sought to destroy him, the apostles followed him, and his own people crucified him. There is no neutrality when it comes to Jesus. It is why his Church is at times the cause of controversy, the object of people’s anger as well as the source of much consolation and hope.  The Church stands with the peoples of every time and place who must face the question posed by Jesus: “Who do you say that I am?” The Church then evokes in the soul a crisis that until resolved leaves us without peace.

Every person must therefore work out his or her relationship with the church. If you are like our newest members once were: questioning who is this Jesus and what about this Church, what’s needed now from you is a willingness to enter into a conversation with your soul with as little defensiveness as possible. This means a willingness to drop all biases, preconceived conclusions, past hurts or struggles and open yourself to the presence of God. In doing so God will come close to you and provide you the illumination to see what questions you really need to ask, what holds you back and what will move you forward.

Or maybe you are a baptized Catholic but just no longer or rarely practice the faith and God is still tugging on your heart. I realize that sometimes we see the Church as a parent we want to get as far away from as possible but we realize sooner or later that wherever we go, no matter how far we roam, we can never finally leave it. It remains with us because it is part of us.

If you are questioning, confused, uncertain or just want more information we invite you to any of our Inquiry Sessions. You can throw your best questions at us! All we ask is that you give us a fair chance. While the old saying is true: we ain’t what we ought to be, we ain’t what we want to be, we ain’t even what you think we should be, but thank God we ain’t what we used to be… we think you’ll like what you find.

 Nothing worked out when I handled it all on my own
And each time I failed it made me feel twice as alone
Then I cried, "Lord there must be a sure and easier way
For it just cannot be that a man should lose hope every day.

Love, Fr. John B.

P.S. For information on our Inquiry Sessions or the Initiation Process (RCIA) contact Sr. Maria Jose at the Parish Office or by email: spdmariajose@olmctempe.com

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