Exploring the most exciting aspects about Catholicism
It is said that the Catholic Church has the greatest product in the world but the worst marketing department. Many people cannot relate to or understand institutional religion. The vast majority of people cannot grasp the basic tenets or principles of faith such as grace, salvation or even transcendence. Religious practice in many countries has been butchered by preachers, money or poor theology.
Rather than practicing religion out of cultural habit, people close to God live dynamic and vibrant lives which speak to us of the living God. The whole point of religion is to have a personal relationship and encounter with God and to communicate with him regularly. John 15:16 states, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” Throughout salvation history, God has made himself known and present through the lives of countless individuals, through truth and witness. Our anthropomorphic understanding of God whittles him down to something he isn’t. I share the same religious beliefs as Richard Dawkins: I don’t believe in the God he doesn’t believe in either.
God works powerfully through the people who are close to him, who know him. Father Larry Richards explains in depth how we can describe to others how we know God.
“When I do my retreats, I say to the kids, “I submit to you Jesus Christ isn’t God.” I just did this now a couple of weeks ago to 70 boys from Elyria Catholic High School. It was a senior retreat, they didn’t want to be there, they sure as heck didn’t want me there, and I started off the retreat to these 70 boys in front of me, “I submit to you Jesus Christ isn’t God. Prove to me that He is.” And I would go around and say, “Do you believe He is God?” And one kid said, “No.” Another kid, “Do you believe He is God?” And he said, “No.” Another kid said, “Well, I believe he is a god.” I’m thinking all these years of Catholic education right down the tubes, don’t pay for it! And I said, “Does anybody here believe Jesus Christ is God?” and a few hands went up. I said, “OK, son, why is Jesus Christ God.” And one kid said, “Because the Bible says so.” Duh! Mormons have a bible and it doesn’t say Jesus Christ is God. Jews have a bible, it doesn’t say Jesus Christ is God. Muslims have a bible, it doesn’t say Jesus Christ is God. I believe, Father. OK, why do you believe. Jesus Christ is God because he performed miracles. Jimmy Swaggert performed miracles, does that make him God? Someone else will say, He died for us, Father. Is that all I have to do is die for you and that will make me God? I have to die anyway, why not die for you? Sure! If I can be God out of it. And then it goes on and one and on and on. And finally someone look and me and I’ll say, “Do you believe Jesus Christ is God?” And he says, “Yes.” And I’ll say, ”Why?” And he says, “Because He rose from the dead, Father.” Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! Very good! Now how do you know He rose from the dead? The Bible say so. So I’ll say, “OK, ask Father.” And so they say, “OK, Father, do you believe Jesus Christ is God? Why?” Because I know Him, I have experienced Him. For the last almost twenty years of my life now, I have spent at least an hour a day with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am in a relationship with Jesus. I don’t care if the whole world told me Jesus Christ wasn’t alive, I would say you’re a nut, you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. I know Jesus Christ. It would be like someone coming to me and saying, “Father Larry, your mother doesn’t exist.” Really? I just talked to her yesterday. I know my mother exists. I am in relationship with her?”
To know that God is real, we need to know him, to love him and also to serve him. We should not know about him, to read about him, to believe in him because the Bible tells us so. We need to experience him personally. It really is that simple. We come to know him through prayer.
God has transformed my life over the last 10 years, travelling to many different countries, starting different apostolates, and seeing children saved from abortion and young people reached with a positive message of the gift of sexuality. With God’s yeast, he can turn our puny efforts into something 100 times as powerful, which will grow and grow with a legacy to match. God is bad at maths. He can accomplish way more than we possibly imagine. He can favour the underdog, work through people who have been dismissed.
The life of Nick Vujicic speaks powerfully of the witness that God can play in our lives. No matter our circumstances, no matter how bad we have it, God can be present in and through YOU when joy is chosen. Nick has no arms or legs and faced with countless challenges and obstacles, God has given him the strength to surmount what others might call impossible.
Life Without Limbs (Nick’s apostolate) is about sharing the hope and love which he has personally experienced with people all over the globe. As I write this article, just 13 hours ago, 700 people came forward to commit to following Christ during at a service he spoke at.
Have you not had a personal experience of God? James 4:8 says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” We must continually seek God’s grace, and respond to the graces God is working within us.