Saturday, October 12, 2013

Maturing in the LIfe of Faith

 "Finding a road in the desert" was the headline of an article by a poet who entered the Catholic Church some  years ago and now retells her story to the readers of the Kyeongyang  magazine. She remembers a day in spring when the weather was cold and her own spirit colder, trying to find a place for herself in the big city, without money and confidence. But Jesus, she writes, embraced her that day.

She was walking with her head down on a large open space when an old man asked her for directions to the nearest Catholic church. She had  just walked  past the church and so simply retraced her steps to lead him there. Opening the door, the man entered as a  Mass was in progress; she followed after him, and very awkwardly did what everybody else was doing.

On the way out, in front of the holy water font, she noticed a desk with holy cards. One of the cards had Jesus taking his cloak off and putting it on a beggar boy. The writer felt that she was like the boy on the card, beggar-like, and from that time on she continued going to Mass, though not knowing what was going on at the altar.

Although she had been going to Sunday Mass for a number of months no one ever gave her any directions or even talked to her. But she overheard the names Peter, Mary and the like, and wondered what she needed to do to get a name. She inquired and was told she had to be baptized and then would receive a name.

If you ask a Catholic why they became Catholic many will say it's not like the Protestants, it's rather easy and not burdensome. Catholics, she noted, are lukewarm when it comes to evangelizing and not very good at reading the Scriptures. When talking to a Protestant they easily quote Scripture, and you are left at a loss for words, she remembers.

She has been studying the Scriptures since 2003 and, wanting to convey her enthusiasm to others, she began to volunteer her services by teaching the Scriptures. However, there are times she still has difficulties, she admits, and so she recommends two book: Contemplating Jesus by Robert Faricy and Robert Wicks, now out of print, and a book by Franz Josef Ortkemper, Go the Way  your Heart Directs.

She mentions two incidents from the Scriptures that she came to understand on a deeper level: the story of Babel, which gives us, she believes, an image of our inner self desiring the summit but it is God who resides there. The other is Abraham, who is called the ancestor of  believers, but his actions, she says, are difficult to understand. He is told by God to go to the promised land but he takes a route different from the one recommended, and gets out of a difficult predicament by giving  his wife to the Egyptians, followed by other absurd acts which might endanger his becoming the father of a great nation.

We can all become saints was her conclusion, she says, from her reading and study, including the provocative and puzzling acts of Abraham. (It's well to remember that Scripture does not give us the story of heroes but of temptations, errors, and depravity besides the acts of  heroism.) The contrast between Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) and Job raises us up to a new level of understanding. The book by Ortkemer helped her to see the Scriptures in a different light and to rid herself of much of the alienation that came from her first readings of the Scriptures.

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