Every year at this time myself and countless others, begin in attempt to put into practice, the things we resolve to do. Whenever we compile a lists of items we need to change about ourselves, the usual suspects come up. Diets, exercise programs, joining an organization, improving some area of our work life, taking a class or reading more, redecorate the house, you know the routine. As I was starting to prioritize my list, I realized that my spiritual life and my relationship with God would be first and foremost. This led me to a whole other chain of thoughts. I had woke up last night and began to think about my faith and why is it that I came to the conclusion to follow Jesus Christ. This may seem at first, kind of a silly but that is not the case. I have been living my life with the Church and Christ as my shepherd for some time now without much thought to it. If at times my faith wavered or was burning rather dimly I would pray about it and through some action be renewed with vigor. I believe in everything that is in the Nicene Creed that we profess at Mass. I have a Creed that I live by. How do I come to this conclusion? Now, one could point to my Catholic upbringing and suggest that it is the reason. I would reply not entirely, maybe not even the most significant factor. The most important factor from my Catholic upbringing were the men and women, priest, religious and lay people whose live exemplified Christ. I strayed away from my faith as my story goes. I came back to because I examined my life and more importantly received God's grace through the sacraments. First, I examined my life. Now I must tell you that as a child I was fascinated with psychology. I read many books on psychology, learned many of the different schools of thought, and discovered the leading psychologists of that era and previous eras. I have always wondered what makes people tick. What were the factors that makes one person think one way and another person a different way. I went on to get a BS degree with a psychology major and 3 credit hours from a Masters degree (I gave up on it as a career but that's for another blog entry). I became and still am very adept at getting to know an individual's personality type and making them feel at ease while they told me about themselves. It is so natural for me that I actually have to inhibit myself and be conscious that I am not doing it. It is very easy to categorize people and while that can be productive as a therapist and is not so good for other relationships. So, it comes rather easy for myself to do a personal examination even if perhaps my judgment may be biased. As Socrates once said "The unexamined life is not worth living", well I won't go that far but I believe that when we live a life that is on autopilot we are wasting one of God's greatest creations, our minds. The current education system in my humble opinion stifles self examination. It teaches young people that learning your abc's and math problems leads to a job or profession. This job or profession leads to money, and money leads to acquiring things, and acquiring things leads to happiness. Most people dearly hold this belief. In fact if you think contrary to that you are weird. I have done rather well on that merry-go-round but I can unequivocally say that it did not equate to happiness. I have discovered that my Catholic faith has become for me a true source of happiness and that I have been transformed. This transformation did not come solely by my own doing. I recognized that the joy in my heart did not derive from anything I did on an intellectual level. I actually witnessed God's grace in my life. I am giving you this testimony so that if anybody reads these words today or in the future they will heed my advice. The first step is to acknowledge that there is something beyond yourself. Our bodies are mortal (our souls however are not), we have a limited time on this planet, so if heaven, salvation, the afterlife is something that you are now just considering, consider this: "God so love the world that He sent His only Son so that those who believed would not perish." John 3:16. We possess the means. That is the primary goal to live eternally with God. But as I mentioned the thing that most influenced me was those who truly practiced their faith. A person who dies to himself and lives as Christ teaches brings good to the world. He or she is doing constructive, positive things that make other lives better. Many secular things, things of this world are destructive. They are destructive to family, others, communities and self-destructive. Pornography, substance abuse, violence, criminal activity, greed, over- indulgence ultimately destroys. If you live as Christ teaches in the Beatitudes, you will bring the Truth to the world. You will bring Christ and the love of God. If you are looking for something good in your life, something purposeful, something that will bring happiness, something you can anchor to, something that is true and righteous, forget Oprah, forget the government, forget the New Age guru, forget the corny self-help books, or get rich books, and please forget or leave any prejudices you have about the Catholic Church, they are not valid. If only one person who ever reads this was led to Christ, my joy would be complete and feel free to email me if can be of any help. This is one resolution that will truly improve your life. God Bless.
More from the Litany of Ongoing Conversion
R. Lord, Give me the Grace of ConversionLord Jesus,
Whenever I live in a dualistic way, as if my faith and "my real life" are two separate things, R.
When I am deceived into thinking that my happiness depends on something in the future instead of what you give me in the present moment, R.
When discouragement and shame make hard for me to be faithful, R.