Friday, September 23, 2011

The Litmus Test

Mary's Immaculate Conception, Mary's Perpetual Virginity, Mary's Assumption, Mary's Coronation as Queen of Heaven, Purgatory, Indulgences/ Praying for the dead, Praying to Mary & the saints (communion of saints), Icons, statues, etc., Confession & Penance...

These are things that caused me to bristle in the beginning. But tonight a thought came to mind: Do any of these take away from the message of Jesus Christ? Do any of these things actually prevent one from ultimately being saved? If you were a staunch supporter of purgatory & indulgences for yourself & your loved ones, would it change the true status of your salvation (saved by grace, through faith & this, not of yourselves, it is a gift of God*)? Believing in these things would not change God's love for you or Christ's saving work on the cross. What about Mary? Unless the Church decides to deify her & the triune Godhead miraculously becomes a quad, even the details about Mary don't seem to impede upon Christ. At best, you might achieve what you desire from adhering to these things wholeheartedly. At worst, you would merely be wasting your time. But Christ does not change in the shadow of these beliefs, neither is His gift of salvation diminished by these things. What He has already done stands as a perfect sacrifice, a perfect representation of His love for us. What we do in response, whether we are Catholics or not, cannot change that. [*Ro. 2:8]

I still don't know what I believe about some of those things on the list, but I've come to see the worth of confession (now called reconciliation) & penance. It puts flesh to the act of repentance, offers accountability & even has the potential to teach us discipline in our lives. Being a sensory person, I can also appreciate the visual reminders of Mary & the saints. I don't worship a sunset or photographs or letters; I see these things & I am reminded of God, of experiences, of good friends. When I see Mary & the saints, I am reminded of this spiritual family I'm a part of. If I believe in the communion of saints, I speak to them just as I would a flesh & blood person in the same room. I don't worship them or “pray” to them as I pray to the Father- they are powerless in & of themselves to effect change in my life. They are subject to God just as I am. But apparently they can intercede with me & for me because God is God of the living & not the dead... What a gift that would be if He truly does allow us to “commune” with those who have gone before us, even that “great cloud of many witnesses”.

1 comment:

  1. "...neither is His gift of salvation diminished by these things."

    I'm troubled by this sentence, yet feel compelled to keep it for now. Nothing can diminish Christ's gift of salvation- it is what it is- but can we perhaps in fact diminish the truth of it in our hearts through potentially worthless devotion/works? And if so, are we in a sense denying or mocking the fullness of Christ's gift of salvation for us? Are we casting off that burden which is light & replacing it with a heavy yoke of slavery?