Sunday, January 29, 2012

Living Waters

The parts of the Catholic Church present themselves like ripples in a pond, each one being propelled by another behind it. The waters are not stagnant or stilted... they are alive. I could not have known this from "the outside". Its so easy to observe & jump to conclusions.

There's one statue in my parish. Its a life size Virgin Mary. I actually prefer to sit next to it, though I can't explain why. At first, I was uncomfortable with the idea of such a thing in church. There's a "prayer bench" in front of it- a place where people can kneel & pray just inches away from this image. I watched an old man do that very thing today. Was he kneeling before an idol? Did he think that statue was the Blessed Virgin herself? I can't say. But I think it comes down to perspective. God knows the heart. I can't judge what his motives were as he knelt there. I can only judge my own heart. I don't know that I'd be able to kneel in his place at this point. I'm still getting used to the idea of icons & candles! But if I ever were to kneel in front of such an image, I would not be kneeling in worship of that image. My worship & my prayers go to God & to Jesus, my Great High Priest, Who lives to make intercession for me. Only after I've presented my requests to God can I dare entertain the idea of seeking out intercession from Mary or a saint. And I still do so timidly, not wanting to offend God in any way. On the outside, that statue is nothing more than a chunk of painted wood. On the outside, that old man was committing idolatry. But that's just one frame of the video- a stagnant view of a greater whole. If I were to watch the scenes in succession along with his internal dialogue, I might observe a humble man who is incredibly faithful to God.

Only God knows our hearts. In my short time within the Church, I have observed that I cannot judge a thing merely by observation. So I'm kicking off my shoes & I'm stepping in. As I immerse myself in the waters of Catholicism & meet the many ripples surging toward me, I trust that I'll be propelled toward solid ground on the other side. Afterall, when I pass through the waters, He will be with me (Isaiah 43:2)...

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