Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lumen Fidei #1: The Road to Nowhere

Here is the first installment in a series discussing Pope Francis' first encyclical, Lumen Fidei. Reading through it, there are many quotes that strike me and I want to share them with you all with a little explanation of why I like it.

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From #3: "Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere." 
The analogy I often use about my conversion to the Catholic Church is this:
At first I was angry at God for calling me into this church. What was a free-spirit like me doing in a Catholic Church? But I've come to realize that I'm like the raging waters. I need river banks, otherwise I'll go everywhere, not really getting anywhere.
As the title "Light of Faith" suggests, the light that the Pope is talking about in this passage is faith. Without faith, life becomes confused. Everything becomes relative and individualistic, so there is no right or wrong. And the road to our destination with God becomes lost in all of the other options in this world.

I'm not touching the middle point there about needing faith to know right from wrong. I'm a firm believer that you do not need to be religious to be moral. Morality was never a problem for me. I was pro-life, all life, long before I was a Christian.

However, without faith, I was dabbling in everything. I was changing religious views like I changed my clothes. I didn't really have any direction in life. I had no clue what I wanted to do. I had no community, no place to call home (other than the home with my parents, of course).

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As a Catholic, I have a structure and a community that is nearly 2000 years old. I have a wealth of information to read and digest, far more than I'll ever get to read in my lifetime. I can walk into a Catholic Church anywhere on the planet and be able to understand and participate in the Mass. I have a huge and diverse community to be a part of.

Sure, there are things that the Church teaches that I struggle with, just as there are things I completely embrace. Sure, I'm still looking for that close-knit community like I had at the Newman Center that seems to be sorely lacking in the 'real world.' But I view my initiation as a Catholic like a marriage. For better or worse, I'll be a Catholic until the day I die.

In December of 2004 I found the road to my destination. There will always be questions, there will always be doubts, there will be days when I'll almost regret my decision, but I'm always going to stay on my road.

Links to the rest of the series are here.

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