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Monday, April 11, 2016

What If I'm Right?

Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to have born into a Christian family.    My father was raised Catholic and although my mother didn’t convert to Catholicism until I was seven years old, both parents taught me about God, Jesus, Prayer, Blessings and Thanksgiving even before I was baptized into the Church.  

I sometimes live in a bubble where I assume everyone around me believes as I do.  It isn’t until I’m challenged by a non-Christian that I am reminded of how paramount my faith is to me.     I have only been truly challenged about my beliefs three times.   On the first occasion,  I was severely ill-equipped to defend my core beliefs.   I had involved myself in a non-Catholic Church and when I came to them with concerns and questions, I couldn’t wrap my mind around their teachings.   They just didn’t make sense to me.    My gut was telling me I needed to search elsewhere for spiritual peace.  

The second time I was confronted; I had returned to the Church and was facilitating Religious Adult Education Programs.   I was provoked by an Atheist and although I knew what I believed, I couldn’t explain why I believed.      The Atheist viewed my answers as child-like, simple and uneducated guesses.     I've found that most  Atheists I have come in contact with tend to be condescending and scoff at my "non-enlightened" uneducated answers.    

This most recent challenge came through my Crazy Catholic Woman Facebook page and I believe I have been handling this situation very wrong.    Just as this person has his beliefs, it is not up to me to “convert” him, that’s God’s job and I’m not Him.    All I can do is express to him what I believe as a Christian and show him through my life and actions that I am living what I believe.

As a Christian, I must “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls me to account for the hope that is in me”, but I must do so “with gentleness and reverence” as stated in (1 Peter 3:15).
The hope that is in me is through my Christianity and my core beliefs are spelled out in the Apostle Creed.   I believe the Apostle Creed to be written by the original apostles as a Symbol of the core beliefs of Christianity.      This Creed was taught and learned, word for word by every Christian and because Christianity was against the law, punishable by extreme torture and death, the creed was used as a sign for believers to recognize each other.     The Fathers of Christianity died for their beliefs and Christians throughout the world are still martyred today because of this Creed.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit?
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell;
The third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
Is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Holy Catholic Church,
The communion of Saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And life everlasting. Amen.

I believe in God our Father because when I have tried to run things myself, I have made a mess of my life.    I have learned the importance of Prayer.    Prayer, for me, has become a powerful tool in doing “the next right thing”, and sometimes a weapon against evil.   There have been times when I have experienced a frightening dream and awake to find me reciting the Lord’s Prayer or the Hail Mary.   Even my subconscious cries out to our Lord in times of trouble.  

I have recently been reminded of the miracles that have occurred as a direct result of prayer.    When someone asks me to pray for them, or if I have an issue that I bring to our Lord, I keep a journal of my requests and the outcomes.      I took my Prayer Request Notebook out the other day and was astonished at how the Lord has worked in my life in the past six months.     Through direct prayer and through intercession prayers through Mary, St. Jude and St. Dymphna, problems that seemed hopeless have been resolved, miraculous physical healings have occurred and my peace of mind has been restored.   Is everything perfect?   No, but through prayer, my faith and hope are continuously renewed.  

As some of you know, I pray the rosary every morning with my coffee: it is my private time with our Blessed Mother.    As I meditate on the mysteries of the most holy rosary,  I have a bad habit of rolling the bead between my fingers and have tangled the chains of many of my rosary and sometimes even broke them as a result.        A few months ago, I did just that.    I had twisted the chain between the last Hail Mary on the second decade to the Our Father bead in such a knot that it was impossible to undo.   I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have no alternative but  to enter my husband’s toolbox, get out the needle nose pliers,  dismantle the knot and piece the chain  back together.    For two months, I continued to pray my Rosary with this huge knot and every time I would come to that section of the Rosary I would become obsessed with that bothersome knot.    During that entire decade, I would recite the Hail Mary but my hands would be frantically attempting to undo the knot!      It was maddening and every day I told myself, “You need to fix this rosary!”   This particular Rosary is precious to me because my husband gave it to me for Mother’s day last year. Last Sunday, I got out my rosary to pray and the chain was fixed.   The chains and beads were perfectly restored and lined up as if they had never been damaged.      This was my own personal miracle.   It was a message sent to me from God to stop focusing on the knots and brokenness in my life and put my faith in Him.        

Non Christians often try to prove my faith wrong and try to ambush me with deep philosophical questions.   So I asked myself, What if my faith is wrong?    What if I live my entire life with a strong belief in Christ, attempt to follow the teachings of the Gospel and adhere to the teaching of the Church?   What if I live my life in the hope of spending eternity in unity with our Lord?   What if  when I die, there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, I am just laid to rest in the ground and I cease to exist?   The way I look at it, I've lost nothing!   I would have lived a good life, done the next right thing, and lived with love in my heart.  I will live on in the memories of my children and hopefully, be an example and instill values that they will pass on to their children and grandchildren.    

Now, I ask those who do not believe this challenging question, “What if I’m right?"     Just something to ponder!   Have a very blessed week!