I’m a big sports fan and we’re in the middle of March Madness right now. Then, the Masters Golf Tournament comes in a few weeks. It’s a great time for sports fans.
As I thought about my own faith over the years I had a startling revelation. I had been Catholic all my life and gone to Catholic school for 16 years and was pretty faithful about going to Mass, sending our kids to Catholic school, etc.
To some, I looked like a “good Catholic”.
But, I was just a “fan” of the faith… I thought the Catholic faith was the best and I wanted to support my faith. But, my faith was really shallow, like a fan of a team.
So, I’ve started to write about what it’s like to really be on the Catholic team…when you start to know what’s in the playbook and you’re really a player.
Jesus is the head coach, the general manager, the commissioner of the league, and the CEO of your life. He has appointed many other coaches, officials, and referees who are going to help you sort out much about how the game is played.
But, on a soul level, for your spiritual life, you will find out that it is all about your personal relationship with Jesus.
If it doesn’t feel like you are there, or if you think this sounds too much like those “Born Again Christians”, don’t worry about that for now. You probably already have a personal relationship with Jesus. You can be sure the He is recruiting you. He has ways to scout you out and find you.
Frankly, it has taken me a while to get this. I started waking up to God the Father, but not so much Jesus. Sure, they are both persons in One God, with the Holy Spirit, but in many respects, I have thought more about God the Father than Jesus.
When the light bulbs start coming on for you in the depths of your heart and soul, you will realize that Jesus is The Man.
You see, we are “Christians”, as in Jesus “Christ”. We are Catholics, members of the one true Church that Jesus founded on this earth. And He said He’d watch over it, that it would always prevail against any enemies, and it would be there at the end of time.
In other words, Jesus is all over this thing we call our Church. He’s a hands on Coach, looking over our shoulders all the time.
If you are like me, it might take a two by four over the head to understand this and many of you might be saying, “Duh”.
What you will discover is that the Catholic Church has the most beautiful and effective ways to connect you and Jesus. Here are some of the biggies I can recommend:
- The Eucharist–We take in The Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ every time we receive Communion in a state of grace. It’s not a symbol and is the Real Presence of our Lord. I won’t go into all the proof here, but I can tell you that you should read the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, probably right now. You will know why we do what we do and why everyone who wants to be a real Christian should aspire to have this personal relationship with Jesus.
- Scripture–It is Jesus talking to you. All of scripture and so much more of our Catholic literature come directly from Jesus. With the Holy Spirit, this is the way that Jesus speaks to us.
- The Other Sacraments–Other churches don’t have what we have. All of the other sacraments connect us directly to God and Jesus. They are giving us sanctifying grace for our souls. Grace is like the fuel for our spiritual life. That’s all you really need to know for now. The grace of your Baptism stamps your soul for eternity. The other sacraments keep filling you up (“Hail Mary, Full of Grace…”). Confession later is a big one. If you haven’t been taking advantage of this gift from Jesus, you need this grace of Reconciliation right now.
- Adoration—Maybe you don’t even know much about this. Growing up, I didn’t know about Adoration. I don’t remember it being offered to me. But most of our parishes now have Adoration hours and chapels. You can and should just sit with Jesus in the form of the exposed Blessed Sacrament. It can be an amazing experience, and you don’t need to really know anything about it or prepare for it. All you need to do is be reverential, silent, and in wonder of Jesus. Just be there, pray, read and talk to Jesus from your heart.
- Prayer—I know that all faiths have their means of prayer, and we really should celebrate with all of them, as long as it is truly praying to our Christ. But what I now realize is that we have the most nourishing and beautiful prayer methods of any Church. So many of the saints and spiritual writers show us ways to use every form of vocal prayer, novenas, devotions, The Rosary, meditation, contemplation, etc. We are able to pray for/with/to not only Jesus, but also the saints, our relatives, the souls in purgatory, etc. You will be amazed at the depths you can go, but he simplest prayers and thoughts can be the best. I didn’t know how to pray before all of this started for me. Now I know that virtually anything I want to do in my life or want to say to Jesus can be a form of prayer.
Our Church has so many treasures, ways to worship our Lord and opportunities to connect with Him. You will start to relish these gifts and find your own way to fuel your journey of faith. You can start to play the Catholic game.
Then, when your Evangelical friends ask you, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?” you can say “Absolutely, and it is getting better all the time”.
© John S. Cohoat, 2017