I have many readers who are evangelical Roman Catholics. Some evangelical readers simply do not believe there is such a thing. Some Catholics do not believe there are evangelicals who love Catholics or understand them either. But I have friends in both communions and can't deny what I know and see day-after-day. Here is how one Catholic reader wrote to me a few days ago:
I have a dear evangelical friend who lives just behind us. We have much in common, both being parents of not one but two special needs young adults (hers adopted and ours homemade.) Our older ones have severe a mental illness that makes them angry and explosive, even verbally and physically abusive. (I took 5 years of martial arts to keep myself safe.) Things are better now, but my friend and I have really connected. Anyway, I shared some of my spiritual practices with her, and she has been very blessed by the Stations of the Cross, and by Jesuit spirituality from the website Sacred Space and Pray As You Go. She actually led a huge group of women in a meditation on a Gospel story using the format of "putting yourself into" the story as a character, etc. The women found this way of prayer to be tremendously helpful and mobbed her afterward to ask where she learned this way of praying. I think she was a little evasive since you know how some people get when they hear the "Jesuit" word! There again, if we hadn't taken the time to break down the walls between our faith traditions, all those hundreds of women would not have the experience to deepen their sense of Christ's presence in their lives.
Isn't our Lord good, and aren't we blessed to be living in a time and place when we can share our love of God rather than hate each other for being different? Sure, we still have plenty of Christians talking trash about each other, but even with the shattering of the unity desired by our Lord, the broken pieces of glass are so lovely when we hold them up and let the light shine through. You folks in the Calvinist tradition can show others your sense of an all powerful and mighty God and the grace of knowing our own littleness. And the Eastern Orthodox can show the beauty of the Lord and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and on and on.
Do keep building bridges John, and if you can send me a link to a good website to further understand Reformed Christianity, I'd enjoy it. I haven't quite been able to wrap my head around double predestination or total depravity quite yet.
I answered my friend by telling her that I did not believe in "double predestination" (Calvin did by the way) so I couldn't help her get that one. Total depravity is another story. I told her even St. Augustine believed that one, in fact Catholics should believe it since it is rooted in their own tradition and in the Bible both. Remember, "total" does not mean TOTAL, in the sense we often think, but rather pervasive. Everything we are and do is impacted and influence by sin. But by grace everything in the believer is pervasively touched by God's goodness and blessing. God is good to all he has made. He loves all the world but those who know him experience this goodness as a divine gift and they truly thank him every day as they should.
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Geat post John, I loved it! I can relate to this so well. Keep up the good work God has called you to do!
A friend of mine has a saying concerning smoking and non-smoking areas which might apply to the pervasiveness of sin. His statement is: “having a non-smoking area in a restaurant is like having a non-peeing area in a swimming pool.” There is no escaping the effects.