September 4, 2013
Today I read the conversion story of Father Jurgen Liias at the Coming Home Network. I urge all readers to visit there and be inspired by his journey. One paragraph struck me because it put into words what the end result of all evangelization efforts should be: a state of spiritual completion, of fulfillment at the end of an arduous journey. It also made me realize once again, the precious gift God gave me of being born into a devout Catholic family and taught by nuns in my most formative years who knew their faith and truly loved Jesus. While others endured much struggle to arrive at an understanding of what it means to be fully Catholic, I was handed it on a silver platter as it were.
Over the years I have read innumerable books, have had many searching conversations, watched hours of EWTN, listened to many testimonies and teachings — all of which have contributed to the decision to become a Catholic. But above all it has been a deep, constant magnetic pull of the Holy Spirit to come to the center of the Church. It is this deep intuitive sense each time I enter a Catholic church or religious community that I am in the Church, not a church. We speak in evangelical circles when a person of the Jewish faith becomes a Christian that they have become a “completed Jew.” To become a Catholic is for me to become a “completed Christian.” As I have already previously articulated, the driving vision of my ministry has been to build a church that was “fully catholic, fully evangelical, and fully charismatic.” I have come to the conviction that one cannot be “fully catholic” apart from communion with the See of Peter. For that matter one cannot be “fully evangelical” or “fully charismatic” apart from the rich and deep historical meaning of those words in the fullness of the Catholic Church. As has been said to me on a number of occasions by wise and mature Catholic friends, you need leave nothing behind of any Christian tradition that is of true gospel value. All of it comes only to fullness. To become a Catholic is to receive from my Lord His last providential gift from the cross: “Behold thy Mother.”
How beautifully and blessedly put. All around us many are on the same journey as Father Liias. They are feeling the pull towards the Church but maybe God is saying to them, “not yet” as He did several times in Father Liias’s life. Our friendship with them, our sharing the love of Jesus with them, our sincere seeking of the Holy Spirit’s leadership in our words and actions may be a significant factor in their final choice to enter true Christian unity as Jesus prayed for in John 17:21. I feel very safe in saying that if all Christians were united in the fullness of the Catholic Church as Liias expressed it, the consistent witness to the Gospel truth would lessen wars, corruption in government, poverty, and the threats to life and family.
Perhaps a worthy prayer throughout the day for all Christians could be, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me.”
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R. Now and forever!
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