Random Musings of Faith – August 4, 2014
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the death of novelist and Catholic Flannery O’Conner. In honor of the date I posted two quotes from her writings on my FaceBook page, both of which attracted quite a bit of attention. My favorite was this one, “All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and change is painful.” This is not a new insight but it is one of which we often need to be reminded. St. Augustine in his Confessions famously wrote, “As a youth I prayed, “Give me chastity and continence but not yet.”” I was recently reading a book entitled, Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults in, Out of, and Gone from the Church. At one point, the author was interviewing one of the young people, Jae, who had grown up in a very, very, Catholic family. Now 21 and in law school, Jae has left the Church. Among his reasons, in his own words:
“If I went back to church, I would have to change so much about myself. I just don’t want to get into that now. I feel like there’s a lot of effort in following a religion, and with all that’s going on in my life right now, I don’t want to get into that…. There are several reasons —it’s just easier not to follow a religion, is what it comes down to. It’s easier for me and I don’t see any reason why I should.”
As the authors of the book further comment, “At the very least, Jae seems to have some notion of the commitment involved in rightly practicing the faith in which he was raised.”[Smith, Christian; Longest, Kyle; Hill, Jonathan; Christoffersen, Kari (2014-01-17). Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Church (p. 93). Oxford University Press, USA. Kindle Edition.]
Sherry Weddell in her book Forming Intentional Disciples talks about the various stages that a person goes through in coming to that deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ in Him and His Church. One of the hardest is the willingness to change. To truly accepts the offer of grace that He makes to us, we have to be open to conversion. “Go and sell all that you have … Go, and from now on, avoid this sin…. You are saying you have no husband for you have had five husbands …. Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men!”
Grace still changes us. Grace still makes its demands on me to change even though it is painful. But it is a change for the better.