Monday, October 30, 2006

Catholic understanding of "personal relationship with Jesus"

1. Do you have a personal relationship with Christ?
2. How did that relationship begin and what was the state of your soul up until that point in time?

Although unaware of it, my personal relationship with Christ began when I was conceived and my rational soul was created ex nihilo in person by God. That relationship grew and matured as many relationships do, as I grew and matured. Months after my birth, I was justified in person by God through the Sacrament of Baptism, when I was first made holy by Him and consecrated to Him. As I grew to know Him better, I came to understand the many wonderful things he's done for me, and grew in my love and faith in Him.

Years later, in elementary school, I began to be influenced more by the world than by God. In retrospect, I understand that my guardian angel was always there to protect me, urging me toward the right path. Yet I sadly allowed--through the faulty use of my freewill--other unholy influences to affect my soul. I chose sin contrary to God's will for me. I took for granted the love of God, and my love and faith in Him grew lukewarm.

As a teenager I became quite slothful with respect to worship of the Lord and the practice of my Holy Religion, until I had no prayer life to speak of. My soul undoubtedly suffered from me ignoring my relationship with Christ, yet Christ kept calling me to Him. I never doubted that Christ was my Lord and Savior, but I lacked the "obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; Rom 16:26). Consequently, due to my deliberate grave disobedience to Christ's will, my soul became unjust, "severed from Christ...fallen away from grace" (Eph 5:4).

Through Divine providence, manifest in a series of grace-filled encounters with many number of people, most especially my relationship with my wife and witness to her conversion from atheism, and through much grace, conversion and suffering of my own, I realized I had been taking for granted what God has given me, and began to "turn again" (Gk epistrepho; cf. Matt 13:15; Acts 3:19, 26:18, 28:27; Luk 1:17, 22:32) toward Him, and to seek from Him His will for me.

After having confessed the sins of the prior 25 years in the Sacrament of Penance, my soul was cleansed by the sacramental grace of Christ and I consequently began to worship God and prayerfully study and practice my Holy Religion more meaningfully, which has made my relationship with Christ more deep and loving than ever before.

Question: What is the Catholic definition of a personal relationship with Christ?

" is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with the Youth of Rome, 6 Apr 2006

"This mystery [of faith], then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558

"...prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2565

"Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts."
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2713

"We have spoken of faith as an encounter with the One who is Truth and Love. We have also seen that this is an encounter which is both communitarian and personal, and must take place in all the dimensions of our lives through the exercise of our intelligence, the choices of freedom, the service of love. A privileged place exists, however, where this encounter takes place more directly. Here it is reinforced and deepened and thus can truly permeate and mark the whole of life: this space is prayer."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome, 5 Jun 06

God bless,