There is a stark difference between the faith of my youth and the faith I subscribed to today.
In my youth our faith centered around our right sacrifice before God. You were saved through the repeating of a simple incantation that if done with all the sincerity of your heart in that moment, resulted in eternal security of Salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is no wonder why we would trick our children into saying this prayer at ages as young as 5 and 6 years old. No matter what life followed, your child was safe and you had done your proper Christian duty as a parent.
Everything that followed that was a competition. Who prays most. Who is most joyful. Who knows their Scriptures the best. Who gave more of their money and time to the church. Who looked most like they had their shit together. The winner was placed on a pedestal, given special deference, and was pointed to as the example of right Christian living.
Our Christianity was a grand production of ourselves. Our sacrifice (though we would never confess this) defined us. We were about what we did to show ourselves as right Christians. Ironically, we were what we claimed everyone else to be; nothing more than a works based religion.
Our Christianity wasn’t Christian. It wasn’t based upon Christ, for we did not act in the manner of Christ. To those who needed the most love and compassion we put aside. We let them know that they didn’t belong…I was one of those who didn’t belong.
Worst yet, we taught that those who have been hurt and didn’t forgive were not living Godly lives. The forgiveness demanded was not forgiveness at all, but a willingness to allow others to hurt us while we remain silent and pretend that everything is okay, for it was part of our sacrifice for Jesus.
When I left the madness I was bitter, angry, and heartbroken. I spent years trying to make things right -meaning, I was trying to make my past better. All to no avail. All producing only more anger and bitterness.
I found myself wandering until I came upon Catholicism; what I had been taught was the Great Whore Church. Yet within it’s confines I found a religion that was not built upon the presentation of myself. Rather it was built upon Christ and the presentation of Himself to us.
In it we grow from the foundation of Christ in faith which comprises belief and action working together. Salvation is a journey through which I am saved, being saved, and will be saved by the Grace of God.
This faith, this journey, is punctuated and emphasized in mercy. We are given Saints whose lives serve as an example of faith -not by what they did, but what the Lord has done through them. Miracles which confirm great mysteries. Sacraments and sacrementals which are tangible realities of our faith. And the Church which guides and commissions us to go and do what is right before God -loving God and loving our neighbors; to give aid and compassion to those in most need.
In the end, it isn’t about what I’ve done, but about receiving what the Lord has given me; Himself. With that comes everything else.
Catholicism has brought about a tremendous change in my own life. The anger and bitterness has faded substantially. In its place compassion now sits. I joyfully pray for those who had hurt me; for their health, wellbeing, and Salvation. The symptoms of my PTSD are in regression for they have little power and have no strength against the Blood.
I guess to sum up the difference between the faith of my youth and the faith I have today is my faith today is effectual. The faith of my youth was nothing more than the Gnosticism warned against in Scripture.