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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let's try this again

Obviously, I had pretty much abandoned this blog since June. Earlier tonight I typed in the url for no apparent reason. I got to thinking about the blog and how I had decided to adopt St. Augustine as the blogs patron. So, I asked St. Augustine that if this project was worthwhile to lend his intercession in helping it grow. Then I picked up my copy of St. Augustine's Confessions, flipped the pages and this was the first thing I read.

Furthermore, I did not think that those things which the Manichees criticized in Your Scriptures could be defended. But sometimes I had a desire to discuss every particular with some person well read in those books and to see what he could say. Already, the discourse of a certain Elpidius, who had disputed in public with those same Manichees, had begun to influence me even at Carthage, when he confronted them with certain things from the Scriptures that were not easy to refute.
Their answers seemed to me very weak. And they did not often give these answers in public, but usually only in private to us, saying that the Scriptures of the New Testament were falsified by I know not whom, who wished to insert the Jewish law into the Christian Faith. However, they were not able to produce any other uncorrupted copies.
But those two "bodily masses" chiefly held me down, captive and almost suffocated as I conceived only corporeal things, under whose weight I lay gasping for the air of Your Truth. But still I was unable to breathe it in its unadulterated purity.
-Book 5, Chapter 11
I found it striking how much this passage seems to mirror my experiences in converting from a protestant denomination to the Catholic Faith. From my conversations with other converts this seems a common thread. I started out thinking that some of the Catholic Church's teachings could not be defended. I read articles talking about how the Catholic Church had falsified some of it's teachings. And many of the arguments used against the Church seemed very week. For a long time my objections, and those of others, suffocated me so that I could not recognize the Truth and "breathe it in its unadulterated purity."


Moonshadow said...

I give this blog a peek every so often ...

Augustine is such an "everyman," isn't he? Gosh, he's so easy to relate to, even across the centuries. Maybe it's just the work of a skillful translator!

But, however, I had the same impressions as you, reading the excerpt. How natural to assume that our side has solid answers and the other side doesn't! The scales fall, and those ol', solid answers crumble. Thanks be to God!

It is a common thread because some Christians are conditioned, either implicitly or explicitly [1], to abhor Catholic beliefs and practices and to mistake that revulsion as the work of the Holy Spirit!

Here's an example of what I mean:

"What I have just taught to you is to bring all glory and honor to Christ alone. I can also tell you one other thing in the Spirit as well. If you truly are a Christian then what you just read will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. You will feel God’s Spirit witness with your own and rejoice within as you see me draw attention away from man and instead to exalt our great God and Savior.

And if it doesn’t, then in loving compassion I now commend the following verse of Scripture to your attention:

'Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?' (2 Corinthians 13:5)"

And so, on a human level, we haven't a chance to evangelize them, to even have a dialogue. Unless that spirit that they think divine yields to the Holy Spirit.

[1] "At my first coming into the world I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both." C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

Chris said...

Thanks for you comment. St. Augustine is definately one of my favorites. As I mentioned once before I was reading Confessions while I was in RCIA and choose his name as my confirmation name. I still haven't finished reading it. I need to pick it back up again.