Thursday, April 16, 2009

Epiphanies

Faith defies conditioned mentality. It challenges educated intellect. Faith issues an invitation to believe. Belief sends forth the challenge to change pre-conditioned thought patterns and lifestyles.

Change is a hard thing.

I fear it. I avoid it. Even small changes because I know that small changes set motion into action, motion that possesses a building potential, motion that will, if allowed to build, move me out of my chosen comfort zones and into zones that are much more radical than I would choose on my own.

Miracles and mysteries.

Realities difficult to believe.

Realities difficult to grasp with the mind alone.

Myriads of miracles and mysteries on the pages of Holy Scripture and in a lived life of wonderment and wandering.

Evidences of poured out graces that my heart desires to believe while my mind wrestles with arising questions like ...

Why does the Immaculate Conception and Virginal Preservation of Mary present problems in the minds of people?

Or the Apparitions of Mary?

Or the thought that Christ inhabits, in actuality and not merely symbolically, the hosts of bread and wine that can be consecrated on the Altar only by the consecrating hands of those given the authority to do so through Apostolic Succession?

No. Please don’t think that I’m trying to be an argumentative apologetic. I’m not. I’m discoursing with myself on matters that concern me. Telling my own story. Honestly. Sincerely. Unalloyed. No pretenses. These are questions that I ask myself in my own wandering wonderment.

I’ll admit that Marian doctrines and the doctrine of Apostolic Succession are, for Protestants, hard pills to swallow. I know this first hand, in the first person. I, too, was a Protestant Fundamentalist that argued hard and long against anything that remotely resembled Popery and ancient Catholic belief. I, too, was a victim of the degenerative breakup that fractured the Church into so many small divisive factions.

Then one day, during an extremely difficult season in my life, a time when I was finally bruised enough and open enough and searching for spiritual hope and meaning in the midst of my own mess of Protestant confusion, I met Christ’s mother. Not in the literal sense. I’m not so fortunate.

The meeting was more in the form of an epiphany - something undeniably real, something that I could no longer deny. Like meeting Christ by faith in the power of the Spirit and knowing his undeniable reality.

And in meeting Mary I realized, as the ancients professed, that she is truly Theotokos. The Mother of Christ. The Mother of God. The Mother of the Church. My own Mother whom I had never known because, without first knowing her, without first wanting to know her, I had written her off and rejected her.

It’s hard to describe the mix of elation and shame that I felt in the first moments of that epiphany, something closely akin to that first born-again experience where I met Christ as Savior.

She loved me. Despite myself. She loves me still. As only a mother, as only the Mother, can love.