Catholics and talking about Jesus


#1

A friend of mine, in an on-going conversation over email, said to me that 'The Catholic Church just doesn’t seem to stress a personal relationship with Jesus. Most Catholics I know seem embarassed or hesitant to talk about their love for Jesus - or even to say that they love Him - and how important He is to them."
Can anyone give me some tips on how to address this? In the past when she has made comments similar to this I’ve asked her what a ‘personal relationship’ means to her exactly. I haven’t gotten a definitive answer yet, but I think her note above is an attempt - talking openly about their love for God.


#2

I cannot imagine a closer, more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ than that fostered when we partake, at his command, of his Body and Blood, and when we listen to the Word proclaimed, and worship him in community, united in his love, as he also commanded. Catholics to not approach Jesus as isolated individuals, but as a community, because that is how he intends and commands. That is not to see we each do not also have our own personal relationship with Jesus, we do, but it is initiated by Jesus, not by ourselves, is a free gift, and occurs in the context of our communion as members of the Body of Christ.

Like all intimate relationships, it is not something we bandy about in casual conversation, any more than we share details of our marriage with casual acquaintances.

look at the Christianity Today website, their reflection on the meaning of Holy Communion is looking mighty Catholic for such an evangelical publication, maybe we are closer than we think.


#3

I would ask, “How intimate a relationship do you want?” Then, I would direct them to this link:
pureintimacy.org/gr/theology/a0000105.cfm

A sample…

And in his book, A Father Who Keeps His Promises, Hahn writes:When the two become one in marriage, the bridegroom gives the bride his flesh and blood; the bride receives him, his flesh and blood. (The Greek word haima, usually translated “blood,” can refer to other bodily fluids, including the man’s “seed.” See Jn. 1:13.) When he gives and she receives, they bring new life into the world. When does Christ, the Bridegroom, unite himself with his Bride? When does he give his flesh and blood in order to bring new life? In the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the consummation of the marriage between Christ and his Church. In the Eucharist he renews the New Covenant, which is his marriage covenant with her. It is much more than a banquet. It is a wedding feast. We the Bride receive our Bridegroom’s Body in the Eucharist.

The marital imagery of Christ’s love for his Church becomes a powerful symbol for the sacrament of marriage. Or is marriage a powerful symbol of Christ’s love for his Church—for each of us?

We may need to execute a sort of Copernican revolution in our understanding of love.

Just as God’s Fatherhood is the perfect reality that human fatherhood portrayed, though imperfectly, so the marriage of Christ and the Church is the perfect reality portrayed by human marriage. Our vision for marital love and sexual intimacy should reflect this reality.

This challenges believers, especially married ones, to make marriage and family life a sign of Christ’s intimate union with his bride. This makes sex more than ‘four bare legs in a bed,’ as C.S. Lewis said.

Every marital act becomes a sign and a renewal of the New Covenant, a reaffirmation of the intense love Jesus has for each of us. . .

. . . God has placed in us these natural [sexual] desires, which reflect supernatural desires fulfilled only in him. . . .

. . . We desire intimacy, sexual union. We find it in other persons. But that desire points to a deeper desire, which only union with God can meet; and union with God proves to be deep intimacy, unimaginable ecstasy, infinite fulfillment of the desire to love and be loved, to give and receive totally, to become one with the other.

This is a truth that only the mystic can really understand; but then, mystics are lovers. And God wants us all to be lovers.1 In Eph 5:32, in speaking of a man and woman becoming one flesh, Paul says:*This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the Church.*In this verse, Paul delivers the coup de grâce, the final brilliant stroke and focal point of the epistle, whose thematic roots go all the way back to the first chapter. Like a swordsman making a final flourish before dispatching his foe, Paul shockingly and brilliantly rips the veil that had hidden the answer to the mystery of the supreme purpose and end for God having saved us, as well as the mysteries behind God having made us male and female, sexual beings, called into faithful, monogamous, heterosexual relationships that were to personify the virtue of sacrificial love. This is the overarching theme and teaching of the Book of Ephesians—the great and high calling of the believer, the primary reason for creating and redeeming mankind…


#4

I like you would like to know what people who ask you about your personal relationship with Jesus are really talking about. I agree you don’t hear Catholics use that language often and I don’t think we know how to answer it off the cuff.

We have Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. How do you get more personal than that? We are made present at Calvary at every Mass, are in His company during Adoration and are consumed by Him at communion. What kind of relationship do they have to compare with that?

We as Catholics tend to surround ourselves with images and reminders of Jesus and the saints. When you walk into the average Catholic home, it’s obvious what faith we are by the Crucifix, Sacred Heart, etc… You can walk into the average protestant church and not be sure if it is a place of worship or a Moose Lodge. So don’t we express our relationship with Jesus differently is all?

Look at the different ways we look at Grace and the Sacraments. We Catholics should probably learn language to express our relationship with Jesus to evangelicals because we really have a much richer, real and substantial opportunity to meet Christ in the sacraments-all 7 of them.


#5

[quote=Elzee]A friend of mine, in an on-going conversation over email, said to me that 'The Catholic Church just doesn’t seem to stress a personal relationship with Jesus.
[/quote]

Has your friend actually seen or heard any official pronouncements from the Catholic Church?

The following remark from an address by Pope John Paul II on May 2, 2004 should help to show how groundless your friend’s concern is: “Jesus must be the center of your life and you must be in intimate union with Him in prayer, daily personal meditation, … and the Eucharist”


#6

1 Samuel 16
1 The LORD said to Samuel: "How long will you grieve for Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons."
2
But Samuel replied: “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” To this the LORD answered: "Take a heifer along and say, 'I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.'
3
Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do; you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you."
4
Samuel did as the LORD had commanded him. When he entered Bethlehem, the elders of the city came trembling to meet him and inquired, "Is your visit peaceful, O seer?"
5
He replied: “Yes! I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. So cleanse yourselves and join me today for the banquet.” He also had Jesse and his sons cleanse themselves and invited them to the sacrifice.
6
As they came, he looked at Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD’S anointed is here before him."
7
But the LORD said to Samuel: **“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” **

Your friend should be careful about judging from the exterior of a person what is in their heart. Tell him that, just because someone, in his book, doesn’t say the right words or whose relationship with the Lord doesn’t mirror his, doesn’t mean that person does not know Jesus.


#7

Read the writings of the Saints- you’ll see that Catholics definitely stress the importance of a relationship with Jesus.

Unfortunately people lately seem to be concerned with seeing the face of Christ reflected through others more than worshipping Jesus through prayer.


#8

[quote=Elzee]A friend of mine, in an on-going conversation over email, said to me that 'The Catholic Church just doesn’t seem to stress a personal relationship with Jesus. Most Catholics I know seem embarassed or hesitant to talk about their love for Jesus - or even to say that they love Him - and how important He is to them."
Can anyone give me some tips on how to address this? In the past when she has made comments similar to this I’ve asked her what a ‘personal relationship’ means to her exactly. I haven’t gotten a definitive answer yet, but I think her note above is an attempt - talking openly about their love for God.
[/quote]

You must love God with your whole mind, your whole heart and your whole spirit. Sadly, too few Catholics are comfortable with expressing this love in public. We must have a ready explanation of the reason for our faith. We must be more in Christ and less in the world.


#9

Well, what you’ve got here is two very different theologies talking past one another. What your friend means about the importance of a “personal relationship with Jesus” is that without such a relationship one is lost. That is why talking about it and asking others to echo it is so important to him/her.

We Catholics do not teach that type of “touchy-feely” theology. While we feel it is a good thing to have a properly formed interior life and a profound love for God and our neighbor, we don’t think that people have to have any “personal experience” of the sort your friend has had, which is really a spiritual awakening. We have confession in which we often admit our sinfulness to God and so don’t need any “one time commitment” of the type your friend thinks we need.

What is required in Catholic theology is reliance on God to keep his promise to save all those who are found in Christ by reason of their baptism, who have no mortal sins on their souls, and who have desired and tried to live as God pleases. And that is much harder to express than merely saying you have “personal relationship” with Jesus. An expression that you may want to remind your Evangelical friend is found nowhere in the Bible.


#10

“Personal relationship with Christ” is a Protestant buzz-phrase to call what they think they have and anyone who doesn’t “realize” they have it, don’t.


#11

Catholics and talking about Jesus

Jesus who?

kidding, kidding…
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Seriously, though, I love my wife and kids, but I don’t make an effort to inform everyone I meet of that fact. Those who know me know this (and also that I am trying to be a faithful Catholic).

Just because I don’t talk a lot about my personal relationships doesn’t mean I feel them any less.

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#12

Come to think of it, maybe when they say a “personal relationship” with Jesus, they mean a “personal interpretation” of Jesus’ teachings! :smiley:

Alan


#13

[quote=AlanFromWichita]“Personal relationship with Christ” is a Protestant buzz-phrase to call what they think they have and anyone who doesn’t “realize” they have it, don’t.
[/quote]

Catholics use the phrase too…

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says we are called to “a personal relationship with God” (299) and “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God.” (2558)

“God … invites … [everyone] to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ,” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 44)


#14

[quote=Elzee]A friend of mine, in an on-going conversation over email, said to me that 'The Catholic Church just doesn’t seem to stress a personal relationship with Jesus. Most Catholics I know seem embarassed or hesitant to talk about their love for Jesus - or even to say that they love Him - and how important He is to them."

[/quote]

I think your friend is right on a different level. Personal Relation with Christ? We’ve just allowed Protestant to steer the direction of the discussion into their court, for yes it is a Protestant Buzz-Word.

The REAL PROBLEM is most Catholics are afraid to talk about their religion to others, because it often ends up in a tag team battle. Most Catholics can not tell you why they believe what they believe. That’s not the priest’s fault, or the Church’s… IT IS OUR FAULT!!!

We (lay people) must teach our people the Faith! If you and I are able to comfortably talk about our religion with Non Catholics, we are the exception rather than the rule, and this has got to change.

NotWorthy


#15

[quote=NotWorthy]I think your friend is right on a different level. Personal Relation with Christ? We’ve just allowed Protestant to steer the direction of the discussion into their court, for yes it is a Protestant Buzz-Word.

The REAL PROBLEM is most Catholics are afraid to talk about their religion to others, because it often ends up in a tag team battle. Most Catholics can not tell you why they believe what they believe. That’s not the priest’s fault, or the Church’s… IT IS OUR FAULT!!!

We (lay people) must teach our people the Faith! If you and I are able to comfortably talk about our religion with Non Catholics, we are the exception rather than the rule, and this has got to change.

NotWorthy
[/quote]

When I am with a relatively learned protestant, I don’t even try to fight on his battlefield. About three or four Bible quotes, with references to which book, and I know I’m up against either a scholar or a robot programmed to handle the likes of me.

I listen intently and occasionally nod my head. As I said in another thread, I have decided to become a “cafeteria Protestant.” To do this, I will listen enthusiastically, and then every now and then interject something Catholic when it sounds like whatever he is saying. That way he takes it back to the hive and buzzes about this testimony with the Catholic, and possibly parrots what I said to him.

It’s kind of sneaky, but I like infiltrating them and watering only those seeds they have in their garden which I want to grow. :smiley:

When they’re railing about this or that, I’ll just do the old, “oh, my how does that make you feel” approach and say I’m sorry they feel that way. No defense. They cannot break down my front door because I open the front and back door and let them run right through. When it was clear they were trying to convict Christ, he just shut up. Sometimes no defense is the most subtle defense.

Alan


#16

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