Do Catholics have/share their PERSONAL TESTIMONY to Jesus ?

Scripture and the ECF’s taught this is essential for everyone. Protestants are very strong on this need for a believer to have a testimonial. Are Catholic’s taught their need/necessity to have/share their personal testimony?

Every Catholic person’s testimony should be quite simple:

It depends, I personally have my conversion story, where Christ picked me up from rock bottom and transformed my life to what it is now. All Catholics will have a story where Christ has helped them through a difficult patch, while we do not do the testimony in the style that Protestants do (especially Pentecostals in my experience, they seem to have a new testimony from a member of the congregation almost every week), you only have to ask, and some peoples ‘testimony’ is extremely personal, so you may not be told it unless there is a deep respect, and trust for the person they are sharing with.

And of course there is the Eucharist.

I’m not even sure what is meant by “personal testimony.”

As far as I know, this term is foreign to Catholic theology.

Are you referring to the need for evangelization or the need to offer up a defense of the reason for your faith or both maybe?

Chuck

My personal testimony is “I believe. Help my unbelief!”

If I am right, your “personal testimony” is when you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Where you were in your life, what caused you to “come to Jesus.”

I think the idea of the “testimonial” in some protestant circles (mostly Evangelical) relates to the idea that getting “saved” is a big, one-time event to which one can point. Often, one hears very detailed descriptions of the exact hour and date of this event. It is regarded as a sort of dividing line in life - “before I got saved”, “after I was saved”, and so forth.

The Catholic view is one of continuing conversion. So, “salvation” means something somewhat different to us than “saved” means to a protestant. This gives rise to lots of misunderstandings. For instance, protestants will sometimes say to a Catholic, “Are you saved”, and the Catholic might say “I’m not sure”. Since they are speaking different languages, there can be a lack of communication on this point. Testimonials I have heard all have this narrative feel of “I was saved at 8 pm on a Tuesday night, March 7, 1973. Before that, I had been living a sinful life. {story follows}”. Catholics don’t view their spiritual progress in quite this manner, although we all have our own wonderful story of what Christ has done, and is doing for us.

I have a “personal testimony” as a convert to the Catholic faith because non-Catholic Christians around me generally can’t comprehend why I would do something so foreign. Many have grown up believing, as I did, that although it was possible for individual Catholics to have the personal relationship with Jesus necessary for salvation, Catholicism was not truly a Christian religion. My story about Christ is connected to my story about the Catholic Church; almost as soon as I began to consider that the Christ might be true, I was in pursuit of Christ’s church. It would be extremely awkward for me to separate them.

I don’t think that the “personal testimony” is foreign to Catholic faith, though it may be stressed more in other evangelical churches. Its an individual’s story of their experience of Christ. It is generally applied to the first experience of Christ, when a person makes a commitment to Christianity and begins to go down a different road in their life, but evangelical speakers such as Beth Moore have strongly encouraged people that they need to have an ongoing testimony - not only what God did in their life back then, when they were seven or thirteen, but what God does every single day, and how the Christian has grown and is still growing.

I agree with anodos. As a convert, I have been writing my own conversion story to try to explain to family and friends. It helps me to really appreciate just how much God loves me and how much He has done for me. I think reflecting on our own personal on-going conversion experience can be a great tool for evangelization.

Those involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal share personal testimonies all the time.

Both my fiance and I are reverts to the faith and share our respective conversion stories (we both “came home” before we became friends).

Every serious beliver has a testimony and should be ready to share it with others with joy, wisdom and sensitivity.
Testimonies can be told in shorter or longer versions… but they are by nature not short because its a souls story with God.

Well it is for most people a great event… sometimes it happens in an istant, sometimes over days… but you cannot meet Christ without knowing precisely whereabouts and when it took place. Its a huge life altering experience.
Evangelicals use the words Saved but often mean the same as we do when we say; conversion experience…

“Personal testimony” seems to be a rather new-fangled expression. I daresay there might even be some Catholics here who think it is too “protestant” to bother about it. But I believe the idea is based in the Scriptures. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” 1 Pet 3:15. We all know that Jesus is the reason for our hope, but we are called to be ready give an explanation. So, call it a “personal testimony” or call it a “reason for your hope”, but be ready to explain why you are a Catholic. Pope Paul VI said “The Church exists to evangelize” and both Pope JPII and Pope BenedictXVI have reiterated that message to the faithful. Both of the latter popes have called on the everyday lay Catholic to evangelize. Believe me, one of the most powerful evangelization tools is to give your personal account of Jesus Christ in your life.

As a side note: I think it is wise to have a defense prepared for the Church as much as it is wise to have a defense prepared for Christ. You are more likely to be asked these questions by a non Catholic Christian who is trying to evangelize you (at least that has been my experience). Thus, it is important to have some basic apologetic skills regarding the Church too.


I don’t think that the “personal testimony” is foreign to Catholic faith, though it may be stressed more in other evangelical churches.

I didn’t mean to imply that Catholics don’t HAVE a “personal testimony” to share or that we don’t do so. This type of “faith sharing” is one of the fundamental components of retreats I’ve been working on for the last 10 years or so: they are a very impactful tool that often leads to further amazing conversion stories.

What I meant is that a need for this type of activity isn’t specifically called out as a tenant of the Catholic faith. (At least as far as I am aware.)

Its an individual’s story of their experience of Christ. It is generally applied to the first experience of Christ, when a person makes a commitment to Christianity and begins to go down a different road in their life,

Yeah that’s kind of what I presumed.

This first experience seems to be over emphasized in many non-Catholic Christian theologies, sometimes to the point that this event IS the only reason for a person’s salvation and nothing else they will ever do can change that.

This kind of thinking, I think, is foreign to Catholic theology.

but evangelical speakers such as Beth Moore have strongly encouraged people that they need to have an ongoing testimony - not only what God did in their life back then, when they were seven or thirteen, but What God does every single day, and how the Christian has grown and is still growing.

I believe this starts to fall closer in line with Catholic truth. i.e. salvation comes from perseverance in an active loving faith in Christ, not a onetime event.

Chuck

Can you tell me what you mean by a “one time event” salvation?

Thank you.

Well it is for most people a great event… sometimes it happens in an istant, sometimes over days… but you cannot meet Christ without knowing precisely whereabouts and when it took place. Its a huge life altering experience.
Evangelicals use the words Saved but often mean the same as we do when we say; conversion experience…

I get your meaning, GraceDK, but I think some people would say they’ve always known Him.:slight_smile:

I think that is a Catholic experience. I know I have always felt that I have known Jesus.

That brings me to a question that I get a lot, living in the South. “Have you found Jesus.” As if he were lost or something. Yes, I realize that they mean they were lost, but the way the question is worded, has had me say, “I didn’t realize he was missing.” Then their expression normally looks like this. :eek:

Yea… hmm… yes, I know a few of these too. But for most of us we have known about him for years but then there comes a time when the scales fall from our eyes, we realise: WOW, YOU are really here! Its no longer a theory… and you start living by His laws because you have become His friend …
but yes of course all people are different. I know some children who had great experiences with God…

Wow… How blessed you are to live in a place where people actually ask other people such questions… In my part of the world people mostly keep religion to themselves and especially people from the traditional churches are too timid ( or lukewarm?) to share their faith with others.

I know a young lady who was baptised Catholic and who was asked to go to church with her family all the way till she was 17 or something. She never had a personal relationship with Jesus and felt that all was a cold duty… then one day she met a young social and warm woman who on the first day of friendship said: “Do you know Jesus?”
My friend had never received such a fantastic and inviting question from any friends and she sensed there was something very particular about the young lady and she became jealous of the relationship she had with the Lord.

Today my friend is a personal believer - thank God for sending the other girl to her - unfortunately there is some sadness in my joy for her faith - namely that she is now going to the church in which people were not afraid to try to reach out… she is an Evangelical now …

I agree, maryjk, it’s more of a Catholic outlook to feel that way. I was a missionary to an anabaptist sect for 7 years, and I’ve heard “are you saved” and “have you found Jesus” many, many times. Speaking as a former protestant myself, I believe those kinds of questions arise out of a misunderstanding about the Catholic belief in on-going, continuing conversion. Sometimes, protestants think you aren’t a Christian yet if you say “I’m not sure” when they ask if you are saved.

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