One who knows about God but doesn't know God


#1

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I should be back properly in the Church. I cannot tell you when it came but something calls me back. It’s like a loud shout, more like a familiar voice or call, saying “Come thither, and know peace.”

For the past year or more, I’ve had a purely intellectual belief of God. God means as much to me as two plus two equals four. It’s a fact. Not a real person. It’s a syllogism. Apologetics for the Catholic faith are mere intellectual exercises. Yet I know God is a Person. Pantheism or non-deism doesn’t make sense to me. I feel like I’ve become the stereotypical Catholic–one who knows about God but doesn’t know God. I’d like to but I’m scared. It’s not a fault of the Church but my own walls.

My boyfriend, whom has said he feels called to be a deacon but is currently lasped like me, has said he wants to go back to the Church. That thought excites me…I feel like I’m going home.

Question: How do I get passed by own over-intellectualization?


#2

Pray. Pray every day without ceasing. That’s the gateway to conversation with the Lord - and a conversation takes two. Have no expectations and pray in whatever way comes to you. Nothing matters but that you take the time to do it. Friendships all begin by giving them your time and attention. Who can say how long it will take? Just don’t give up! There is nothing more, I am convinced, that God wants to do than to give you Himself. May God bless you! :signofcross:


#3

The old catechisms used to begin with the question “Why did God make me?” The answer was “To know Him, to love Him, to serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.”

This response was very logical - by first coming to know the Lord, it would naturally follow that one should love so great a God and thus be compelled to serve Him by following His will. But the individual answers to the question “Why did God make me” do not stand in isolation. They are very much interlinked: the first letter of St John tells us that we can know that we know Jesus by following His commandments and obeying His Word.

“The way that we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His Word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with Him: whoever claims to abide in Him ought to live just as He lived.” 1 John 2:3-6

I have found myself that it is very easy to know about God - one could read every book under the sun about God and Christ, yet they may still not know Him. There are many ways in which we can try to get to know God better - reading Scripture, prayer, the sacraments. The Mass is a powerful meeting point between us and Christ. The sacrament of Reconciliation shows us the infinite mercy of Christ. Talk to God in prayer, but leave plenty of silence to allow the Lord to speak to you.

St John also stresses the importance of living as Christ lived. So we get to know God when we step outside the boundaries of our prayer-space or our church. God is present in all things, so I would say that you should try and make yourself aware of the Lord’s presence throughout the day, even in the tiniest things you do.


#4

Amen, and this is coming from a non Catholic…And a Catholic man who was my neighbor used to say "It’s all about Jesus ! Knowing and following Him… Many in our churches have a head knowledge about Jesus but never experience a conversion of the heart or being “born anew” as us evangelicals say…Living with a lukewarm faith is a scary place to be…We get into a comfortable routine and it never grows from there…Personally, I think we’re getting closer to the return of Christ and he is calling and drawing those who have “ears to hear”. May our Lord bless you and draw you closer to Him…Kim


#5

Try to pray from your heart :slight_smile: it can the Rosary or another devotion or your own prayers. Try to be honest with God. If you’re struggling or finding it difficult to pray, tell Him that. Tell Him everything. Even though He knows it all already, He really likes to hear about our lives, how we’re doing, and it brings us closer to Him :slight_smile: also, try reading the Saints… not apologetics or theology, but inspirational stuff like ‘Story of a Soul’ or ‘Divine Mercy in My Soul’. But I’d say that prayer works the best. If you can, go and spend some time in Eucharistic Adoration… Jesus is there and He will help you. Try to trust Him and ask HIm for graces, ask Him for greater faith, to know Him more personally… remember He’s not so much a concept to understand as a person to get to know. The more time you spend with Him, the better you will know Him. Hope that helps :slight_smile: God bless.


#6

Thank you for your kind responses and prayers.

My boyfriend and I went to LifeTeen (cringe) Mass last night. For the first time, I feel a true inner peace but since it was a LifeTeen Mass, I got distracted by the errors, probably spurned on my tendency towards scrupulosity.

I’ve been trying to pray but all my words feel hollow…

Does anyone have any good resources about devotionals?


#7

God is already more than an intellectual idea to you, Dancelittleewok :). You felt His peace in your heart at the LifeTeen Mass, and you have heard His voice in your heart calling you to a deeper relationship with Him. You’ve heard Him just as the disciples heard Him when He told them, “Come, follow me.” You’ve heard and you are following! You are doing God’s will. Keep following Him as you’re doing now, you and your boyfriend, and you will find all that you could desire in Christ.

One thing that may also help you is to consider, during Mass, that all the Scripture readings are words from God for you. They are what He wants you to be hearing right now. The hymns and prayers are also about you, your soul, and what God wants for you. Try personalizing it all, and pray to be able to do this more.

When I go to Mass, it’s a deeply personal personal experience because I pray as much of what is going on as I can. I pray the hymns and liturgy and take the words of the priest and Scripture as the words of God for me to apply in my life right now. It’s a very personal experience of God for me. Pope John Paul II wrote that the Mass is a prayer. We would do well to pray it!

People here have talked about prayer. That is definitely a central way of coming closer to God. The Rosary is the most powerful prayer, and it’s especially effective, I think, when we take a while praying it, dwelling on and thinking about the words. The first several times I prayed it, I added my own words into or at the end of many of the Hail Mary’s, making them all more personal. That helped me.

I also prayed most of the Hail Mary’s for specific intentions. That too increased my ability to focus. An intention you might want to pray for is getting out of the over-intellectualization of God and into a more deeply personal relationship with Him.

I still do these things sometimes, though not very often anymore. I tend not to need it much now. But they’re a good way of getting more involved in the Rosary, I think. They make it all take longer, but putting so much of one’s own words and thoughts into it can draw one inside more deeply.


#8

You can. I did. Take the leap. It may take a little while but the rest will follow, even if your mind continues with its questioning sometimes.

I ask God to help you take this journey from the mind to the heart.


#9

Thank you for your prayers and advice, guys. Your advice has edified me and helped me feel closer to God. hugs Tonight, my boyfriend and I are going to Confession, followed by the Saturday Mass. I'm quite excited to receive Jesus, His Body and Blood, for the first time in years! :)


#10

That is simply delightful news! Thanks be to God. It was only about six months ago that I myself rediscovered Confession - I mean in a real sense, by taking serious time to examine my conscience beforehand - and the joy it brings every time is just amazing! I pray that you and your boyfriend find the same joy in celebrating the sacraments & that they will bring you to better and better knowledge and love of Christ!


#11

[quote="Dancelittleewok, post:6, topic:175760"]
Thank you for your kind responses and prayers.

My boyfriend and I went to LifeTeen (cringe) Mass last night. For the first time, I feel a true inner peace but since it was a LifeTeen Mass, I got distracted by the errors, probably spurned on my tendency towards scrupulosity.

[/quote]

I know what you mean about LifeTeen, but it's still a Mass so Jesus is definitely there! :) that's great that you feel peace. I felt that too when I began going to Mass. It sounds like God gave you this grace through the Mass =)

I've been trying to pray but all my words feel hollow....

it's usually like that at first.. one thing I've learned is that it takes time to develop a relationship with God. When I first started praying, my words felt hollow too. Eventually they didn't, but I still felt some doubts and "held back" a little. It took a while to learn to trust God. Try to pray with faith. Remember God hears you, regardless of how it feels.

Reflect on who God is, on Christ's Passion, on what it means... reflect on His love for you, and maybe then He'll be more 'real'. One day during prayer I really felt God telling me that He understands everything about me, that His love is really unconditional. Ever since then, my relationship with Him has been more personal though of course I still have far to go. The more you pray, the better it gets.
Here's something that I've always liked: mcpriests.com/03_I_thirst_PrayerEN.htm

there are a whole bunch of prayers here: 2heartsnetwork.org/prayers.htm

Does anyone have any good resources about devotionals?

what type are you looking for? by devotionals, do you mean devotions (like Divine Mercy, Sacred Heart, etc), or a series of reflections on certain topics?

[quote="Lief_Erikson, post:7, topic:175760"]
God is already more than an intellectual idea to you, Dancelittleewok :). You felt His peace in your heart at the LifeTeen Mass, and you have heard His voice in your heart calling you to a deeper relationship with Him. You've heard Him just as the disciples heard Him when He told them, "Come, follow me." You've heard and you are following! You are doing God's will. Keep following Him as you're doing now, you and your boyfriend, and you will find all that you could desire in Christ.

One thing that may also help you is to consider, during Mass, that all the Scripture readings are words from God for you. They are what He wants you to be hearing right now. The hymns and prayers are also about you, your soul, and what God wants for you. Try personalizing it all, and pray to be able to do this more.

When I go to Mass, it's a deeply personal personal experience because I pray as much of what is going on as I can. I pray the hymns and liturgy and take the words of the priest and Scripture as the words of God for me to apply in my life right now. It's a very personal experience of God for me. Pope John Paul II wrote that the Mass is a prayer. We would do well to pray it!

People here have talked about prayer. That is definitely a central way of coming closer to God. The Rosary is the most powerful prayer, and it's especially effective, I think, when we take a while praying it, dwelling on and thinking about the words. The first several times I prayed it, I added my own words into or at the end of many of the Hail Mary's, making them all more personal. That helped me.

I also prayed most of the Hail Mary's for specific intentions. That too increased my ability to focus. An intention you might want to pray for is getting out of the over-intellectualization of God and into a more deeply personal relationship with Him.

I still do these things sometimes, though not very often anymore. I tend not to need it much now. But they're a good way of getting more involved in the Rosary, I think. They make it all take longer, but putting so much of one's own words and thoughts into it can draw one inside more deeply.

[/quote]

cool :) :thumbsup:

[quote="Dancelittleewok, post:9, topic:175760"]
Thank you for your prayers and advice, guys. Your advice has edified me and helped me feel closer to God. hugs Tonight, my boyfriend and I are going to Confession, followed by the Saturday Mass. I'm quite excited to receive Jesus, His Body and Blood, for the first time in years! :)

[/quote]

awesome!! that is really wonderful and I hope you'll both be blessed at Confession and the Mass. I just went to Confession this morning and it's such a gift.

The most personal way God relates to us is through the Eucharist. In this Sacrament, He gives Himself to us. What's really helped me is thinking of His presence in me after Communion, and praying to Him as He's in my heart.. offering thanksgiving.. and asking for any grace that I need. Communion is the most holy, most grace filled occasion of our lives, it's also one where Jesus shows us His love in the most powerful way.

Prayers for you..

God bless!


#12

Actually talking and listening to God, getting to know Him as a person can be awkward at first, maybe even frightening, a little like how it is getting to know anyone for the first time. Just keep trying! :slight_smile: The effort is well worth it - its a friendship that will last for eternity.

I’m also really happy you’ve decided to come back to the Sacraments!


#13

Centring prayer allows God’s loving embrace
Silent surrender opens the door to the Lord
wcr.ab.ca/news/2005/1017/prayer101705.shtml

When the mind is silent, God speaks.
You intellect is a gift so don’t kill it. It is a Divine gift. Good luck in your journey.


#14

Things didn’t exactly work as planned last night.

Before Confession, my bf and I went to a local Catholic goods store since he mentioned he wanted a brown scapular. In short, we arrived around 4:30 at my church, and there were more penitents than expected. I thought we had time since the last priest generally stayed in the Confessional until 4:55 but apparently we have a new priests that stays until 4:45 to prepare for the Mass. My bf and I didn’t confess but we went to the Mass anyway, not receiving the Eucharist, making a spiritual communion. So our next plan is to schedule a session with one of our parishes’ priests for next week, especially since Thanksgiving is coming up.

Since I’m on call at work, and practically unemployed because of it :(, I didn’t buy much at the store. I updated my St. Joseph Guide to Christian prayer booklet and got another by booklet by St. Alphonsus Liguori called “How to Converse continually and familiarly with God,” which I hope will help with over-intellectualism process. The irony is that my bf didn’t get that scapular–what they had wasn’t he wanted–but got a small statue of his confirmation saint and a book by Karl Keating.

I must say going to Mass and talking about spiritual things is really bonding the two of us, in ways I didn’t think possible. :slight_smile:


#15

You are being guided and you both seem to be dedicated disciples. What you are going through now will help others with your guidance later. God is talking to you and knows you better than you do. The hard part is listening and following God's wisdom. I find it is easier to go inside to hear and be with Our Lord. He is always there no matter what.


#16

[quote="Dancelittleewok, post:14, topic:175760"]

I must say going to Mass and talking about spiritual things is really bonding the two of us, in ways I didn't think possible. :)

[/quote]

:D I love that!:thumbsup: God bless you both!


#17

Last night I think I experienced true contrition, I saw all the things I’d done to God—how filthy and disgusting they were, how I’d defiled my own body—and I felt remorse. Now I can’t look at the same ways as before, something has changed…perhaps it was a good that I didn’t get to Confession last week.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I feel like I see the world with new eyes…:slight_smile:


#18

[quote="Dancelittleewok, post:17, topic:175760"]
Last night I think I experienced true contrition, I saw all the things I'd done to God---how filthy and disgusting they were, how I'd defiled my own body---and I felt remorse. Now I can't look at the same ways as before, something has changed...perhaps it was a good that I didn't get to Confession last week.

Has anyone ever experienced this? I feel like I see the world with new eyes...:)

[/quote]

I too have experienced great contrition. According to Mother Regina Marie of the Carmelite Sisters: If at the time your eyes are opened, even though you feel regret about past actions, and you have a sense that everything is going to be all right, it is from God. If you are just horrified and cannot forgive youself, then that is not from God!

May God bless you mightily on your journey!


#19

[quote="Janechantal53, post:18, topic:175760"]
I too have experienced great contrition. According to Mother Regina Marie of the Carmelite Sisters: If at the time your eyes are opened, even though you feel regret about past actions, and you have a sense that everything is going to be all right, it is from God. If you are just horrified and cannot forgive youself, then that is not from God!

May God bless you mightily on your journey!

[/quote]

Thank you for your blessing. At the time, I felt inner peace and a strong desire to go to Confession this weekend. However, as the day went on, I began to feel worthless, that even if I went to Confession that I'd be there next week or my scrupulosity would re-emerge worse than before (part of the reason I stopped practicing to begin with) and I'd feel damned all the time----in other words, it would be best not to go because I would fail and not have firm purpose of amendment requirement. I can't imagine these thoughts are from God. :(


#20

[quote="Dancelittleewok, post:19, topic:175760"]
Thank you for your blessing. At the time, I felt inner peace and a strong desire to go to Confession this weekend. However, as the day went on, I began to feel worthless, that even if I went to Confession that I'd be there next week or my scrupulosity would re-emerge worse than before (part of the reason I stopped practicing to begin with) and I'd feel damned all the time----in other words, it would be best not to go because I would fail and not have firm purpose of amendment requirement. I can't imagine these thoughts are from God. :(

[/quote]

No, these cannot be from God. They contradict the nature of hope, one of the three theological virtues. The fact that you are having such thoughts doesn't mean for a second that you are any less united with God. Remember that the devil tempted Satan in the desert with evil thoughts, as well, and Jesus rejected them. Stand firm and do what you know is right, no matter how the evil one tries to deceive you. And pray to St. Michael. Eventually, you will come out the other side of the trial.

About the whole thing of "you'll just end up in Confession again by the end of the week," in the Church we are encouraged to go to Confession frequently and to dispose of venial sins in it. The saints tended to go to Confession all the time, like every week or whenever they got the opportunity. They immersed themselves in that sacrament. So there's nothing wrong with going to Confession every week. There is something wrong with committing mortal sin every week, obviously, but there isn't anything wrong with going to Confession often. The oftener, the better.

But a mistake I've noticed many Catholics make is interpreting the nature of mortal sin too broadly. They don't understand the full definition. It isn't actually that easy to commit mortal sin unless you're habitually linked to it, or it's an addiction. It's something people do on purpose. It isn't ever an accident. That's part of the definition.

Taking God's Name in vain in the heat of an argument or by a slip of the tongue in speech isn't mortal sin if we are trying to stop doing such things and we just did it by accident. It's a venial sin, in most cases.

One has to know that the sin one is about to commit is mortal, one has to premeditatedly plan on committing the sin (there aren't any spur of the moment mortal sins), one has to commit it deliberately.

Here's the Catechism of the Catholic Church's definition of mortal sin:

So you see, mortal sins meeting this definition aren't that likely to happen unless one is in a state of habitual or addictive sin, or living in a situation where one is really surrounded by temptations (I'd recommend moving).

Mortal sins are the only sins you're required to go to Confession to deal with before receiving the Eucharist. You can still receive the Eucharist after committing venial sins.


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