2/18/11, Vatican City, speaking to Catholic Prelates… Benedict 16 said …
'Keeping God at the center of people’s lives requires preaching that is “personal in focus, so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives.” “Your great task in evangelization is therefore to propose a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST as KEY TO COMPLETE FULFILLMENT.”
Is it any wonder that it’s the EVANGELICALS [Protestants & Catholics] that today point out the essential need for having a ‘personal’ relationship with Christ, via 3rd Person of Godhead ? Let it not be anymore read in the Apologetic section of CAF that Catholics don’t hold firm to what our Popes have taught since Day 1, since Peter got his commission in Christ … and gave that Pentecost birth to our Church, blessed by the Holy Spirit.
I had a “personal encounter” with Jesus Christ 26 years ago that radically changed my life. Because of my need to share the experience I became a founder of the Catholic Men’s Fellowship in Cincinnati in 1986 in order to promore the concept of fellowship to cradle Catholics. Some progress has been made but the idea of sharing daily existence with other lay men is still very foreign. The clergy are generally unfamiliar and with so much maintenance to be done they are not available to venture into new fields. It is my belief that evangelization of the laity to the laity will begin when Catholics begin to realize that they can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Imagine the revitalization of baptised Catholics that could occur if we had the same internalization of the Faith that our Evangelical brothers.
I have shared my experience and the subsequent events many times to fellowship groups and men’s conferences over the years. I am interested in hearing from “born again” Catholics and how it changed their life.
Many Catholics and Protestants are leary of religious ‘experiences’. They are taught by their leaders not to trust their ‘feelings’, that your feelings will ‘deceive’ you. Religion for many of them is totally cerebral, an intellectual matter of faith. I grew up in a conservative Protestant church … and had many teachers tell me they had no idea about the working of the Holy Spirit. Intellectually, they could imagine God & Christ, but did not understand the H.S. It took Evangelical Protestants to introduce me to the work of the H.S. within modern religion.
I too had a powerful revelation of H.S. … at an early age, late teens. It was experiential, but also intellectually manifested. And, it was nothing less than the abiding ‘Real Presence’ of Christ to a new convert … body, blood, and divinity. It was something outside of my past reality, something beyond my prior earthy experiences. It was a new presence, revealed from outside myself. I experienced a ‘new creation’ … present & growing within me. I had an abiding new companion.
It was an overpowering …emotionally & intellectually. And, it wasn’t a passing fancy or imagined reality. It was nothing short of a new paradigm, a new perspective on life, a new identity for me … but, brought about by the God Man Christ, and his sending of the promised Counselor. I came to realize within hours … that a supernatural transition a spiritual rebirth ] had come upon me. Yet, I was not scared or fearful of the new Real Presence within my mind & soul. I was being occupied by the H.S. … yet the H.S. was such a comfort, such a peaceful presence, that I was overjoyed with the ‘rebirth’ / transformational experience. An Abiding Love had filled me, a covenantal relationship forged. Manifested by the H.S.'s love … which drives out all fear, calms, supports, teaches, forgives, enlightens, and produces a calming peace within our core.
I believed in God and Christ before this experience, but had never actually felt God’s presence. I had come to think God would always be distant, and that a Christian could not detect God via the senses. Thus, I had no true ‘relationship’ with the Trinity. And, when some Evangelicals asked me if I had a ‘personal relationship’ with Christ … I got defensive ----- believing it wasn’t possible, and that they were puffed up with pride, or talking heresy. Yet, the H.S. was encouraging me to find out if they had discovered something I had yet to know of … and grace led me to question them about their understandings on this ‘personal relationship’ topic. They were right, I was wrong.
I now know that God desires us to ‘experience’ him via the indwelling of H.S., which he graces to us. Experiencing God should be normative for us, not the exception. It is my firm belief that if Christians really desire to experience God … they will experience a supernatural indwelling of God, enabled by Christ’s passion sacrifice for us, and his gracing of his RealPresence H.S. to us.
Real-life experience trumps a theoretical faith. We all need a ‘personal counselor’ to get thru a lifetime, w/o falling back into unbelief. That is where the H.S. excels. Especially thru the Catholic Church and its 7 Sacraments. Several years ago the H.S. brought me into the Cath. Church … another great experience, that allows faithful, rebirthed Catholics to receive Christ’s body/blood/divinity on regular basis … making perseverance an easier reality for us.
Thanks for the sharing of your personal encounter with Jesus Christ. My personal encounter occured in October 1985 and radically changed my life. I was depressed and underperforming at work - to say the least. Similarly I was out to lunch in family relationships. My false god was my status and wealth achievement in life and when these false gods let me down I did not know where to turn. I had a relationship with the Church but not with Jesus Christ. In fact I did not envision or contemplate the possibility of a personal relationship with the Founder. I knew nobody who claimed such - certaintly not among my lay Catholic friends and not many clergy spoke ot the matter either. Fortunately I had a priest advisor and friend who understood what was happening and his prayers and that of my wife lead me to the moment of the God’s direct healing intervention in my life. As I said I had no expectation that such an event could occur but i was so overwhelmed by the grace of God that infused my soul that I was compelled to recognize the source of my revival and act on it. IIn the immediate aftermath felt that I was walking without touching the ground. My depression and lethargy was removed and a number of favorable outcomes occurred to my business career quickly thereafter that affirmed my belief in the encounter with Jesus Christ - that He was the fountain of my good fortune.
I had a compelling urge to tell people about it but nobody seemed to know that I was speaking about. My spiritual advosor friend was able to introduce me to a few other men who had similar experiences and the Catholic Men’s Fellowship was founded in Cincinnati in 1986. What transpired thereafter can be found on the website www.thecall.org when gives an account of the history and the current status of the ministry. The principal characteristics of the ministry are: Christ centered; open to all men in fellowship/ meetings; obedient to Magisterium and part of local parish spirituality.
I would love to hear from other forum members speak to the “personal encounter” and how it transformed their lives. Gratefully in Jesus Christ,