Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Why Questions

Why would God work through a priest? Or through Mary? Or through a saint? Or through holy water or rosary beads? Or through virgins or martyrs? Or through popes and councils? Why does God need any of that? He is God? He can come to us directly. Protestants ask this a lot. There is so much more that seems to be between us and God in Catholicism. What is the point? They think their protestant faith is pretty good without all that stuff. Why have it?

But you could also ask why did God make flowers and sunsets. Why did he give us smiles and laughter? Why music? Why make dolphins or beavers? Really the whole world is radically unnecessary. Does that mean we should reject these things? No. We should rejoice in all God's gifts.

The other answer is because we need them. We need to have God's grace mediated through humans. What remains in our minds is in our control. Even thoughts we are sure are from God can be just our pious imagination. We try and surrender to God but what that surrender looks like is limited by what our minds can conceive. So God gives us help. Real people. Models of faith but more than that. Actual conduits of His grace.The conduits don't even have to be people. They can be places or objects or rituals.

These are things we don't control. When we are just meditating on God our minds can go in a lot of directions. But when we venerate a relic of St Maria Goretti we tend to get focused. Would we rather die than commit one sin even if that sin is mostly someone else's fault? She has become such a powerful spiritual force in so many lives. Is that something we could get on our own?

When Jesus was on earth people might ask the same question. Why can't God work through my Jewish faith? Why do I need to go to Jesus? Need is a strong word. More and better grace is available through Jesus. That is what God wants you to do and that is what will bless you the most. The same is true of the church and all the extra Catholic stuff that goes with it. It is the physical presence of God on earth. We are physical beings. We should be humble enough not to declare a purely spiritual God is good enough for us. God's presence in people, places and things can give us a clearer picture of who God is and a much stronger sense of His desire to be with us.

Protestants embrace most of this on a feeling basis. When someone inspires me I will do what I can to connect with that person. When a place or thing moves me I will contemplate it or go back to it. The difference is you have to feel something almost right away or you give up. If the feeling goes away after a while you drop it and move on. I found that worked for me when I was young. I was OK with jumping into new spiritual movements every once in a while. But that emotional kick just keep getting harder to find.

As a Catholic I take what the church puts before me. For a long time the emotion was negative because of protestant suspicions that keep coming back. But the fruit of such devotion has been so much greater. The focus is truly on God and not whatever God thing excites me.  God is not just providing me the general direction to walk but He is giving me stepping stone to guide my way.

BTW, if you don't know about St Maria Goretti here is a short documentary:

No comments:

Post a Comment