Thursday, September 25, 2014

The True Church

     Someone told me once that their decision to join the Church was an intellectual one.  Likewise, on many occasions I have heard many testimonies of why intellectually people choose their religion. For instance, they will say things like “no other Church has these claims” or “no other religion teaches these things”.  I guess from an intellectual perspective it would make sense to appeal to the religion that has the most valid claims. In contrast, I don’t think I can relate to intellectual claims because most of my religious decisions were emotional. Unlike some, I can’t say that I am member of my church because it makes the most sense or that it has things others don’t. For me, it was a matter of following my heart in discovering what brought me closer to God. Maybe this was due the fact that when I started out on my spiritual path I could barely read or write. I did not have access to the popular saints of the day and even when I eventually did all I had to go on was what I was experiencing inside. The experience that I had I guess you could say is what I perceived of Christ. I saw this experience in myself, in others, and in my desire for more of it I followed it where it took me.
     As far as the intellect is concerned there have been many times in my experience where things have made no sense. In fact, there have been those in my life that have gone out of their way to show me how everything that I believe is false. After talking with such people the only honest response I can have to their claims is that if there was no presence of God in me I could see myself believing the way they do. Everything that I have has been grace or an emotional response to it and it is always associated with the knowledge of Christ. I guess in terms of intellectual development all my education has been aimed at knowing Christ better. I know that I can’t go on my experience alone but I would be dishonest if I didn’t mention that my education has always been organic to my first encounter of Christ. I seems in my case I wanted not to just follow my emotions but I was trying to have a better relationship with God through what I learned about Him.
    In terms of learning there is no doubt that it has contributed to the relationship that I have now with my church but this knowledge is always complemented by how I experience God. This is why I can’t say I am where I am because it’s better than other churches or because we have things other do not. In terms of what my church has given me there has been no other place that has provided me with what I experience now of Christ. At this point in my life, I can say that I have never felt more liberated in experiencing God and it has been my church alone that has brought me this healing. To me, this is the essence of what a True Church is. As Metropolitan Hierotheos once said, “the existence of the true Church is revealed in the degree of success. In medicine it is said that a correct medical theory is distinguished from a wrong one by its degree of success. Similarly, a doctor is good depending on his healing rate. Likewise for the Church”. I guess you can say that in following my emotions I was actually looking for the best kind of healing. I was attracted only to the best means that healed what I lacked in experiencing God and in following this healing I found my church.
     Today, there is no place that I’d rather be. My Ruthenian Greek Catholic church is the True Church.  By some standards my church is not perfect. However, even if it gets worse for these standards, it is where God heals me. Sometimes there are those that look at my church’s imperfections and try to provide arguments for why I should leave. If I wanted to I could probably provide an intellectual argument against what they say. However, in the end such debates have very little to do with experiencing God. I think the best way to convince others is to share what God has done in me through my church. Others might continue to say that they have things better or do things better but can they make me whole in the way my church has? When speaking with such people I often wonder if there is anything to share under all those ideas of why their church is the True one. The appeals to traditions, papal sayings, or councils are meaningless if you in fact have no healing to offer.

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