The Foundation of Authority: Mileposts on the Road to Rome

HMS Surprise Sailing Ship Mast & Rigging

By Charlie Johnston

“If Francis had been Pope when you came into the Church, would you have still come in?”

It was a clever question posed to me a few months ago by a shrewd friend.

I had been a great admirer of St. John Paul the Great for over a decade before I was received into the Church. While the breathtaking impressiveness of his witness facilitated my way, his greatness was not what finally brought me home to the Church.

My family’s religion was an obscure branch of southern fundamentalism (the kind where snake-handling was sometimes practiced). It was profoundly anti-Catholic. Oh, the calmunies I heard spoken of the Catholic Church when I was a child! Even so, there just was not any such ugliness in my parents at all. Ironically, when we moved up north to Chicago, the great majority of their circle of closest friends was Catholic. While this never created any tension at all, there was a residual dread of the strange rituals and beliefs of what we thought Catholicism was.

My first brush with the faith came when I was a boy, maybe eight or nine. Times were tight then. We ate vegetables throughout the week…butterbeans, pinto beans, northern beans, fried squash, always accompanied by pan-fried cornbread. On Fridays each week, my paternal grandparents would make a big bunch of hamburgers and always have us up for dinner. We all looked forward to hamburgers on Friday. My parents’ literal best friends at the time, Skip and Tom, were Catholics. Dad usually rode to work with Tom and we spent many holidays together – including every New Year. My parents had invited Skip and Tom over for dinner on a Friday night. Things were getting better, so we were happy to fry up a great platter of hamburgers. It created a bit of awkwardness when our friends got over and, abashedly, explained that Catholics could not eat meat on Fridays (this was in the early 60’s).

I was horrified – and told them I thought it was terrible that they couldn’t ever eat meat. They explained that they ate meat on most days, just not Fridays. At the time, Fridays were about the only days we DID eat meat. I had to ponder on this a while. I don’t know if I ever mentioned it to Mom and Dad, but for a long time I thought about what a good deal the Catholics had.

By the time I was in high school, I had become a fairly gifted amateur trumpet player. I was the lead trumpet in pit orchestras for musical productions across the North Shore of Chicago. Somewhere along the line an official from the Archdiocese of Chicago took note of me. I had the rare gift then (not now) of being able to play the far upper register with pleasing tone and tight control. Since high Church music uses a lot of Baroque, which requires that gift, I did a lot of paid work for the Church – mainly up at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, where I would stay overnight before an important performance, like for ordinations and such. The Archdiocese also farmed my name out to local Pastors who needed something for a special performance. I attended my first Mass at St. Anne’s Church in Barrington, Illinois in the early 70’s. It was for Midnight Mass at Christmas, all by candle light. We did much of the Hallelujah Chorus – and a beautiful rendition of “O Holy Night.” I was stunned. It was the most gorgeous, worshipful and moving Church service of any type I had ever witnessed. In my ignorance I had expected some weird series of pagan rituals, perhaps culminating in the sacrifice of a goat – or at least a chicken or two.

In late 1972, my paternal grandfather died. He was the noblest, most decent man I have ever known. Phenomenally strong, he was incredibly gentle, soothing and paternal to all (in the best sense of the latter word). My parents’ religion was one of those with the conceit that only its adherents could go to heaven. Well, Poppo Johnston was a nominal Methodist. I overheard Mom, in her grief, telling Dad at one point that she was sure Poppo had converted in his last breath – a common dodge when someone beloved outside of the faith died. Yet it incensed me. Truth was, I did not much like most of our family’s co-religionists; in fact, there were only a few I considered to be decent, honest people. Poppo Johnston was, as I said, the noblest, most decent man I knew. In my rage at what I considered a calumny, I told myself that if he had to say just the right words to get into heaven, after having lived so nobly, it’s all an arbitrary game and God is a cheat. I did not, for a minute, believe God is a cheat…but I decided if I was going to go to hell, I was at least going to do it for what I did believe, not for pretending at what I didn’t. I also resolved to hit the library intensely in the New Year, to research the origins of the various denominations.

Naturally, I checked the family religion first. To my surprise, our branch of fundamentalism sprung up in the American southeast in the early 1800’s. So if it was true that only adherents of this faith could go to heaven, that excluded everybody before that time, including Sts. Peter and Paul. Nope. In the course of my research, I discovered who the founder was of just about every major (and a few minor) Christian denominations. I also discovered an unsettling fact about Catholicism: it and the Orthodox Churches are the only Christian Churches which have a legitimate historical claim to having been founded by Christ, Himself – and the Orthodox eschewed unity a thousand years ago, so the Catholic Church was the only Christian Church that had remained substantially unchanged since that founding. It was not enough to overcome my ingrained cultural dread of Catholic worship, but it sure tickled at the back of my head.

Having discovered that reality diverged rather spectacularly in many particulars from what I had been taught, I mounted a two-front campaign. First, I relentlessly read and re-read the Bible. I called it trying to see the Bible with “fresh eyes,” getting beyond what we are taught it means and looking at what it is, in itself. Second, I knew that meanings of words and phrases change over time – and 2,000 years is a very long time, indeed. So I started studying history. I wanted to know what the sayings of Jesus meant to those who actually heard Him in His time on earth. Again, I was startled to see that many things are not at all as we think they are – and in some cases are exactly opposite of what we think they are.

During this period, I went nearly completely silent on all things religious. Most of the authorities in my parents’ religion loved nothing better than to find someone to condemn and rip apart. Even when they were technically right, they often did it in a way that tore the heart out of people. I prayed constantly that I not speak at all about religion until I could consistently speak in a way that built people up and inspired them with new hope, rather than tore them down. I only spoke about it if someone close to me was having a crisis of faith and sought my counsel. Up until I was 25, even my Dad thought I was a good fellow, but pretty much a heathen, because I would not talk about religion. In 1981, the covert break I had made with my family’s religion became respectfully overt. I wrote Mom and Dad a very long letter explaining what I believed – and what I could not accept. (Years later, when the New Catechism was released, I was gratified to see the description of what the Word is matching almost verbatim what I had written in that letter.) After the initial shock wore off, it became a blessing for us all. Dad, in particular, began studying the faith deeply. We had many edifying discussions where we both came out with profound insights we had not had previous. It became a favored, and joyful, subject of conversation. And of course, Mom and Dad were both overjoyed to know that, even if I was wrong, I was certainly no Godless heathen! Poor Dad. He later became a Fundamentalist Minister. While loved by his congregation, he was considered suspect, at best, by fellow ministers of the same religion. Gifted with great intellectual integrity, my Dad dismissed as contra-Biblical poppycock such things as the Rapture and ‘once-saved, always saved.’ Even worse, he and a Methodist Minister who were friends often preached at each other’s churches. Worst of all, he had a vigorously healthy respect for Catholicism – and occasionally explicitly referred to it as the ‘mother of all Christians.’ (Ha! Dad was always a bit of a contrarian. If you think I can get occasionally provocative, you should have seen my Dad in his prime!)

I had long since understood that my family’s religion really knew very little of the Bible at all. Oh, they could quote chapter and verse on a few things that confirmed what they already believed or wanted to believe, but they just paid no attention at all to everything else, particularly those things that seemed to contradict their favored beliefs. It seemed to me that, for a faith tradition to be true, it must take all Scripture into account, not just those excerpts it liked. It must be internally coherent. Just because it is internally coherent doesn’t mean it is true, but it can’t be if it is not. So I started attending different denominations, in search of a home. I would stay long enough to find what their primary beliefs are – and then would ask the preacher, after a few weeks, about bits of Scripture which contradicted those beliefs. If the preacher scolded me for my impertinence (which is what usually happened) and refused to answer, I knew this was not home for me and moved onto the next. There was a Presbyterian Minister who could not answer most of my questions, but enjoyed discussing them with me. We remained friends long after I had become Catholic. By the late 80’s, I had largely given up the effort. Oh, I knew, I believed passionately in Christ but, like a poor orphan, I concluded there was no honorable home for me.

In the spring and summer of 1990 I was reading a great deal of religious work from around the time of the Reformation. I admired Martin Luther’s courage, but didn’t particularly like him. He seemed too eager to condemn all sin save that which he personally was tempted by. I particularly enjoyed the writings of Erasmus. Then, for some reason, I read St. Augustine’s “Confessions.” It took my breath away. It spoke to me on every level; its description of what Scripture is, its description of what time actually is (foreshadowing Einstein’s discoveries some 1500 years later), the struggle with the sins of the flesh, the brilliance and the great magnanimity of the man. I pondered why I had never seriously given consideration to the Catholic Church as a home – and thought that any Church which could produce so breathtaking a saint was worthy of very serious consideration. On Sunday, September 2, 1990, I attended my first Mass purely as a worshipper. I was enthralled. I called the Parish Office to see what someone considering becoming a Catholic should do. They told me RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) classes were beginning the next week and would continue through Easter. I went to check it out. I was impressed that you weren’t allowed to just ‘join up,’ but had to spend serious time learning about what you were joining and whether you really meant it. It seemed a suitably grave approach for what was such a solemn decision.

Believe it or not, for almost two months I was the ‘Silent Sam’ of the class of just under 20 people. Having had so many disappointments in my earlier searches, I had little confidence that this would not turn into yet another. Meantime, I started reading furiously, starting with the documents of Vatican II, moving on to some Church Fathers, then to some serious Church history – both from religious and secular authors, with emphasis on times of greatest internal conflict in the Church. You might think I just wanted to learn as much as I could about the Church. Actually, I was looking for the catch. Certainly, I had heard some contradictions in class, but when I would check it in formal Church teaching, I would find the teacher was mistaken or misunderstood formal doctrine. I remember the moment when, in exhaustion, but dawning joy, I thought to myself, “I don’t think there is a catch here.”

After two months of silence, we were given an ethical problem with a binary set of solutions in one of my classes. We were asked to choose one and then defend our choice. As I studied the choices, I got irritated, for I thought they were both seriously deficient – and that if that was the best we could come up with, we were seriously derelict. So when it came my turn to answer, I rejected both choices and explained, with no little passion, what a true Christian choice should be. When I get impassioned, I can sometimes be quite compelling and intense. When I finished, everyone was staring at me wide-eyed, as if I were some tiger at the zoo whose cage had come inexplicably open. The silence held for a bit, then the Priest turned to the woman next to me and asked for her response. Her eyes went wide as she looked frantically back and forth, finally pointing her arm at me and blurting, “What that guy said!” Everyone burst out laughing and my silence was ended.

Going through RCIA, you go through several rites as your study goes deeper. About midway through, there is what is called the Rite of Acceptance. It formally recognizes the candidates’ decision to live the process of entering the Church and welcomes them. Perfectly innocuous. But a few weeks before the Rite, I started having nightmares that when I stood before the Priest, he cast me out and did not accept me. I mentioned this to the woman I was dating a few days before the Rite – and she burst out laughing. Offended, I asked why she did that. “You’re intimidated, aren’t you?” she asked. I said I was, but it was not something to be mocked. She laughed again and said, “I have never seen you intimidated by anyone or anything. Most of us are intimidated by a lot of things. It’s good you should know how the rest of us feel most of the time.” I considered that, then chuckled myself and told her I guessed I was like a poor orphan boy who had been an orphan for so long he persuaded himself he did not need – or even want – a home. Now I had found a home I wanted so passionately with every fiber of my being that I was terrified they might not have me.

At the Easter Vigil in 1991 I was received into the Church. My son, then four years old, dressed in his little grey suit, caught my eye as we were being presented and gave me a wink and a hearty thumbs-up with a great grin on his face. It is a snapshot that remains indelibly fixed in my memory from that glorious night. It was not until a year later, after getting familiar with saints’ feast days, that I realized the first Mass I attended at what would be my home came the Sunday after St. Augustine’s Feast Day in 1990. I have ever since considered him the patron of my conversion.

I taught RCIA for the next four or five years. It was a great joy and I was treated as a valued asset. Part of it was because I spoke Protestant fluently and could mount solid Biblical arguments against Bible-based objections off the cuff. Every year, someone would ask me to be their confirmation sponsor – and usually it was the one who I had argued with most vigorously at the start. I was every bit as excitable and combustible as I am now – and could sometimes erupt. One of the women who asked me to be her sponsor after we became good friends (she was actually secretary to a high-ranking official in the Archdiocese – and was keeping her conversion secret even from her boss until it was accomplished) came late to our second session of the year, where somebody had set me off on an intense rant. She giggled and said she had turned to her friend then and whispered, “Okay, this is the John 3:16 guy,” little imagining at the time that I would so carefully and seriously engage with everyone where they were at, always encouraging without rebuking them – and that we would become great friends.

In my studies, I had examined periods when there were anti-popes roiling the Church with effective schisms. (An anti-pope is an invalid claimant to the office. There have been several such great controversies in the course of history. In fact, there were two anti-popes at the time of St. Joan of Arc. When she appealed her case to the Pope, her tormentors slyly asked her who she recognized as the true Pope. Her charming answer was, “Why, the Pope at Rome. Is there any other?” It delighted me.) Pope Liberius condemned St. Athanasius for a time, and flirted with aspects of the Arian heresy. In the great doctrinal controversies, often you had genuine saints on opposite sides of the issue…though the genuine saints always accepted final, binding decisions. Some Popes were terrible men, some wrote private heresy – though none ever formally taught such. Still, some were painfully ambiguous. Some sought to enable genuinely errant movements; others used their spiritual office to enrich themselves temporally or enhance worldly power.

Even the greatest of prelates was not guaranteed to be even a marginally competent diplomat, administrator, or have any political sense at all. Yet the notoriously corrupt Medici Popes oversaw bringing great artistic treasures to the Vatican and the world, patronizing many of history’s greatest artists, including Michaelangelo. God often acts by indirection, bringing unexpected treasures from corrupt hearts and leaving certain odd deficiencies in many pure ones.

Forget how many misconceptions most Protestants have of Catholicism: most Catholics have almost as many. The relatively simple concept of infallibility is the most obvious case. Infallibility does not make a Pope free from sin – or even free from error on anything except formal, binding Magisterial statements. Even then, infallibility does not guarantee he will get it right, just that he won’t get it wrong. He may not be able to formally speak at all on the matter, or may speak with great ambiguity. Then there is the difference between Magisterial and administrative authority. In certain circumstances, a Pope’s Magisterial authority is infallible. His administrative authority is never infallible, even though binding on Catholics and the hierarchy. Thus, an excommunication is never infallible, because it falls under the Pope’s disciplinary, or administrative, authority. Then there is the matter of prudential responsibility. Matters of faith and morals belong to the Pope’s prudential authority. Temporal matters such as politics, economics, and science (save where a proposed course is truly illicit in itself) are primarily the prudential authority of the laity and not part of a Pope’s formal authority. I weigh what a Pope says on such matters as a matter of respect, but knowing that his authority on it is no greater than mine or any other citizen’s. The key thing is that, in 2000 years, the Church has never contradicted itself on matters of defined doctrine. It is rare for any institution to even go 50 years without fundamentally contradicting itself. To go 2000 years was sign enough for me. But it has often been a brawling, messy process. 

I am not a fan of Pope Francis’ ambiguity in Amoris Laetitia. I don’t like his frequent hectoring and insulting of people who merely disagree with him. I don’t like that he has cozied up to and honored genuine enemies of the faith, such as abortion and population-control advocates. I don’t like that he spends so much time talking about political matters that he has no authority over, and like it even less that he insinuates that his mere political opinions are binding. While speaking ambiguously on grave matters of faith and morals, I deeply dislike that he enables and empowers prelates who openly oppose the unchangeable doctrine of the Magisterium, while punishing and banishing many who seek to uphold those things. Yet, when I look at it from a larger perspective, all that is happening is that we live in some of those tumultuous times that I had previously only read about. This is not the end of the Church. In all of those tumultuous times I previously read about, ordinary Catholics were able to live their faith. Great saints often encouraged them to do so simply, even as doctrinal and administrative storms raged around them. And in the end, God always accomplishes something in even the direst times. As God says in Isaiah 55:11, His word does not go forth without effect: “…it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Certainly, many Cardinals and Bishops are defending the unchanging nature of defined doctrine. That is how the messy process of refining doctrine has happened throughout the history of the Church. God has His purposes for which He is using Pope Francis. It may well be that part of Francis legacy will be to expose all those actual enemies of the faith who lurk within. It may be to correct the misconceptions that have grown up around infallibility – and recollect pious men to the prudential responsibility they bear – and will have to give account for – on political and temporal matters that are not part of the Pope’s prudential responsibility. It may well be that Pope Francis has some significant contributions to make to the Church’s Deposit of Faith – and woe to us who miss it because we focused only on legitimate disagreements with him.

I am a true believer. The foundation and protector of authority in this Church is God, Himself. It would be a failure of faith to fail to stand up for the fundamentals of the faith. But it is equally a failure of faith to think that any man, or combination of men, could capsize this Church. If God protects it even from final assault by the devil, how can men hope to ultimately confound it? If I were an enthusiast of Pope Francis, I would be careful to watch for things that could legitimately confuse and dishearten the faithful, lest his work be weakened. As I am not such an enthusiast, I watch carefully for the noble things he says and does that I might miss by focusing only on my concerns. But I have no doubt that God has His purposes – and that His Holy Word will not return to Him without effect. So the messiness of Bishop against Bishop and Cardinal against Cardinal, while unpleasant, will accomplish God’s Holy Will in the fullness of time.

The answer, then, to my shrewd friend’s question is that I did not sign on for a particular captain, but because of the sturdy seaworthiness of the ship. A hundred years from now, the captain and all the crew who currently man this great ship will have passed on to their reward, for good or ill…and the ship will still make her serene pilgrim way to find final harbor with the Lord of Hosts. How glad I am, in good times and in bad, to be aboard this majestic vessel!

 ship, end

 

229 thoughts on “The Foundation of Authority: Mileposts on the Road to Rome

  1. Soooooooooooooooo beautiful, Charlie! Heartening and heartwarming is this piece. Thank you for sharing these stories within the great story of your faith journey which brought you Home to Rome.

    In my parish we once had a pastor who often quipped that this was the International Catholic Anthem:

    Liked by 17 people

  2. Praying for all priests and members of our glorious church. And praying that I be given wisdom and strength to face the dsiscussions that will soon come with many in my life.

    God Bless

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Praying for the Holy Spirit to annoint all of your words, Blessed. Praying you will be comforted and given much strength and wisdom in these discussions.

      Liked by 8 people

  3. Yes God has His plan. The first thing Pope Francis did was declare himself a sinner. he also said not to be frightened to go out and make a mess. God’s glory can shine all the more when He brings good out of sin…. And I believe the Holy Spirit is working through Pope Francis to bring out and expose all the hidden sin so Gods forgiveness and healing Mercy can set the healing process in motion.
    It is time the boat was rocked!!
    A very prayerful priest often makes the point that the Holy Spirit loves mess. So this huge mess is drawing down the Holy Spirit of Truth And Love. The more the mess the more the contrast will be and the two sides will be clearer for all to see. Truth or deception.
    All this is being done by a good Father in Love for His children and pope Francis the sinner is doing all in humility and Love.
    The entire human family needs mercy, forgiveness, healing and restoration…. All of us on the blog and those not on the blog….especially me! So the mess helps us as the Holy Spirit is attracted. The boat needs to be rocked for the process. Come Holy Spirit come and renew the face of the earth.

    Liked by 19 people

      1. Thankful….. Just an hour ago I was thinking that we are tearing each other apart. Then saw mark mallett’s post for today. Time to Weep….. He added pope Francis’s comment to the 2018.
        Truly…. I sense the Hawaii thing is a WARNING.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Oh my gosh……. I just realized I met a little girl on Friday …. Out of all children my grandchild went over to her in the park playground….. Her name was Hawaii! Never ever have I met a child called Hawaii!!

          Liked by 3 people

    1. I happen to love Pope Francis. To be sure, I disagree with some of his ‘mis’pronouncements but who knows if they were meant to rock the boat like you said? I thank God that He gave me this attitude towards this much loved Pope –something that sometimes I cannot explain myself.

      O Blessed Mother, envelop Pope Francis with thy mantle of protection!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. I have found that the failure of sin is a mercy of God to allow us to sample our weakness in a profound way.
    When I was coaching a mens softball team, I noticed that no matter how hard I tried, grown men already “know it all” and are extremely difficult to convince when the coach (me) makes a decision based on my study of the team as a whole. I found out that the best lesson these men could have was to let them fall flat on their faces when they just had to have it thier way. Suddenly a light would go on in their heads and they would then understand what I was talking about.
    I see this same effect in us when we sin. We then recognise where our weaknesses are and can then accept that we need help in those areas.
    Our faith walk is forever new and challenging. Now matter how holy we become, we have weaknesses that need grace.
    The greatest saints thought themselves the most sinful of persons because the closer to God’s great love and purity they came the further away from His goodness they realized they were.
    Faustina tells us Jesus told her that the greater the sinner the more they have recourse to His mercy
    I have used the analogy that the greatest saint and the greatest sinner are but two candles held side by side. When flown into the sun (God’s love and mercy) they both disappear in its great light since neither the sinner nor the saint have little comparison to the fathers infiniteness. He loves us equally because He is so far above us and beyond us that we appear the same to Him.
    How great can a saint be compared to Gods greatness?
    How great can a sinner be compared to Gods unfathomable mercy?

    Liked by 18 people

    1. Been reflecting on…… He is so far above us and beyond us that we appear the same to Him.
      Fantastic comment Phillip. So it is all down to Love and let God be God.
      He can only Love!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Sorry… Important phone call came as finishing post so sent quickly. Did not get to add…. I really liked Charlie’s comment in last paragraph….. Did not sign on for a particular captain… And the whole concluding paragraph in total.
    My friend who phoned is returning a large sum of money she borrowed on Saturday…. To buy the most beautiful picture of the Holy Family. Interesting story in itself. 10 years ago I drove her to the same shop to buy a picture of …. The Holy Family. Traditional style…. Lovely rich colours.

    This new one she spotted straight away as she entered the shop to buy fr Robert Spitzers book. Transformation from darkness to Light. Her husband was with us and agrree to the new picture for her birthday but over limit on card so I used mine.
    This picture too is beautiful….. But verywhite, yelow, gold…. A gorgeous lightness to it.
    It hit me…. The new purified, healed, transformed family…. So this picture of the Holy Family represents the healed family of God.
    And so now I am receiving my money AND…. My favourite cream and jam bun as a thank you. Must go eat!!!

    Liked by 12 people

  6. — Napoléon Bonaparte : « Je détruirai votre Église ! »
    — Ercole Cardinal Consalvi : « Vous n’y arriverez pas, nous n’avons pas pu le faire nous-mêmes. »

    NP: I will destroy your Church!
    EcC: You will not achieve it, we haven’t been able to do it ourselves.

    Liked by 20 people

  7. Charlie…Thank you for telling us of your journey into the Catholic Church. All of that time I believe you were hearing from heaven. Did your visitor/s never influence you in any way?

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Never, Janet. It is one of the reasons why I have so consistently insisted that God rarely gives us the answer, but gives us guidance in what pleases Him. Then He expects us to seek the answer with vigor, choose, take full responsibility for our choice, and then live it. He will then affirm our choice or gently guide us in a different direction. It is a joy to me that so many have truly adopted the counsel to acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope. That IS the answer. But it is so simple and requires so much work – and it is a sorrow to me that so many still seek shortcuts that are not there and will ultimately lead them away from the simple, but workmanlike truth.

      Liked by 15 people

      1. Ah yes I understand Charlie. God gave us free will and as you rightly say..” God rarely gives us the answer, but gives us guidance in what pleases Him” So we have to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

        I prayed in earnest to God recently over a certain decision I had to make. I handed it all over to Him for His Will to be done. If my discernment is correct I will be taking the Next Right Step

        Jesus I trust in You 🙂

        Liked by 10 people

  8. Charlie, first of all, this post is one of your very best from my perspective, and that’s high praise indeed considering how many great ones you’ve shared. With that said, I have two siblings who’ve left the Catholic Church and moved to small, fundamentalist, local churches and passionately believe in the rapture and “once saved, always saved”. I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me to contradict them and hopefully encorage them to come back home. We’ve had some wonderful conversations, and are very close, but to date I’ve failed miserably. Any help would be deeply appreciated.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Oh gosh, I think living your faith well and with obvious joy is the best witness. Too often, when people seek to contradict their friends, all they accomplish is to steel those friends determination. If someone insists on ‘once saved, always saved’ to me, I tell them that I will stick with St. Paul who, in I Corinthians 9:27, worried about losing his salvation after having successfully preached it, regardless of what men of various denominations say. The doctrine of the Rapture is not yet 200 years old. It was invented by John Darby in 1830. No Christian before then had ever imagined such a thing. But the thing is, when you start trying to prove you are right you drive many people away. More important is where their heart is: if they care for others, seek to do right themselves, then love them, trusting that God will ultimately correct all the errors each of us have in our minds for all those who love Him. Neither hide your conscience, nor seek to force it on others.

      Liked by 13 people

      1. Thank you, Charlie. This is a wonderful and humbling message to me. Happily, both of my siblings who’ve left the church are truly wonderful people, live Christian lives, and as I said before, this in no way has influenced our relationships. One thing I find quite interesting is that, like many fundamentalist Christians, they take the Bible literally, everything, that is, except “This is my body”.

        On a related note, I’m working with some extremely bright teenagers in my parish, and I’ve found it very helpful to share the Eucharistic miracles that have occurred. I wonder if your readers are familiar with what occurred in Buenos Aires in the late 90’s? A parishioner approached the priest after Mass and told him that someone put their consecrated Host in a candlestick at the rear of the church. He retrieved it, placed it in holy water, and put the bowl containing the Host and holy water into the tabernacle. He locked the door with the expectation that the Host would melt and he then planned to then pour it down the special drain that all Catholic Churches have. When he unlocked the tabernacle door a couple days later, he was shocked that not only had it not melted, it appeared that something like flesh and blood was growing on it. Not knowing how to proceed, he put it back in the tabernacle and relocked the door. He consulted the Bishop, who also wasn’t sure how to proceed. I can’t recall exactly how much time elapsed at that point, but it was months, if not years. Finally Cardinal Jorge Bergolio (now Pope Francis) agreed to allow the material to be examined and tested. Under highly stringent rules, parts of the material were removed with witnesses and the process was filmed. Placed into three separate vials, the material was sent to three different highly reputable laboratories. The labs were not told any of this, only asked to report what the material was. All three labs came back with identical reports:
        >The tissue and blood was human, from the left ventricle of a heart which had been severely beaten and tortured.
        >They reported LIVING white blood cells in the blood. This is extraordinary since white blood cells die almost instantly after being removed from the body, no more than an hour.
        >They were able to get DNA, but no profile, which they said simply doesn’t occur and it couldn’t be explained by science. (Of course…no human father!)

        There are many other miracles occurring in the world, too. For example, a bust of the crucified Jesus has been crying and bleeding in Bolivia for some time. When that was tested, the lab found a living plant substance in the forehead area…a thorn that only grows in the Middle East. The church has documented over 200 Eucharistic miracles through the course of our history.

        Anyone can learn more about these miracles with a bit of research. I recommend starting with http://www.youshallbelieve.com, a non-profit Catholic group who do parish retreats called “Science Tests Faith”. The real miracle to me is how God is using these miracles TODAY to reach His people. God is great!

        Blessings to you all!

        Liked by 12 people

        1. Tricia,
          I believe that the reason “no human profile” occurs from the DNA testing isn’t because of a lack of a human father in Jesus but because of how He was formed at conception by the Spirit.
          In the book City of God, Mary of Agreda was told mystically that God “reached in and purposely formed Jesus by His own hand”.
          By removing any remnant of human frailty and glorifying His flesh as the “spotless lamb”, His DNA would have been altered too resulting in the inability to match it to any known human DNA type.
          Therefore His DNA is perfect and whole, not “missing” the male phenotype, but is, not surprisingly, unlike anything available to science.

          Liked by 7 people

          1. Interesting, Phil. Such mystery! In discussing this with Father this morning, he said, from all his studies, he believes Jesus’ DNA came completely from His Blessed Mother.

            Tricia, the scientific studies done on the Eucharistic miracle in Buenos Aires have also been done on particles of Eucharistic miracles from all over the world under the direction of the renowned scientist, Dr. Ricardo Castanon Gomez. ALL those particles showed each one was from the same man with the same conclusions you have named in your comment. I especially recall the case of the particle from the miraculous host from Columbia. It was sent to a private lab in New York and the technician called Dr. Ricardo exclaiming that the tissue was “alive” with heart tissue was pulsating.

            On my first pilgrimage to Betania, Venezuela in 1994, I adored the miraculous Eucharistic host which was reserved in the chapel connected to a convent and the Bishop’s residence. In our time of adoration, we heard choirs of angels singing with us. Four years later, a man did some videotaping while on pilgrimage there and he discovered some surprising results. It’s wobbly, amateur footage, nevertheless, very powerful. How God is bending low to those of us weak in faith and confirming those of us who believe that we may approach Him in His Blessed Sacrament and have His Life within us.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. Father is right to some extent as according to Agreda, God did a similar thing to Mary at her conception (Adam and Eve too). Why He did this again for Jesus may be that Mary was made immaculate but not “perfect” and probably, because she not being divine, could not attain such a high form of perfection as Jesus did but was non the less made acceptable by God to conceive the spotless Lamb.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Such great mysteries to contemplate, Phil. For certain, Our Lady is the highest honor of our race, full of grace, and She was preserved completely sinless, a fitting act of God to prepare the spotless first tabernacle for the Spotless Lamb. And we are all blessed.

                Liked by 2 people

              2. St. Catherine of Siena said that even the smallest of sins and only one creates an infinite offense towards God. In order to expiate this, it takes an infinite act of redemption. Thus, it takes a perfect human and an infinite human. Hence, the infinite God had to become man to create this perfect expiation. Thanks be to God through Christ Jesus who through God’s love offered the perfect sacrafice to restore us to him!

                Liked by 5 people

                1. Makes it hard to imagine the suffering Our Lord endured. One mystic said this duration was equal to every life lived from birth to death.
                  Being omnipresent, He is always and still. and will ever be on the cross!
                  Mull that over in your head!

                  Liked by 6 people

                  1. Good point Phillip. I have often pondered this too and don’t have a clear understanding of this. It is difficult for this measly human I am to comprehend how what appears to be a finite physical event effect an infinite amount of suffering. If so, how is this manifested today? Guess I have some studying to do.

                    Liked by 3 people

  9. Charlie,
    Thanks for that beautiful perspective on Pope Francis and for sharing your journey. I would love to see you with Marcus Grodi on the Journey Home. Next I would like to hear your latest thoughts on the Trump presidency. I remember just before the election, standing next to you at the urinal in Cherry Hill. You told me that you planned to get drunk and vote for Trump! Looking back, how do you think that worked out? I pray for you all the time.
    God bless!
    Jerry

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ha! I did not get drunk, though the line I used amused me. I have been happy with the revival of the economy, the much more serious approach to foreign policy, and the revelations of how toxic the deep bureaucratic state has become. On substance, I am happy. If the same could be accomplished without all the sturm und drang, I would be happier – though I suspect the disorders had become so deeply entrenched, we might well have needed a bull to bust it all up.

      Liked by 12 people

  10. Thank you, Charlie! Really appreciate you taking the time to go into detail about what is going on now in our world, and also your journey into Catholicism.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. Thank you, Charlie…this was the most wonderful post I think I have ever read. I appreciate your story of coming into the Church but, also, I loved the history lesson. There was a time in my life when I thought that, as a lay person, I knew a lot about the Church until, that is, I realized I knew nothing!
    Thank you for helping to fill in the gaps. I will reread this post often.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. Could use a bit of advice. Someone I know was away from the church for many years. This person came back – very happy to come back :))) . This person is divorced and remarried without an annulment. He/she was instructed in the confessional that annulment from the first marriage wasn’t necessary as he/she was older and to go ahead to Holy Communion. I told this person that Holy Communion would only harm then without an annulment. Unfortunately since the priest (who may honestly be truly confused and know Jesus’ words and simply want to welcome this person back to church)said this, encouraged Holy Communions without annulments will keep happening in this persons case as well as for the entire parish. I hesitated to post this here but at the same time maybe some insight into how to handle this would help someone else and me too. I am thrilled to have this person loving the church but at the same time this is harmful. One of the reasons some persons stay away is because they are angry about being withheld Communion, but the church seeks to help not harm by requiring Annulments to get back into Gods grace. How to do this without seeming cold and judgmental that is the question. But there is true love behind what merely appears to be cold judgement. Thank you for any help!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Please excuse my typos! Meant to say- for this person Holy Communions without an annulment will now keep happening as well as for other parishioners at that church who are divorced and remarried.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think it depends on your relationship. A family member close to me was in a similar situation, and I ended up being quite blunt with him. But he knew I loved him and was always wanting good for him, so it was considered without malice before he even came to agree with me. Now that some prominent clerics are saying it is no big deal, you are more likely to trigger a useless argument unless you are very close to the persons. I would live my faith well, explain my own position, then leave it to their consciences, knowing that this set of circumstances will not endure forever.

      Liked by 7 people

    3. I have had an annulment, thankful. Obviously If something ‘essential’ is missing to make it a true marriage then it is invalid. Still, the Church has to closely examine all the circumstances in a tribunal, including looking at the witness’s statements. Now this is where the problem lies..if the person is unable to bring forward witnesses due to deaths etc then they might have no other choice other than to go to an internal forum.

      In the Internal forum they, and their spiritual director priest, will carefully examine all the facts in light of the Churches teaching on the indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage. After a period of time they will come to the conclusion that either they are truly married in the eyes of God or that there was something essentially missing that makes the union invalid. If the person has a good spiritual director he/she will be told that they cannot receive Holy Communion if the marriage is indeed found to be valid. Of course the conclusion they could come to after careful discernment is that there was no true marriage!

      Liked by 5 people

        1. The truth Beckita is that it is not all black and white. The way I see it is if a person enters the internal forum (confession) with a good spiritual director to accompany them in order to form their conscience…. then we have to leave what happens in there to them. We cannot judge if we don’t know all the circumstances. Of course if the SD turns out to be a weak priest then our duty is to have a quiet word with them… in all charity. Thankfully many good SD’s must have turned away many a person from receiving the Eucharist when they really believed it was their right to do so. This careful discernment in the Internal forum works both ways.

          Liked by 4 people

          1. Oh yes, Janet. You’re describing authentic pastoral encounters with truth expressed in love. Ever more deeply, I understand why Our Lady has repeatedly asked us to pray for priests. Their charge over souls is an awesome and sobering responsibility.

            Liked by 6 people

      1. I am glad you got your annulment, Janet. There is no doubt we have gotten into one heck of a mess the last few generations. The fencing which protected the sheep from the wolves came down – that is, proper formation for and understanding of the permanent covenant relationship marriage is, was neglected. Some of the sheep went wandering off…and all were laid vulnerable to the wolves that attack the sacrament of marriage.

        I have little regard for those who advocate re-securing the fence and then leaving all who had wandered astray in outer darkness. But neither do I have much regard for those who would abolish the fences altogether, for it is just too hard to keep it up. Either approach sacrifices people who deserve better to the wolves. It is right and proper for Church authorities to take responsibility for their part in the failure of the fences, for it was their duty to keep careful watch over them.

        It has long seemed to me that in untangling this mess, it makes sense for authorities to expedite applications for annulment (not granting them without serious examination, but examining them in the light of the cultural abandonment of sacramental marriage that, sadly, by timidity or by design, those same officials facilitated – and speeding up the time of examination…with an emphasis on those who were lost long ago and now want to return to the safety of the fold after a lot of tangling). Simultaneously, every Diocese in the world should be required to adopt serious and rigorous standards of marriage formation and examination, with everyone understanding that all applications for annulment in the future will be considered in light of this formation – which would presume that people knew what marriage is when they celebrated it. This would simultaneously call the lost sheep back to the fold while re-strengthening the fences to keep the sheep in and the wolves out. It is a pastoral approach that would do no violence to doctrine.

        I know some denounce any rigor in protecting the status of marriage as ‘Pharasaical,’ but that is a weird, backwards accusation. After all, it was the Pharisees who wanted loose rules on marriage – and Jesus who insisted on tight ones. We got into this mess because of our own fallen nature AND because many Church authorities avoided their duty to defend marriage during those critical times. Those clerics advocating we just throw up our hands and eliminate fences altogether seem to me just wanting to avoid their duty again – the hard pastoral work of jumping in and untangling the mess in a manner consistent with Christ’s (not the Pharisees’) commands.

        Liked by 10 people

        1. Charlie, when I was married the first time the Church did not encourage “mixed marriages,” but my husband did not want me to join the Church so I did not. Marriage preparation was not offered, and in truth, if it had been offered we would have refused. We “knew it all.” Needless to say the marriage, in spite of counseling and my eventual conversion, did not last.
          The Archdiocese of Portland does have a tribunal and after taking about 6 months to fill out the paperwork (very purging), I was granted an annulment. My former spouse did not fill out the paperwork as he found it too intimidating but was able to meet face-to-face with a member of the tribunal to complete his part.
          We (my current husband and I) were very blessed to be able to receive annulments and to be married in the Church. It gives me great peace to have a spouse who cares about my soul.
          Ongoing prayers, katey in OR

          Liked by 11 people

        2. Yes there is certainly a great need for better formation for those seeking marriage……Humanae Vitae warned that marriages and society would suffer if the use of contraception became widespread. Marriage no longer means an openness to life and is no longer seen as a binding commitment.

          Liked by 8 people

      2. Oh wow, Janet. I am really grateful that this internal forum exists. Really praying that those in invalid marriages will find it welcoming and freeing not only as they get their approval to receive Communion but also in the journey to get to that place. There are some that are pretty terrified of what is involved in seeking an annulment and they either stay far from the church or they go to Communion anyhow. Praying that there is a heartfelt desire to nullify these marriages and begin again in the grace of God. I appreciate your taking the time to explain thus to me. Praying for all those affected by thus situation. Such a tough one.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. We need to pray for the priests who will deal with those seeking help in the internal forum. They have to accompany and teach them the truths of the Catholic Church concerning marriage. .May they be strong and bold in proclaiming the indissolubility of the sacrament of marriage. We also pray for the ones who will take this route that they come with a heart that only wants to know the truth.

          Liked by 3 people

  13. I read this piece with eagerness because the time frame for Charlie’s conversion roughly coincides with mine. In the midst of the war for souls, it’s so interesting to see where each of us waded into our own battles. If he entered in 1990, those stirrings toward Rome must have taken shape in 1987 or 1988. Pope St. John Paul had called for a year of prayer and dedication to the Mother of God during those two years. During those two years, my heart truly came back to the One, True Church which I had inattentively called my own, being a young Catholic in name only.

    I praise the Good God, our eternal Father, for the conversions He gifted to His Church during that extended Marian year 30 years ago. I am in constant prayer now for those who are being converted before, during and after Our Lady of Fatima’s great Centenary. Mary, Mother of the Church, strengthen the battle-worn and give new life to the next generation of Christian soldiers. Though the Commander-in-chief of the Body of Your Son may be flawed, it’s your children with boots on the ground (the little, the meek with Rosaries in their hands) who will accomplish your mission to save souls. Beg your Son for the graces which arm us and disarm the enemy. May God continue to bless Charlie, Beckita, Steve and all who remain here on duty as sherpas.

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Perhaps you are right, Marisa, but despite my respect for Catholics and my admiration for St. John Paul, it just had not occurred to me to seriously consider the Catholic Church prior to reading St. Augustine’s “Confessions.” In early August of 1990, I had never seriously considered it and never expected to. On September 2, 1990, I became a Catholic – and that decision was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. Not overnight, but close. For a long time, I thought of the process as being somewhat like the old movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” For the first part of my life, I was truly a committed Christian. And after my conversion, it was now all in glorious, living color.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. I can relate to “The Wizard of Oz”! Yep, that nails it, exactly as it happened to me, too. And though your entrance into the Church didn’t occur in time until 1990, the seeds may have been planted years before by the prayers of good people during those years dedicated to Our Lady. St. Augustine was instrumental to me, too and I marvel when I ponder how his writings got into the hands of someone like me, more interested in Shakespeare and Chaucer than in the writings of the holy doctor. Blessed next steps, baby steps for me. Praise the God Who saves by any means necessary.

        Liked by 7 people

  14. Question: When did St. Gabriel start appearing to you? It was way before your entrance into Christ’s church right? Did St. Gabriel encourage you to seek the Lord in His Church…..or would that have overstepped “free will”?

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Just wanted to share with TNRS family that I was in Hawaii and received the Notice of a Ballistic Missile had been launched toward Hawaii and to seek shelter. My reaction: surreal. I read and re-read the alert as it continued to signal me on my phone. I said to God: “really? is this my ending here on earth?”. I was calm and took, what I thought was the next right step…..I calmed those around me and since we were not getting any answers as to a “shelter”, I had many who followed me to the military next door to our hotel–where I was sure more info would be forthcoming. The saddest part of the experience was watching frantic parents with their children.

    It was 35 mins of the unknown……but I felt comforted in my soul. I marvel now how wonderful that was. One often muses as to how one would react in an emergency. Now I know–that’s the “good” that came from the scare for me.

    Very unhappy with false reports about President Trump causing this…..all lies. The Hawaiian govt officials have some explainging to do. This could have caused an international incident of major porportions. Will the insanity ever stop!?

    Liked by 14 people

    1. SanSan, our Sing of Hope on the scene! Thanks be to God there was no missile strike and you are safe. You handled that matter with such grace. ❤

      I was online and watched in real time as Hawaiians posted the alert on social media. My first response was to pray and then share the alert. During that time, the main stream media had not reported anything about it. I was and am still perplexed by it all.

      Here was Hawaii's DoD EMA initial press release:

      https://dod.hawaii.gov/hiema/files/2018/01/20180113-NR-HI-EMA-statement-on-missile-launch-false-alarm.pdf

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Oh my goodness SanSan I hope I would have been as brave as you if in that situation. You really did follow Charlie’s words…. Trust in God… TNRS ….and be a sign of hope to those around you.

      Liked by 6 people

    3. You have no idea how this heartens me, SanSan. My next piece is planned to cover that we have been formed to act with faith in extreme times; now, we are called to live it faithfully and publicly. (My working title for it is “A Year of Living Dangerously”). You lived it fully. And isn’t it good, having been tested, to know that that is how you react in crisis? God bless you.

      Liked by 15 people

    4. Wow…I’m sorry you had to suffer through that terrifying experience..,..but you reacted so beautifully in the face of it. Not only would Charlie be proud of you, but I’m sure that God is too! God Bless You.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks, Charlie,
    My first reaction was to laugh at myself as I had been composing in my mind a piece about Pope Francis. In my mind I was relating it to Israel demanding a king and God replying to Samuel to give them what they want… And the Holy Spirit gave us Francis. God has a plan and it will be accomplished. I recall the saying that “God can write straight with crooked lines.” I do pray for the hierarchy of the Church every day.

    As I read through your conversion story I tried to recall who was pope when I converted and I believe in 1976 it was Paul VI. I knew popes come & go and so knew that it was the Universal Church, the one started by Jesus, that I was joining and not some “denomination,” started by & led by a mere man. In fact, that is about ALL I knew! The night I joined the Church remains the happiest memory of my life. BTW, there was no RCIA back then.

    I need to ask, Beckita, when last I checked I had not seen messages from either SteveBC or Doug with an update on Lambsie. Sorry if I just missed the posts somehow, but are they with us still? Thanks.
    They, and all followers then and now, are always in my prayers. 🙏🏼

    God bless you Charlie and all here and thank-you all for your prayers for me. 💕
    And I remain: katey in OR

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Steve and Doug and Lambsie are still all joyfully with us. Steve remains our tech wizard (thank God) and Doug’s infectious, wacky sense of humor remains carefully contained by Lambsie’s joyful modesty! Stevesy doats and Dougsy doats, but Little Lambsie Divey!

      Liked by 11 people

          1. I was told 2 or three were seen near St Louis this year. apparently the population of lemmings and other rodents is down in the Arctic and they are migrating further south for the winter.

            Liked by 2 people

        1. Janet, I couldn’t believe the timing when I saw what was being discussed! Wow.
          I’m here but am dealing with a crisis of sorts concerning my marriage- or lack of one, I should say. I spent about a half hour today on the phone with the Priest who runs the Tribunal office in my archdiocese and he confirmed what I just recently discovered. I am not in a valid sacramental marriage due to several issues that would allow an annulment, immediately, and because I have acted on this accordingly, divorce is now being talked about. I want only God’s will! Please say a prayer that this situation gets resolved peacefully according to His will! And as for me, I am very peaceful with everything! God is good! Thank you, everyone! 🙂

          Liked by 9 people

          1. I think I need to make a correction here. This is not something I just discovered.. I’ve known this for many years, it’s that I heard, was told so, “officially”. So it frightened me and yet comforted me. I do not say or words things well on this site. I’m sorry… it is quite a struggle for me still. Hopefully I will get better at this.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. Snowy, I can definitely say that I have been where you are now and there was no worse “ache in the pit of the stomach” every time I thought what my future might hold if my husband carried out his plans. The Lord has given you strength in advance of this trial. You have this community and my prayers. May His holy will be done and not be opposed in any way by those without the eyes to see.

            Liked by 6 people

            1. Marisa, thank you. The decision is his. Please (anyone) correct me if I am wrong- but seems to me there are three choices here. Continue on as we have been, living as brother/sister, he returns to the Church and we do what we must to correct the issues and make the marriage true, or he files for a divorce. I won’t do that. I’m okay any of the three choices and have left it all in the hands of Jesus and Mary. I would rather live in a box on the street than offend God!

              Liked by 4 people

              1. May God grant wisdom to you both. I remember performing every sacrifice I could think of to help my husband with the decision. I remember bargaining with God, “I’ll do whatever it takes, make any sacrifice for him, if you just let me keep my marriage.” And I believe that the response I received was “The sacrifice you make should be with his salvation in mind.” The gnawing fear began to subside and I began to get comfortable with the idea that the sacrifice I may need to make WAS letting go of the marriage. That is indeed the way that the Lord led us. We are now good friends and he has never been more committed to the Catholic Church than he is now. I am happy now and hope that God weighs all this in His Divine scale of justice. I have not been perfect since then but the Lord led me along the way of confusion and abandonment so that I might, in turn, strengthen those who would find their feet on the same path.

                Whatever path you two take, be at peace. Keep in mind, at each step, how your choices effect your eternity. Finding this community, people who move one step at a time with love and trust for God, is such a blessing! I am thankful this is where God chose to have all our pathways cross.

                Liked by 5 people

                1. Marisa, I spent last night thinking about what you shared here, and I really want to thank you so much for sharing this, it helped me see things in a different light.
                  As I was praying about my own situation in light of what you said.. I heard in my heart the words,” Are you your brother’s keeper?” and so I prayed about this too and in this, I have to say yes, I am. I don’t fully understand this, but I know if the Lord wants me to stay for his sake, I will stay. Love is always a sacrifice in whatever way we are asked to love. That’s all I know for now. God bless you, Marisa and thank you, thank you!!! 🌹

                  Liked by 7 people

                  1. “Test every spirit. Retain what is good.” That quote from St. John has gotten me through so many dire straits so I know beyond a doubt that if you drew some good from what I posted it was all the Holy Spirit. I rejoice because you have the wisdom to listen to Him when He speaks. I will continue to hold you close in prayer and commend you to St. Monica, patron of difficult marriages, and a few sacrifices will be offered for your intentions.

                    When you feel any sense of joy, peace or calm, please remember the teenagers who will be experiencing a day of prayer in preparation for Confirmation (about 40 tomorrow and another 20 in February.) I ask all here for prayers for them and for all who will be marching in Washington DC tomorrow. In these times of turmoil, while the chaos of the Storm continues to swirl and swallow up souls, let’s love our Holy Saviour and glorify His Holy Name. The holy name of Jesus is the sweetest antidote for us who’ve had our fill of bitterness.

                    Liked by 8 people

              2. Snowy,
                Marriage is a covenant between you, your spouse and God, the sacramental union of the two become one, reflected as a spiritual “oneness” but also reflected in nature by your children who are a physical reflection of this oneness. I understand you have been told your marriage is not “valid”. But…this oneness can exist even without the sacrament as reflected in the nature of marriage both by your physical union and by its product -children. The difficulty of separating from this union, even if it is not sacramental, is the effects of this oneness and its residual binding characteristics.
                Once ink has been applied to cloth or canvas, no known method can remove all of it from the medium. If an image is created no matter how much you cover over it it is still there.
                As the body of Christ, we all imprint indelibly on one another but for those who have a special relationship this imprint becomes more pronounced and binding.
                Scripture tells us this relationship is “steel against steel” whereupon our “rough” edges are made smooth as the intimate friction between us mold us together.
                God allowing someone to become so close to us is for the benefit of the two souls and for the creation of others.
                There are four”wills” at work here. Ours; our spouse’s; God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will.
                (Most probably a combination of all four to some degree.)
                Remember a marriage us 100%-100%, not 50%-50%. This way if your partner is lacking for some reason, the relationship is still 100% maintained!
                But we have to be willing to give it our all.
                “since when did assuming the worst of someone become acceptable? Here, the lack of immersion in the spirituality of the Saints is beginning to show in this generation. That spirituality, lived so vividly in France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere that moved the Saints to bear the faults of others with patience, to overlook their weaknesses, and instead, use those occasions to reflect on their own poverty. A spirituality that, upon seeing another stumbling, these holy souls would offer sacrifices and prayers for their fallen brothers, if not a gentle correction.”
                Mark Mallett

                Liked by 3 people

                1. Thank you, Phillip. Today Jesus gave me this: Salt applied to a wound will inhibit infection- but until it is washed away, it will burn, the wound will not heal and this will cause scarring.
                  Honey applied to a wound will inhibit infection, be absorbed by the body and the wound will heal with little or no scarring.

                  Liked by 4 people

        1. …by the way, it was yet another sign of hope regarding your son, that you had and followed the actual grace to send him the link.
          We all know that discernment of whether to click or not click – i.e. Is it grace or the vain me acting….

          Liked by 3 people

    2. I entered the Church in 2000, and spent a couple of years in seminary in the early 2000’s during the height of the ephebophilia/pedophilia crisis. I can’t say that Pope Francis would scare me off. I knew that power of salvation that only the Church can give. It was Christ Himself, mediated through the Church, that drew me in.I was hooked for better or worse.

      BTW, that’s no recommendation of the current Holy Father. I’m just saying that once you know that the Catholic Church is the True Church, it’s decision time: are you in, or are you out? I’ve seen plenty of inadequate bishops, priests, and deacons since becoming Catholic. I’ve never understood why the blazing Truth of the Church wouldn’t outweigh a weak individual or two, no matter how much authority he has.

      The current state of the Vatican does, however, bring to mind this somewhat worldly observation: The Catholic Church HAS to be the true Church because no organization this messed up could ever survive 2,000 without the direct help of God Almighty!

      I hope that doesn’t sound too cynical.

      Liked by 8 people

      1. The old adage, “let’s not throw the baby our with the bathwater”, has always helped me to look at Christ’s Church first and not the behavior of “mankind” in it.

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    3. Lambzie and I are doing ok Katey. Thank you for thinking of us! When I came into the church, I really did not pay Mich attention to the pope at that time. In addition to looking at the teachings, I was mainly inspired by a Holy priest. God bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Our Holy Father Francis said today we are close to nuclear war😭 Listening to Drew Marion I show & the talk today is on what happened in Hawaii…scary times! Jesus we trust in you💖

    Liked by 6 people

  18. SteveBC or whomever ~ I have a little formatting suggestion. Could you shrink the font on the Recent Comments bar? I find that the large font there makes it hard to distinguish between posts. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. MarieUrsula and Doug, Charlie has chosen a different Theme from the one that governed the previous site. As far as I can tell, that Theme is determining the overall formatting of the sidebar and its contents. The content in the sidebar is the same as before but the design of fonts and so on is pretty different, with some font sizes being pretty small and others being very large, which I agree is a little disconcerting. Currently, I don’t know how to edit the Theme to change the font sizes as you would like me to. I *think* Charlie would have to choose a different Theme. I’ll check with him and see what he might like to do.

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  19. My take on Pope Francis is this: God’s ways definitely are not our ways and this is a prime example. When you look at the situation and wonder how and why God would allow someone like Pope Francis to become Pope, I realized how ingenious and marvelous are His works. God doesn’t need to convict Pope Francis or any of the Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals who are full of glee as they come out of the shadows to reveal their true selves. They convict themselves. What better way to have them come out, without fear, when you have none other than the Pope Himself encouraging them to do so. They do not need to fear reprisal. The Church is going through her own purification and this is just part of the process. From the moment Pope Francis walked out on the balcony I knew in my heart he would be the one to dismantle our Faith. I am not distressed about these circumstances as I see it as something that must happen. We are in a time where we must walk with Trust and Faith in God. We are all being tested, just as the clergy is being tested. Will they defend the faith or walk away from truth. Will we defend the faith or walk away from truth. Charlie was right….we must all choose which side we will be on. With God or against God. This is our time. This is our Exodus and hopefully we can learn from the last Exodus, which was all about having trust and faith in God. God Bless

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Patty your insight to how “they will convict themselves” reminds me of another part of The City of God.
      The fall of the angels was about God revealing a “weakness” in them to themselves. The “test” was administered to bring their weakness out in the open and they all saw this weakness in themselves. Lucifer and the third of the angels decided to give into their “nature”. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it? “God made me this way, so I should just be myself”! ) But Michael and the other two-thirds decided to decline this temptation to “remain themselves” and to change for the better- to the will of God-whom no one is like.
      So instead of choosing to remain “being themselves” they chose to break away from the weakness of will God reveled in them and transcend to the higher level of God’s will be done.
      I see the church and society as a whole, going through a similar event. Charlie thought the “warning” was not a mystical event but something else.
      This period of discovery we are going through is to me a kind of “revealing”- a mini-warning of sorts. We are able, with very little consequences, to be “ourselves”. And this revelation has allowed dialogue to occur about what each of us truly believes, hopes for and wishes to be. The goats and sheep are taking their places.
      Charlie said this Pope is the Pope of the storm, an instrument of God in the spiritual arena not unlike the “bull” Trump is in the political arena, They are both getting our attention about what is really going on.
      So, just like our brother angels decided after their test ; Whom will you serve?

      Liked by 5 people

    2. When I witnessed Pope Francis walk out on the balcony immediately followed by greats acts of humility and charity, I admired him. I have a tendency of looking for the good in people/matters and have avoided the harsh and severe commentary from even fellow Catholic writers. When I come across criticisms on social media and in forums, I can’t help to call to mind the critics of Jesus himself. I do believe that we are all being tested. Thank God, that He knows our minds and our hearts in our discerning. ❤

      Liked by 6 people

      1. I find also Jlynne that not enough attention is given to the wonderful work he has done and is still doing. He is our lovely Pope who proclaims God’s Mercy, wherever he can. He is the Pope of these times alright. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Leslyek, I believe that is due to the number of “levels” of comments allowed. The previous site was set to 5 levels, while this site is set to 7. The final, 7th, level gets very narrow. I’ve recommended to Charlie that we reduce the levels to 6 at most and probably 5, so I hope this issue will get ironed out in the next few days. Meanwhile, I will have to ask for a little patience while Charlie makes his decision. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Also, Leslyek, if you are looking at comments on your phone and seeing vertical lettering, it may improve if you turn the phone to landscape mode and give the comments more space.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. You and I are kindred spirits in a way Charlie. I also was received into the church at the Easter Vigil in 1991. I also church hopped and was never satisfied. However, I never grew up in any church and was atheist for a while. I had a major conversion experience and worshiped in a very anti-Catholic church for a while. Weird thing is they used to profess the Nicene Creed. Anyway, when I was looking at the Catholic church, I did so from the point of Sola Scriptora. The irony here is that, unlike what many protestants thought, is I did not see any contradictions in the Bible and Catholic teaching. I think this was a gift of not growing up in any church and not having any bias or preconceived notions of the Catholic church. In fact, there were many Catholics that were instrumental in my initial conversion to the Christian faith. By the way, I still love my Protestant brothers and sisters. The Lord has given Lambzie and I a mission over 25 years ago and that is to be Protestant to the Catholics and Catholic to the Protestants. God bless you!

    Liked by 9 people

  21. We can take heart that we have allies in all kinds of places besides our Catholic Safe-Zones!! Like Country Music USA. 😉
    I always thought that The Serenity Prayer was penned by St Francis but that’s not the case …. not that it matters. ….. Reinhold Niebuhr is the Guy.

    ‘Charlie Daniels: Our Creator Wants Us to Take Courage’

    https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/charlie-daniels/charlie-daniels-our-creator-wants-us-take-courage

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Charlie, I believe Pope Francis would have drawn me to the Church if I was not already there. After watching him in action, I see Pope Francis as being very much like Jesus. It is almost, at least to my eyes, as if he is reliving what Jesus Himself did while He was here.
    He is not seeking glory for himself, but seeing past the important, the mighty, the learned and those in high places, and he, like Jesus, left the comfort of the synagogue, so to speak, to go searching for the lost sheep. He is going out into the streets and prisons to gather all of the sick, the fallen, the lost, and he is striving to find a way to bring them all home to safety, to salvation. He does this even to the point of scandal, just like Jesus.
    I see him as Mary’s Pope, as the Pope who lives and offers the Divine Mercy for all souls.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Nice to see you, Snowy! Re your last sentence, I hope with all my heart that this is Mary’s Pope. May he be the one to obey the Lady of All Nations, and proclaim the “final Marian dogma”! He doesn’t mind if he ruffles feathers, so he won’t be afraind to stir up controversy. Our Lady says this dogma “WILL” happen. Mother Angelica was waiting for this to happen, so may she be interceding for it now.

      Charlie, your post was inspiring and I can just imagine you on Marcus Grodi’s show, as someone else mentioned. Converts who study their way into the Church are a valuable asset with all that knowledge they accumulate.

      God bless you all!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Amen, Jen 🙏 I know many people don’t see him in this way, but I believe his focus on Mercy is exactly what the Church needs in these painful, confusing times. Jesus is so merciful! 💗💜

        Liked by 3 people

      1. Janet, I think Pope Francis is deeply spiritual and it confuses people. Again, this reminds me of how many responded to Jesus. I could easily be misunderstanding… but in my heart, what I see him doing, I don’t think so. Hindsight is always so much easier and safer- haha. 🤗🙃

        Liked by 2 people

  23. Pleasr pray for my daughter Jeanna who is in Brazil visiting a potential boyfriend she has met in town when he visited several times, He has a strong Protestant Christian background. Being a stupid human I can’t say if God is in this our not but pray for her and for her safety. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Wow Charlie. I loved your Foundation piece. Just awesome. I loved hearing all about your growing up and journey to find the right church, the right faith for you. I’m so pleased that you landed in our church. You are such an asset. I too am a convert. I was raised in the Congregational church, now called the UCC church. I was from a little town and we had a pretty small congregation. When Pres. Kennedy died and his horse-drawn caisson carried his casket through the streets of Washington, I remember watching the TV, (I was 16) and seeing all these thousands of people making the sign of the cross as the caisson rolled by. They seemed like such a good, strong, faithful people and I remembered thinking, I’d like to be one of them someday! How could I have known that less than 4 years later I would be taking Catholic Instruction in order to join the church. As I think about it now, if I had been raised Catholic, I might have become a Nun. But I wasn’t, and my faith didn’t really get as strong as it is now until my pilgrimages to Medjugorje. Those changed my life. So thank you for sharing your story, Charlie. It warms my heart. I’m so glad you’re here with us. Keep guiding us, Lead Sherpa!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. I remember it well. I was abut about 9 year old. The thin man was on telly at the time. Peter Lawford I think it was as he was a brother-in-law at the time.

      Just what is it with people I often wonder………This man was not assassinated, was not killed. This man was murdered. When we have murder we have investigation. His last speech is of tantamount importance in our world, Nay, near 50000 people killed in the American 9/11.

      No offence intended I do assure you but when I read posts such as this I do wonder………..

      Liked by 1 person

  25. So I actually read the submission when I came out and was jumping up and down (dont take that literally) shouting, Yeah! This is the Charlie I began reading years ago and I wanted to say welcome back Charlie. I have always enjoyed your down to earth faith and political insights. I am grateful you are now able to return to that masterly component of who you are and share it with us.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Hey there now Charlie.

    For some strange reason of which I have no idea this post O’yorn made it come to mind of a house I worked in one time. Twas a protestant house O’course of which I might add as they being a good folk when it came to meal times. Always lovely food and acceptance in those houses despite our “training” to be wary O’those folk.

    We had worked there some days and I had gained the confidence O’the matriarch so to speak. Quite the lovely woman I may add but on the last day of our fitting windows we were having our dinner as it were. Matriarch of course was enamored of me as we seemed to get along so well. She had explained to me of course as to why we should have Parsley with dinner which seems strange now on reflection as it was Friday which now on reflection has me wonder as to why fish on Friday for Protestant folk.

    During that last meal, last conversation old matriarch inquired as to just who my people were. I told her of course as we chatted as who they were and she seemed to get suddenly interested. An old uncle on my mother’s side came up and she seemed to be taken aback. Old Chris of course which was an uncle of my mother seemed to garner attention at this table. Long story short of course as this woman was of old Anglo stock. My mother’s old uncle of course was a proper reprobate. Seen ol nick of an evening, sold out his religion to a protestant minister for the grand sum of sixpence as he made his way to London from Manchester way back in the 1800’s by foot. Twas not the life ol Chris thought were suited to him O’course, so he came home to annoy the gentry O’that time. That old quack O’course should have been transported to Van Diemn’s Land way back then, (rabbits, rabbits, not to mention poochin of a night) but hey, nother story.

    Ag eist sin a Charlie. I did enjoy your old yarn of a bygone time. We it seems all love our auld mammy. I enjoyed reading what you proffer just as I hope you enjoyed telling us of your old ma…

    Be the way there Charlie…………That old girl cut me dead for some reason after our tet-a-tete oer the dinner table an all the family listening…………..

    Oh well, we all has our ghosties I do assume………..

    Beannach De libh………..Mac Calancy.

    Liked by 2 people

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