Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sanctifying Grace – The Protestant v. Catholic Perspective

My son is having a heck of a time just now. He’s been in hot water for the last two weeks both at school and at home. The consequences keep tightening up and I’m praying extra hard for guidance on helping him with the challenges he is having at the moment… and keeping military academy in the deep recesses of my mind as a fall back…. Just kidding…. Sort of.

Easter Vigil is just a few weeks away and I’m really looking forward to his baptism, first communion and confirmation. I’ve been wondering if some of his challenges are related to a subtle attack of the enemy of God his efforts to disrupt the lives of those drawing closer to the Lord. Perhaps, but if that’s the deal or not, I’m counting on Jesus’ healing to come into my son’s life in a new way with the grace of the sacraments. I’m counting on Jesus to open the boy’s heart and mind to God, I’m counting on Jesus to strengthen him with his supernatural life, the very life blood of God we receive in the Eucharist.

I mentioned this recently to a co-worker, a believer, a woman baptized Catholic, but now a practicing Pentecostal. Her reaction was interesting. She cautioned me to not have my expectations to high, since his “readiness”, as I called it, to be baptized would be ineffectual if he himself weren’t reaching out to God. Her viewpoint was typical of one of the common differences I’ve found between Catholics and Protestants. When I was in a Protestant church the emphasis was always in the human effort to reach out to God. As a Catholic we place utmost importance in God’s efforts to reach out to us, daily offering us manna in the desert of our earthly existence, offering us his body and blood in the Eucharist for our sanctification. I believe it’s an important distinction. The questions is, are we the agents of our salvation, are we saved by our efforts and our invitation to “accept Jesus into our hearts”, or is Jesus’ atonement the agent of our salvation, are we saved by the blood of the sacrificial lamb? Is salvation active or passive or both?

The topic is one for greater minds than my own, and I suspect that it’s been covered by one or another of the Saints, so I will simply rest. Trusting that God loves my misbehaving little son, and that he will use every means possible to bring the little punk home to heaven, and that one of the biggies will be the sanctifying grace of the sacraments of initiation he will receive in just a few short week.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of you. Amen.


Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Wow, what interesting thoughts!

For what it's worth, I have never faced spiritual attack like I did in the weeks leading up to my confirmation and first communion. It was crazy. Especially in those last few days before Easter Vigil, I was in one of the darkest places I've been in in a long time. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if that is at least partially responsible for what's going on.

Anyway, lots of deep thoughts here for me to go off and ponder!

Katie said...

I'll be praying for you and your son.

Interesting thoughts on sanctifying grace! Having spent most of my time before converting as an atheist, this difference between Protestants and Catholics wasn't one I had thought of much till now.

And boy, I had to go through A LOT of ridiculous stuff just to get my first Bible when I started heeding the call of God. It was one of the first times I was acutely aware of the influence of Satan. And, on my way to our baptism, I hit a freaking DOG! I spent an hour in the cold waiting for the cops to come and get the poor thing before finally having the woman who lived where it happened keep an eye on it. When I got in the car my sister in law blurted out in frustration "Man, Satan is a jerk!" (Or something along those lines! We also asked St. Francis to keep an eye on the poor thing).

Anne Marie said...

I've noticed that delays, attacks, hassles of all kinds seams to be a common issue when anyone draws closer to God in a serious way. I've also noticed that if one presses on there is the light of the world at the end of the tunnel, and that’s pretty cool. The storms don’t necessarily end, but there is peace in spite of the storms. I’ve also set up a little holy water font at our main entrance to bless ourselves when we enter and exit our home. A little Satan be gone station if you will.

Katie: Hit a dog! That is above and beyond. Satan is a jerk I think it's his only MO.

Jennifer: I know my husband had similar troubles prior to both his baptism and his confirmation. I recall feeling like it was important in his case for me to just keep a low profile and not engage in some of the rage that was floating around inside him at the time.

Abigail said...

I'm totally offering up my St. Michael the Archangel prayers for your son. Can't wait to hear about Easter Vigil.

Edward Elkins jr. said...

I remember my confirmation week. I placed a request to get the day off from work two weeks in advance which was the policy at work. When my boss asked me what I wanted the day off for I told him for my baptism at the catholic church. He told me I had to make a choice "do I want to earn money or do I want to goto church". He said if I choose religion over money then not to come back to work. I wanted to be sure I understood what he was saying and asked him if that meant I cant come back if I take the day off for my baptism. He said yes if I do there wont be a job to come back to for me.
I was working at a Grocery store owned by a rich billionaire in town. His son was my boss. It was a warehouse grocery called Shopping Kart. I think the owners son was muslim or islam I am not sure.