søndag 22. februar 2015

# 35 – Independence and God, in conflict or in harmony?

 Does God want us to follow him blindly without thinking? No, he doesn’t. We are born into this world helpless and not able to take care of ourselves? Without the care of our parents (love, food, cloth, shelter) we would die after a short time. We grow, however, and will not need the same care as a three year old as we did when we were newborn. A three year old can tell that he needs to go to the toilet, is hungry and so on. He needs another care then the newborn. As years passes on he or she is given more and more freedom in accordance with his/her maturity.

One of the developmental traits in humankind is that his ability to think clearly becomes more and more independent, especially in the teenage years. Psychologically the teenager has a job to do. She/he has to find out what is really “my” thoughts and values and what have “I” only inherited from mom and dad without thinking? This job is a natural process and it can in fact give personal emotional problems if the teenager jump over this process. (To “part our parents psychologically” doesn’t mean to say “good bye” to them. It has to do with growing up and meet your parents from an adult perspective rather than from a childish perspective. You will if, you were brought up in a normal home, probably still share a lot of their values and you will still love them). I think that since God knows that we have to go through this process of parting from our parents psychologically to become good mature adults able to take responsibility for our choices, he “applauds” when we are doing this very important job with ourselves.

God is not against independent thinking!

The problem, however, is that this “becoming young independent adults” doesn’t happen in a vacuum. In former times when the society around the young was Christian (Catholic), the young had a lot of grown ups and friends to discuss with that would be able to reach out to them in their searching for independence. The value system these youngsters had to go through was different from today.

If you are a youngster of today you will have different answers after whom you have asked. The task of becoming independent with regard to psychologically parting from your parents are therefore much more difficult than it was for former generations.

If you have decided that you don’t have to go to church on Sundays after thinking about the question, asking others about their opinion, thinking more and so on, you have made a mature decision.

The problem, however, is that your choice is not in line with the teachings of the Church God himself founded.

a)   The third commandment from God says: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”.
b)   Dogma 154 out of 255  says “The church founded by Christ is holy” (a dogma is a truth that a catholic has to believe as a formal member of the Church).
c)   Dogma 149 says: “Christ is the Head of the Church.
d)   CCC 2177 says: The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church." 
e)   One of the Church’s own commandment says:  “On Sundays, you will participate in the Mass, and on feast days as well”.

As you can see, it is possible to do an adequate and “psychological good” parting from parents and becoming mature, but still have made a choice that is not in line with the teachings of the Church God founded. How can that be?

I think that if you look back to blogpost # 34 where I asked: “Who were your missionaries?”, you might have a glimpse of what I mean. As a matter of fact I could have asked: “What sources did you put your trust in when you decided your values?

To be an independent individual doesn’t mean that you have to think outside of the “catholic box”. To be a catholic in line with the Church’s teachings you have to study the right sources to find out how to behave toward the God that made you, loves you and wants you to reach Heaven.

To say yes to the Church, doesn’t mean that you are not an independent individual. When you have found your place in the Church, based on the Church’s teachings, it is other questions you have to answer.

Some of these questions might be:

Do you really want the education your parents want for you?
Do you have to have the same music taste as them?
Do you want to raise your (future) children in exact the same ways as your parents raised you when it comes to disciplining them?
Do you want this or that to be the same as your parents?

All this and many more questions is for you to decide about which of the values your parents gave to you, you want to keep because you think their choices were good. On the other hand you have to fill in your own were you feel that you have a different understanding according to how to raise children (as one of many examples).

God has given you a free will to choose HIM or not. It’s not wise to waste that choice upon opinions from your friends or others who was not well formed in the catholic faith.

I know that it can be difficult to be young and I don’t think that you will shift opinions from the one day to the other just because I put some reminders for you in this blogpost.

What I do think, however, is that you probably will put the reminders from this blogpost together with what other persons concerned about your salvation writes about the topics discussed here.

Like all mature and reflective persons you will probably put it in “your box for further thinking and reading when I have the time” in your brain. (There are no boxes in the brain. I said that figuratively).

God never forces anybody to take a special choice. He has told us through the Bible and the Church how he wants his unconditioned love to be returned. If we need time to understand and to find out, he will bend down to us and follow us in our tact. He will guide us inside the frames that we are able to open up for. As a little input from a Jewish convert I read about. The Jew said something like this when called to the Catholic Church: “I will follow you wherever you want, even if you are Buddha or something else, as long as you are not Jesus” (freely from my memory). God did not spit him out of his mouth, but followed him patiently for the years he needed to reconcile himself with the fact that it was the Christian Messiah that had called him. He became a catholic at last. 

Still there is one thing to add: Your will to find out what is the will of God and what is the will of people who want to convert the catholic teachings to this world, must be serious. To just lean back and wait for God's intervention without participating yourself, might be considered as some form of laziness.

God bends down to us even into our last moment in our bodies on earth. Young people die in car accidents in plane-crashes, in influenza and more. You never know when your last day comes. Oh yes, a lot of young people of today will reach the age of 80 or 90 in the western world, but you have no guarantee that that you will be among them. 

I don’t want to frighten you. I only point to the fact that so it is!

 One smart way to participate in your own salvation (that can only happen by the grace of God) can be to set apart an hour a week or more where you study the dogmas, the church fathers, the catechism and more (one topic at the time) and then adds a prayer time from 10 minutes to an hour about what problems you have with the faith and at the same time ask for God’s guidance. If you do this or similar, you show God that you really want to know HIS truth. 

May this Lenten season bee good for you and for your relationship with God, your family and friends!

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