Sunday, December 28, 2008

TV Watch: The Journey Home

There is a regular weekly television program on EWTN called 'The Journey Home', and during this program various individuals are highlighted who each have made that 'journey home' to the Catholic Church from some other religious denomination.

The program is inspirational both for Catholics and for those of other Christian faiths, as well as for complete non-Christians. It is an evangelical program in that the guests speak to their own individual, personal experiences in coming to the Church, or back to the Church after being away.

The regular host is Marcus Grodi, a former Protestant minister who himself returned to the Church a number of years ago. Grodi is the founder and head of the Coming Home Network, which is a group that helps folks on this journey towards a fuller, more complete relationship with Jesus Christ.

It is so very important to remember that Christ Himself founded just one Church, not many. He did not make Peter the head of His Church, and then tell his followers that if something came up while Peter and his successors were spreading and refining the Word, they should take a walk and start their own church. Taking that kind of action to its logical conclusion would, in fact, result in church after church branching off because some individual or group did not like some particular church law or decision.

It was the vanity and ego of Henry VIII that began the Protestant movement to begin with: how do you expect to start a system of belief based itself on human vanity and pride and have it be sustained in perpetuity? That statement is not meant as an insult, it is meant as a challenge.

Today's Protestants really need to ask themselves two very important questions. First, the Gospels that you correctly follow, but that you go no further than in your system of faith - where did they come from? Secondly, what exactly is it that your are 'protesting' as a Protestant? The answer to both questions is the same: the very 'one' Church (this is what Catholic means - one) founded by Jesus Christ.

Often we are simply a product of our upbringing. Our family may have historically attended a particular church, held a particular belief system, and we simply incorporated that into our own lives without looking too closely at the reasons.

Also, there is a great deal of selfishness in today's world. We don't want to be told what to do, we don't want to follow rules. We want to 'decide for ourselves' and not be forced into compromising our own personal positions on certain issues such as abortion, homosexuality, family, and more. So we gravitate towards a church that allows us to keep our position, or at least more easily, one that does not challenge us to something more.

The Roman Catholic Church is not the enemy. It is not some 'beast', it is not full of pedophiles, it is not hypocritical. Is it perfect? Absolutely, in that it was founded by Christ and ultimately is guided by and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Are the men and women who lead particular ministries or programs or schools sometimes a challenge? You bet they are, after all, they are human.

The challenge for individuals is not to leave the Church, or stay away, but to challenge yourself to stay or return. The problems of the world are with people, not with the Church, and good people with good hearts can only help improve Christ's Church from within.

You can continue to coast along outside of the world of the Church, and even sling barbs and accusations and obscenities at it from out there. But I challenge you to examine yourself and your life, and your current belief system. Really do some looking, searching, praying.

I often simplistically equate the struggle within to a statement made by Tom Hanks in the film "A League of Their Own." In the film, his head coaching character of Jimmy Dugan tells his star player this about baseball: "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great." I put it to you that it is the same with the Church. It is not easy, but it's that very hard that makes it great, that challenges you to think, to do, to be something more.

The title of this entry, as all posts here at my blog are, is a link to further information. In this case it is a link to the Coming Home Network, a good place to start your own journey home. Another would be that very EWTN program of the same name, airing each Monday at 8pm. No bells and whistles, no fire and brimstone here, just a simple conversation among returnees.

My own prayers go out to anyone who might read this and be inspired to take a closer look at returning to the Catholic Church. We are always ready, willing, waiting to open our arms to you when you open the eyes of your heart to the Lord's original Church, the only one that He established. God bless you.

NOTE: this is a continuation of the regular "TV Watch" and "Sunday Sermon" series, all entries of both can be viewed by clicking on either 'label' below this article

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