Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Conversion is a Process

The following was left in a comment by robk

If you believe what you said about the real presence, then you know that the Mass is the ultimate prayer, and there is no substitute. So what is it holding you back? What is it in your gut? You say, you are not converting because of feelings. The intellect and will are involved. But conversion happens in the heart as well as the mind.

EucharistIn response:

First off, thank you for asking questions because they challenge me and encourage my spiritual growth...

I do believe in the real presence on an intellectual level... and I understand that because of this, it is the ultimate prayer.

A couple of things must be kept in mind here:

1. Conversion IS a heart matter... as well as the mind and I understand this fully. But, my faith has been based very much on intellect for a long time. I have felt, likely due to poor life choices, that God has been very far away from me for a long time. I believe I have caused this distance... a hardening of the heart due to pain from consequences... but I've always known in my mind that God IS there and He does love me... It's a long story and difficult to explain... and also what has brought me into this search in the first place, which is why I know my heart is sure to follow if I continue to seek Him.

2. I was not raised a Catholic and the Real Presence is a completely new concept for me... I never even had much opportunity to oppose the idea because I didn't even know this idea existed until recently. I have always viewed communion as a symbolic act in obedience to God and nothing more. When I read John 6, I see that it is MUCH deeper than that and that Christ was obviously speaking literally about his body and blood in relation to communion. However, since I have not yet entered the Catholic Church, and have not yet had the opportunity to receive Holy Communion, my heart has not followed suit. I have faith that in time and before I actually do receive it, I will begin to have a great desire for it. But I cannot force a feeling that isn't there yet.

I have spent years allowing my faith to atrophy, not praying, not reading my Bible, not seeking God's will and being angry for my life circumstances. It is a daily struggle for me just to pray because I feel like my prayers go unheard and unanswered. Unfortunately, the only thing I really continued to do was attend church. The best way to describe all this is spiritual numbness. I feel nothing good or bad.

It's a horrible feeling and one I never wish to feel again. So, though I still feel very little in the heart, I am working with the intellectual aspect because I know that if I diligently work to grow in faith through prayer and reading, that my heart WILL follow. It's just not there yet. At this point, my heart is touched in small and fleeting ways. It's a progression and it takes time.

Imagine someone who's been incapacitated for quite some time, perhaps through an accident and has been unable to walk. Their legs have become weak due to lack of use. In order for them to walk again, it will take exercise, physical therapy and time. One cannot just get up and walk out of the blue. This is how faith is at times, when one allows their faith to waste away, when they don't take the time to work on their spiritual growth, it will take exercise and time to get things back on track.

This is where I am. But the exercise, until it becomes habit and I become a bit stronger, is painful and difficult. A daily battle...

So, what is holding me back? Nothing! In fact, for the first time in a long time, I'm finally moving forward. But growth takes time... and with that growth, I will begin to embrace with my heart what I am embracing intellectually.

In His time.

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