Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Little Bit of Background

A bit of background on me-

At a young age, from the time I was born until the time I was a teenager, I was raised in a Baptist/Evangelical environment involving various communities of professing Christians. Later in life and for the past year or two, I have been Lutheran, which served as my introduction to an orthodox, ancient, and dogmatic Christianity, as watered down as they are; this, however, is a story for another day. Many of these people in the Baptist and Evangelical communities, unfortunately, were not Christians because they had not even been Baptized, being sadly ignorant of its necessity for regeneration in Christ. Being raised in that environment gave me some terrible disadvantages, but it gave me some advantages as well.

Some of the disadvantages are that I absorbed a lot of the usual fears and prejudices against Catholicism that is typical of Baptists and Evangelicals, and these mental ticks have been reeeeaaaaallllllyyyyyyyy hard to overcome, seeing as I absorbed them at such a young age. In the last nine months of serious intellectual and spiritual conversion to the Catholic Faith, it hasn't been until recently that I've truly become comfortable with the exalted role of the Theotokos and a few other aspects of orthodox Catholicism. Another negative is that naturally I was never Baptized, not as an infant, or even later in life. While that is a negative from the standpoint of still being in a sort of limbo regarding even being a Christian, I must say I have been humbled and awed by the Grace of God manifested in the fact that I can now have all of my foolish sins of youth washed away, both the eternal and temporal judgments and consequences of them. It's enough to make you fall on your face in awe at the Grace of Christ.

The point of all of this is simply to say, in a certain sense, you could say I'm starting my Christian life right now, and that it will be consummated only when I'm Baptized into the Catholic Faith. However, as is common with converts coming from Protestantism of the brand that doesn't hold Baptism as important, a man can be in my position of just starting out his Christian life as a Catholic, and yet have had a least basic Christian formation his entire life! That is the advantage that I spoke of in the last paragraph.

As full of errors as it was, I received a great deal of basic catechesis in my upbringing. In case you don't know Baptists or Evangelicals, they are almost always obsessed (in an admirable way) with Sacred Scripture. Devotion to the Scriptures is preeminent among them; it is the heart and soul of their striving to live something like the life of a Christian. There is also among them, at least among the more committed of them, a fanatical devotion to/adoration of the Lord Jesus Christ that is to be commended. These two virtues I learned from a young age from these men and women. I was enrolled in a Bible memorization program called AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed- cf. 2nd Timothy 2:15) from the time I was three years old, and learned quickly basic Christian concepts and most importantly, I learned about Jesus and came to love Him sincerely and deeply. He responded and has never stopped leading me and being with me, even through times of sin and wretchedness, culminating in that Day when I finally eat of His Body and drink from the stream of Blood and Water which flowed from His side.

In my lifetime I have read most of nearly every book of the Old and New Testaments at one time or another;  Three or four years ago, I read through most of the New Testament book by book. I have a strong devotion to St. John the Evangelist, and his Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse are among my favorite books of the New Testament. Due to my reading of the Old and New Testaments, I have developed (Deo Gratias) a keen sense of typology, which has led me to mystical contemplation, and manifests itself in my meditations on Sacred Scripture and my poetry, some of which I post on this blog for the world to see, some of which I keep to myself.

8 comments:

  1. Jonathan,

    I am really impressed by your clarity here. It is not often that a seeming grasp of orthodoxy is demonstrated by someone who is unbaptized. I wish your Baptism is celebrated as soon as possible!

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    1. Thank you Nicole, that means a lot— All graces that we men and women here on earth receive come through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, so all I can imagine is that Christ the Lord has been hearing quite a bit about me from His Mother :) And has been graciously acting on me.

      As for the Baptism, I've considered petitioning Father Vanderloop for permission to cut short RCIA since it's somewhat unnecessary in my case, but I've decided to follow through with it because I like the idea of experiencing all of the Rites of the Catechumen :) so potentially I'm looking at Easter Vigil 2013. I've also considered contacting a wonderful Priest about 40 miles away from me who is Pastor of an Extraordinary Form Mass Parish if he wouldnt mind, when the time comes after RCIA, Baptizing me according to the 1962 Latin rubrics and disciplines. I also like the thought of experiencing all of the graces of those Rites and Exorcisms.

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    2. Thanks be to God for Summorum Pontificum, and the allowance it makes for the celebration of all of the Sacraments in the traditional manner! Wouldn't be a terrible idea to ask about Confirmation either.

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  2. Typically when an adult is baptized, he is also confirmed shortly after; so, I would guess if the pastor will baptize you, he will also confirm you. I wish you could get baptized sooner than Easter 2013, but I do understand if it is not possible within the parish structure for catechumens outside the danger of death. Best wishes on that for you!

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    1. Just out of curiosity- doesn't an oath to receive Baptism on the part of a Catechumen count if one died as Baptism of desire, having the same effect as Baptism/

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  3. No, some people say that an oath or vow to receive Baptism does suffice in the place of Baptism, but that is a novelty. The vow of Baptism, as is touched on in the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent is part of the beginning of the translation of Justification, but in and of itself, the vow does not finish the translation. Baptism is the instrumental cause of Justification. Without having first been baptized, the completion of Justification is not possible.

    This error regarding "baptism of desire" actually borders on Pelagianism: that we can work out our salvation alone or restore ourselves to Original Justice by our own nature without Christ's sanctifying grace, but it's nice to have the grace if His Divine Majesty wishes to give it to us.

    St. Gregory Nazianzen (a great Eastern Father), in his Oration on the Holy Lights, gives a most telling example that a man is not judged by his intention, but rather by his act, such as in the case of one who intends to murder is not judged a murderer until he commits the act. I recognize that an oath is a much more formal manifestation of an intention, but it still does not replace Baptism. What I'm trying to get across is that a man is not baptized merely by his intention to be baptized, he is only baptized by the act of Baptism (which is a sacrament (i.e., visible sign of an invisible grace)).

    Also, there is no cause in this saying for you to despair whatsoever. God will not fail to finish whatever work which He started in you.

    This is a very dangerous question, Jonathan. I suggest, that if there is any doubt on this doctrine in your mind, that you return to the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent and study it. It is necessary that you hold this doctrine firmly before you are baptized so that you can hold it faithfully and firmly (as the Council binds on all who profess to be Catholic) in order to be justified.

    Keep in mind this, too: "baptism of desire" has never been taught authoritatively by the Church. There are many theologians who teach this doctrine, and the teaching has been attributed to some Doctors and Fathers of the Church (possibly falsely), but these are not bound on the faithful by either religious assent or the assent of faith. The same is true of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (never bound on the faithful by the Pope under religious assent or assent of faith), which puts forth a teaching on what is called "baptism of desire" that is contrary to the doctrines bound on our assent of faith on the Sacraments, Baptism in particular, original sin and Justification in the Council of Trent.

    Is there possibly any wiggle room here on "baptism of desire?" NO! As the First Vatican Council teaches us binding our assent of faith that anything contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false ("Therefore We define that every assertion contrary to the truth of enlightened faith is totally false."). So...if "baptism of desire" is contrary to these doctrines of enlightened faith...it is totally false. Not kinda false, not mostly false...TOTALLY false.

    The First Vatican Council gives us the standard by which to test any doctrine presented to us for orthodoxy in the third chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, #8: "Wherefore, by divine and catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the Word of God as found in Scripture and Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her Ordinary and Universal Magisterium." If the doctrine in question does not fall under what this standard explicitly and implicitly contains, then it must be rejected. This is especially so if that which is contained under the standard specifically condemns the doctrine which you are testing.

    I hope you the best in this regard...and am willing to look up things for you if you wish me to help you in that regard. Please take care, Jonathan. :)

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  4. I would want to be Baptized sooner as well. I had my children receive the sacrament within 2-3 weeks. Our Parish priest didn't understand the rush, but it was very important to us to have it done quickly.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post. It's so interesting to me that you have such insight into both Catholicism and Baptist/Evangelical views on things. Thank you so much for posting!! Your clarity and honesty are so refreshing. I hope your initiation into the Catholic faith brings joy and serenity into your life as only Christ Himself can. God bless you! :)
    ~Hannah Rose

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