I love great explanations! I feel they are the keys not just to learning, but also into making connections with things that we already know. One of my favorite academies for learning about my faith walk is the R.C.I.A. process. The Rite of Christian Initiation in Adults brings together wonderful teams of loving Catholics who are graced to share their love of Jesus and Mary and the Sacraments and the embrace of our Catholic Church (and probably a few thousand specifics I didn’t mention that are part of the broad spectrum of the Catholic faith walk.)
This Fall, I was graced to offer a session on “Salvation History”. Certainly a handout showing the spectrum of connections between God and the “very good” creation and relationship with humanity is the initial focus. Adam & Eve to Noah to Abram to Isaac to Moses to David to Jesus with a few stops in between is the time-line - after all if you need to be “saved”, you need a Savior -. The second time-line is the intimate question of “What is your personal salvation history?” Where and when and how and maybe why have you been personally touched in your life time by the Father and by Jesus and by the Spirit??? What do you need to be saved for? Or from? I could offer the entirety of mine, but just one point is the great explanation that I received.
As we entered into the discussion period, folks were offering their personal witnesses to their being close, near and nearer to God. We shared about how those are mile-posts in our salvation history. Certainly these are special moments and times, yet are these the crux of our salvation? I often claimed in earlier times that I am a “born again” Catholic, and in a way that is true, yet in another way that is not my “salvation”. Salvation is God’s reach to me. The first point I made in the presentation is that the primary difference in the Judeo-Christian faith walk is that it is “God looking for woman and man...”, the other world faith walks are mostly “Woman and man looking for God…”. God’s looking for me was initiated in my Baptism to my Reconciliation to the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and never forgetting the grace of Matrimony with Joyce. That is my “Salvation History” … so what about that “born again” experience? Was it valid? Was it real? Was it necessary? The answers to all of these are YES, yes, yes and yes. Then, in the R.C.I.A discussion time, I was graced with the wonderful explanation from Father Francis Speier who is my pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Toledo.
I had figured out a few years ago that my “born again” experience was really my personal realization of our Lord’s loving sacramental hugs through our Church. My discovery was/is very much my adult embrace of the sacrament of Confirmation, but I had never defined in my heart the difference between salvation and conversion. Conversion is … you know that “metanoia” thing from the Cursillo 3-Day Weekend you lived. Father Speier explained that our salvation is the action of God towards us, and we understand this action of our salvation in the times of our response and agreement - conversion. These are the many, many “Times” … not just one or two, that the ways of His personal relationship with us is expressed every single day. In each day, as we work out the reality of our salvation, in response to God’s perfect love for us we understand much better how eternally we are loved. Our conversions are the embraces of our salvation; they may feel
more important, as they are the life changing special times where we feel the touch of God to our heart. Yet the reality is that these are our special moments where we come to the Lord like the “prodigal” to speak of our screwing it up only to find out that the Father is running to embrace us because the forgiveness is there before we ask, though we still need to ask, because that is conversion that demonstrates our salvation. Many folks that know God’s love have a calmer faith walk and their salvation history does not have flashing lights or eye opening touches to the heart … they have walked their whole lives in the grace of salvation, whereas there are those of us that need the prod of a “two by four” every once in a while.
Regardless of the personal specifics, keep praying for and finding your conversions … for me, I need many more than just one, as these are the chase of our salvation histories. And if anyone asks you “Have you been saved?” or “Have you been born again?” remember your Baptism and other sacraments. You can answer yes, of course, every single day until the Kingdom. Have fun in the grace of your “metanoia” each Spirit breathed day … Thank you Father Speier for the blessing of your wisdom and great explanation. Your love of Our Lord is graciously obvious!
A final entreaty, please pray a decade of the Rosary a day for the Cursillo. Thank you!