Here appears the portrait of the Church, which sees those in difficulty, does not close its eyes, knows how to look humanity in the face to create meaningful relationships, bridges of friendship and solidarity instead of barriers. The face of "a Church without borders that feels like a mother to all" appears, who knows how to take people by the hand and accompany them in order to lift them up, not to condemn them. Jesus always, always extends his hand. He always seeks to uplift.
Pope Francis (Papal texts, 11/24/2023)
Just over a year ago, I found myself on my knees, begging Jesus to help me. That day, I began the process of surrendering my whole life to Him. What was different about this time, was that I finally meant it. I took His hand, and I've never looked back since, except to share all that happened, with others.
Up until that point, I'd lived a life of total and absolute sin. Broken by my family, who were themselves in many ways, broken by the Catholic Church, and Jesus was the last hope I had.
I'd tried everything else to heal and change, myself, only to find I was worse off than I'd ever been. Up until that point, I now know that my foray through false gods, self help, and the new age had yoked me to demons, at least five of them. Christ had called me, unironically, through the film Mary Magdalene, from 2018, directed by Garth Davis. It is written she had six.
Despite it's feminist packaging, as soon as Mary of Magdala left to follow Jesus, he turned my heart around in an instant and I knew I would be His disciple for the rest of my life. It was also the day my life finally began.
On my knees, I finally answered His call, and simply let Him in. What happened next, can only be described as miraculous, or perhaps it's just become rare. A flood of His grace descended from heaven, and swept me up completely, like a tidal wave of true love.
It’s hard to put it into words, but I’ll do my best. I can only describe it as being transported to heaven. He held me in state of peace, love, forgiveness and freedom so amazing, so profound, it was rapture, it was total bliss.
Immediately, the understanding came upon me that the Gospel was real and true. The Bible was accurate. Christ was the Savior of the world. He lifted the scales of deception off of me, that quick, and wrote His law on my heart in an instant.
I spent a lot of time on my knees, as the Holy Spirit gently, lovingly guided me to repent of each and every one of my many sins. I would think to myself, He can’t possibly forgive this. Then I would hear the voice of the Most High say with certainty, “Daughter of God, you are forgiven,” and feel the actual spiritual weight and burden of each of my sins lift off of my soul. One by one, He brought me back to life, and I am truly a new creation. Born, again.
Why I’m telling you all this, is because the early Christians not only knew what I am talking about, I believe and it's written in the New Testament, that they also experienced it (think the book of Acts, and read about Pentecost).
Yet, as I quickly began my journey through a series of modern day churches, I found that few people had any idea what I was talking about. They may have read about it in the Bible, they may have been able to quote it even, or say they found it, but I could tell that most didn’t actually understand. It was obvious by their fruits, by who they always revealed themselves to be, in their hearts: wicked, deceitful, and selfish. Just like I had been.
I was truly perplexed, as I thought all Christians must have experienced what I did. I honestly haven't met more than a couple, yet (out of hundreds at this point). I'm not saying I'm special, my own sin, and the sin of others just broke me down enough that I was finally willing to let God in.
I started my church walk at an ex-vangelical church. Deconstructed, doctrine-less. I appreciated what they were trying to do, but they were also lying to people, and helping them feel safe in their sin. If I know anything at all from this, if we don't learn to love God more than our sin, we haven't found true salvation.
Next, I ended up in a popular widespread evangelical denomination. But I quickly realized, again, people weren’t who they were pretending to be, and most people didn’t get me or resonate with my experience.
Finally, I came back to the Catholic Church, because faith without works is dead. Yet, after I met Jesus, though I respect and learn from the wonderful saints who came before us, I have no desire to pray to anyone but Him. It always felt insincere to do so, in my heart, and it's not a requirement.
This journey brought me back to my knees, all over again. Just last week, I prayed and fasted with God for three days. At the end of my fast, He brought someone into my life who was finally speaking the truth about Christians. I truly and deeply heard that man, who loves everyone else as much as I do.
God then gave me a vision and understanding He asked me to share with anyone with ears to hear Him: most Christians, in all modern churches, are spiritually dead. They seem like Christians, they go through the motions at church, but they have a dead faith, regardless of denomination. I asked Him how many truly know Him, and He told me, a shocking 1-5%.
I must admit to you, I was floored by this number, it certainly didn't come from my own imagination, my hope actually made me naive, if anything. But as His sheep, I know His voice well, and He speaks to me often. For which, I am truly blessed, but also, because I'm merely listening.
When He revealed His heart to me that first day on my knees, God also gave me the understanding that what He wants most of all, His deepest desire, is to be reconciled to each and every one of His children. No matter how lost we have become in our sin.
It's why He authored the greatest love story ever told, the Bible. Through those who met Him and were willing to tell it, and share His truth with the world, no matter the consequences. It's why He sacrificed His only Son for us, so we could be near to Him again. His love is unfathomable, and His ways are higher than our ways, and I only barely have begun to understand His depths.
The truth that no one wants to hear, spoken by Christ in Matthew 7:21-23, is that most of us, across all denominations, have never actually met Him. The Bible constantly warns that this modern Church, the mystical Body of Christ, will become like this in days such as these.
Most of us think that verse was written to every other denomination, or the world. That we have it all right, and it's everyone else who is getting it wrong. The problem is, we are almost all being deceived and misled, by people with arguably good intentions, who also never knew Him.
Despite all the protests of the religious hypocrites, I believe Pope Francis also knows this. May God bless Him, and keep Him. I see a man who truly follows Jesus, as radical a thing to do in this day and age, as it was during the time of the Pharisees at the coming of their Messiah. When they crucified Him for telling them the same truth Pope Francis is trying to articulate, and reform the Catholic Church with.
I stand with Pope Francis and what he said about returning to the ways of the early church. Because I’ve come to see that the modern church, in all her manifestations, is merely carrying out the doctrines of men.
If you really study the Bible, you will see it also as a warning to not become like the Israelites. Who developed over 600 man made laws to prove to themselves they were following God’s will.
Just like us, they were absolutely convinced they were right and good and following God. Even though they ignored the ten commandments, which Jesus so perfectly summed up in “Love God” and “Love Your Neighbor.” Which most Christians are still ignoring to this day, as they crucify the Pope through slander for pointing it out to them.
True faith produces faithfulness, which the early Christians also knew, when they wrote the word as 'Pithis' in Greek. It’s a two way street. Not only do we need to believe in Christ and his work at Calvary. We must truly have out hearts changed by Him. We must repent and freely choose to follow Him and His ways, not our own.
I’m not saying Jesus was a communist, no communist country has a history of Christ-like behavior, because without truly following Him, it’s impossible to do His will.
What I’m saying is, we often love God in outward appearance, but we don’t really love Him at all, in our hearts. We love the image of being Christian, we love His forgiveness, and the Church herself, it all its forms, has become a harlot once more.
Few of its members care about anyone but themselves. They show up every Sunday, sing songs, thank Him for forgiveness, take the eucharist, leave, go about their carnal worldly lives, and don’t actually make any effort to follow Him or His teachings. They rest easy at night believing that's enough to save thier souls, but it isn't.
Just like Israel before them, they are killing Christ’s Gospel in the world, and tainting His message to others, all over again. A message of freedom and redemption for the repentance of sin. Hardly anyone really wants to join us, because we have almost all become religious hypocrites, and can you really blame them?
So I stand with Pope Francis, as he faces the whole of Christianity with humility, and graciously extends Christ’s hand, like the early Christians did, before they were corrupted by the doctrines of men. I don’t know if I’m a Catholic, per say, anymore. If the Pope succeeds at church reform, I'm not above it. Nothing is impossible with God and I respect the Body of Christ.
Just that, I will forever be a disciple of Christ, and extend God’s loving grace and hand to others lost in their brokenness and sin, just like I was. My place is not condemnation, I leave that up to God, who knows each and every one of our hearts. It's to share my story, which is merely His story, so that others might be inspired not to run away, but to finally take His hand, like I did.