The Axe is Laid to the Root
Hey all, sorry i have been absent, life has been hectic, welcome back, and thanks for the patience. Let’s get right into it.
Have you ever read that verse and been like…whoa? I know I have.
Anyways, some people i have been talking to recently feel that people received into the Church (still rather erroneously called converts) hate where they came from.
I want to say two things:
1) This is not always the case, and in fact I think it’s rarer than some assume.
2) I think that there are legitimate reasons this appears to be the case.
Jesus says that unless we hate mother, and brother, and father and sister for his sake, we are not worthy of Him. I think many people coming into full communion go through a process where they have to break from the old. They can’t put new wine in old wineskins, much less can they fit the Catholic faith which is broad and wide and deep, into the protestant/other religious life they once had which is often more shallow. The Catholic Church is like having a full set of tools in a big enough tool box. Where protestantism is like having various tools and various toolbox sizes depending on your denomination.
In fact, When I look at the verse I titled the post with I think that there’s something positive to be said about taking an axe to your former faith. I think that there needs to be a pruning, there needs to be a chipping away of the smallness of what your faith used to be. I think there needs to be a cutting away of closed doors. Sometimes this might look like a lot of shutting doors. But I think ultimately we come full circle and find that we’ve been closing extremely small doors, to throw wide the large doors to a large house, the house of the Catholic Church.
I think we find that we’ve closed some small fringe doors to mouse-holes that we’ve taken, but find that there are infinitely larger doors and infinitely larger answers and spaces for our minds to play.
I know that in my life, I’ve tried to be as Catholic as possible for the past year and a half theologically, but I don’t have everything down. In fact, the other day I said something really stupid, and it was foolish and uncharitable, to be honest. I was wrong, and sometimes we are wrong. Sometimes we prune the wrong thing, we close the wrong door.
I try to remind myself that confirmation and reception are the fullness of faith, a broadening, a deepening, an opening of new paths. I focus on what new unexplored ventures await me in the counsel of the saints. I try not to be rigid about my faith and I know I still fail at being as gracious as some other converts I know. I think that the time waiting has served me well, but I’m not perfect.
I feel like I have had to close my options from some theologians I used to really enjoy, simply because I believe differently in some areas now. This is not to say I cannot have a healthy appreciation of them in the future, it just means I’m not ready for that appreciation to not dominate my life and make my reception more difficult where they might disagree with my decision to enter full communion.
There are reasons to shut the door on your former faith in some ways, and I’m not presenting an exhaustive list, but here are a few:
1) To solidify a renewed identity in your faith
2) To be stronger in your convictions
3) Because full communion is a heavily internal process
Sometimes converts are less like joyful lambs, and more like yipping chihuahuas. The bark can terrify some people, but these are moments, this is a baby learning that hitting is not ok, this is a child learning to stand on two legs, this is a gardener pruning and tending a garden and killing what she perceives as weeds.
Confirmation and reception for me, are less like uprooting a tree and planting another, and more like taking said tree, and adding a new branch. I see my reception into the Catholic faith as an ingrafting. I have learned a lot as a protestant and without my initial conversion to Christianity, I could never come into the fullness of faith.
Do I always get it right?
But I do know one thing: I am grateful for where I come from.
I am grateful for my Pentecostal/Charismatic school. I am grateful for my protestant friends, pastors and leaders. I am grateful for my own parents who raised me well in the faith so that I cannot depart from it. I am grateful for those experiences which have shaped me, as flawed and unlovely as I can be sometimes. I might be dirty with sin and sometimes with frustrations and irritations that cause me to sin against my protestant brothers and sisters, and for this, I am sorry.
I might have laid an axe to my tree, but only to cut a place where I can make room for a new and growing faith to spring up into fullness right beside it.I may have pruned some pentecostal-charismaticism, but only to fulfill my pentecostal faith with a tree that bears much fruit. I may have taken out some parts of my former faith, and I might be rough around the edges, but I still have a relationship with Jesus; I still love Him. I ask you to pray for me and talk to me along the way, if I’m really rough around the edges, pruning isn’t an easy task, and I could use some loving hands.