(Read Part One Here)
The Catechism and Fatherhood
What gets in the way of knowing this love deeply? The Catechism of the Catholic Church knows the power of parents. In the section on the Our Father, it states:
2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord’s Prayer, we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn “from this world.” … The purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images, stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the created world. To impose our own ideas in this area “upon him” would be to fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us. (See also 239)
Purification must take place if our spiritual journey is going to deepen in knowing and being known by our loving Abba, our Papa. And I have found that counseling facilitates this process of purifying our negative parental images that affect our relationship with others and God. This process happens when I help clients challenge the lies (the idols) that they tell themselves. It happens in the relationship I have with them, loving them in their unlovableness as a spiritual father. It happens when I guide them through active contemplation (prayer and imagery) to Jesus and/or Mary to love them in their dark places. And when we can get some rays of light in that darkness, I am continually amazed at their transformations!
Of course Baptism kicks things off. The efficacious nature of baptism literally makes us sons and daughters of the living and ever loving Abba (Gal. 4:4-6). “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are” (1Jn 3:1). We are divinized, deified, made partakers of the divine nature; i.e., we are made into gods (See the CCC 460). Here is how the Apostle of Love would say it:
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us (1 Jn 4:16-19).
When my clients “get” this they bloom. They become who they are. They lose the Lutheran/Calvinistic scatology of the human person, and their identity is restored. They move from fear to trust, from working for love to working from love, from endlessly trying to know God on their own, to experiencing being known deeply by a good and loving Father. And then living from love, we are called to love others, to obey his commandments, and to not sin; but these are done because of who is birthed in us and what we have received from Him. Then the commandments are not burdensome! See 1 Jn 5:1, 3-4. And just to finish off this thought, Jesus says, “Father, they are your gift to me” (Jn 17:24). So you are a son or daughter, loved, and a gift! Don’t we all need to hear this?
Conversion: “One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see” (Jn. 9:25)
Fr. Robert Barron, of the Catholicism series fame, also wrote a book called, And Now I See. In it he argues that conversion is really changing the way you see things and that the Catholic faith offers totally new vision with which to see the world. He states that “repent and believe in the good news” is poorly translated: “repent” means more like “go beyond your mind or spirit”; and “believe” is less about knowing certain propositions and more about being known. So we are to move from a mind of fear, which is the result of the fall, to a mind of trust. This being known and then accepted, loved, cherished, and delighted in, is what is missing in the DIY Catholic’s life. Without it, life and joy are suffocated.
In closing, babies teach us that life is not a DIY project. Catholicism is not a DIY project either—it is never “me and Jesus” against the world. It’s not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). We are created for communion with others and God. Jesus has given us a new Father and a new Mother (Mary and the Church), creating a new family. If you are a DIY Catholic, you don’t have to do it on your own! Repent—go beyond your mind, and believe—be known. You must purify those negative parental images to become who you truly are—a gift from our Father to Jesus that is called to love (working from love not for love)! A final blessing: “The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!” (Num. 6: 25). Read: God delights in his gifts! If you need our assistance, call us at the Pastoral Solutions Institute.