To read the book of Lamentations or some of David’s Psalms, outsiders to Christianity could become very confused. After all, popular Christianity as disseminated in 2016 tells them that adherence to the teachings of Jesus assures the follower prosperity, popularity within a supportive community, and a constant sense of contentment. Many Christians feel a sense of responsibility to present an image to the secular world that is tantamount to good advertising. To that end, they share only positive Christian memes on social media and regale only tales of financial success and favor. The message seems to be: obey God and watch the blessings flow in. Is it true? Like most theological questions, the answer is no . . . and yes. In Bl. Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book, Way to Happiness , he writes, “Pleasure is a by-product, not a goal. Happiness must be our bridesmaid, not our bride.” And therein the great holy man exposes the truth: we follow Christ for the prize of Christ, not for the prize of blessings. The graces come, and every Christian knows this, but often NOT in worldly wrapping paper. Some Catholics are so eager to participate in the New Evangelization, that they go overboard on the joy factor. Converts can fall into this trap with repeated “I used to be _______ but now I’m _____ “ narratives. Counting our blessings to non-Catholic friends really only proves one thing: we have good lives. That makes us in many cases indiscernible from scads of other folks of any faith living in any given land on planet Earth. What might be more effective is to count out our curses – to transform into someone open and vulnerable enough to bare our scars to those around us, to unbelievers, to pagans, to our separated brethren and to our fellow Catholics. The fact is I was a lot more liked as a Lutheran. I also suffer chronic medical problems, and I struggle with both PTSD and the cross of secondary infertility. Converting to Catholicism has not quite measured up to the divine vending machine sales point that you may have heard! But I can tell you that of all the events, decisions, and watershed moments in my life, that night when I received the Eucharist for the first time is the closest to Heaven I’ve ever come, and this Catholic wife and mother is never turning back. I’ve found Home, and truth. It’s not a giant Band-Aid, and it’s not the Powerball. But it is Jesus. If we can strive to do this, make this our testimony, if we can come before our brothers and sisters, warts and all, and say, in all sincerity, “ . . . and yet, I’m still so thankful, and yet, I wouldn’t choose any other life, any other faith, because THIS is the one true Church, established and protected by Christ ,” then perhaps the rock solid foundation of Catholicism will begin to shine like the city on the hill it is supposed to be, not a guarantee of temporal honors, but a reason to hope for Heavenly rewards.
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Nicole DeMille is a convert and mom who writes about life, health, and grief from a Catholic perspective. She has been a guest on EWTN’s “The Journey Home” with Marcus Grodi.