Recently, someone wrote to me about the life of a Catholic being an adventure. This person wrote that believing in The Eucharist and in a Baby born in a stable created an adventure for life. I add that believing in a God-Man dying on the Cross to save each one of us is also an adventure.
The basic truths of Catholicism lead us, if we truly live out our Faith, to adventures in this life. My friend Jay’s life has been an adventure. My life is an adventure, now, one confronting cancer with Our Lady of Sorrows at my side, standing at the foot of the Cross, waiting either to be healed or to die much sooner than I expected. Both anticipations provide an adventure—I do not know the outcome, but Faith guides me.
Seeing life as an adventure means that the person who started this theme could see that he was free. Freedom to follow an adventure is only possible when one is truly free. Catholics who live out their Faith are different. Two weeks ago, when I was walking down Oxford Street in London, one of the busiest shopping areas in the entire world, I recognised that I could be the only one praying among thousands of shoppers, as I made my way through the crowds. Saying the rosary on the bus, I am transported out of the business of those thousands of people into a world which is invisible but inhabited by millions of angels and saints. The freedom of my mind and heart allow me to see life in a different perspective.
Today, I am not as well as I would like to be, but I face the day as an adventure. Being in the country for awhile means that I have left the hustle-bustle of one of the most populated cities, a city rich in history and adventure, for a small village of three-thousand people and several hundred dogs and cats. The exchange of venue could not be more stark. On my walks down Oxford Street in London, I encounter in one day more people than the inhabitants of this sleepy place, surrounded by fields and hills.
My sickness has brought me here. There are medical reasons why I have to seek out a medical facility in this area. I do not know how long I shall be here, but that is an adventure as well.
I have to admit, I do not always like the adventure which my life presents, which God in His Wisdom plans for me. Yes, He allows illness, for my benefit. My son told me years ago, when I had cancer the first time, that it was obvious that I was taking life much more seriously than in my pre-cancer days. A blessing in this adventure!
What about freedom? Only the free person can follow an adventure. Those who are fearful stay wrapped up in their little lives, in the homes of their imaginations, and never step out into the adventure of life.
Can you think of your adventures? Can you see how you as a free person are very different from the person without Faith?
List your adventures, such as receiving the Sacraments, going to Adoration, meditating, getting married, having children, becoming a nun or a priest, facing pain, suffering and doing penance for reparation for sin, and so on. Only a free person can respond by engaging in these types of adventures.
Being ill and living more like a hermit than any other vocation, I face adventures daily.
This morning brought an adventure, as I woke up too early, because of pain, and decided to write this article, while listening to the birds beginning to sing at five, after I had a bowl of blueberries and almond milk so I could take some natural path supplements for pain.I did not decide this route, it came to me, and I follow the adventure of illness, just as Christ followed His adventure of three years of suffering for us by bringing Truth to a world which did not want to hear it.
Christ is the Ultimate Free Man, The Man Who laid down His Life for you and for me. He did not have to do this. He could have left us in darkness and sin, allowing all of humankind to literally go to hell. Justice demanded a life for a life, a reparation for a terrible sin enacted by two people who knew better, acted against God with their entire wills, even when they knew the Truth.
Ignorant as we all are, our adventure is less clear than that of Adam and Eve, who, sadly, took the wrong path and allowed the pain and suffering we experience to enter into this world. Christ redeemed this suffering and pain with His Own. That was His call to adventure and His ultimate Freedom, that born our of love, gave us new life.
New lives cannot be wasted. The person who is free see life as an adventure, painful as it may be.
This freedom comes by choice. Most of the people on Oxford Street who I passed weekly for two months, while I was in the convent guest house looking for an place to rent in London, most of those people are unbaptised. I know this because the unbaptised population has grown in Great Britain, so that at least 33% of the populace is unbaptised, including the 4.4% of Muslims and smaller percentages of Hindus and Buddhists. The largest proportion of the unbaptised are the offspring of several generations of fallen-away Christians who did not have their children baptised. I say most, because Oxford Street is near the largest population of non-baptised religions in London.
To be unhbptised is not to be free. Our Faith instructs us that those who are unbaptised live in darkness, the darkness of Original Sin, without the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
A reminder or two of the necessity of baptism for salvation:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament [Mark 16:16]” (CCC 1257).
And…only one of hundreds of possible quotations from the Doctors of the Church, from St. Augustine”
“(In) apostolic tradition . . . the churches of Christ hold inherently that without baptism and participation at the table of the Lord it is impossible for any man to attain either to the kingdom of God or to salvation and life eternal. This is the witness of Scripture too” (Forgiveness and the Just Desserts of Sin, and the Baptism of Infants 1:24:34 [A.D. 412]).
It is Baptism which makes us free people, free from the possibility of a life of uninformed conscience, of the reality of unrepentant of sin, of the lack of the sacraments, of being “thralls of Satan.”
In Baptism, we become adopted sons and daughters of God, because we receive His Life of grace.
Imagine, a world without baptism, and imagine a nation of one-third non-baptised people not living in freedom, but tied to Original Sin!
Without grace, no one goes to heaven. Those who die in mortal sin never enter the heavenly state of being with God for all eternity. These are basic truths.
Recently, at Mass, we all heard the words of Christ Himself, in the long section on the Eucharist, which continues this month.
John 6:53-58 New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)
53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
These are not my words, or the words of a pope, or fiction, but the very words of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. There is no life in those who do not receive Holy Communion. Baptism is the door which allows us to partake in the Eucharistic Banquet.
Christ’s words are truth and life, giving us the freedom to become holy sons and daughter of God and to follow the adventure of the life of grace He gives us.
Without the sacraments, one cannot be free to follow this adventure, but remains enslaved by concupiscence, open to the evils of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Freedom involves choice, and each and every person who has ever lived past the Age of Reason, which is seven, has freedom of choice, freedom of the will. Some children arrive at that freedom much earlier, even at four or five, if so graced. We are all free by nature to a certain extent, but even more free when living in sanctifying grace, not thrown about by passions and the machinations of the devil.
Facing death, I make choices in freedom, not fear.
I choose the adventure.
May I challenge you to do the same?
JMJ, Pray for us!
God is Good,