Journey to Christendom - Chapter 8
Struck Down with the Dogma of Love
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Now to the moment in my life that is permanently branded in the core of my being. This moment forever changed the course of my visible, chronological life. It changed my whole being in a way that I immediately sensed had transcended space and time. At that moment, an eternal power touched me; it simply Was, it was the I Am. It was the moment in my temporal history when this living power struck me for the first time.
When this moment happens, you know it. At this moment, you do not simply understand an eternal truth outside of space-time in an intellectual way; no, that would be to speak far too superficially about it. That could be perceived, even if only retrospectively, as a natural development in your mind, a mere psychological or emotional change, for instance. No, what happens is that you experience it, feel it, and sense that this moment is alive. It strikes you as a power beyond yourself, outside of yourself, like a bolt of lightning. It is the work of an objective God who is His own Person with a will and a personality, reaching into your soul to touch it and leave a branded mark wreathing in smoke. It is like staring at a black-and-white picture and suddenly seeing the colors splash onto the canvas in a sudden but completely orderly manner, leaving you stunned. You realize that this is how the image looks, should look, and has always looked for those who could see, and you can no longer imagine, nor do you even want to re-experience, the old one. Life is just different then, and you can never go back.
That is what happens when the Holy Spirit of the almighty God, the Third Person of that Holy Trinity, touches your soul. It is a powerful and beautiful event that leaves you fearing God and understanding that this fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. You love, adore, and fear God all at the same time. You fall to your knees in the presence of Something great, realizing that you are an unworthy sinner and loved, all in a paradoxical but enormously dignifying manner. And you know it is an objective reality, though subjectively perceived because the same experience has been described by Catholics through the ages. That experience was, for me, the real beginning of the journey to Christendom. It was when God took those stirrings and providential foresight from my youth and energized them, putting them into an orderly movement to the great land.
Events like these are challenging to communicate with others. I will give you an example. Typically, when you discuss religion or spirituality with someone who is either atheist or who generally opposes the Catholic faith, the conversation tends to revolve around ideas and philosophies. The atheist might suppose you are not too intelligent to hold your beliefs and might even argue a persuasive case. And so you go back and forth with words and arguments that are useless because you are discussing Christ and his Church as if they were theoretical concepts. The conversation assumes that the arguing parties' mental limitations will be sufficient to decide the issue. That is a natural way that the atheist or non-believer might establish, quietly but firmly, that materialism is the first philosophy from which you must start. It's like arguing philosophically with someone about the reality of lightning when you have just recently been hit by lightning. How do you explain the effect of a lightning strike when the other party refuses to believe lightning exists or believes that you might have been hit by lightning in your subjective experience. It did not really happen as an objective reality. What do you say?
That is the difficulty I face here. And to make my task even more difficult is the fact that this event, when I tell you what happened, will seem insignificant. It will not sound like a lightning strike. You might say, “Is that it? Did you not levitate to the heavens? Did not streams of light pour forth under the wing of a booming, deep voice? What do you think I have been waiting for?” The answer is no, these things did not occur, but I can tell you that this moment affected me as if they did. I have never been shaken away from it, ever. Every time I have ventured too close to a deceptive philosophical edge, this experience has snapped me back to safety as a bungee cord snaps back a body that has fallen over a bridge.
I will start by briefly telling you what happened when I left Guymon to go to college. Relating this experience will help better frame the Great Event when we get there.