Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Is the United States A Christian Country?

  Our whole society--our laws, our customs, our culture--are based on Christianity. We were established by Christians. Our country is based on the Judeo-Christian worldview and set of values. If not, we might be like the orthodox Muslims who oppress women and believe in evangelizing through force. Or the Hindus who don't believe in helping others because they believe each person has to live the life they were given. Or the Buddhists who believe reality is not real.
  According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, 70.6% of the American population identified themselves as Christians. The same study says that other religions (including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism) collectively made up about 6% of the population. People who say our country is not a Christian country have not studied our Constitution; or read our Declaration of Independence; or bothered to read the writings or the history of our founders.
  Yes, our people come from or are descended from many different countries and races. Some of us are of other religions. We welcome that. We are free to practice any religion that does not harm others or take away their freedom. But those who choose to live here must live as Americans, following the laws and values of our culture. We are "one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

God's Will or My Will

When we are baptized, we accept Jesus as our Savior and receive the gift of salvation. When we are confirmed, we reaffirm our faith in Jesus as our Savior and also accept Him as Lord. 

To proclaim Jesus as Lord means that He is Lord—King, ruler; the “boss”--of our lives, our time, of what we do.

This does not happen overnight.  It's a process where we willingly submit our will to His will; what we would like to do to what He wants us to do (insofar as we can discern). One of the members of my prayer group said that he realized that he had been asking the Lord to bless his plans rather than asking the Lord what His plan was.

In practice this means that I can’t just do what I would like to do, what I feel like doing, or what I am interested in.  In the use of my time, I have to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.  This is done through daily prayer and quiet time with the Lord. It's also very helpful to have a spiritual director--either one specifically trained in spiritual direction or a spiritually mature person; one who has been following Jesus for longer than you.
Will we do God’s Will perfectly, each and every day?  Of course not!  Will we make mistakes, go off in the wrong direction or get involved in things God does not want us to be involved in?  Of course. We pray about how God wants us to use the time He has given us and then do the best we can.
The following is a prayer of Thomas Merton that I think best expresses this.
           My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself;
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so. 

But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you;
and I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me;
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. 

Thoughts in Solitude