I’ve been trying to describe how I got from agnostic to Christian in 17 very long agonizing years. So far that tale begins with the posting “Gotta get it out of my mind,” and continues with “Me and St. Augustine,” “Maternal instincts,” and “The 5th Joyful Mystery.”
In “The 5th Joyful Mystery” I talk about Pascal’s Wager. The premise of the wager being that either there is a God and eternal life, or there is no God and no eternal life. Everyone bets one way or the other, and either you win or you lose. If there is a God, but you bet against it, then you lose big time. If there is no God, but you bet that there was a God, then you lose, but what do you care – you’re just dead. So, the only logical wager is to bet that there is a God and live your life accordingly. And, Pascal believes that if you live your life accordingly, then you will eventually obtain the faith as well.
In the last few weeks, I have been amazed at how many people actually try to complicate this concept of God or no God. An atheist friend says that the question of God or no God is only a valid discussion within the framework of religion and once you remove that framework , the question of God’s existence becomes irrelevant. Hmmm. All I can say is that one can cover his eyes, ears and mouth, but that does not remove the possibility that he can see, hear or taste.
Other people think that an Eastern mystical experience is superior to the boring God of Christianity. Dig deeper. You won’t know how deep the water is unless you jump in. So far, I haven’t found the bottom.
I fell into Pascal’s wager without knowing it. I started to act like a Catholic, and became one.
But the blinding flash came nearly 2 years later.
I was going to church, most of the time. I was reading about the Catholic faith. I was pretending that the Catholic doctrine was THE TRUTH, and PRAYING that I would actually believe it. I started praying the rosary…and reading about the rosary (here is where I laugh at transcendental meditation…I didn’t need to go outside Catholicism to find it, it was here the whole time!).
And then for Christmas 1999, Bill gave me a guide to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He knew that I was very interested in learning the faith, and he happened to find this book while doing last minute shopping for me. The guide is designed to help you read the entire Catechism in one year (in just 15 minutes a day!). January 1st, 2000, I began to read it.
By mid-February (about 6 weeks into the program), I had the blinding flash. OK, I wasn’t blinded, and I didn’t hear Jesus’ voice asking why I was persecuting him. But it was an intense moment anyway.
How does it feel to suddenly have all the blinders lifted? What is it like to suddenly have one grace-filled moment when you look in the mirror and see a true image of yourself and get a glimpse of God in that image?
Let me say this: woe to he who first sees this image after death. Seeing yourself, truly seeing yourself, is not a pretty sight. It is repulsive. It is horrible. It takes some time to deal with this reality. If I had to decide in that instant: life with God or life without God, I would surely have chosen life WITHOUT God. I found myself so unworthy. How could I possibly allow myself to join God and sully heaven? The angels and saints would have rent their clothes with my entrance to their beautiful world.