Saturday, March 04, 2006

Personal AND Intimate

There is something that is unique about Catholic theology, something that is both scriptural and has rich roots in history, philosophy, and theology. It is the both and. We believe in Faith & Works, Scripture & Tradition, and so forth. One of the both ands, however, has been reduced very much recently, even though it is something that has never been reduced in official Church teaching, it is something that is no longer emphasized.

This is the Personal & Intimate relationship with Christ. Nowadays, it is simply a stress on the personal side of the relationship. We have lost the intimacy that is due to Christ alone, since He is our greatest love.

The Catechism states numerous times about the essential need for a personal and intimate relationship with Christ. So, then, why are we settling with simply the personal side? I will be blunt and say that it is in the name of eccumenism. We are attempting to show our Protestant brothers and sisters that we too believe in that personal relationship with Christ, and indeed we do! However, that is not the fullness of the relationship.

I am not debunking eccumenism here, because I think it is essential, I pray all the time for Christian unity and see it as essential for spreading the Gospel more effectively. However, we do not want to sacrifice something that is a part of Catholic identity, because if one understands the deepness and importance of the Personal and Intimate relationship with Christ, one would never dare forsake it when they speak of this relationship. Furthermore, I would have to say that most people who truly believe in Christ and do their best, by the help of God's grace, to follow the Gospel have this Personal & Intimate relationship, both Protestants and Catholics.

I think that people need to be exposed by what it is we mean by Personal and Intimate, so I wish to give a brief overview.

We all understand the meaning of a personal relationship with someone. This is something that every person has in one form or another. We have our friends, those whom we exercise this relationship with the most. Personal relationships equal friendships. They equate to getting to know someone, some deeper then others, but there is never the attempt to get to know the person fully.

Intimacy is something that is proably a bit misunderstood. Most people equate intimacy with something physical, something that is for a husband and a wife only and no one outside of marriage has a right to. However, this is not what intimacy means. Intimacy means getting to know another person's heart. We get to know who they are at the very depth of their being. We don't simply know their birthdays, their favourite colour, and we don't simply just enjoy their company. A simply personal relationship has the opportunity to fall apart, because we are unwilling to allow ourselves to be known by the other in a deep way, we are not willing to make ourselves vulnerable, or vice versa.

In an intimate relationship, we love the person with our whole being. We are willing to do anything for them. We are willing to make ourselves vulnerable to them, to let them know our innermost secrets, who we truly are. An intimate relationship is one that is built out of love. Intimacy demands a personal relationship, but it also demands sacrifice. Intimacy demands of us a heart to heart connection, something that cannot be broken regardless of what is put in front of us. A intimate relationship is a communion, a communion of persons.

And as Catholics, the idea of communion is central. Our relationship with Christ is automatically an intimate one because of the fact that we receive Him, in His entirety, in the Eucharist. He is fully present to us, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. When we receive the Eucharist, we can't help but proclaim thanksgiving to God, for we have received Him, and for a while you and God are one, yet you are distinct. You are in the most intimate communion of persons, where your body and soul enter into a communion of persons with God. It is through the Eucharist that we enter into the most loving embrace one can ever receive, which is through that union with God.

And so, we cannot simply talk about a personal relationship with Christ. We must look beyond. God is our friend, but He is more then that. God is loving, God is personable because He is a communion of Persons Himself. God loves us more then any husband or wife can ever love each other. In marriage, the nuptial embrace is the most real way of expressing that love, it is the most powerful. For those whom we have intimate relationships with outside of marriage, it is the total love for that person in respect of their vocation. God gives Himself fully to us in the Eucharist, in an embrace that is more powerful, more loving, more personal, then any sign of love that can ever be shown from us. If God is truly our friend, if we are truly in a personal relationship with Him, we can't help but reach for that intimate relationship, because every time we receive the Eucharist, we are on our knees anticipating that most intimate act which is Heaven on Earth. When we receive the Eucharist, we are tasting a foretaste of Heaven, we have for a short period of time that communion of persons that we will have with God for all eternity. If that is not intimate, I don't know what is.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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