What happens when we become disillusioned with Christ? In today’s show, Gomer walks through the different stages of friendship with Christ. He addresses why a disciple might become disillusioned with Christ and where one ought to go from there.
Snippet from the Show
“The object of religion is that the soul should serve God, not that God should serve the soul.”
The Friendship of Christ by Robert Hugh Benson
John the Baptism, Jesus, and the Apostolic preaching starts with one word: Repent! Metanoia means change of mind, heart, change of life. Repentance involves sorrow over my past sins, Renunciation of my sin today, and Resolution to not commit it again in the future.
This Week’s Question
What happens when the disciple becomes disillusioned with Christ?
There is a huge trend today called “Deconstructing Discipleship”. It is a phenomenon in all denominations, but is more well known in the Evangelical world. Millions of young adults are defecting from Christ and/or Christianity, and mostly becoming nones. Yet, the Catholic Church has centuries of spiritual writings on this topic and the wisdom to see you through it. Join me as we journey with a famous Anglican convert to Catholicism, Robert Hugh Benson, (son to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury!) And his amazing book, The Friendship of Christ: Exploring the Humanity of Jesus.
Part One: The Initial Stage of Friendship with Christ
The soul takes great pleasure in all of those external things appearing to her sanctified by Christ’s presence. Such a person finds an overwhelming joy at the human side of the Church- liturgy, priesthood, art, music, etc. The novelty of faith, of Christ, of the Church is found everywhere.
Extraordinary happiness in Christ, he’s the perfect companion, his presence is continuous, and the awareness of Him is consciously everywhere. Lovely things are more lovely because of him, nothing is indifferent to Christ. Largely sweet experience, “because it is new… she has just entered upon it” We could call this initial stage of conversion an Infatuation with Christ. This is the stage that most Christians, in their immaturity, will never progress beyond.
Part Two: The Beginning of the Purgative Way: Disillusionment with Human Things
Then the soul encounters a divided congregation, a rotten priest, scandal and abuse, selfish laity, etc. The love of Christ she had gilded over these things, but the gilding has now worn off. Christ must educate, purify, and cleanse the soul. It must be stripped of her false adornment and then adorned with all that is Christ and of Christ.
Soul has learned that external things aren’t Christ. Internal things aren’t Christ. She becomes disillusioned by the Picture Frame (Church, Human) and next with the Picture Itself, before she has reached the Original. She must learn the last lesson of all and become disillusioned with herself.
She thought it was Christ who had failed her, but realizes now that all along she had failed him. She begins to be stripped fully of her garments.
Soul always retained a belief that there was something in herself that attracted Christ. Tempted to think Christ has failed her, but she failed Christ. The real object of purgation is to be stripped of the false garments.
A subtle pride disguised as Extravagant Humility- “since I’m so worthless, let me never try my perfection and union with the Lord” I’m so unworthy! I cannot seek intimacy with Christ.
Another form is Despair, that I acknowledge my unworthiness, but gets lost not in Christ, but in one’s unworthiness. I’m forfeit. I’ve lost the excuse of pride, but retained its substance.” “He loved me, but I have loved myself only!” This soul says, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”
This is the moment of the purgative way’s completion! Stripped bare, now cast yourself into the sea and swim to him. She is nothing and she knows it, and because of that, Christ can be her all. Pride cannot keep her from him because it is not wounded, but dead. Catholic spiritual writers talk about these stages all of the time, but we miss it because we don’t read them and meditate on them.
The Purgative Way Teaches Us This Lesson
Christ purges his friends of all that is not of him. He leaves nothing of themselves, in order that he may be wholly there. “For no soul can learn the strength and the love of God until she has cast her whole weight upon Him.”
In those mysterious words of the Risen Lord to Mary Magdalene, “Stop holding on to me.” You have to let him go so that he might fully take hold of you. That’s the point of the purgative stage.
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Meet Your Hosts
Michael “Gomer” Gormley
Michael has been leading evangelization and ministry efforts for the past ten years, both as a full-time parish staff member and as a speaker and consultant for parishes, dioceses, and Catholic campus ministries.
Mike is also the founder and creative director of LayEvangelist.com, and the producer and cohost of a Catholic young adult podcast Catching Foxes, which discusses the collision of Faith and Culture.
He is married to his college sweetheart, Shannon, and they have about 1,000 children and get about 3 hours of sleep a night, which is alright by him.
Dave VanVickle fell in love with the Lord at the age of fourteen and has since dedicated his life to bringing others into a radical relationship with Christ.
He is a speaker and retreat leader who focuses on proclaiming the universal call to holiness, authentic Catholic spirituality, spiritual warfare and deliverance. Additionally, Dave has over ten years of experience assisting Priests with their ministries of exorcism and deliverance.
Dave resides in Pittsburgh with his wife Amber and their five children: Sam, Max, Judah, Josie and Louisa.