Saturday, November 14, 2009

Personal Mission Statement

I am Teófilo de Jesús, a son of God by grace and adoption, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ and saved from sin and death unto eternal life. I am a human being, a man with many faults and defects, a miserable sinner, yet also a forgiven sinner. I was saved, I am being saved, and I hope to be saved by the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Lamb of God, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, True God and True Man.
I stand in the world with a personal ideal or mission, a purpose made for me by God from all eternity, for which God has given me a set of physical, psychological, and spiritual gifts and talents to attain them. As a far as I have been able to determine this ideal and to put it into words, this is to find and then stand at the center of God's will until the end, so that I can be like another Christ and a pillar of the Church.

I gratefully receive with divine and catholic faith what God has revealed in Jesus Christ and what the Catholic Church has handed down to me for my salvation. I give total assent to these truths. I hereby hand down the core of this faith to you:
• I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen. 
My Christian faith is also a Marian faith. I believe that Mary is the Mother, who remained ever a Virgin, of the Incarnate Word, our God and Savior Jesus Christ, and that by reason of this singular election, she was, in consideration of the merits of her Son, redeemed in a more eminent manner, preserved from all stain of original sin and filled with the gift of grace more than all other creatures.I believe that because of her close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all the just; and I believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ's members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.
I receive and treasure the divine, Catholic faith as handed down through the 21 Ecumenical Councils of the Church. The list is here. I want to state particularly that I receive the Second Vatican Council in its documents without nuance, watering down, or reinterpretation as voicing the Ecumenical mind of the Catholic Church, and resist all attempts from some so-called "traditionalists" and "progressives" to render it meaningless through endless nitpicking interpretation or through appeals to a non-existent "spirit of Vatican II" that go beyond the Council's orthodox boundaries.

I am a husband, living a vowed life of marital chastity and exclusive fidelity to a loving wife until death do us part; I am also a father of two precious sons and a daughter-in-law, and a grandfather; a son, a citizen, a civil servant, and a military officer, oriented in service to others in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, with a vocation to Love God above all things and my neighbor as myself, in order to be reasonably happy on this life and eternally happy on the world to come.

I am a Roman Catholic Christian. Though my pilgrimage within this the Church of Christ has been fraught by accidents and incidents and doesn't lack unhappy moments, and at times I've even been unfaithful to her, now, in her I take my stand, I can't do otherwise. Within her I was born, within her I intend to die with God's grace. The Catholic Church centered in Rome, the See of St. Peter, is Christ's One True Church and those who have known her as true cannot be saved if they refuse to remain within her.

My rule of life is the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I find two adaptations of the Gospel message as useful for study, reflection, meditation, and action. One is ancient: the Rule of St. Benedict. One is modern: the Scripture Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. I have been far from perfect in living out the Gospel and many times I have fallen short. Yet, I have resolved to stand up and continue walking by the Gospel's light after each fall and after each failure, in Jesus' Name.

I maintain that "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves."

I stand on the Western intellectual tradition that has its roots in Classical times and that saw its birth in the crucible of Jewish, Greek, and Latin thought, in the Hebrew prophets, and most importantly, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants: hence, I stand, humbly and humbled, on the towering achievements of all Catholic men and women of the past, present and future. Among these I'll mention: Sts. Augustine, Leo I, Benedict, Basil, the two Gregories, and John Chrysostom; Francis of Assisi, Domenic, and particularly, Thomas Aquinas; also, Julian of Norwich (a woman writing under a pseudonym) Sts. Teresa of Ávila, and Charles Borromeo. I'll also mention Suárez, St. Therese of Lisieux, Lord Acton, Pope Leo XIII, John Henry Newman, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Thomas Merton, John Hardon, Michael Novak, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Popes John XXIII, John Paul the Great, and Benedict XVI.

I am a Christian Humanist. As such, I vow not to be a stranger to any realm of human activity that is ennobling, uplifting, and truth-yielding. Hence, the arts and sciences are also my business and like before, I stand on the shoulders of giants on all fields of human endeavor, this time, too numerous to mention by name without doing justice to someone that may remain unmentioned. But they all come out in my writings. They include men and women in the fields of philosophy, literature, history, the arts, cosmology, astronomy, physics, biology, mathematics, planetary sciences, astronautics and aeronautics, psychology, military science, government, politics, human rights, and the law.

Since I am a Christian Humanist, I also believe that I can learn from other religious traditions, philosophies and modes of thought without compromising my basic stance as a Roman Catholic Christian. Hence, I will listen to what Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians want to tell me, as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Deists, Agnostics, Atheists, or any principled human being of good will.

My sense of moral philosophy stems from the conviction that there are moral absolutes and that these may be discerned by natural reason, hence my reliance on Natural Law philosophy as preceding and validating positive law when I defend certain principles and certain rights.

The sources of my political philosophy are found in the principles of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. These are the principles of: the dignity of the human person, which is the foundation of all the other principles and content of the Church's social doctrine; the common good; subsidiarity; and solidarity. These principles, the expression of the whole truth about man known by reason and faith, are born of “the encounter of the Gospel message and of its demands summarized in the supreme commandment of love of God and neighbor in justice with the problems emanating from the life of society”. In the course of history and with the light of the Spirit, the Church has wisely reflected within her own tradition of faith and has been able to provide an ever more accurate foundation and shape to these principles, progressively explaining them in the attempt to respond coherently to the demands of the times and to the continuous developments of social life. Also, I am convinced that the separation of church and state is the best thing for the Church, but I do not assert that this entails the mandatory renunciation by the individual citizen of his core beliefs as a prerequisite for a career in public service. I assert that the State is under the judgment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also defend the separations of powers, the existence of checks and balances, the rule of law, the virtues of a republican, representative democracy, and the Culture of Life. I hold the conviction that government is best when it governs the least, that all persons are equal under the law and that each one is endowed with basic, God-given, inalienable rights among which I can mention Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, from conception until death; that cultural solutions to problems take precedence over government intervention unless there is a clear and imminent danger that a basic right is being denied; that solutions should be pursued at the lowest civic level possible. I hold that everyone has a right to self-determination, to one's own personal dignity, to due process, to a civic and value-centered education, to the keeping of one's property justly earned in a free market of goods, services, and ideas, as well as erecting social protections around those who cannot legitimately compete in the free market for reason of age or infirmity.

I believe that this fallen world is perfectible, if not by the work of man—and to me this is looking less likely each passing day—then by God's, who was, is, and is to come. This eschatological fact, however, does not absolve us from our responsibility of making this world the best possible world. I believe human history will one day come to an end, and that we all will be held responsible for all our thoughts, words, and deeds against God and Man, judged against the standard set by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On that Last Day, God will sanction the choice we've made for Him or against Him in our earthly lives for the rest of eternity. Those of us who cling to Jesus' mercy hope to live with Him, Father, Son, and + Holy Spirit, forever and ever, in a New Heaven and a New Earth. Maran atha! Yes, come Lord Jesus!

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7 Comments:

Aaron said...

hi I am very interested in why you left the Orthodox Church. I have just recently joined the Orthodox Church, I used to be a protestant and looked at the history of the Church. I realized the true Church is visible and not invisible as the reformers taught. I at one point thought about joining Rome. I had a hard time figuring out who was right East or West. I chose East.


Aaron

Teófilo de Jesús said...

@Aaron: Glory be to Jesus Christ! Glory now and forever!

Although I've explained here and there throughout the blog some of my reasons, I still have more to think and maybe say about the reasons why I left Orthodoxy.

The reasons for joining the Church led by the unique Successor of Peter are very powerful, and we can wax and wane talking about it. Nevertheless, I choose not to persuade you to leave Orthodoxy nor influence your journey in that manner at this time. You must experience Orthodox Christianity which beats Protestantism any day and which is essentially Catholic.

The rest of your journey is in Jesus' hands.

+JMJ,
-Theo

Aaron said...

Hi thanks for answering. I am not sure if I should link this to you but I thought you might find it interesting
http://www.impantokratoros.gr/PaulBallaster_Convolier.en.aspx

Aaron

Teófilo de Jesús said...

Hi Aaron:

In my pilgrimage I've found that one who claims "this-and-that idea was what shocked me out of Church X" has already being formulating their dissent for a long time before stumbling upon "that thing" which prompted them to jump.

I can't judge their "rightness of intention" but if there's something which bears a lot of scrutiny, is that one: is your intention right?

Only you can answer that question.

-Theo

Aaron said...

Maybe , I think though that their are seeker's seeking truth sincerly who are not always forming a previous opinion and do have their eye's open at some point which is why they leave one Church for the other. To be honest I have considered the two lung theories of the Church East and West. As well as the Oriental Orthodox but the more I consider the scope of the differences and vastness of the time of there seperation I get more confused. One thing though I realize the Orthodox Church is closest to the early Church and is the true Apostolic Church.

Teófilo de Jesús said...

Your confusion derives from the actions - and misdeeds - of the men involved in history, and that's only natural.

Also, in a note of caution, it's easier for a former Protestant to become Eastern Orthodox than a Catholic, in my view. It is because the Protestant finds something he's familiar with: a distaste for the Roman Pope in different gradations, something that the Protestant can appreciate more readily.

It is true that Eastern Orthodoxy is the Church and also Apostolic, but not exclusively. And that's a mystery we need to accept.

+JMJ,
-Theo

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. I enjoyed what I've read and learned from it.

This discussion on Roman Catholic vs. Orthodox makes me think of something. Your two churches share something very important. They both believe there is One True Church. For a seeker who is looking for an institution to join that will give them a sense of security about their faith and practice, that must be very attractive.

I think it goes back to the "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" principle. In the early centuries of church history, it was important to discern the true church, because there were so many influential sects that did not teach clear Biblical truth.

In later years, the tool of excommunication became one of the abuses that the Protestant reformers rightly criticized. It was a tool which the Catholic Church either reformed or was forced to modify by external changes. It reminds me of labor unions, which used to stand up for the rights of abused workers, but now curtail workers' rights through endless regulation. The focus changed from church discipline to political maneuvering.

My point is that the thing you love about your churches is partly just a human, political atmosphere that lends an air of authority to the visible Church. And that there are other churches which are Biblical and traditional in their teaching, and whose ministers can often trace their ordination back through Roman and Orthodox priests, but who at a point in time underwent a political split from Rome or from the Orthodox Church.

I am thinking of groups like the Protestants and the Oriental Orthodox. I submit that they are just as Christian as your churches. Branches of the universal Body of Christ with equal standing in God's eyes.

I think it's a matter of different views of the role of individual conscience and of church authority, rather than a matter of who's ultimately right. There is no "right" church, because we're all part of the same church.

I'm a Protestant, actually a Pentecostal, but I've seriously considered joining the Catholic or Orthodox Church. The main reason I haven't is because I believe God likes variety, and most of my friends are Protestant. In these times I think the best thing we can do is stick together, not fight each other over political issues that quit mattering hundreds of years ago.

So I'm going to keep reading blogs like yours, and praying and working for the unity of the church.

Love in Christ,
Coby