Catholic Salvation Testimonial
Dear Gary, I would like to begin by saying how touched I was, from the outset, by your videos. If truth be told, as I listened to you speak of the wonderful gospel of Christ my heart began to well-up inside of me as I fought to hold back the tears that were filling my eyes. I am a "catholic" man of 52 years and for all my life, I have believed in God and in Christ. Most of that time however has been spent in guilt and fear and shame, trapped as it were, in a vicious repeating circle of sin and remorse, never quiet reaching that 'summit of perfection' that would keep my soul from hell. As my life progressed I began to realise that ingrained guilt and feelings of unworthiness can have terrible results and that rather than freeing a soul from 'sin' (falling short of the mark) it can cause the opposite to happen. Don't get me wrong, I know I am a sinner. I know I am not worthy. I know I am guilty, but how to overcome my sinful, unworthy and guilty nature so that I might avoid hell and eternal damnation has always eluded me. I have tried repenting and believing, I have fasted and died to self and prayed a thousand rosaries. I have whipped my body with leather thongs and tied knotted cords around my waist until it almost bleed, I have went on pilgrimage and prayed to every saint I can think of, I have spent hours in Eucharistic adoration. I spent six years in a lay Christian community working like a dog, morning, noon and night, quite often in meagre conditions, all it seems, to no avail. No matter how hard I tried, my sinful nature just would not submit and all I was left with was this fearful feeling that I was destined for eternal hell. This, Christ, that I had believed in, for most of my sorry life, was not able to save me from myself. About five or six years ago I left the lay community as broken hearted and guilt ridden as I had entered it and slowly but surely I stopped going to Sunday mass. Today as I write this email to you, I no longer consider myself a "catholic." Whatever it was/is that the Catholic Church had to offer in the way of salvation just wasn't working for me. There was always something missing. For all my failures, I have never stopped believing that God loved me and that Christ was the answer but still the fear of eternal hell hunted me. The problem with the Roman Catholic religion is that you never really learn to trust Christ with your soul, your salvation. You always feel as if you must earn it and of course, we all know that can't be, otherwise we wouldn't need a Christ in the first place. The problem is the control this religion has over you. They make you believe you must earn it and then set about making sure you never do. The Catholic Church took ownership of the early saints and martyrs of Christ and turned them into examples of religious catholic piety and tradition for all to follow. They failed to mention that not one of these died for the Catholic Church, they all lived and died for love, no wonder they did so with smiles on their faces.
Over the past few weeks, I have had a member of the Jehovah witnesses calling with me; no doubt, his main aim is to sign me up at some stage in the future. He has tried to convince me that they alone, hold the "truth" and so on and so forth, you know the kind. I have heard it all before and to be honest, the last thing I am looking for in my life right now is to place myself under the control of another religious organisation that claims to be the one true religion. Still, I have learned a lot about the Jehovah witnesses from this man that I would not otherwise have known and this has convinced me that they are not for me. He still calls and I enjoy talking with him about God and spirituality as I rarely get the chance to with anyone else these days.
For all my failures and all the pain that I have caused and felt at the hands of others, all that life has thrown at me, and I have thrown back, I have never once stopped hoping in the blood of Christ and his power to save me, the problem was, I never really believed he would want to. I have always known, deep down, that God's love is unconditional and that Jesus was/is the proof of that love. I have always felt that someday, someway, somehow, somewhere God would redeem every man that has ever lived or ever will live but how he would do this as a catholic god or a protestant god or even a Jewish or Muslim god was beyond me. Somewhere, in my heart, I knew he loved every living, stinking sinner that ever crawled the face of the earth, and that he would make it his business to redeem every one of them. It didn't make sense to me otherwise. How could a god who loves 'unconditionally' watch, as the greater majority of his creation burn in a hell of eternal torment forever and ever? This mini image of himself, whom he created out of pure love, was for the most part, destined to suffer eternal damnation, it didn't make sense. I know he sent his son and that all who would believe in him would be 'saved' but what about the rest? What would become of all the people who could not accept Christ because they were being faithful to Jehovah or Mohammad or Krishna or Buddha, what of them, who would save them? What about the people who never even heard of Christ? My whole life has been full of confusion because, deep down, I wanted to believe that Jesus would save all mankind but the teaching I was getting said that he had a mind to burn the most of them in an eternal hell.
I have learned something about reincarnation over the past few years from a blog I have been following and it makes more sense than all the orthodox religions put together. I thought I was turning into an atheist for even entertaining such a concept but reincarnation at least gives some sort of hope where orthodox Christianity along with other religions fail miserably.
What a sorry state I was in. Here I was, a sinner from the moment of my conception to the moment of my death and in the blinking of an eye, (three score and ten,,, I think less for me) I was to be, thrust into hell, with no hope of remission; and all for not quite, 'making the mark'? The only sort of religion that could come up with a plan like that, was one that had planned to control my/your whole life from beginning to end, a religion of slavery to an earthly god, a god who could not speak, or see, or hear, let alone save. I don't blame God or Jesus his Christ and son for any of this. I blame the so-called religious leaders who bar up the gates of heaven to men with their rules and regulation. They fill their barns with plenty as their sheep suffer and die for want of a Sheppard. They call black white and white black, they, turn everything upside down.
So what was it about your videos that touched me so much? It was remembering that God loved me so much that he sent his own beloved son to save me because I was wholly incapable of saving myself, no matter how hard I tried. It was the knowing, but never really knowing, never really understanding the concept of "I will draw all men unto myself" and other similar passages of scripture.
This fear and guilt, that I had been branded with, like a stain on my heart, that could never be removed never really triggered the magic bullet that would set me free from sin. The only thing in my life that ever motivated me to do anything remotely good was love. Loving and receiving love in return filled and renewed my heart and being with such hope in humanity. The only time I ever felt happy was when I was helping someone through a simple act of love. Love is the changing force of God, not hell and condemnation. I don't know how it all works out in the end but Jesus, the Christ, the son of the living God loves me so much that right at this moment I feel like exploding. Perhaps there is some sort of reincarnation or 'you must be born again' thingy that will eventually see all men reconciled to God through Christ, I don't know. Just for now, I can lay my weary head on His breast and just accept that I am loved in spite of everything and recognise once and for all that it is love, not guilt, that wins the day.
St Paul had this, or something similar, to say about love.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
If God is love then these must be some of his attributes. Why then do his 'so-called friends' say he is a god of hell?
Indoctrination is a terrible thing. It can make men do the most terrible things and once in the trap it is very hard to shake. I have a friend who has shared most of my spiritual journey right by my side. We started our walk together and strangely enough, we ended it together. (not that the journey has ended for either of us, what I mean is we have come to a cross roads.) When I say, we ended it together, I mean we both joined and left the Christian lay community at the same time. My friend still struggles desperately with his faith, (never quite reaching the mark) he has always been given to bouts of deep depression and suicidal thoughts and things have not changed. I dearly wish to share this news with him but he is so ingrained in the Catholic Church and invested so much in it that I fear he will never be able to hear the truth. I tried to warn him some months back about the CC, that was before I heard of your site, but he would not listen. I suppose in the end, Christ will save him too, but it's so sad that we spend our lives in so much pain and sin and suffering when the keys of the Kingdom are right in front of us. Anyway, Gary, I guess I am digressing so I will end for now.
My heartfelt thanks to you for reminding me of something I have always known in my heart but never had the courage or knowledge to express; and then had somehow forgotten, until now that is.
Yours in Christ Jesus
Ps. you have my full permission to use this letter email in the hope that it might help others to see the truth. Everything I have said in it concerning the many rosaries to the whipping my body with leather thongs and tied knotted cords around my waist until it almost bleed is true. Not once, in all these endeavours have I ever-felt one-step closer to God, in fact, all they ever did was widen the gap between his love for me and my desire to please him. His love for me is what makes me want to stop sinning. My guilt and shame, that was drummed into me, from I was a young child, has blocked that love from doing its saving work. The sad thing is, I have done the same thing to my children and now they have all grown up; none of them wants anything to do with Christ.