I mentioned last week that I struggled to connect with Jesus and the Saints in a personal way. This frustrates some of my Protestant friends, who consider a personal relationship with Jesus to be the core of Christian life. And I agree: it’s critical to have a personal relationship both with God and with the Saints; but I think the Catholic Church has a slightly different understanding of “personal relationship” than many of my Protestant friends.
My friends put a lot of emphasis on the feeling or experience of being connected to Jesus: feeling God’s presence, experiencing comfort in prayer or in crisis, seeing God’s hand in everyday events. The idea is that Jesus is our friend, and we can have a friendship like we have with any other person.
As Catholics, we don’t deny any of this. Many Saints had strong experiences of God’s presence, and some saw Mary or other Saints appear to them. But such experiences are not the only way to have a personal relationship.
After all, I don’t always feel the warm fuzzies with my human friends. I don’t always know what they’re thinking. But I make decisions based on our relationship. And I can’t forget that Jesus is a person. My words and actions affect our relationship, even when I don’t feel anything.
How do you relate to God? How does this relationship affect you?