Do Evangelical Protestants and Catholics agree on the necessity of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? This concept forms the basis of all that Evangelicals say and do. Unless a person enters into a personal relationship with God, that person cannot be saved – Evangelicals are convinced of that. And that’s why they’re are so worried about Catholics, because they’re sure that Catholicism is about ritual and working one’s way to Heaven. Believing that the concept of a God with Whom one can have a personal relationship is utterly foreign to Catholicism, they are eager, and indeed they are even taught in many Evangelical churches to seek out Catholics with an eye towards leading them out of the Church. They have been told that inside the Catholic religious system there is simply no place for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Is there common ground between Evangelicals and Catholics on the subject of the necessity of a personal relationship with Jesus? Catholics have always advocated this kind of personal relationship! Rather than argue this point, I’m going to let a few Catholics speak for themselves:
“O Jesus, draw my heart within Thy Breast,
That it may be by Thee alone possessed.
O Love, in that sweet pain it would find rest,
In that entrancing sorrow would be blest,
And lose itself in joy upon Thy Breast.”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
For yourselves, be strengthened in the Lord Jesus Christ, and may He dwell always in your hearts. For a heart empty of Christ is like a husk empty of grain: borne away on the winds, blown this way and that by temptation; whereas the grain of corn, even though the wind blow, will not be carried away by it, since it has weight, and in the same way the heart in which Christ dwells is made firm, so that though temptation beat down on it and buffet it, still it will not be swept hither and thither or be blown away. Say then, and say in your hearts: Let others cling to whom they will, as for me, it is good for me to cling to my God (Ps 73:28); and again: My soul hath clung close to Thee (Ps 63:8).” Bl. Jordan of Saxony (1190-1237)
“Dear God, what can I give to come to possess You? … O Lord, I already know Your answer. ‘Give me yourself,’ You say, ‘and I will give you Myself. Give Me your mind and you will have Me in your mind. Keep all your possessions, but only give Me your soul. I have heard enough of your words; I do not need your works; only give Me yourself, forever.” St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231)
“Pierce, O most Sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul with the most joyous and healthful wound of Thy love, with true, serene, and most holy apostolic charity, that my soul may ever languish and melt with love and longing for Thee, that it may yearn for Thee and faint for Thy courts, and long to be dissolved and to be with Thee.” St. Bonaventure (1221-1274)
“O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.” St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302)
“If, Lord, Thy love for me is strong
As this which binds me unto thee,
What holds me from thee Lord so long,
What holds thee Lord so long from me?
O soul, what then desirest thou?
Lord, I would see thee, who thus choose thee.
What fears can yet assail thee now?
All that I fear is but lose thee.
Love’s whole possession I entreat,
Lord, make my soul thine own abode,
And I will build a nest so sweet
It may not be too poor for God.
A soul in God hidden from sin,
What more desires for thee remain,
Save but to love again,
And all on flame with love within,
Love on, and turn to love again.”
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
“Ah Jesus! Who will give me the grace to be one spirit with thee! At last, Lord, rejecting the multiplicity of creatures, I desire thine only unity! O God, thou art the only one and only unity necessary for my soul! Alas! dear love of my heart, unite my poor one soul, to thy one singular goodness! Ah! thou art wholly mine, when shall I be wholly thine? The adamant draws and unites iron unto it; O Lord, my lover, be my draw-heart, clasp, press and unite my heart for ever unto thy fatherly breast! Ah! since I am made for thee, why am I not in thee? Swallow up, as a single drop, this spirit which thou hast bestowed upon me, into the sea of thy goodness from whence it proceeds. Ah Lord! seeing that thy heart loves me, why does it not force me to itself, since I truly will it? Draw me, and I will run after thy drawings, to cast myself into thy fatherly arms, to leave them no more for ever and ever. Amen..” St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
“Oh Jesus, my Love, may my heart be consumed in loving You; make me humble and holy; give me childlike simplicity; transform me into Your holy love. O Jesus, life of my life, joy of my soul, God of my heart, accept my heart as an altar, on which I will sacrifice to You the gold of ardent charity, the incense of continual, humble and fervent prayer, and the myrrh of constant sacrifices!” St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775)
“If you desire to delight the loving heart of your God, be careful to speak to Him as often as you are able, and with the fullest confidence that He will not disdain to answer and speak with you in return. He does not, indeed, make Himself heard in any voice that reaches your ears, but in a voice that your heart can well perceive, when you withdraw from converse with creatures, to occupy yourself in conversing with your God alone: ‘I will lead her into the wilderness and I will speak to her heart.’ He will then speak to you by such inspirations, such interior lights, such manifestations of His goodness, such sweet touches in your heart, such tokens of forgiveness, such experience of peace, such hopes of heaven, such rejoicings within you, such sweetness of His grace, such loving and close embraces, – in a word, such voices of love, as are well understood by those souls whom He loves and who seek for nothing but Himself alone.” St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696- 1787)
“He welcomes you at any hour of the day or night. His Love never knows rest. He is always most gentle towards you. When you visit Him, He forgets your sins and speaks only of His joy, His tenderness, and His Love. By the reception He gives to you, one would think He has need of you to make Him happy.” St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868)
Dear Lord, help me to spread Thy fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Thy spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Thine.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Thy presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Thee, O Lord!
Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest; so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light O Lord will be all from Thee; none of it will be mine;
It will be Thou, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise Thee in the way Thou dost love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach Thee without preaching, not by words but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to Thee!’
Bl. John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
“How sweet it was, the first kiss of Jesus to my soul! Yes, it was a kiss of Love. I felt I was loved, and I too said: ‘I love Thee, I give myself to Thee forever!’ Jesus asked nothing of me, demanded no sacrifice. Already for a long time past, He and the little Therese had watched and understood one another…” St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897)
“Oh Jesus, what would have become of me, if you had not drawn me to You?…..I am Yours, Oh Jesus! ..Jesus I love Thee! Open Your heart to me; I wish to place all of my affections there. I open mine to You!” St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903)
“It is with simplicity and love, with faith and trust that I will always come to You, O Jesus! I will share everything with You, as a child with its loving mother, my joys and sorrows – in a word, everything.” St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938)
“I follow Christ: Jesus is my God, Jesus is my Spouse, Jesus is my Life, Jesus is my only Love, Jesus is my All in All, Jesus is my Everything. Because of this, I am never afraid.” Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
“It is necessary to awaken again in believers a full relationship with Christ, mankind’s only Savior. Only from a personal relationship with Jesus can an effective evangelization develop.” Bl. John Paul II (1920-2005)
“Our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person’s testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus.” Pope Benedict XVI (1927- )
“What is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? Is it a living relationship, from the disciple to the Master, from brother to brother, from the poor man to God, or is it a somewhat artificial relationship… that does not come from the heart? …Even if you lose everything in life, don’t lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!” Pope Francis (1936- )
I rest my case.
On the memorial of St. Wulfstan
Deo omnis gloria!