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By Jennifer Hartline

11/18/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (

None of the Church's gifts ever detracts or distracts from the central image: Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him, and everything the Church does is to honor Him as the Son of God, Savior of the world.


By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (

11/18/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

(Catholic Online)- One of my prayers for the year 2009 will be for Christian unity. It is a sad and terrible testimony to an unbelieving world when God's own people cannot get along with each other. In fact, it makes all our preaching tone-deaf and useless. I do not have the answers for all the important differences that exist between Christian denominations, but Jesus surely does, and so I will be praying for His Spirit to lead and guide and bring us closer together in true charity.

Toward that end, I offer my little thoughts to my friends in Christ and I pray you will know it comes from my heart with deep love and true respect. It is my feeble attempt to advance the cause of understanding and fellowship.

As a Catholic Christian, I have often had to explain my faith to other Christians who mistakenly believe that I don't have a "personal relationship" with Jesus and so I must not be saved! Most of the time, they are well-meaning and kind, and I have been profoundly blessed by many wonderful, rich friendships with these fellow travelers. I cherish the good relationships I have with my Protestant brothers and sisters, and I continually learn from them and take inspiration from them.

But unfortunately I've also been the recipient of scorn from a few who acted as though Martin Luther invented Jesus, or the cross was Calvin's idea. They accuse me of "idol worship" and other such insulting nonsense. Thankfully, those folks are few and far between.

I readily admit I'm no theologian. I admit I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But in my simple mind, this is one way I can explain why I am a Catholic Christian.

I stand before an image on a great wall. It is dark all around and all I can see is this one central image. Magnificent doesn't even begin to describe it - it completely pierces my soul with its beauty and power. It takes my breath away. My heart is full with awe and love and I am so overwhelmed with emotion I fall to my knees. I know I am in the presence of divine majesty, and I bow my head and weep with joy. I cannot contain the flood of praise that has taken me over.

Gradually I begin to notice light in the room...brighter slowly, until I see little by little that there is much more on the wall around the central image. When the moment comes that I can finally see it all, it once again leaves me breathless! The wall is alive with color and texture and depth and dimensions I'd never imagined. It suddenly creates a complete picture that words could never describe, and my soul is bursting with excitement!

It is wonderful beyond telling! It is the story of salvation and grace and forgiveness, told in a thousand different ways yet in one, unified song. As I stare, unable to absorb the awesomeness of it, I come to understand that no matter where my eyes wander, no matter what corner I look at, every inch of the picture on the wall mysteriously leads me the center. Suddenly the image in the center is in even sharper focus. I cannot explain it, but my mind, my heart, my soul is continuously drawn back, over and over again, to the image which first captivated me. Everything else around compliments it, bows to it, directs to it, and glorifies it. It is the center, the heart and soul of the story which I am now forever part of. It is, of course, Jesus.

Christ alone is my Lord and Savior. Christ alone is worthy of my praise, honor, and worship. Christ alone shed His blood for my sins, and it is His grace that sustains me. Christ alone is everything...

The blessing of the Church for me is the texture, color, and dimension it adds to my walk with Christ. The history and stability of apostolic leadership, the ritual and tradition that helps lay my foundation and aids my worship when I am feeling "dry" or empty, the sight of candles and the smell of incense, the kneeling down and bowing of my head that involves my physical body in the act of worship, the prayerful assistance and encouragement of all the saints and angels in heaven, the love of the Blessed Mother, and the ultimate source of my life and faith, the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Through all of this, I am folded into an eternal family of believers on earth and in seamless church.

None of the Church's gifts ever detracts or distracts from the central image: Jesus Christ. All glory belongs to Him, and everything the Church does is to honor Him as the Son of God, Savior of the world.

I'm a Catholic Christian...a daughter of God...a follower of Christ...a lowly servant of the Most High...a sinner needing a Savior...a sorrowful child seeking comfort in her Father's arms...a sister, a wife, a mother and a friend.

My prayer is that our Heavenly Father will gather us up in unity and love for one another, and then in love and service to a lost world desperately searching for the light we have already found.

"O come, Desire of Nations
Bind in one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of Peace!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!"

The time of His birth is drawing ever near...may He find us all waiting joyfully, peacefully together. All praise and honor to the newborn King!


Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.


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