Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Catholics: You Are Saved.

St. Augustine at his desk wearing a snuggie.

This is one of the questions that many Catholics have been asked by evangelical Protestants in the South. For those of you students coming to this part of the country for the first time, get ready! In a week or less, someone will come by your room or see you on campus and ask you "ARE YOU SAVED?" and then "HAVE YOU ACCEPTED JESUS AS YOUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR?".
Or you can answer the "SAVED" question this way...
If you're from Mississippi, you know the drill. More or less. However, if you're from a predominantly Catholic area or coming from a Catholic school background, you may not be familiar with the question. And not know how to answer. (SPOILER ALERT: There is no acceptable answer once you admit to being Catholic).

The saint of the day, St. Augustine is partially responsible for what is considered to be "the conversion model" of Christianity. He follows St. Paul as one of the most influential Christian converts in our history. As Brad's bandwidth sucking but rather excellent post on St. Monica reported, Augustine wasn't a Christian until later in life. He was a philosopher, an educator and fathered an illegitimate child. His concept of a "god" wasn't a loving Father but rather a neo-Platonic god that emanated souls and....head hurts...look it up, you're in college.
Neoplatonic schematic of the emanations of life...or spread offense play...either/or

Augustine did convert to Christianity and later became a bishop. Most notably, he wrote argument after argument on the Faith and it's place in the world. His magnum opus is "THE CONFESSIONS", however, which is his autobiography where Augustine traces his life as a sinner to his conversion. Augustine's examination of conscience leads him to admitting sorrowfully to kicking his


Augustine's conversion story is sort of a template for Christian conversion today. Basic formula:

You are Bad from the beginning. You are Saved by Christ. You are now Good.

Done deal.

Thus inspiring THOUSANDS of youth speeches where the guy in the soul-patch and Affliction shirt stands up and talks about running the streets and money and girls and cars and then something bad happens and something good happens in jail and then baptism happens and then Jesus makes him a speaker for youths about how you can be bad, be saved and become a youth speaker. And wear Lucky Jeans at age 40 and it not being weird for you.

Oh know...

I don't deny anyone their conversion stories but I will say this concerning our traditional Catholic belief. Here is how it goes:

You are GOOD from the beginning because God has made you good. Christ has Saved you from Sin. You can become Bad at anytime you want and for however long you want. You can always come back to the Good.

Confession is the sacrament for coming back to the GOOD
(and sometimes the priest can squint and make out the faces)
(no, we don't do that really)
Ironically, infant Baptism was a concept developed by St. Augustine to wash out the bad in us from the beginning and it does have some merit. However, the Church teaches that although BAPTISM IS THE PRIMARY SACRAMENT OF SALVATION AND NECESSARY FOR SALVATION (had to cap that so y'all would see it's important) the Church does not say one cannot be saved without it as SALVATION COMES FROM GOD.  Augustine said as much in his great prayer from "The Confessions" where he says that God was ALWAYS with him and it was he that parted from God! Therefore, we have a concept of grace that is....wait, what's that? 

Oh dang...we'll pick that up later....

Just remember: YOU ARE SAVED. AND JESUS IS YOUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOR. If they continue to ask questions, ask them personal questions like what color their underwear is or what that smell is that just started when they came up to you or what rhymes with hug me.

May as well have fun with it. They think you're going to Hell anyway.

I am the Pope is the clever caption of this etching.
Protestants sure can draw good devil popes!

Now, I leave you with Augustine's great prayer: