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Celebrations of Grace: The Sacraments of the Catholic Church

By Jack Hartjes

18. A Personal Relationship with Jesus

The world is a place of grace. God dwells and works there. Christians know this because they have sacramental vision, a vision informed by their celebration of sacraments. Christian faith includes this interpretation of our world, but it is more. Being a Christian is having a personal relationship with Jesus. It is on the strength of this personal relationship that sacraments help Christians see what they see and go beyond seeing to living a new life.

A loving relationship between human beings is like that. It helps us see our world and ourselves with new eyes.  We are loved, just the way we are.  That hits us like a revelation.  Far from making us complacent, it transforms our vision of ourselves and frees us to become more—not just better than we expected before, but more than we even hoped before.

The story of your journey with Christ may start with a community or an individual Christian or even a book telling you about Jesus.  As a result, you come to know God in your life. Perhaps you had been looking somewhere else for a god who doesn't exist or doesn't satisfy. Even so, in what went before, God was working anonymously. What follows is a new conscious life with God. That is the Christian story. It may include a kind of drama expressed by the words "saved" and "conversion." Dramatic or not, it is the same nearly unbelievable fact that you now know for sure: God is with you and always has been—even when your eyes, with only the vision of this world, were seeing nothing very precious in yourself and looking everywhere else for something to believe in. God loves you and always did, not just qualities the world and you thought lovable, but something better—you.

You have met Jesus, the first sacrament, reflecting and bringing about in new ways God's journey with you.

Think again:

Conversion is not only for the unbaptized. Is there an event, a person, or some other influence in your life that gave you a new way of thinking about yourself and a new appreciation of God’s presence with you?

On to 19, Conclusion: Going to Church