Comments about life of faith and attendance
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have been reading all of these posts and "chewing on" the contents for
a while. I couldn't sleep for thinking so much, my brain would not stop.
Well, I did finally go to sleep, but I was dreaming all night long.
Perhaps I am too conservative in my thinking. Perhaps I am not such a
typical person in my experiences through the course of my life of faith.
I know that I lack flexibility. But please, in reading my comments, don't
misunderstand and think that I am condemning anyone or that I am a hate-filled,
intolerant person because I tend to be fundamentalist and lack flexibility.
That does not indicate that I am unable to embrace or love someone whose views
are different. It only means that we have perhaps different experiences and
thus different views and opinions.
I joined our movement in 1973. When my spiritual father spoke to me,
I replied that I needed to talk with him, but I didn't know why. Before
meeting our movement, I was attending high school and I dated two boys who
particularly attracted my heart. One was a Baptist, the other, a Mormon.
I was a Roman Catholic of the conservative school. Growing up, I wanted
to be a nun. When I was an adolescent, I struggled in my heart because I
also wanted to someday marry and have a family. And it seemed to me at that
point that it was either pursue one or the other, one could not pursue the
religious path and marry, too. During that period of high school, I read
a lot of things. I became engaged to the Mormon boy during my senior year.
He was a year ahead of me and after graduation, went off to mission.
I was planning to marry him after I finished University. I did a lot of
soul searching about my faith and what was in my heart. I needed to consider
deeply about whether I would remain Catholic or convert to Mormonism or
what? I read Catholic doctrine, The Lives of the Saints, my Douay Bible,
Mormon doctrine, and just about anything that I could get my hands on
concerning religion and spiritual matters. I even read Hal Lindsey's books.
My parents raised me with a lot of warning about it being the last days
and watch out because of the probability that the anti-christ would appear.
At that particular time, they held the view that the only True church was
the Catholic Church and even in that church, one should pray to the Virgin
Mary and to God and Jesus, and resist the liberal elements. The Holy Father,
the Pope is infallible and anything that deviates from his blessing is the
work of the devil. I also studies about non-christian faiths at that time.
Eventually, I decided that the central root God was using was either
Judaism, Catholicism or Mormonism. I did not take the view that everyone
else was going to go to hell. Judaism didn't recognize Jesus as the Messiah,
so I rejected the idea of converting to Judaism. Then I was confused about
which of the other two was right. So I decided to remain Catholic and I
prayed fervently for God to guide me the way that He wanted me to go. I
prayed a lot and I really cried and I searched the Bible a lot. I always
experienced that one particular quote from the Bible came to mind. It was
the quote about "seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you"
(paraphrased here, of course). So I put all my heart and trust in those words
and I took them as literal and I persisted in asking, seeking, knocking. All
through my high school period, I attended church and invested everything in
the service and listened to the readings from the Bible and in the sermons
that the priest gave. I also visited non-Catholic churches a little, but
always put my own church first.
After several months of engagement, I broke it off. I felt that it was
just not right. I felt that to marry the boy I was engaged to was not what
God wanted me to do, and that it would not work out. I broke it off abruptly
and my poor fiancé, who was out on his mission, was shocked, to say
the least. And was not about to just let go of the idea of our marriage.
But for me, that was the end, I felt that Heavenly Father had told me not to
marry him, and that was that. I was sorry to and for my former fiancé
but I had to do what God asked me. Shortly after that, I was even more active
in my own church. It was at that time, when I had firmly decided to be a good
Catholic, that I met my spiritual father. He took me to the local center and
introduced me to everyone there. I knew that I would be living there, even
though I had no idea what this place was or anything. He told me it was the
Unified Family and that in the evening there was an interfaith fellowship.
I went, we sang songs that were totally unfamiliar,except for a couple of
folk songs, and then there was an lecture presentation---straight Divine
Somehow a flame was kindled in my heart. Not a spark, a big fire. I still
didn't really know what this was, but I wanted to find out. I came to the
center at 7am the next morning and knocked on the door and asked to hear more.
I spent the day with one brother who sat me down and taught me an overview of
the first half of the Divine Principle using a yellow legal pad for diagrams.
I rushed over the next morning at 7am to hear more. On that day, I heard
the second half of the Divine Principle. Throughout the lectures over those
three days, many of the things that are found only in the Divine Principle,
I recognized as things I already knew even though I had never come across
those things anywhere before. When I finished hearing the Divine Principle,
I knew it was all true. Next I was given a small, short booklet about Sun
Myung Moon. Before reading it, I already knew intuitively that this was the
second coming of Jesus that I had been waiting for and seeking for.
Even only a week before, I had been talking to my priest about the second
coming and expressing that I would embrace Jesus. He had asked me how I
would know and not be misled by a false christ. I told him that I just knew.
Now I understood that Jesus, who I was longing to meet, was not Jesus but
was this person who was given his mission from Jesus to be the Lord of
the Second Advent. I knew it in the bottom of my heart. But I had doubts,
at the same time. I had been raised with so many warnings about how Satan
worked and about the anti-christ. I thought about it and I knew that the
Divine Principle was undeniably true. If this were undeniably true, then
the one who brought this was the Messiah. So from that moment, I committed
my heart and my life and my everything to our True Father.
Looking back, I know that I was extremely blessed to have been well guided
and pushed by someone in my ancestry. I was protected a lot and guided a
lot, even though I didn't realize how spiritually open I really was. I am
eternally grateful to those who made the way for me to meet our True Parents.
Both in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm.
Personally, I joined this movement, not because of the promise of a Unified
Family, or because I could be blessed in marriage and make an ideal family
or any of the other idealistic things that we pursue. I never expected
that things would be ideal and everyone would automatically be perfect.
I joined because God asked me to. I joined because True Parents are the
original Messiah. I didn't join because I was qualified or great or could
do great things. I can and could feel my sin and fallen natures very much.
I am well aware of my lack of qualification and content. I know that I am
not what Heavenly Father and True Parents need me to be. I know well that
my content of heart and character, my quality as a human being is inferior
to the original standard. Yet I have been given tremendous grace that is
of such value that I can never by my own merit and efforts repay the debt.
I am grateful to bear the debt and the struggles and everything. I realize
that a lot of the difficulties have been things I brought upon myself because
I didn't fulfill my portion of responsibility enough. And a lot of the things
are also the result of working out the unpaid indemnity or debts of my sinful
ancestors, my race of people, my sphere of responsibility as a representative
of the church and of Christianity in general that I represent.
We have been granted what we do not deserve. Our POSITION is that of
Messiah and we are blessed. But our actual content is far short of what it
needs to be. I do not personally fully embody God's Heart and always move
in accordance with that. I have to make effort to be good. It does not come
naturally. I am still influenced a lot by fallen nature because it has not
been fully removed yet. I find that it works without my being aware that
it is there and influencing me. So I need our True Parents just as much as
ever. I wish that I had been originally born of only God's lineage and with
only God's character but that is unfortunately not the case. My children
are better than I am, but unfortunately they also bear what I couldn't or
didn't finish cleaning up.
Attendance means living together with Heavenly Father and the True
Parents/Family, every moment of everyday. Because the members of True Family
have physical limitations, they cannot literally live together with me. That
is one of the reasons I need the traditions that True Parents have given me.
To help me to live with the heart and mind that are not separated from God.
They are also a way to help my children inherit the legacy which I have
been blessed with. If I were always one with God in heart, mind, attitude
and practice, then traditions are not necessary. But just as I need this
physical body to grow my spirit and cultivate my heart and character, so I
need traditions to guide me. Rev. Sudo once said that fallen man always is
so forgetful. We hear the Word and later we have forgotten it. So we need
to constantly be educating ourselves and working at recreating ourselves.
We still need a religious life because we are not fully perfected and restored
Perfection does not mean that one never errs or makes any kind of mistake.
It means that, as the Bible teaches, we are perfect as our Heavenly Father
is perfect. I don't think it means that God is a robot who does everything
unerringly. I think this refers to a standard of heart and love. God is
our invisible Parents. Now He has a visible form through our True Parents.
That is what original man and woman were to be, God's form, His body.
We need to examine what is a parent's heart?
How does God think and feel about His children? What is His heart? What
is His viewpoint? Can I love the troublemaker in my home or community or
prison or mental institute with the same heart that Heavenly Father does? Or
are there still those whom I have to make extra effort to love? Can I forgive
someone who has hurt me or my loved ones and can I love them, deeply and pity
them and pray for their salvation and make conditions for their salvation?
Or do I have a snag in my heart caused by pain and resentment, mine or from
the spiritual realm? Are there not those who, upon first encounter even,
stir up in my heart feelings of repulsion and negativity? These are the signs
that tell me that I don't embody God's heart, His character, His viewpoint
fully yet. My capacity to see things always from God's point of view is not
enough. That is why I know that I still need the Messiah, the True Parents
and their Family. I need their example and their words. That is why we are
given Hoon dok hae and traditions, because we still need them. And literally,
we cannot always be with True Parents because it is a physical impossibility.
Because none of us embody God's heart and character and point of view fully,
completely, perfectly, from that point of view, we are dead.
We close our ears to what Father says because we cannot see God's point
of view. We sometimes rebel in our hearts at things that Father says or
does or asks. We think we know better than True Father about a lot of
things when that is not necessarily so. So Father says that we are dead.
It does not lessen his love for us. Rather, he is pushing us to re-examine
ourselves and re-direct ourselves when he says such things. He wants to
lessen the difficulties and consequences which we will face if we continue
as we are. And if someone receives His praise, it does not mean that person
or family can't err. It means that they are closer to the ideal in practice
and embodiment than most of us, and we should follow their example and seek
their guidance. People who are publicly upheld usually have to get hit by the
evil spirit world a lot and go through a lot of trials. Even after passing
through innumerable crucibles, they still have to face more.
And Father, and the True Family have taken the responsibility for not
only me, but for every individual who has lived and who is alive today.
True Parents feel God's heart as their own. They feel God's seriousness,
His urgency to end the evil and heal the pain and to care for the children
who are not yet restored and fulfilled.
True Parents know the pain that is in the heart of God as he sees His
lost children sick and starving and depraved, unable to love and be loved.
He feels the pain that we each feel and much more. True Parents feel that and
know it well. Can I say that this is true for me? Or is my heart sometimes
numb to the suffering of others? And even if it is not, am I able to take
enough responsibility to do something towards helping them? Or are there
times when my own difficult circumstances keep me from acting when really
that is what God might be asking? I think that all of these things are
what attendance and perfection are all about. It is funny, but personally,
I don't need to make effort in the slightest to be selfish, self-centered,
to cause hurt to others, to be negative, complaining, resentful, hurtful, and
all of those sort of things, even after more than 20 years of knowing God's
word and True Parents. But I have to make a lot of effort to be good, to do
good, to connect with Heavenly Father's spirit. I am not naturally in sync.
So I am not perfected yet. I am not fully recreated yet ... and I don't
think that is because True Parents are not the Messiah of the Second Coming.
It is because I haven't finished accomplishing my portion of responsibility.
When you talk about "why bad things happen to good people", you need
to know that it is very complicated. None of us is really "good" in the
original sense of the word from God's ideal. Some people are more good than
others. I am better than I was 20 years ago, but I am not what I should be
yet. We carry behind us a complicated history to be restored. We inherit
sins of our ancestors, we inherit collective sins, we are picked up to be
representative and bear others' sins as well.
Everything is not only what I personally did or did not do. It is greater
than that. We get "hit" because of bases that we laid or we inherited. But
we also are called by God to clean up messes that we were not originally
responsible for. Look at Jesus, he was without sin but he took on the sins
of all humankind and became the offering. The same can be said for our True
Parents and their family. The Messiah did not originally come for the purpose
of suffering. It was a result of someone else's failure. Sometimes we are
cleaning up our own messes.
Sometimes we are being allowed chastisement through our difficulties
because we can't wake up and change any other way. Sometimes we are blameless,
and our family is blameless but God needs an offering so that He can claim
something greater. And always, somewhere down the line, those who paid the
price will receive grace and benefit. I believe that or else there is no
meaning to a life of faith. We do not really have any right to go around
saying that so and so got heavy misfortune because he or she was disunited
with a direction or something. That may or may not be true, but we really
cannot know. We just don't see the whole picture as God does. And God is not
vindictive and malicious and does not take joy and such from our misfortunes.
His heart hurts to see those things. Rather, if we have suffering and
difficulty and whatever, God tries to let it become something which will
allow Him the condition to be able to grant grace and blessing and to help
us to grow and re-direct ourselves. He is not the source of suffering and
"bad things". He would minimize and prevent those as much as possible.
That is the Parental Heart. Sometimes someone who is relatively pure, good,
innocent, gets called to bear things for the sake of a greater purpose,
or for the sake of saving someone who does not have the foundation of merit
that would allow the giving of grace to that person. Maybe the second person
could not handle the price to be paid to the evil spiritual world as well as
the person called to do it for him/her in order for God to be able to work
freely, unhindered by accusation from those who have stood on the side of evil.
The recent discussions call us to re-examine where we each stand in our
life of faith. They call us to re-examine fundamental points about what
the meaning of Messiah, Perfection, Salvation and Recreation really mean to
myself. They call us to re-examine ourselves and readjust ourselves and to
challenge us to deepen and widen our hearts and characters.
I am sorry that this is filled with long sentences. But I hope that this
posting can help each of us to grow closer to Heavenly Father and help each
to become more loving people. I hope that it can be encouragement rather
than stir up discouragement and negativity. And I welcome differing views,
because I know that I still don't really see everything from God's point of
view and I certainly don't embody the ideal fully at this point in time.
God bless each of you and each of your loved ones.