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I was born and raised Catholic. I went to Catholic schools. I never missed Mass. I really wanted to go to heaven. Oh, and I asked Mary to help me with golf tournaments. But despite all of this, I didn’t know Jesus. Sure, I knew he died on the cross, but I didn’t know his love for me in a personal way. I guess you could define my faith as being a good person, trying hard, and treating people the right way.
All of that changed when I went to a prayer meeting in 1971. That’s when I discovered who Jesus was and what he had done for me. I don’t think my wife, Felicia, minds when I say that it was the best moment of my life.
When we look at people like Peter, Paul, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, and many others, they experienced the same thing that happened to me. They saw Jesus, and something inside of them came to life. By God’s grace, they discovered who this man really was, and their lives were never the same.
Justified, Sanctified, Glorified. In this issue of The Word Among Us, we are going to look at this new experience by examining three key concepts from St. Paul: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is what I discovered when I went to that first prayer meeting. Sanctification, the process of growing in holiness, happens after justification. We become sanctified as we ask Jesus for the grace to put off our sinful ways and develop our virtues. Glorification is what will happen when we are raised up to heaven after death—filled with God’s glory and free from all sin and suffering.
As I said, my life changed forever at that prayer meeting. From that point on, I wanted to become more like Jesus each day. I wanted to become sanctified. I know this takes effort on my part, but I also know that God pours out his grace all the time as I pray, celebrate the sacraments, and serve the people around me.
Every day, I try my best to place my hope in Jesus and his resurrection. Every day, when I wake up, I give him the first affections of my heart. I thank him for what he did for me and for all of us. I ask him to bless my day and my family. Then, I go out and try to be a disciple.
Now, I do have my moments of weakness, when I think that I’ll just go into the ground after I die. But for the most part, I do believe in heaven. I do believe that I will be raised from the dead and glorified with the Lord, and it will be fantastic!
Deepen Your Faith. Justification. Sanctification. Glorification. These three concepts have helped me immensely as I try to draw closer to Jesus, and I am very grateful to St. Paul for explaining them! I’m sure that if you spend some time dwelling on these teachings, they will help you deepen your faith, experience God’s love more fully, and inspire you to live for Jesus. May God bless you.