Year of Youth 2018

I'm Too Far Gone | Year of Youth Blog

Last edited 16th August 2018

I'm Too Far Gone | Year of Youth Blog

Last week a young woman shared with me that her daughter is preparing for First Reconciliation. Our conversation went like this:

Mum: “Oh man it’s tricky, she's such a clever little thing and I don’t know how to answer her questions about all this... stuff.”

Me: “The Sacramental program is so great because, you get to re learn about the Sacrament now as a parent.”

Mum: “Oh no, she will have to go to her grandmother for answers... I’m too far gone!”

I told her that that it’s never too late and I shared with her some wisdom I heard from Bishop Richard Umbers at a talk recently. His advice to parents was that it is our duty to know the Catechism, and to know about the faith. If we are not bothered ourselves to know more about the Catholic faith (whether converted or inherited) than how do we expect our children, who grow into teenagers bombarded by ideologies at uni or work, to be bothered with it?

The mum took home a parents’ guide book on the sacrament... and who knows what will happen, but as I reflect on our exchange the words I'm too far gone resonates with me.

I know what it’s like to feel too far gone!

I experienced it tonight after I had a perfect weekend away in the mountains with my little family. When we got home I cleaned the house, welcomed some cousins for a late afternoon play date, dealt with some laundry, served left-over birthday cake, cooked dinner, said goodbye to the cousins, had a few bites of my dinner and then it happened.

A monumental meltdown over who was doing the dishes. There was whingeing by my boys, my husband was barking orders, I had barely eaten, I’m pregnant and there was mess everywhere. Before I knew it, I was on a vicious war path and screaming the house down. When I caught my breath, I thought, well I’m too far gone now I might as well keep going... and so I did. Not even the cat survived the next 10 minutes in my house.

After using far too many expletives, taking away soccer, weekends away, movie nights, and all things fun... I grumbled “Go to bed and say a prayer for mum because I’m not well”. After sitting in the dark for about three minutes I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to their bedroom. I took a deep breath and calmly said I was sorry for all the yelling and hastily-threatened punishments and that as a family we have to work together like a team. With their eyes full of love and forgiveness they welcomed my little speech and gave me a hug and some apologies too.

You see, the phrase “I’m too far gone” is something the enemy (or the thief) wants us to meditate on deeply. With powerful phrases like this, the enemy delights, when we can easily make excuses for our bad behaviour or complacency in anything in life, especially our faith.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10: 10

This was the first piece of scripture I heard with fresh ears during my conversion in 2005. I was sleeping off a hangover when I was invited to Hillsong and it became clear to me that I had never met this Christ they spoke of, who wanted to give me life in abundance. I was only great friends with the thief, who urged me to be mediocre in my morals, beliefs and attitude to life.

From this simple invitation to life in abundance, I was attracted to the idea of being washed anew, starting afresh and dying to my sin (for there was a lot to die to). Feeling too far gone was what actually attracted me back to the faith and to discover the truth of who I was and the purpose for my life. I had felt that being 60% compliant with the Catholic moral code was good enough and that in most cases, ignorance was bliss - as long as I was a ‘nice’ person I was doing pretty good. I never pondered issues such as waste, charity, voting, the war in Iraq/Syria, refugees and asylum seekers, euthanasia, abortion or why I have a temper, or think this way rather than that way? If I didn’t know about social, political or even personal issues then I felt I had no responsibility to address them. Really, I had no idea of who I was, what I believed in and why. The faith that I inherited was there, but it was there for emergency situations or when I felt guilty about something. My ignorance enabled me to live a life from the thief. I was being ignorant because I was afraid that if I knew the truth, I would have to face my ignorance and be better.

Today we hear phrases like “Well, that's my truth," "Truth is subjective," and "There are only scientific truths...

The other day I was in emergency with a young boy who spoke passionately about astral projection being the answer to all our problems, because of the possibility of escaping this universe. He was on drugs and in hospital because he punched a mirror but I think it was precisely this reason he was open to hear me as I spoke about Christ to him. Of course, the only thing he knew of Catholicism was what he got through the mainstream media (so everything to do with sexual abuse, the Church’s wealth, and opposition to same-sex marriage) and it reminded me of when I was ignorant of my faith and why it’s important as a faithful to equip yourself with the Catechism.

The enemy is here and he is actively killing, stealing and destroying so many souls through conditioning phrases such as, "Christianity is redundant," "I believe in Spirituality," "The Catholic Church is backwards," "I am too far gone," "I am not Holy enough," or "I go to Church sometimes and that’s enough." The thief was actively at work in me as a cradle Catholic, whispering, "It’s ok to stay where you are and say things like 'I’m Catholic, but I’m not practicing. I don’t believe in all that stuff,' because you don’t know what that stuff is anyway. It's way out of your league. Your parents are Catholic enough for you to get through the gates."

But Jesus says to us something different: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jn 14:6

These life-giving words are our simple invitation to eternity through the person of Christ. With this truth we can only know that we are never, ever, too far gone and that there is always room for the clueless, like me, to learn about the faith and own it.

Since my conversion, I have discovered that the Church in her wisdom, has an answer for everything, the truth hurt deeply and it was difficult to align with sometimes especially when I was starting afresh, but I also discovered that the depths of the truth of the church are endless and abounding in love.

Here are some aspects of the Church that have helped me discover the faith with the assurance that I am never 'too far gone'.

The Eucharist. My dad attests my late mother’s character to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She was a devout daily Mass goer (God bless her soul). I never understood this growing up but knowing who she was, I knew there was something about the Eucharist that I could not turn a blind eye to (but that’s a whole other story). The hymn ‘Come as you are’ has always been my mantra when approaching the Eucharist. No matter what has happened in my life or day, God wants me to come experience this wonderful sacramental grace with all my anger, fear, doubts, temptation and messes. As always my mum was right, the Eucharist has changed my life.

The Rosary. My mum was also devout in the rosary. Reflecting on the life, death and resurrection of Christ and how intimately Mary walked with him. Our struggles can be offered up with the weight of Mary’s afflictions and the weight of the cross that Jesus bore. I particularly love the reflections here and I use this app when I’m walking, in the car or at bed time routine for my boys.

The Saints & Novenas. St John Vianney says, “The Saints didn’t start well, but they ended well”. Each of us are called out of the ordinary to be set apart for greatness no matter how too far gone we think we are. So I love learning about and praying with the communion of saints (who include my mother, sister and daughters).

The Magisterium. My parents never discussed the why of the Church and so in the same way as Bishop Richard described, I felt that there was no need for logical explanation of faith. This is where I had to own the faith for myself and move away from just lovely memories of my childhood and apply the faith to my actual life. The wisdom of the Pope produces infallible teachings -providing us with a framework for the tenets of our beliefs. A part of our call as confirmed Catholics is to discern these teachings whether in peace or great pain and difficulty. Some really interesting ones to do with culture today are ‘Humanae Vitae (birth control)’, Laudato Si (Care for the environment), Evangelium Vitae (the Value and Inviolability of Human Life i.e abortion, euthanasia, murder etc)

Ongoing formation. Investing in my faith life is a investment in the quality of my life and the condition of my soul. I am currently doing the Jeff Cavins Bible Study on Salvation History that uses the NRSV Bible along with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this provides a comprehensive understanding of Church teaching while outlining significant moments in Salvation history. I’m also exploring Humanae Vitae further through the Theology of the Body program that we are using as a part of Year of the Youth Commission. Apart from formal formation, I just enjoy listening to a crapload of Catholic podcasts, attending talks and reading (currently the autobiography on St Augustine and Robert Haddad’s 1001 reasons It’s great to be Catholic). These are just a few ideas.

Community Life. Getting involved in parish or community life and taking advantage of programs in your diocese is a great way to learn and actively be a part of the body of Christ. Try researching one today.

So to wrap it all up, I’ll leave you with this.

• I once felt too far gone and stayed there for a long time, courtesy of the thief.

• Once I had met Christ and accepted his invitation to the Father, I have never felt too far gone that the Holy Spirit could not guide me back.

• I made it a point to go back to the Eucharist, convinced of the real presence, and

• To own the faith I inherited for the sake of my own soul and the quality of my own life.

I am perfectly imperfect and there is so much to learn but as a sister in Christ who is on the same journey as you, I feel compelled to challenge you with one question...

What aspect of the Catholic Church, in her wisdom, do you need to learn (or re learn) in order to discover the truth?

Jacinta is a devoted wife and young mother of four children, who works as a parish secretary by day and blogs/studies at night. Her weaknesses are the cold, sleeping in, How I Met Your Mother and 7-eleven coffee. She also blogs at 'A Catholic Minimalist' -

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