Christopher Villiers is one of our British authors who is also a theologian and a poet. Here he speaks about his faith.
Who is God for you? God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19) and He wants me to live with Him for all eternity as an adopted child in His family. It is through the person of Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, that the invisible God becomes truly visible in a personal sense. Of course, God is infinitely more than we can imagine Him as being, but divine revelation gives us enough. God is not a mere amiable vagueness or vague amiability, but someOne with a mind and will of His own who calls me to glorify Him and everything in relation to Him.
What does it mean for you to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? It means to follow Him wherever that may lead, to seek to understand Him, and to do His will. Loving Christ is not a sentimental thing. It means following him to Gethsemane and Golgotha, it means a kind of death, in order to rise again in Him. The Jesus of the Gospels can be a rather terrifying figure – He is no chummy chat-show host or anodyne salesman of family values and general niceness (vide Lk 14:26). My personal relationship with Jesus means that I know that I should not abandon Him, although sometimes I shall abandon Him and need to repent, and that He shall never abandon me. I would also like to make clear as a Catholic that my relationship with Christ is rooted in His mystical body the Church, built on the rock of Saint Peter and most fully represented in the Catholic faith. My relationship with Christ commits me to relate with my brothers and sisters in Him, including of course Protestants and Eastern Orthodox Christians – indeed, all sorts of people I would not ordinarily relate to in a million years. Christ calls us to communion with Him, but also with each other in Him.
What can you say about the greatest grace to date that you are aware of having received from Him? My greatest grace has been coming to believe in Him. I was not actually raised a Christian, although I went to a school linked to a village church for a few years when I was very young, as is common in England. Being baptized when I was 14 years old was very important. I remember renouncing sin, the world, and the devil, and suddenly appreciating the importance of that vow and my allegiance to God. I once met a woman baptized secretly in communist Albania; it is important to remember the beauty and the challenge of Christian commitment. Nobody should take being a Christian for granted.
Who has He been for you, in your life? God has been my Saviour. I have not had an exceptionally hard life, to put it mildly, but I have had my little moments and He has saved me from hopelessness. It is hard for me to expand on that.
What have been the greatest obstacles for you, in your relationship with Him? My pride has been my greatest obstacle. Deep down, I like to think that I know better than God, no matter how often events prove otherwise. It is important to abandon oneself to divine providence and this takes a lot of humility, which is a lot harder to practice than to admire in others. I should shut up and listen to what God is telling me through Scripture, the guidance of the Church, and that annoying voice at the back of my head that I try to drown out in the dead of night.
In what way/s do you desire others to come to know Him and for what reason/s? I want others to come to Christ as our only hope. Non-Christian religions have elements of truth, but they do not have Christ whose life, death, and resurrection give us hope. I remember reading some of The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Soltzhenitsyn when I was too young to understand most of it, but I remember realizing the evils humanity commits when it tries to replace the God-Man with the man-god (Dostoyevsky’s novel The Devils, which predicted the Russian revolution and its aftermath is also very enlightening). In the prison camps, Soltzhenitsyn found the true God of Christianity. He understood that good and evil cannot be understood solely in worldly terms, whether political, economic, or whatever. Evil is something within every human soul and not something that can, ultimately, be eradicated by worldly creeds and worldly saviours. Communism could not take away the sins of the world. Capitalism cannot, nor can any of the other ideologies available. Only Jesus Christ can truly save us.
In what manner do you wish to meet Him when your time comes? I wish, please God, to meet Him after having received the last sacraments and I hope that He shall have mercy on me for His Name’s sake. It is hard to imagine Christ’s glory. I pray that when my time comes, it will not be to my condemnation.
What few words of wisdom do you wish to impart to others about God? God is real, He loves you, and you can have eternal life if you believe in Him.