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Christian Vegetarian Association Presents:
Take Heart!

Personal Statement of Faith
By Joseph Stephens

I believe that, in accepting and living our faith as Christians, we need to avoid becoming distracted by anything that might keep us away from our Lord and interfering with our understanding the reason of His death and salvation for us. Being a vegetarian can help us become closer to His creation, but we must not stop there. We need to work hard and go on our knees to receive the Lord and come closer to God.

I would like to share my story about being a Christian vegetarian. I was strongly guided by Christian principles and faith to help me become a vegetarian. At the same time, I was deeply troubled because the church – “the pillar of our faith" – and the priests were blind to cruelty of animals and deaf to the animals’ cries of pain and suffering. Church leaders happily participated in the banquets that included the end products of cruelty and suffering. I was deeply saddened because the church was not doing anything. I felt alone and unsupported by either churchgoers or the priests. Over time, I came to understand that vegetarianism should not stand in the way of the growth of my faith and my participation in the church community.

Here is a story I heard in retreat recently that really resonated to me. A righteous man died and met St. Peter at the gate. St. Peter asked the man, “Do you have enough credits to enter in through the doors of the heaven?” The man said, “Sure.” So St. Peter asked the man, “Okay, tell me all of them.” The man replied, “I was a good father and a good husband.” St. Peter said, “That’s 2 points.” “I helped the poor,” and St. Peter said, “1 point.” “I attended every Sunday mass and led my family to the church,” and St. Peter said, “2 points.” The man continued and reached 100 points, but nowhere close to 1000 points that he needed to enter the gates of heaven. Then the man was exhausted and terrified that he would not make it to heaven and he cried, “Jesus help me.” Then St. Peter said to man, "Welcome in to Heaven. The moment you cried out to Jesus and sought Him, you got all the points you needed.” While virtues are important, and being vegetarian is one, we need to reach out to Jesus.

I think being vegetarian and promoting vegetarianism is very important, but the resistance we sometimes meet should not tempt us to leave the church. It is important that we continue to remain active in our church communities because all Christians together constitute the body of Christ. Paul wrote, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Cor 27). Before I became a vegetarian, I was a Christian with a similar faith as other Christians. Vegetarianism has enriched and enhanced my faith, though for a long time I struggled with feelings of loneliness in the church. In response to this struggle I prayed to God, increased my visits to Church, and read the bible more. I am now in my seventh year of vegetarian activism, encouraging my brothers and sisters in Christ to accept a plant based life and to come closer to God and honor God’s creations.

Have a blessed and renewed Easter and may God be with you,

Through Christ,
Joe Stephens  

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