Thursday, June 11, 2015
Why Do I Remain Catholic Anyway?
This question of "Why Do I Remain Catholic" has been circling the internet and with good reason, the recent less-than-stellar Pew Research in regards to faith in general, and Catholicism in particular, is disheartening.
But the question leads to some good self-questioning that I haven't thought about in a long time. Because you see, I'm a cradle Catholic who has never really "fallen away" from the Church to a major degree. Now, I would not say that somehow it's because I'm naturally proficient at holiness, or lack intelligent questioning skepticism, or have experienced only sunshine and rainbows by practicing my Faith because none of those things are true.
I have no idea if I would be Catholic now if I was not married to my wonderful Catholic husband, or if I didn't have a supportive Catholic family, or if I did not receive an excellent Catholic education, and know many vibrant and interesting Catholic friends.
I do know that there are many times of temptation or cynicism where I fully admit that my life would be easier if I wasn't Catholic. Easier, more convenient, more comfortable, less personally and spiritually challenging in many ways - from dealing with certain crosses in my personal life like NFP, or just having more friends and likes on Facebook. It would be a lot easier to not have a personal commitment to practicing and believing the Catholic faith and that's what those Pew numbers speak to.
I'm not saying anything original when I say that I remain Catholic mostly because it's the Truth. The Catholic faith isn't just true when it comes to saying God exists, it's true when it speaks to every part of the human experience. Sure, it may not get talked about often at the usual Sunday Mass, most Catholics have never been instructed to understand the philosophical depths of the faith and how it's built solidly upon reason and logical thinking, or that the Church has been historically right for over two centuries.
But the deep, enveloping truth of the whole of Catholic teaching has seeped into every area of my life and I shudder to think what my life would be without it. I don't think I would feel and understand my value as an individual who is inherently loved. I don't think I would understand my purpose in life, from the core of my being amid all the distractions surrounding my everyday life or the confusion in our society. I don't know if I would be able to forgive people, or to know the vast importance of truly loving someone. I've remained in the Church because it has given me so much. Forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, redemption are all given to me through a Church that remains true to me and the world through my short life and human history.
I keep coming back to the solidity of the Church. And maybe it's just me and my crazy personality that can't help but feel it's this very solidity that helps my little bit of faith grow. Because as Chesterton said, "We do not really want a religion to be right where we are right. We want a religion that is right where we are wrong." As I get older and realize better my huge capability of error, as I watch the hubris of pundits and icons grow without bounds, it's easy to see that I can screw things up easily. That every other human being can screw things up easily. Even if it's something we think should be right because of this and this, if we consult the Church and learn what may be behind the teachings we see a wealth of knowledge that one individual or even a current society could get painfully wrong.
But it's the solidity of the truth that asks something of us. When we assent to faith we are required to believe a set of beliefs and sometimes we may not fully understand them. It's uncomfortable in today's society to even confess that you believe in objective truth, let alone the myriad controversial teachings of the Church.
It's easier to say that everyone should do what they feel life to the furthest possible degree, with no hindrance from society.
It's easier to say I can shop for a church that speaks to me personally, that doesn't require me to change my behaviour.
It's easier to believe that the sacraments and the liturgy are just cozy symbols that make us feel good but don't require anything of us.
We live in a culture that doesn't need faith at all because we can choose the easier path of more comfort.
I remain in the faith even though it's cost me very little in comparison to so many around the world. I am not in danger of losing my life, but maybe of losing respect. What I am given is a wealth of love, grace, and knowledge through the Church. And most importantly the Church gives me Christ, who really is part of my life, who really does fill my life with joy, wonder, and love, and who really does give peace in my woundedness and sin, in times of suffering and pain.
I hope and pray for the grace that my conscience and conviction never leave me and so never leave the Church.
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