Friday, June 8, 2012

Why Am I Catholic?

This is another from my series of bulletin covers. It might be interesting for you to try to respond to the questions I present in the comment box.


Two young men with whom I am fairly well acquainted recently honored me by asking me to serve as their sponsors for the Sacrament of Confirmation. Though I was surprisedby these two invitations, I was quick to accept. After all, in what way could Ibetter use my time than assisting these two teens as they prepare for the final step of their full initiation into the Church, and in some respects, as they make a significant step toward full-fledged manhood? I am eager and excited to be a part of this process, and I look forward to the opportunity to meet regularly with them, and to watch them grow in faith and in charity throughout the course of the next several months. In a particular way, however, I am most eager for them respond to this question: “Why does it matter that I am Catholic?”

This question, it seems to me, pierces directly tothe heart not only of our identity as Catholics, but ultimately, to our identity as human beings. To describe why I am Catholic means that I must take into consideration what I believe about God, what I believe about human life, and how I understand my own existence in this universe. To say why I am Catholic is, fundamentally, to try to articulate the fundamental principles upon which I believe the rest of reality rests. So, perhaps the shorter way of saying all of this is simply to posit that it is not accidental that I am Catholic; it is the most important fact about my life.

"You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven." - Matthew 16:18-19
Having opined with such force on this matter, I would be remiss to not offer, albeit briefly, some explanation of why I am Catholic. First, I believe that God exists, that He always has existed, and always will. His existence is mysterious; he is both three and simultaneously one. For God to be is the same as for God to love,and out of that love, man first came into being. Man, out of all of creation, was and remains the pinnacle of God’s creation. Man is the most beloved of all the things God ever made, but man, in his pride, rejected that love, introducing both sin and death into the world. God, for His part, never stopped loving man, and when the time was right, God became a human to redeem man and to restore him to the full dignity with which he was first endowed at the moment of his creation. Jesus Christ reveals to humans what it is to be a human being, and he opens the means by which all the rest of humanity might become like him. We most readily access these means through the visible institution of the Catholic Church. In a word, God, through the Catholic Church, shows me who I am, who I am supposed to be, and the manner by which I can become who I am supposed to be. No other tradition answers the basic questions of my existence quite as thoroughly as does the Catholic Church.

In the coming months, I hope that the two boys I am sponsoring will arrive at similar answers for themselves, or at least that they will begin to find similar answers. I will be working to help them come to these realizations. As I do so, I will also be asking this question of myself in a new way. I hope that just as I am doing this, so will each of you. Why are you Catholic? Why do you come to Mass each weekend? Does it make a difference? Would your life be different otherwise? This is a question that can change your life.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article Father- much to ponder and think over- but I love the way you summed it up- I am Catholic because it helps me to become who I am called to be by my creator! Have a lovely weekend. Peace, May Coates


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