There is a movement among public figures in the Catholic Church to share why they remain Catholic. At first the idea may seem a bit aggressive or possibly even defensive, but after all, there are many reasons why the Church and being Catholic has become unpopular. In fact, there are a declining number of Christians making up the U.S, population. Some recognize that we are now living in a Post-Christian world. At any rate, hardly a public figure, I felt the need to address the question myself. So why, oh why, would I want to remain Catholic?
It wasn’t all that long ago that I chose to “become” Catholic. I have shared my story before, but I came into full communion in the Catholic Church during Easter of 1992 at the age of 29. Now 51, I haven’t even lived half of my life as a Catholic. My life has changed for the better, however.
I suppose the reasons I converted to Catholicism will be the same reasons I choose to stay. It really comes down to a few things. First, I discovered that the Church that developed as a result of Jesus’ incarnation and resurrection is still the same Church today. Maybe some people have abused their positions, made false claims, or even intentionally misled the faithful, but the Church led by the Holy Spirit remains intact. Second, I believe a sacramental life offers graces that cannot be experienced in any other Christian faith tradition. Through the sacraments of Baptism, the Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance and Reconciliation, Matrimony, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick, Christ comes present as a sign and personification of all that God is. Further, Jesus is the instrument through which God encounters people. Finally, Through the sacraments the Church brings humanity to God. (Klein/Wolfe, Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments, 27). Third, I believe that the community of believers is the body of Christ here to continue Christ’s work on earth. We are the visible sign that Jesus is alive and, by virtue of Baptism, are called by God to work toward the transformation of the world. Led by the Holy Spirit we share the Good News with others through word and example.
In spite of the contrary actions of some or negative perceptions of the Church by others, I feel I must remain faithful to my calling. It may seem arrogant or even naive, but I believe even I can make a difference in the world. My small yet humble efforts will make a difference to those struggling to make sense of what being Catholic means as well as to those who have been hurt or abandoned by someone in the Church.
On behalf of myself, and all those who have fallen short of living as Jesus has called, I sincerely apologize to those who have not been properly treated, or, who have been rejected by the Church. As long as there are humans in the Church there will always be disappointment. However, let us not lose sight of the mission of Jesus and those he called that have lived truly as Jesus intended.
After two thousand years it would seem we should have it all together – I suppose that is why we are a pilgrim Church. We are all on a lifelong journey of faith. It is really that simple. The Church is still alive with disciples living sacramental lives as a community of believers offering the Gospel message to those who will hear. Are we perfect, no, but Christ has called, and I have answered. Those are the reasons I remain Catholic.