Why I’m Catholic

Hey, this is a political blog!

And, a defunct one, at that.

But over at the Anchoress, the formidable Elizabeth Scalia put forth the following, here and here:

Let’s do this! If you’re Catholic and have access to a web-page, a radio program, a Facebook page, whatever, take a few minutes, and tell the world why you are remaining a Catholic in an era where doing so seems not only counter-cultural, but also counter-intuitive and even, perhaps, a bit risky?

It stuck in my head. Because frankly, this is way more important than politics. And I’ve been wanting to write again anyway. So next time, politics. But right now, let’s talk about something bigger. This isn’t going to be my personal faith story, just the conclusions I reached.

Why am I Catholic? It’s simple, really. One reason. It takes many shapes and has infinite facets–that’s the beauty of it–but it’s one thing. It’s true. And I’m convinced of that.

Belief in God is reasonable. Why is there something rather than nothing? Something explains existence, or there is no logic to the universe. There is no philosophical ground on which nonexistence just becomes existence. If, on the other hand, there is something that contains within itself the reason for its existence–a more principled bit of logic–whatever that is, is God. So without yet worrying about the nature of God, the simple existence of a creator is just logic.

Next. What is this God like? Is God outside the universe? Is everything, this tree, that person, that galaxy, a manifestation of God? Is Nature God? Is God like the Force, impersonal, mindless energy?

The universe isn’t mindless. It stands to reason that if the universe is intelligible, it was created by intelligence. If reality is logical, and it is, then God must be logical.

Which brings us to Jesus. If God exists, and is a Person, then it makes sense that He would want us to know Him. This is a huge topic, and the details are beyond this post. For now, the point: the propositions that Jesus really is God, and lived in history, and rose from the dead, are utterly reasonable–and are far more likely than alternate explanations.

Finally, the Church. If Jesus is God, and came to reveal God to us, what do we do about it? Well, Jesus told us that too. He built a Church, and He gave that Church real authority and a promise of divine guidance. He said that He would remain with the Church forever. He also gave particular men the authority to forgive sins in His name, and told His followers that in order to have life, they need to eat His body and drink His blood. He didn’t write a book, but He did tell specific people to go and teach the whole world about Him, passing on the traditions they were given. Some of those people wrote down some of these traditions, which became the New Testament. But the Church today is the same Church that Christ founded 2,000 years ago upon the Apostles, headed by St. Peter, and nobody else can credibly make that claim. So while only Christianity makes sense of these questions of existence, only the Catholic Church makes sense of Christianity.

That’s it. God exists. Jesus really is God. He started a Church, which still exists today, and still speaks with His authority, which is the Roman Catholic Church.

I could talk about each of these points in detail for days. I could talk about how Catholic truth finally made sense of things in the world and in my life that never made sense. I could talk about the beauty of our Corpus Christi Mass yesterday and seeing the entire church with the servers and our priest kneeling as one before the monstrance, and hearing the choir sing a piece written in the 13th century for this very feast. I could talk about the universality of the Church, knowing that across the world, hundreds of millions of people were at the same celebration, receiving the same Eucharist. Or, I could talk about the universality of Catholic truth, the seamless garment that weaves together without contradiction the goodness of life, and love, and all of creation, as expressed in the Church’s teaching on God’s love, grace, and mercy; the Church’s embrace of science and philosophy; the Church’s embrace of every one of us, sinners all; the deep understanding of human nature and the difficult, but beautiful, teaching on everything from forgiveness to charity to human sexuality.

I could talk about how the Mass and the Sacraments have fundamentally changed my life and given me strength to fight some deeply destructive tendencies in myself. I could tell about how I tried to live a Christian life outside of the Church, without the Sacraments, and it simply did not work. Or that I came to believe that Jesus really was God, but I can honestly say that I did not come to know Him until I returned to Mass, and that I can not, really and truly can not imagine ever going through life without the Sacraments again. All of these things are good, true, and beautiful, but all rest on one very simple Truth.

That’s how truth often looks: simple, but deep. If you drop a bowling ball, it falls. That’s how gravity works. Simple. But start trying to understand and explain gravity, and you can end up talking about time travel and virtual particles, because this simple thing just goes so deep into all of reality. Theology is like that. Simple- God exists. He loves us. But that simple truth is the foundation on which all of reality rests.

That doesn’t make it easy. The Catholic faith is not for weenies, as various thinkers have pointed out. It’s not the path of least resistance, for certain. It is counter-cultural today, it’s heroic, it’s radical. But it’s true.

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