Friday, July 03, 2015

Why Remain Catholic: 7(+1) Reasons There is Only One Church for Me

I feel like over the course of the last week I've been inundated with so much information. That's a funny thing for someone like me to say. I'm a librarian (otherwise known as an "information specialist") and I do a little writing on the side, which often prompts me to stay up-to-date on current events. So information is kind of all around me, all of the time, even when I try to escape it.

There is no escape. That's the conclusion I've reached.

But this last week, oh boy! It's grown exponentially. The number of articles and opinion pieces, the Facebook posts and ensuing discussions, it seems endless. The legalization of same-sex marriage, the hold placed on the TX pro-life laws, thank you SCOTUS for bringing the culture war even more to the forefront of our lives. 

Thinking about recent events it occurred to me how different my perspective is now than it would have been had I not returned to the Catholic Church about 13-14 years ago. There was a time when I would have rejoiced in some of these recent events. Now, however, not so much. That being said, I decided that now more than ever, I should add my voice to the #WhyRemainCatholic posts from the past month. Yep, that's me, always late to the game. But at least I'm here now.

So, what are seven reasons that I remain Catholic? Let's get started!

#1 The Eucharist
No where else do you find Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity, than in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. This is a reality I was not at all familiar with while growing up Catholic. It was a stunning surprise when I learned this as an adult. This one revelation made me sink my feet in for good even while I struggled with other teachings. I knew that I would have to learn to accept everything else because I couldn't leave the Eucharist. 

#2 Humane Vitae
Wow did I ever struggle with this one. Contraception was a given in my world. I had never had reason to use it, but I had never thought twice about the fact that I would if I were to get married. I argued against this (with others and in my own head) quite a bit. Luckily for me, I also listened, even when I didn't want to. I finally looked up Humane Vitae and read it. I expected it to be long, I had never read an encyclical before and assumed it was like a book. I looked it up online one day at work, figured I'd get some info and maybe just read a bit and figure out where to buy it. I was surprised to find that it wasn't that long and I ended up reading it over my lunch break that one day. Oh. My. Word!! I never argued the point again.

#3 Confession
I received the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time in the 2nd grade. I never went again as a kid and I have no recollection of anyone in my family going beyond my younger siblings also receiving their first reconciliation. I returned to the Church in my mid-twenties and it soon became evident that I needed to make a confession. I happened to do it on a young adult retreat. I remember being nervous going in, as well as starving. It was dinner time and I hadn't eaten since lunch. When I finally went in and told the priest that it had probably been over 20 years, he was really nice and helped me along. I walked out of their feeling like a new person. The hunger was even gone, which turned out to be a blessing since we then found out that the dining hall at the camp ground had closed. Oh well!! Regardless, that feeling of being completely in God's grace, wiped clean, was amazing. I'm still not great about regular confession, but I manage it at least once a year. I still have a bit of a hang up about it, but intellectually, I know it is an amazing gift! I remain Catholic because of this gift God has given to His people in the Church.

#4 Art
Historically speaking, the Catholic Church has a treasure trove of art throughout the world. The Church was the largest patron of art for centuries, maybe the largest patron of art throughout history. I have had the opportunity to go to Rome and to see the Sistine Chapel, the Pieta, the amazing architecture of St. Peter's, and so much more. Even here in the U.S. we have amazing art in our churches, from stained glass windows and statues to beautiful architecture (arguably there are a few exceptions, but overall many traditional, beautiful examples exist). Just realizing the beauty that imperfect humans have been able to create when inspired by the beauty of God in Heaven is amazing. I appreciate art so much more now than I ever did before.
"Michelangelo-pieta". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

#5 History
Before my return to the Church, I loved my college classes in music history and in European history. Music was my major (and later I did a master's in musicology, which is very history-based) and I minored in European history. I also took one art history class as an undergrad. It was in a music history class, studying the medieval times and early music, that I recognized the Church of my childhood in the Mass. Memorizing the Mass parts of a music major, I had a sudden revelation that this was the Mass. (Duh!) All those parts we were memorizing had a real meaning! It was shocking and confusing all at the same time. Then I took a survey class on early Europe while simultaneously taking an upper division class called "The Birth of Europe." The Protestant Reformation was discussed in both classes and, although I had taken classes in high school that covered the same topic, it was more revealing this time around. I remember a few things coming up about the Catholic Church and thinking, "we believe what?" The Eucharist in particular. There were several little things like that between a number of music history and European history classes stuck with me. When I did return to the Church, they all made sense. It was like carrying around a whole bunch of puzzle pieces for years and not knowing how they fit together. Then one day you walk into a building and the people there start showing you how they fit together. Before long, it all starts to make sense.

#6 Pro-Life stance
I already mentioned Humane Vitae, but I do feel it is important to mention the pro-life message separately from that. Despite growing up Catholic, I did not understand that the Church was pro-life. I was actually once very much in favor of a woman's "right to choose." This was another area that I had difficulty accepting but knew I had to learn to accept. I couldn't just accept it and move on, though. I needed to understand what I was accepting and why. I had to do a lot of reading, a lot of listening, and a lot of praying. Once I accepted the contraception teaching, it got easier to accept this one too. Once I also discovered that the science is there to support the Church's stance, I was converted fully.  I've never looked back. The fact that the Church is consistent in her teaching from the beginning is huge for me! Thank goodness for consistency!!

#7 Mary and the Communion of Saints
I love that the Church acknowledges our brothers and sisters who have gone to Heaven before us. And not just recognizes that they are there, but encourages us to ask them to pray for us. I love this idea so much that I have had a very difficult time really connecting to any one saint as a personal patron. I flit between several constantly and I'm always finding others that inspire me, so much that I never really remain connected to any one for very long. It's like ADD with the saints. Regardless, I love knowing that when we pray, we can not only place our intentions before God, not only can we ask our friends and neighbors to pray for us, but we can also ask Mary and the Communion of Saints to pray for us too. Can you imagine the number of people, both alive on earth and those alive in Heaven, that could be praying for your intentions before God at any given time?

One quick story. I had read about the Mass as being like a little glimpse of Heaven here on earth. I loved that image. Then one time, about 6 years ago, I was at Mass, trying to fully participate, but was having difficulties engaging. Just a few months previously my son Zachary had died at 22 weeks gestation. Since his death I had difficulties singing at Mass and was always on the verge of tears. At this particular Mass, I was trying to focus during the Eucharistic prayers. At one point, when the priest holds up the body and blood after the consecration, I had this immense feeling surrounding me as if the place had gotten incredibly crowded. Our altar is surrounded by quite a bit of open space and, although I couldn't see anything different, it felt different, a claustrophobic feeling with people adoring Jesus in the blessed Sacrament. At the same time I felt an extra presence right near me as well, it felt peaceful and intimate, and I felt a slight weight in my arms. It was only a split second, but in that second I felt as if my son and his sibling that was miscarried prior to him were there with me. It was an extraordinary feeling.

Bonus: I can't end this without also mentioning the amazing men who serve the Church as deacons, priests, and bishops. I have been fortunate to know many wonderful, holy priests and they make the Church better for answering God's call to devote their lives to serving His people. I'm grateful to the remarkable priests who helped me find my way back home, talked me through awkward confessions, took time to comfort my family during times of suffering, rejoiced with us, and so much more. To those many priests, thank you!

And so we have it. Seven (+1) Quick Takes for #WhyRemainCatholic. I could probably have added many more, but then it wouldn't be "quick." Since I did this post as a 7 Quick Takes, I am also linking up to Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. So please go check out her blog and enjoy the #7QT fun.


  1. Love this! Yes, yes to #1. If we can preach only one thing, let the love of Christ in the Eucharist be it. Oh, and I am totally ADD with the saints. They seem to find me...not the other way around. Wonderful post!

    1. Thank you, Lynda! The list really could have stopped at #1, of course. But, it's so much fun to talk about all the wonderful aspects of the Church. :)

  2. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer


  3. This is great. It is similar to the reasons I listed as well.