Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why I'm Catholic

*This is not an all-inclusive list, nor is it necessarily a list of reasons why anyone ought to be Catholic.  These are my reasons.  If they resound with you, good for you.  If they don't, good for you, keep looking.  Regardless, it is for these, and many other reasons, that I have chosen and continue to choose to be Roman Catholic:

1.  Because my parents gave it to me.

My baptism was something like this,
only I cried a bunch and my mom didn't
have anything on her head.  Oh, and I was bald.
And not a girl.
I'm Catholic because my parents are Catholic, and there's nothing wrong with that.  To say that being Catholic because that's what your parents chose for you is a bad thing is like saying that being human because my parents were human is a bad thing.

My parents love me.  Very much.  My parents have gone to extraordinary ends to ensure that I become the best that I can be.  They realized that I had a gift and they ensured that I be raised and educated in an environment that allowed that gift to flourish.  They taught me how to accept discipline and to discipline myself, they gave me books to read, adventures to undertake, people to meet, all because they loved me very much and wanted what was best for me.  And it was in that same spirit that they gave me the greatest gift of all:  the joy of being Baptized as a Catholic.  They gave me a gift, a gift I continue to reap the marvelous benefits of, a gift that I'll never fully understand until I'm in (Good God let it be so) Heaven.  They gave me Catholicism, and every day I enjoy and reaffirm that gift.

 2.  Because it has all things good in it.

Catholicism is big.  If a person's understanding of Catholicism stops at clerics and cathedrals, they are very sadly mistaken.  Religion today has been shrunk to a Sunday ordeal, restricting religion to one day a week and before and after meals.  Unless something specifically mentions God, its not of a religious nature.

Catholicism is cut from an older notion of religion.  Catholicism is practiced on the bar stool and in the pew, within politics and within prayer.  Catholicism, by its mere presence, summons what is good about any given thing while defeating that which is evil.  Whether it be in a pew or a pub, Catholicism impels the best in us, the best in everyone else. Catholicism brings us to what is worth being brought forth, it celebrates what is worth celebration, and it criticizes what is worth criticizing.  Being Catholic means finding what is good in everything while letting go of what is bad in anything.

3.  Because it is committed to excellence.

There's a sad resignation to mediocrity in this world.  We live in an ocean of rented apartments and work in a sea of cubicles, and very very few of us ever achieve our cherished dreams.  Most of us, rather than seeking to achieve dreams, just look to get by.  We want to get by, and if we're lucky, we want to have a little fun while we're at it.

Pier Giorgio Frassati and friends.  They frequently went
mountain climbing, drinking, philosophizing, chasing evil
 fascist assassins down the streets.  You know, the usual.
Catholicism isn't satisfied by just getting by.  Lukewarm and tepid people are more loathsome than the person who tried and miserably failed; you can be hot or cold, but for God's sake, don't be lukewarm.  The hot person has strove for excellency, for goodness, truth, and beauty, and they've achieved it.  The cold person strove and fell, and finds themselves at the bottom, but they tried nonetheless.  It is the lukewarm, the tepid person, that the Church finds irritating.  This is the person who gave up before they even tried.  This is the person who never strove for excellence at all, but rather for contentment.  They said "I'm ok" and never moved forward, never set out to be more, never aspired to higher things, and in it, they began the long, slow, and boring slide into obscurity.  The Church says "NO!" to being mediocre.  Rather, the Church demands saints of us, and saints it will make us, if we let it.  Saints are the great and the brave.  Saints are the best mankind can offer, our shining examples, those resplendent in heavenly glory.  And they never lived in a spiritual cubicle.

4.  Because it is beautiful.

Ever hear the phrase "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?  Its a nice idea, but I'm not sold.  I'd revise it to say "Beauty is only seen by those who have the eyes to behold it."  The difference is that, in the former, man defines beauty.  In the latter, beauty defines man.  There's a common anecdote about a young boy who sat in Michelangelo's studio and watched the Renaissance master sculpt marble with chisel and hammer.  This continued for days and weeks, until the boy asked "How did you know there was a man inside that block?"  This is the Catholic eye for beauty:  not a creation of our hand, but a process of liberation.  Beauty is sought after, not made.

Jackson Pollack and Andy Warhol:
Eat your hearts out.
Catholicism has a 2000 year history of seeking after beauty.  In its art, music, literature, prose, poetry, it has relentlessly pursued beauty.  Why?  Because beauty is worth pursuing.  Beauty is the sweet touch of God, the reassurance of God's resolute tenderness and the soft assurance with which he has created all things.  Beauty is much like Michelangelo's masterpiece sculptures, smooth and sweet, but firm and resolute.  Beauty, by the act of being beautiful, demands that we be discover our beauty too.  It demands that we liberate our true beauty from the stoniness around it.  Catholicism is built on cathedrals of stone and hearts of gold, and the thing they have in common is that they are both resolutely beautiful.

5.  Because it is tangible.

Of the arguments against religion, my favorite has to be the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the fictional deity of anti-theists everywhere who wish to make a sincere mockery of theistic folk everywhere.  And yet, its so easily surpassed.  You're God is a monster made of spaghetti?  Puh-lease.  I worship a God who looks like Bread and Wine.  And, quite honestly, I find that quite awesome.

Ecce Agnus Dei.
Catholicism, especially in its sacraments, is tangible.  We can experience it with our eyes, taste it with our tongue, hear it with our ears, and feel its touch in the absolving hand of a priest.  Many religions tend to over-spiritualize things, giving people a text and their imagination and letting them run amok.  Catholicism has nothing against texts and imagination, but by themselves, they run the risk of getting away from us.  We're flesh and bone as much as we are soul.  We walk, drive, eat, talk, and the other things in a very physical world.  Therefore, Christ, in making this Church, set it so we have tangible anchors to the divine.  Just as the disciples knew it was Christ when they see him and touch his hands and side, we too know God from the sacraments, from bread, wine, and water.  Catholicism has made the intangible tangible, the unseen seen, and thus, made you and I so wonderfully tangled in the midst.

More to come...

1 comment:

  1. You are right, I love you very much and I couldn't be more proud of you. Keep up the good