Friday, May 4, 2012

Why I'm Catholic, Pt. 2

Continuing the saga of reasons as to why I'm Catholic.  These reasons are those usually not mentioned in other accounts of people's Catholic experience, so that's why you're not seeing the obvious ones in here.  Of course I'm Catholic because of the Eucharist, Blessed Mother, etc. etc.

6. Because it doesn't move.

My inner 2nd grader refuses to acknowledge any
Pokemon past Mew.  There are only 151.  Ever.
Remember Pokemon?  That craze rose and fell when I was in second grade, and literally took over the school, to the point of administrative intervention.  Looking back it was ridiculous, because it lasted all of about 18 months, and had absolutely no point to it.  Then came Digimon (which I personally thought was just plain absurd).  Usher in Yu-Gi-Oh, etc. etc.  It seemed every other year, the Japanese assaulted the Western world with the newest thing, and then it died off.  Upon reflection, its rather absurd how we kept buying into the next fad, even though we new that it had a lifespan of less than 3 years.  We did it because it was popular.

Catholicism, for the most part, doesn't really care for popularity or fashion, and thank God it doesn't, because people today treat their life philosophy like my classmates treated Pokemon.  It seems every couple of years there's a new Deepak Chopra or Eckhart Tolle pitching a new spirituality to us, and of course, their books go straight to the top of the best-sellers list until something new comes out, and we do it all again.  This isn't good for our souls.  Our souls aren't geared to feel good, they're geared to be good, and so we need a solid spiritual tradition, a spiritual tradition rooted in the Truth.  Catholicism doesn't move because it claims to be that tradition.  Rather than giving into the spiritual fads of the world, Catholicism has been leading people to God from the same stony Cathedrals it had built in centuries past.  The Cathedrals reflect how our soul ought to be, tall, graceful, resolute and firm, and yet, breathtakingly beautiful.  In a world that's always on the move towards the next big thing, Catholicism has been anchored in the presence of the Eternal Big Thing.

7. Because it forces me to give way.

Spirituality 101:  Don't be the mule.  Ever.

Back in 1930, the Anglican Church made an unprecedented move.  The Anglicans announced that they would allow the usage of contraception in marriages, and were the first Christian denomination to do so.  The rest seemed to topple like dominoes and followed the Anglican Church's lead, until only the Roman Catholic Church was left.  Many people applauded this as a step forward (And yet no one stopped to ask if we were supposed to be going forward in the first place.) but the Catholic Church, ever anchored in the Middle ages, didn't change.  Still hasn't.  No, the Catholic Church, rather than taking into careful consideration the general opinion of the people, has simply said "You're wrong.  Repent."  And thank God Almighty the Church stays this way.

Catholicism is not a democracy.  Catholicism has rebuffed and rebuked the idea that it ought to teach the views that the faithful generally come to a consensus on, and while that may make Catholicism insanely unpopular among progressives, its what gives it credit to me.  You see, Catholicism forms me, not the other way around.  I'm a broken person, and I sure as hell don't want to decide how I'm going to get fixed.  There's a great line from the less than great movie "School for Scoundrels" in which a character is trying to teach a bunch of wimps how to get some confidence.  Addressing the class he says "How many of you have self-help books? Okay, that's your first problem. You can't help yourself, because your *self* sucks!"  Blunt, but correct.  Blind people can't lead blind people, nor do the students teach the class.  We need the Church to form us, and we need to stop trying to form the Church.

8.  Because it tells me what to do.

Ever been in a McDonald's, lined up behind the register, waiting on some guy staring up at the menu board in glassy-eyed wonder, taking a small eternity to make the simplest of decisions?  Of course you have.  We all have.  And the general majority of us have wanted to do something violent to said person, mostly because we are impatient and hate indecisive people.  Unfortunately, many of us have also been the indecisive person, facing a whole load of choices and having no idea which choice to make.

Catholicism solves this problem.  As we stand glaring up at life's choices, we may have a million and a half options, but the only one we really want is the right one.  We want the best option, we want to find ourselves with the choice that will make us most happy.  Therefore, it seems that having a million and a half choices is merely complicating the situation.  Catholicism gives us the right choice when it comes to our moral and spiritual life.  Catholicism, in its wisdom and divine plan, shows us the path we need to take, rather than the gazillion paths that we can take, so rather than making the wrong choice all the time, we make the right choice and become all the better because of it.

9.  Because I'm a schmuck.

Don't let the robes fool you
 he's "just" a fisherman.
In case you haven't noticed, we live in a world of less than perfect people.  Really, this is the only problem in the world: how do we deal with the fact that we're not perfect?  The modern consensus seems to be one of two things: either we pretend that there's no problem at all with us, that we're perfect people, or we acknowledge that we're screwed up and pretend that its supposed to be that way.  Regardless, doesn't solve the problem.

Catholicism has the courage to say "Yeah Joe, you are a schmuck, but you can be better" and actually give a game plan to achieve such a goal.  Most great empires and institutions are built by great men, and with great men in mind, and when they get less than great men, they tumble and decay.  The Church was built by Jesus Christ, but not with great men, or even for great men.  It was built with fishermen and tax collectors, ordinary men, with ordinary men in mind.  The Church is fully aware of less-than-perfect men, that's why it can make saints.  It's foundation is sunk in a realistic understanding of mankind, and from that foundation, it can rise to soaring heights.

10.  Because I like to have a good time.

If you haven't seen the Simpson's
Protestant heaven vs. Catholic heaven,
you live a deprived life
There are very few people in my age group (and possibly in the world) that don't like to have a good time.  Sadly enough, these same people hold the Catholic Church as a foil to having a good time, and nothing is further from the truth.  You see, while they may find pleasure from a bottle of vodka, loud music, and a disco ball, they don't find it from many other places at all.

Catholicism forms people to enjoy life in many more situations than drunken weekends.  Catholicism can give a man the same sense of intense pleasure from a pleasant walk next to a river as he might get from a rave or whatnot.  The Catholic life of enjoyment is far healthier than the modern life of enjoyment as well, simply because there are a plethora of things in which a Catholic finds joy in, whereas there aren't nearly as many things in which a modern youth will find joy in.  Thus, while a Catholic, with his many exciting things, never gets bored of any one thing, a modern will get bored very quickly with his small handful of pleasurable things, and eventually all the booze, music, and parties in the world will fail to satisfy.

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