Saturday, June 20, 2015

Why I Stay Catholic

I had many reasons not to be Catholic when I decided to be Catholic. I was baptized Catholic as a baby, but as I got older I didn't like what the Church taught about Mary, sex, gay marriage, contraception, the pope, and you know, like, all the rest.

I actually stumbled back into the Church very much by accident. After a tiring and determined period of atheism, I went through a series of belief exchanges trying to find "where I fit." After I realized I was more or less a deist, I quickly realized I didn't believe deism made sense. I couldn't fathom a created world not crumbling apart from the care and attention of its first cause. I examined Islam, Judaism, various sects of Protestantism, and eventually came to my own set of personal beliefs about God and the world. I wanted to be anything but Catholic. I wanted to believe in freedom and love and compassion, which was not Catholicism (or so I thought).

It was around this time that I happened across the Catechism of the Catholic Church I received as part of my Confirmation process in high school. Here was my chance, I thought, to get a sneak peak into what the Church taught so I could be more equipped to refute it and more ready to defend myself from its oppressive tyranny.

And instead, I was floored. This was poetry. This was beauty. This was intellectual. This was true. I found that Catholicism had all the answers to all the questions of my mind. But, I won't get too carried away with that story. That is why I chose to be Catholic. But, it is not why I stay Catholic.

Because, most importantly, Catholicism has all the answers to my heart's aching, burning questions. I stay Catholic for one primary reason: Jesus Christ, the God of the universe and Lord of heaven and earth, through whom I exist and in whom I live and move and have my being, wants to be one flesh with me. I have a deep yearning thirst for unshaking, eternal love. And I find that in the Eucharist.k

In many ways, I am a different person than I was three, four, five years ago. Still in many ways, though, I am very much the same. I am fickle. I am irritable. I lack patience and humility. I care deeply for humanity, and I am regularly disappointed and devastated by the lack of compassion displayed by those who claim Christ as their Lord.

Every now and then, I grow weary. I get run down. I suck. People suck. Sometimes I even ask myself why I stay Catholic.

And the answer is always just a short drive away, waiting for me in the perpetual Adoration chapel.

The Eucharist is the source of my hope, life, joy, peace, and the very meaning of my life. I stay Catholic because, if I lost the Eucharist, I would lose everything that makes my life livable. I stay Catholic because I believe this radical love story is true. God became my sustainence. He became my nourishment. He became food and drink for me. Out of love. Because He wants such a radically close intimacy with me that He dwells within me not only spiritually but physically.

I stay Catholic because this Eucharistic love enriches my life in such a powerful way that my life would be over if it were ever taken from me.

As I mentioned earlier, I received a Catechism during my Confirmation preparation. But, at my Confirmation, I received graces that would enrich my life as soon as I was willing to receive them several years later. And by the grace of God, at my confirmation, I took Peter as my Confirmation name.

And like Peter, if even the world walked away from the gift of the Eucharist, my heart, though perhaps confused and exhausted, would beat to an unchanging rhythm: Master, to whom else can I go?

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