This is Why I am Still Catholic, What about You?
Recently I looked at an aerial photograph taken from high above the Vatican. There were tens of thousands of people awaiting the arrival of the Pope who would tour the audience and wave from his vehicle. The traditional weekly event takes place on Wednesday. Pam and I have been in that audience. Looking at the photo I imagined that I was one of those tiny objects (people) in the mass audience. And I couldn’t help but be reminded that therein lies the heart of the Catholic faith. We are not in it alone. We are united to the one same Christ. At the same time, we develop our own personal relationship with Him. I am Catholic because of this dimension of our faith.
There are expectations. I know from Scripture that I am expected to live by a set of guidelines established by Jesus, to seek the truth, and to live according to the formation of a good conscience. Catholics are expected to plant the seeds of spiritual growth for others, most especially our family and friends. I am Catholic because of this challenge.
The power of Christ reaches out to everyone and puts everyone in the position of being free to make their own response. We can freely choose to incorporate Jesus into our life. For example: When we make the choice to do God’s will above all else, we are living a life not our own. Some might view that as giving up something. But my experience says that life becomes a constant living in cooperation with grace. I am Catholic because of this freedom.
Because God is real, prayer is real. My daily prayer is consistent as both an inquiry and an invitation: “What is Your will for me today, Lord? I invite You to relive your resurrected life through me today, dwell within me.” Knowing that Jesus accepts the invitation I am certain that He develops the road map for the direction I’m headed. It is through this personal communion with Jesus that my vision of the future becomes His vision. My strategy for how to bring about change in the Church becomes His strategy. The goals we (all those people in the Vatican photograph) want to achieve are His goals. I am Catholic because I am always in pursuit, and always available.
I don’t think of God as someone who is out there – somewhere on the horizon, up in the sky. Rather, I begin with the central event in the history of the world: Jesus offers us Himself, the Bread of Life. We not only receive Him, but He receives us. In our darkest hour He does not leave us alone. He identifies with us, our journey and our destiny. He is right here, right now, within us and we are in Him. I am Catholic because that is the heart of the Catholic message.
There is a profound question about faith that awakens me. Where was I during His darkest hour, when Jesus was in the garden by Himself, suffering the anxiety of His pending agony and death? Am I united with Him through contemplation and prayer or am I betraying Jesus with my indifference? I’m a Catholic because I love Jesus and want to be there for Him at all times. Especially now because once again He is struck with scandal and the shame caused by his disciples. No one loves children more than Jesus. In the silence of an empty Church I can hear Him weeping. He is always there for me, I want to be there for Him. I know that when any one of us suffer, Jesus weeps. He may not eliminate the suffering, but I know He is present helping us survive it. That’s why I’m still Catholic.