I enjoy being Catholic
Kudos to Kathy Coffey whose
article titled: Ten Reason to be Catholic was
the springboard for me posting my 12 reasons . . . many
of them the same : )
I ENJOY BEING A CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN BECAUSE . . .
We are the community that
I see this especially in the surrendered lives of those
who show us Christ's face, His hands, His Eyes, His Words,
and Compassionate Touch. We call it the Mystical Body, but it means that we recognize Jesus in the laughter
and voices of those around us; little kids, retired
folks, teenagers, all those in whom Christ continues
to take flesh.
While all Christian communities remember Jesus, Catholics
do so in a particular, liturgical way. When someone
we love has died, we usually try to recapture memories of that person through our senses. We remember Grandma's
tortillas, or the song that Grandpa sang off-key. One
of my friends whose husband died broke down when she
smelled his after-shave lingering in his shirts.
We remember Jesus in the same way. We remember Him
as we enter into the Un-bloody Sacrifice of Calvary
in daily Mass:
- the sound of His voice telling stories
- teaching us through the Word of God read to us
- His words as He breathes onto bread and wine which transforms them
into His Own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
In Scripture, we find him still in
the simplest human activities, eating and drinking,
gathering with friends and telling stories.
Personally, I set a reminder every Friday at 3:00pm.
When that reminder goes off, I say a small prayer of
thanksgiving or I say one decade of
the Chaplet of Divine Mercy . . . it takes less than a
minute to complete!
Catholicism has universality.
We Irish have our gifts, but mariachi music isn't one
of them. So I've been grateful to the people with Spanish
and African-American backgrounds for the richness,
the color, and the vibrancy they bring to our faith. No
one tradition has the resources to meet the challenges
of the next century. Yet in the Church, we find the
pluralism that the human race will need to survive.
What universality means in practical terms is that
on Wednesday night I can visit a poor parish where
the people come through pouring rain to sit on folding
chairs in a gym with a leaky roof. Then on Saturday,
I can fly to a mega-church which cost millions, a parish
with the highest concentration of MD's and Ph.D's
in the country. In both places, we explore the same,
unchanging Sunday Gospel and re-enter into that one unbloody sacrifice of Calvary, that crosses all the
Whether a Catholic is in the USA, Spain, England, Italy,
Russia or anywhere on the face of the Earth, generally,
one hears the same gospels and enters into the same
unbloody sacrifice of Calvary. Whether one attends
an Ordo liturgy or Tridentine liturgy, it is the same
worldwide for that type of liturgy; it is universal,
it is Roman Catholic!
A range of liturgies in different languages makes
the universality of the Church visible. Within that
universality, you will find the liturgies of the
Church celebrated in:
- Catholics make bold claims
. . . and they are true!
- The Real Presence of Christ in the
- The Church is infallible on issues
of faith and morals because the Holy Spirit protects
the Church from officially teaching error.
- Our Blessed Mother is our spiritual
Mother because St. John represented mankind.
Sometimes these startle people of other traditions. Who
do you think you are? they might ask.
We answer, seriously and repeatedly, that we
are Christ's full and complete presence on Earth today. (The word, Catholic, besides meaning universal also means a faith according to its totality.) We
cooperate with God to build God's kingdom in this world.
In the Eucharist, we consume the Body, Blood, Soul
and Divinity of Christ and so partake in Divine nature.
We may sound arrogant, but this is what Jesus meant
when he said, You will do greater things than
I have done. (John 14:12)
How's that for a bold claim?
Catholics always have
something to celebrate:
- January is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus and Catholic Education.
- February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family.
- March is the month of devotion to St. Joseph.
- April is dedicated both to devotion to the Eucharist and devotion to the Holy Spirit.
- May is the month of Mary and devotion to the Blessed Mother.
- June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
July is the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord.
- August is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament, and increased adoration of the Eucharist is encouraged.
- September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows (or Dolours) of Mary.
- October is the month of the Rosary and the Guardian Angels.
November is dedicated to the Communion of Saints and the Poor Souls in Purgatory. All Saints Day falls on November 1; All Souls Day falls on November 2, which is when we commemorate all the faithful departed.
- December is dedicated to Advent and the coming of Christ.
I would say that of the 365 days
in a year, on 85 percent of them, we honor some Saint, devotion, or holy event.
For me personally, if no Saint is being honored by
the Church, I go back to my pre Vatican II Tridentine
Calendar and celebrate the Saint on that calendar.
I have vivid memories of retreats
to my Benedictine friends in Harvard, Massachusetts.
I was always impressed with the amount of partying
these monks did after the Easter Vigil Mass. They had
people, sandwiches, drinks, and desserts. These guys
knew how to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord!
One year, after the 10:00pm Easter Vigil Mass, I remember going to bed at 4:00am on Easter
Even now where I'm a parishioner
at St. Patrick's. We are blessed to have Perpetual
Eucharistic Adoration, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
day and night.
The simplest way to put it is:
Catholics, day and night, are just party
animals on Earth and in Heaven!
This is in contrast the Jehovah Witness members who
are not allowed to celebrate Halloween, Christmas,
or even their own birthdays. What a dreary, gray existence
without a feast of fast to brighten up life!
We draw on a rich
I know of no other tradition
that celebrates the sacredness of the ordinary
as we do. All our sacraments name and claim the
divine depth that sustains ordinary life. So our
symbols that speak most eloquently are drawn from
the most usual Earthy things: wheat and vine, water,
oil, touch. Such a sacramental theology says that
even when we are not aware of it, a wondrous grace
and mystery surround us always.
A Church that puts the Eucharist at its center
and, for those in a state of grace, rewards
the seeker, the hungry, those who don't have their
acts together, who don't know all the answers,
but who need to come back and are always invited
to return to the altar of the Lord.
Part of this rich spirituality consists of the
various religious orders within our Church. Contrary
to what some Christians have been told,
these are not divisions within the Church.
No, these men and women have decided to live their
whole life for Our Lord Jesus by following an excellent
model of Jesus' holiness. Some of these saints
- St. Benedict — the Benedictines
- St. Dominic — the Dominicans
- St. Francis — the Franciscans
- St. Augustine — the Augustinian's
- St. Alphonsus — the Redemptorists
The Church declares these saints
to be excellent models of holiness and encourages
the faithful to follow their pattern of living. These
saints and founders set forth a different path of
holy living with Jesus being the Ultimate Model, not the saint or founder.
Some decide to live there live out in an order dedicated
to Our Blessed Lord or Our Blessed Mother:
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel — dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel (O. Carm.)
- Legionaries of Christ — dedicated
to Jesus (LC)
- The Jesuits — another order
dedicated to Jesus (SJ)
- The Marists — An order dedicated
to Our Blessed Mother (SM)
We care for the
poor and needy.
Each locale boasts its own examples, but across the
United States: homeless shelters, hospices, soup kitchens,
battered women's shelters, AIDS treatment centers,
literacy programs, day-care centers, hospitals, and
schools are sponsored and staffed by the Catholic Church.
In many parts of the country we sponsor tutoring programs in English for those who have recently come to our country legally. Internationally, the
work for justice continues though agencies like Catholic
Relief Services, Maryknoll, and Jesuit Refugee Services.
When it comes to charities the Church has a solid reputation.
is known to always give the biggest bang for the buck.
Only 6% of any contribution goes for administrative cost.
These clear actions and positions are balanced by the
humility to admit we can't do it all. As the prayer
of Archbishop Oscar Romero said, our limitations
are an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and
complete our work.
The Church is a human family
so we have our share of tensions, family fights and
scandals, but The Faith remains pure.
This may seem odd, but I relish an image of Church
like a huge tent or umbrella under which everyone can
fit. Sometimes we seem to be splitting our seams, but
we all still stay because this is where we belong;
this is home. It is a tension into which we can relax,
a struggle that can be lived.
Somehow the Catholic Church holds it all in balance:
the treasures of the Vatican art galleries and the
poverty of the Franciscans; the exuberance of the charismatic's
and the quietness of Eucharistic Adoration at a Benedictine
Abbey; drums, guitars, trombones; and, Gregorian chant.
Any other Church would have a million splinter groups.
We contain it all.
As James Joyce says, the Catholic
Church means here comes everybody. Sister
Jose Hobday says her dad joined the Catholic Church
because it had more riffraff than any other.
But riffraff shouldn't get to our faith. I heard it
said, We are a hospital for sinners and a museum
for saints — all in one Church!
To our embarrassment, sometimes those sinners are priests
and bishops into whom we have put great faith but
some have scandalized or, worse, abused us by their
deeds, actions, or lack of
When I think of the sexual crisis in the Church today,
I'm not here to make any excuses. As the eldest and
oldest in the Christian Faith, we have to clean up
our act. But we have to remember, this isn't the first
time scandal has entered the Church.
Just read Church
Just read the Old Testament!
sinners now. The key to keep in mind that, despite the Judas
behavior in the Church, the Church's faith remains
unchanged and develops over time so the faithful in
the Church can better evangelize it and those
outside the Church can better understand it.
There is a ministry and place
for everyone in the world.
I have been in three to five different parishes since
my youth. One thing I've noticed in each parish are
the myriad of ministries. The Catholic Church has a
ministry for every calling anyone has in the world.
Our job is simple:
With daily, regular prayer (my favorite
is the Rosary.) and, if possible, weekly Adoration at a Blessed Sacrament Chapel, the Lord will show us the ministry He is calling
us to in the Church. I've been involved in at least
- Adoration Coordinator, and
- Soup kitchen helper.
I have made many new friends and acquaintances
through all of them and I've been at some parishes that
have up to 30 ministries!
We have splendid heroes and
heroines as models of holiness to follow.
One difference between a sacred culture and our contemporary
culture is that the sacred culture holds up its heroes.
These are the people worth imitating. The Franciscans
in California, for instance, named their missions (and
eventually the cities) Santa Barbara, San Francisco,
San Jose, Santa Rose, San Diego.
Another model of holiness, one of my favorites, is
St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of Western Monasticism.
Catholics have an array of heroes and heroines to follow
going all the way back to the Early Church Fathers
who lived from 33 A.D. to 800 A.D. All one has to do is
read what they taught and preached to find out . . . it was Catholic!
Through the Eucharist, the
Lord Jesus allows me . . . to work with Him.
Through the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus allows me to
work with Him to bring all mankind into the fullness
of truth, the fullness of salvation, and the fullness of
love. These aren't my works. No, these are the Lord's
works, working through my body and mind in a similar
way that The Lord uses the priest's body to consecrate
the sacraments of the Church.
I am not divine in nature,
but God allows me to partake in His Divine work of
saving mankind through the various ministries He calls
me to work in.
As my pastor has said,
Through the Eucharist,
the Lord meets us right where we are and assists us in growing in holiness from there.
Because suffering, from the
Catholic perspective, is a Win-Win!
One of the things I enjoy most about being Catholic
is that once you understand the Catholic view of redemptive
suffering it's a Win-Win.
Yes, it was finished
with Christ and what is finished is finished. Nevertheless,
the Holy Scriptures show us that Jesus has chosen to
have us partake in His Body in a Mystical Way, and
therefore in His Suffering in a Mystical Way. St. Paul
8 For him I have accepted
the loss of all other things, and look on them
all as filth if only I can gain Christ 9 and
be given a place in him, with the uprightness
I have gained not from the Law, but through faith
in Christ, an uprightness from God, based on
faith, 10 that I may come to know him
and the power of his resurrection, and partake
of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern
of his death, 11 striving towards the
goal of resurrection from the dead. 12 Not
that I have secured it already, nor yet reached
my goal, but I am still pursuing it in the attempt
to take hold of the prize for which Christ Jesus
took hold of me.
- By verse 10 above, is St. Paul undermining the sole mediation of of Jesus and His Death on the Cross? <Of course not!>
- when we share in the joys of life, we
share in Our Lord's joy
- when we share in the luminous events of life, we share in Our Lord's luminous life
- when we share in the pain
and sufferings of life, we then share in His Sufferings, and
- when we share in the glories of His Life on Earth, our hope is to share in the glories of the next life with Him and our Faithful Departed, Heavenly Family.
Unlike other faiths, the Catholic view of suffering
is not meaningless, but cleansing and redemptive.
Suffering burns away the self-love we have committed
- But what if suffering comes our way when
we are in a state of grace and living a holy life?
- Is that suffering in vain?
Not from the Catholic
We believe, not only in the Church on Earth
(the Church Militant) but also the Church Suffering
(in Purgatory), and the Church Triumphant (In Heaven).
It is these points in time where we can offer our
sufferings for the Suffering Church souls (all saved souls by the Blood of Jesus) in Purgatory. We are a family on Earth, in Purgatory, and in Heaven.
Just because we have a personal relationship with
Jesus here on Earth doesn't exclude a family relationship
with others in the Church weather it be with the
Church Suffering or Triumphant.
I've remember times when I've been in bed with a
bad winter cold. Usually I had a 101 degree temperature,
coughing with a throat that feels like I'm swallowing
At those times I'll be saying to myself:
Boy this hurts . . . Praise
the Lord! Boy this hurts . . . Praise
Why? Because although the human side of me feels
the pain and suffering (Boy this hurts), because
through the Eucharist I partake in Divine Nature
and offer my sufferings for the benefit of the Poor
Souls in Purgatory, I say (Praise the Lord!) I praise
the Lord because in His Divine Plan of Redemption
he allows me to assist my other family members suffering
in Purgatory. Wow, what a great family idea!
If I fall through sin, the
Lord is there to pick me up and make me new again.
Seeing that I, like any human,
am tempted by Satan and fall from grace from time
to time, the Lord is always there to pick me up.
Through the sacrament of Reconciliation He instituted,
I can be assured that when I hear the priest say:
Through the ministry
of the Church may God give you pardon and peace,
and I absolve you, in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I am re-justified and made new
And unlike the 600 plus laws of the Old Testament, the New Testament sacraments He established are so
easy, and more powerful as long as I strive to make
a strong firm purpose of amendment and do the assigned
penance the priest gives me.
What a Deal!!
- Thinking about joining the Church
but your sins are too serious?
- Thinking about coming back to the Church?
Don't be afraid! Search out a holy
priest who will assist you on your journey.
Find another priest and/or bishop and another
parish then report what you found to that local bishop.
- You've started your walk into the
Church but found scandal where you are or a scandalous priest or bishop?
and . . . Welcome home!
AskACatholic.com Web Administrator
P.S. There is one more reason
why I enjoy being Catholic:
We have a sense of humor! (With sinners like we have, you have to.)