Why am I Catholic?

Why am I Catholic?

Traditionally, the answer to the question why are you Catholic was, “Because my parents and grandparents are Catholic.” Being Catholic was part of our identity. One went to church for Christmas and Easter because that’s what Catholics do it. Today we identify this as being culturally Catholic.

I was baptized Catholic as a baby because that is what my mother’s family was. We went to church occasionally and my mother made sure I received First Communion and Confirmation. Then I didn’t go again until I was 28 years old. At 28 years old I made a distinct choice to be Catholic.


Some people might say, “Why would you want to be Catholic? They have all those rules you are supposed to follow. Who believes all that stuff anyway?”

Who believes all that stuff?

I do.

In fact, it’s part of what leads me to want to be Catholic. In a world where relativism is on the rise, more and more people say there is no universal truth. I believe there is truth, a truth that transcends what you and I think. The rules are not just rules imposed by a dictator. They are what is good for us. Deuteronomy 4:1-8 tells us that other people will see us as a wise people if we live according to what God has taught us.

I choose to be Catholic not in spite of “all the rules” but because of the “rules.” I know I do not know everything. I seek the wisdom of God over the ways of the world. Please notice that I did not say the “wisdom of the world” but rather the “ways of the world.” On its own, the world lacks the wisdom I see. We receive true wisdom, along with knowledge and understanding, when we receive the Holy Spirit.

Relativism says there is no universal truth but yet so many people seem to be sure they are right. If there is no truth, then how can anyone be right?

Someone might ask you why you choose to be Catholic and have to believe “all that stuff.” I do not believe what the Catholic Church teaches because it is imposed on me. I believe it because I believe in God and see what the Catholic Church teaches as the Truth that sets us free (see John 8:32). I know that Jesus died for me and that makes all the difference. Jesus willingly laid down his life for me because He loves me (see John 15:13). So, I know I can trust him. I believe what He teaches us.

Let’s take a moment to look at a secular comparison. In the United States, people used to join a political party because the party’s platform agreed with what they thought. A person choose their own beliefs and found a party that agreed with them. They had freedom to choose what to believe. Now, I hear politicians say if you are a Democrat, then you must vote this way. The same is true for the Republicans. If you want to let a political party tell you what to believe, that is your freedom. I don’t. I choose to let God teach me what to believe. It doesn’t mean I understand everything but I do believe.

I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” These words come from the Nicene Creed. We are an apostolic church in holding on to what comes to us from Jesus, handed down over the centuries through the apostles and their successors. We seek to be one because Jesus prays that we are one (see John 17).

It is unity that I seek in the Catholic Church. Sadly, there is division even within the Catholic Church. If you are regular reader of my blog, then you know that I have great concern over the recent German synod in how it seeks to change church teaching. It seems they want to conform themselves to the world rather than conform themselves to Christ.

I want to conform myself to Christ.

Do you want to conform yourself to Christ or to the world?

It seems we now see politics in the removal of bishops. I pray that this is not over politics. I pray it is for the good of our Catholic faith.

It saddens me. It hurts me to see this division within our Catholic faith. It is not what God intends. It is not what Jesus prays for just before his Passion begins (see John 17).

As I wrote above, our Catholic Church is an apostolic church. The truth of our faith does not change. Our understanding of how it applies in today’s world may develop with the Holy Spirit but the truth does not change. What we teach today must be in unison with what has always been taught. This is what Pope Benedict XVI identified as a “hermeneutic of continuity.” It is this continuity that helps us understand that it comes from God. If a person offers a new teaching contrary to what has always been taught, why should we believe? Unfortunately, it seems for many the answer is because they like the new idea better. It suits how they see things.

I find it unfortunate and saddening when people wish to conform themselves to world rather than to Christ. I will end with these three verses I used in Part I of my series, Being Church in Today’s World, for you to think about.

John 15:19 – “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”

John 17:14-16 – “I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

Romans 12:2 – “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”


Fr. Jeff

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