My Top Ten Reasons for Being Catholic

Sometimes being Catholic in a mostly-protestant area of Georgia feels like missionary work.  But I enjoy letting people know what Catholics believe, which is sometimes quite different from what people “think” Catholics believe.  Lots of folks ask me questions because they’re curious.  And when they find out I’m a convert, the one thing they nearly always ask is “Why did you become Catholic?”  Over the years I’ve thought a lot about my journey to Rome.  Among converts like me, entering the Catholic Church is sometimes called “swimming the Tiber,” referring to the river which flows through Rome and by Vatican City.  My blog bears the name “tiberjudy” for that reason.  So why did I become Catholic?  Here are my top ten reasons:
1. THE EUCHARIST. Only the Catholic Church preserves the truth of this Most Blessed Sacrament.  From Christ’s own mouth in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel until the Last Supper and throughout the history of Christianity, the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus.  In this Sacrament, Catholics encounter Jesus Christ as the Bread from heaven which He shared with His Apostles.  Every Eucharist is Jesus.  Catholics take Christ at His word when He tells us “whoever eats this bread will live forever (John 6:38).  Just as regular bread is food for the body, the Eucharist feeds our soul with the living Christ.  The Eucharist is the most intimate and profound experience of Christ’s love that any Christian can know this side of heaven.
2. HOLY SCRIPTURE.  For me, reading Christ’s words in Scripture reveals the founding and the leadership of His Church (Matthew 16:18).  If Christ entrusted His Church to St. Peter, who am I to doubt Him?  There is an unbroken line of Church leadership from our current pope back to St. Peter.  Jesus promised He’d never abandon His Church or let Her fall into error.  That’s good enough for me.
3.  THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS. Anyone who wants to know about Christ’s Church needs to read the writings of the earliest members of the Church.  These are men like St. Justin Martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ireneaus of Lyons and St. Clement.  From the years just after Christ’s Ascension, we find that the Sacraments are at the heart of Christian worship and practice. Deacons, priests, and bishops founded and taught our faith.  Reading these early teachers of Christianity convinced me intellectually that Jesus’ Church had been Catholic from the very beginning.  My relationship with Christ grew out of that experience of His love and mercy found in the Sacraments.
4.  THE MAGISTERIUM.  This is a Latin word referring to the teaching authority of the Church.  Comprised of the bishops and the Pope, the magisterium is led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.  The authority that Christ gave to St. Peter continues to be inherited by his successors (John 16:13).  Christ’s Church is a living Bride, guided by Her Bridegroom.  When questions of faith have arisen over the centuries, we have a source of leadership and teaching.  The bishops and the Pope are the heirs of the Apostles and their authority is given them by Christ Himself.
5.  WE HAVE AN ADDRESS.  What?  Yep, you read it right.  For most other churches, if you want to contact “the person in charge” you speak to the local pastor.  Catholic pastors have a boss which is the bishop and the boss of the bishops is the Pope.  We have a catechism which outlines Christian beliefs and teachings and a code of canon law which governs the working of the Church. This is not a “make it up as you go along” faith.  The truth of Christ doesn’t change.
6.  BECAUSE IT ISN’T EASY BEING CATHOLIC. Christ calls us to become more like Him and that’s not easy for us sinners.  A Church that doesn’t challenge us to change our ways isn’t doing us much spiritual good.  Our relationship with Christ means that we must leave our old self behind, pick up our cross and follow Him.  That means calling a sin a sin.  We follow the ten commandments and when we sin, we go to confession as Christ asks us (John 20:21-23).  Being Catholic means living a Sacramental life.  It means not being afraid to embrace the freedom the Lord give us when we follow Him faithfully.
7.  “WHERE ELSE CAN WE GO?” Jesus had been teaching the truth of the Eucharist to His disciples.  Many of them believed it was symbolic, but not truly His Body and Blood.  So they leave Him. And Jesus lets them go.  He asks St. Peter if he too will leave Him.  But St. Peter knows that his hope is in Christ and in His Church and lets Jesus know that.  “Where else can we go?” (John 6:60-68). I’ll stand with St. Peter.
8. BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS HIS. Only the Catholic Church was founded by Christ (Matthew 16:18).  Every other church was founded by a person and traces itself in some way back to the Catholic Church.  It was the Catholic Church that compiled the Bible in the fourth century.  Churches that pride themselves in being “Bible-based” usually don’t like hearing this or knowing that the Catholic Church existed for 400 years BEFORE the books of the Bible were gathered together by the Pope and the Catholic bishops.  The Church is the “spotless Bride” of Christ (Acts 17:11) and He has promised to never abandon Her.
9. BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I NEED THE CHURCH.  He knows how weak I am.  He knows my sins.  He knows I need the Sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist.  I need the example of the Saints who can show me a thousand different ways to know and follow Jesus.  I need the rich history of our Church and the depth of Her theology, the beauty of Her art and music and Her centuries of devoted service to and love of the poor, the sick and the marginalized.  I know my Church will always defend the dignity of human life. 
10. BECAUSE OF I TIMOTHY 3:15. St. Paul assures us that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of truth.”  The living Church, composed of Her founding with St. Peter, Her custody and interpretation of Holy Scripture, Her Sacraments which Christ instituted and Her magisterium, led and inspired by the Holy Spirit. 
 
I believe we’re all called to love and worship Jesus Christ.  His love led me to the Catholic Church and I’ll be forever thankful.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Ruth Ann
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 20:56:49

    I love the way you articulated your reasons for being Catholic, Judy. I have tried to think about why I stay Catholic, as I’ve never been anything other. I never get past your #1, the Eucharist. But now I’m inspired to try to think of more reasons than that. My list would certainly include many of yours. I’d have to fit “because of my Catholic education” in there somewhere.

    Reply

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