The Hardest Part

… is often the most simple.

Let me be frank. I love Jesus. I love being a part of His Catholic Church. And sometimes the only thing that I really care about is whether or not people are Catholic Christians living in relationship with God. I just want to run around the world making lots of Catholics! I am a missionary for crying out loud, haha. But God reminded me of something very important this week.

I was leading one of my bible studies and a new guy was there who I met recently, so I was pretty excited to get to know him. I knew that he wasn’t Catholic going into it, and that made me even more excited because this way I can not only share Jesus with him but I am hoping that one day I can actually share His Church with him too! Doubleplusgood!

The group of us had a great study and were just chilling talking about semi-related topics after I basically gave them a Gospel presentation when this guy said something that was simultaneously a great compliment and a revelation. “You know, Chris, you’re probably the first Catholic that I’ve ever met that actually loves Jesus and lives like a Christian.”

Oh.

He went on as I walked him over to our Newman Center on campus, sharing how he’s encountered a bunch of Catholics and even attended a Catholic college for a couple of years, but they all didn’t actually practice the faith and were always becoming agnostics and atheists. I have a hunch he was telling me all this to convince me that because many Catholics are not faithful, I should leave the Church and become a Presbyterian like him. But I took his point a different way: he wasn’t worried about theology as much. The reason why he wasn’t even remotely interested in becoming Catholic is because he’s never seen Catholics act like Christians. He’s never seen Catholic saints!

Ohhhhhh!!!

Thank you God for this minor yet ridiculously simple revelation. You don’t convert the average Joe to Christianity (or specifically Catholicism) through your theology. You convert them by demonstrating how through your faith your heart has been converted to Jesus. Often this is not what we want to hear: we want to hear how we can change people’s lives without actually changing our own, by some sort of formula or logic. No. Give Jesus saints and He WILL change the world.

You know, half or more of this blog is apologetics. I’ve got a scientific, rational mind. I feel very comfortable arguing for the existence of God, the reality of Jesus, and the authenticity of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. But what this blog, argumentation, logic, and mere words cannot ever do is replace a life lived completely for Jesus. Bl. Mother Teresa has probably converted more people through less words than anyone else in this past century. She did not draw people to Jesus through her fancy speeches at the United Nations or Harvard but by her entire life lived in complete surrender to God. People are curious what it is about Jesus that made her give up everything for Him, so they look into Jesus more. People nowadays can’t see, hear, or touch Jesus (besides the Holy Eucharist you nerds), but they sure as heck can see, hear, or touch you and I as members of the Body of Christ!

Pope Francis and all these wonderful popes in recent memory have been working to make the Church as beautiful as she should be for Jesus, and of course the Holy Spirit is doing all of the heavy lifting, but you and I need to answer this call! We need to wholeheartedly embrace the Gospel. Preaching it is good, but if it isn’t lived, it is not effective. People nowadays don’t listen well anyways, but maybe they’ll notice a witness.

“The new evangelization will show its authenticity and unleash all its missionary force when it is carried out through the gift, not only of the word proclaimed, but by the word lived.” – Bl. Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor

“We shouldn’t just wait for the wounded to come to us; we go out and reach for them.” – Pope Francis

Mother Teresa in Calcutta

Salvation, Jesus, and Works

As I’ve been gearing up for my first year as a missionary this summer, I’ve had a unique revelation with regards to evangelization and the aspect that “works” play in salvation. I suppose a big part of this is from a Peter Kreeft (and Ronald Tacelli) book that I’m reading, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics.

First off, I’d like to share an awesome piece from that book on the importance of salvation:

“The Church also seems to be in the social service business, the counseling business, the fundraising business, the daycare business- dozens of the same worthy businesses the secular world is also in. Why? What justifies these things? The Church’s ultimate end for all these things is different from the world’s end; it is salvation. This is her distinctive “product.” Why put out a product that is just the same as other companies’ products already on the market? Why would anyone expect such a product to sell? That’s why modernist or liberal Christianity, charitable as its services are, is simply not selling. The only reason for the very existence of the Church at all, is exactly the same as the reason Jesus came to earth: to save poor and lost humanity. The Church, after all, is in the same business as her Head. When a body runs in a different direction from its head, it is like a chicken with its head cut off: it goes nowhere and quickly dies. Jesus did not come to be a philosopher or a doctor. If he did that, he failed. He didn’t solve most of the philosophers’ problems. He healed some people but left most of the world just as sick as before. He healed some bodies to show that he could heal all souls. Not only is salvation the reason for the Church’s existence; it is also the ultimate reason for your existence: your goal, point, purpose, hope, final cause, summum bonum, meaning. The difference between success and failure at life’s first task- becoming who you were meant to be- is not the difference between riches and poverty, fame and obscurity, health and sickness, pleasure and pain, even niceness and nastiness, but between salvation and damnation. Leon Bloy wrote, “There is only one tragedy: not to have been a saint.”

Salvation matters, a lot. So what does it take to be saved? When people with a Christian background talk a little about salvation, they often only mention whether or not you are a “good” person. This is nice, but is it enough? Is it enough to just be a good person to go to heaven?

The Catholic Church has a nice little clause that it seems like I’m always reminding people about (because the Church is so horrible and restricting! haha). This clause is that if someone by no fault of their own doesn’t hear the Gospel or know who Jesus is, they can still be saved by striving their very best during their life to live an upright, charitable, and selfless life, which is common sense whatever background you come from. God is merciful, much more than you and I.

Yes, that’s good and generous of God, isn’t it? The problem is that everyone who reads this blog obviously doesn’t live in a remote area and has had contact with Christians in some way, shape, or form. For people who have heard the Gospel, the nice clause of just being a good person isn’t enough to earn salvation, according to Jesus. Salvation is only possible through Jesus:

“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” – Acts 4:12

Again, Jesus was clear Himself in this teaching:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6

In Lecrae’s song Truth, he gives a great analogy for why we need Jesus. In one of the verses (around 3 minutes in) he discusses the issue of why an all  powerful loving God would allow evil to happen. He points out that though God allows evil natural disasters to happen, He also allows people to have free will and murder. Well, we all agree that stuff like that is evil, but here’s the brilliant part: Lecrae asks if lying and cheating are evil too. They are. And things like that are evil even if we just think them. So he turned around the argument: why does God allow us to live, as we all sin? Thanks be to God that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us of our sin, otherwise we’d all be going straight to hell. Only God can forgive sin, that’s why Jesus and the incarnation are such a big deal! No one other than Jesus can forgive us, that’s what St. Peter was saying to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:12!

Please note that there’s a very important sacramental side with regards to salvation, centering on baptism (1 Peter 3:21 and Mark 16:16), confession (John 20:23), and the Eucharist (John 6:52). Salvation requires faith and works. Gotta offer this life for Jesus and live it out. But for this post I’m staying high level.

With all this in mind, I figure that most Christians- and Catholics are especially susceptible (not by bad teachings but misunderstandings of the teachings)- don’t seek to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ as much as they can because they unfortunately don’t believe that Jesus Christ specifically is very important in the economy of salvation.

Most people seem to believe that it is most important to be a good person, and if you believe in Jesus that’s a cherry on top. Actually, we see something that is quite the opposite in terms of Dismas the good thief: he was a thief and pretty bad person all his life, but when the time came, he repented and turned to Jesus in faith. Jesus promised him salvation. Jesus Himself stressed that people believe in Him and repent. He wanted their hearts to be converted not to niceness but to Him.

So is being a good person important? Yes! We ought to follow Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life! We ought to love God and love our neighbors as our self. But good works explicitly without Jesus will do nothing with regards to the economy of salvation. Takeaway: we must be more courageous in actually sharing Jesus with others instead of just assuming that they believe and are faithful.

Baptism: Why Wait?

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

Here’s a common question that Catholics get from our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ: Why do Catholics baptize infants?

First off, let’s go over briefly why baptism is important. Jesus was baptized by St. John the Baptist in a baptism of repentance, but after Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Church, baptism wasn’t just symbolic but salvific, according to Jesus himself in Mark 16:16: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved”. St. Peter clarifies this even more in 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. So we can see that baptism is actually necessary for salvation (yea there’s exceptions thanks to God’s mercy for people who haven’t ever heard the Gospel and stuff).

The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch is one of the cooler passages about baptism and demonstrates its importance:

“An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down to Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert road. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Cada’ce the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said. “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now this passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this: “As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth.” And the eunuch said to Philip, “Please, about whom does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.” – Acts 8:26-38

We can see from this story that it is important to be baptized as soon as possible, and the joy that it gave them both.

Now, it’s safe to say that most Christians are in agreement about everything that I’ve said so far. The tricky part is the question of what age is a good age to be baptized. Catholics baptize infants, and some Protestants have issues with that because they really haven’t made a choice for themselves. I can see their point. But we have to remember that Baptism is a sacrament that gives grace, no matter what choice you had in it.

Let’s look at examples of what the apostles said and did in terms of baptism. In his first big speech, St. Peter told all the people of Jerusalem, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to y our children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him” in Acts 2:38-39. There were no clauses in what he or Jesus said that designated only adults. St. Paul baptized Lydia and her entire household (children included probably) in Acts 16:15 after they converted. A similar thing happened with the jailer and his whole family in Acts 16:33. St. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 1:16 that he baptized the entire household of Steph’anas.

As we can see, there is plenty of evidence for the baptism of infants in scripture. Denying the affects of baptism just because of someones age seems to make the sacraments more about us and less about God’s power. In fact, the bulk of the proof lies on the side of the Protestants (as it seems to in all of these sorts of things), since from the earliest Christian traditions infants were always baptized. It is treated like circumcision for the Jews, so the only time that an issue came up in the early Church, in the 3rd century, was whether or not to delay baptism to the 8th day, like circumcision. Origen wrote in Commentaries on Romans 5:9 in A.D. 248 that “The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles, to whom were committed the secrets of the divine sacraments, knew there are in everyone innate strains of [original] sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit.”

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it; they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” – Luke 18:15-17

See more: Catholic Answers

“Work Out Your Own Salvation With Fear and Trembling”

The relatively familiar verse that is the title of this post comes from Philippians 2:12. I read it recently, and was immediately struck by the comment on it in the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Catholic Edition RSV with commentary by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. I really appreciate how much light it sheds on the faith and works discussion between Catholics and Protestants. The following is the commentary:

2:12 Work out your own salvation: I.e., make continued efforts at living the gospel and pursuing your heavenly reward. The statement assumes that while our initial salvation had nothing to do with our works (Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God- not because of works, lest any man should boast.”), our final salvation depends on a lifetime of keeping the faith (2 Tim 4:7-8 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”), following the commandments (Mt 19:17 “If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”), persevering in good works (Rom 2:7 “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life”), striving for holiness (Heb 12:14 “Strive for peace will all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”), praying in earnest (1 Thess 5:17 “pray constantly”), and fighting against the forces of evil (Eph 6:11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”) and the selfish demands of the flesh, which drag us down (Rom 8:13 “for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live”; 1 Cor 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”). This obligation is so serious that we pursue it with fear and trembling, i.e., with a sense of awe at serving the living God and a sense of dread at the prospect of sinning against him (Ex 20:18-20 “When the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the mountain smoking, they all feared and trembled. So they took up a position much further away and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we shall die.’ Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid, for  God has come to you only to test you and put his fear upon you, lest you should sin.’”; Ps 2:11-12 “Serve the Lord with fear; with trembling bow down in homage, lest God be angry and you perish from the way in a sudden blaze of anger. Happy are all who take refuge in God!”). Encouragement comes in the next verse, where Paul reminds readers that God’s grace is working actively within them both to desire (intention) and do (act) what pleases him (Heb 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”; CCC 308 “The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom, and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.” Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace.”) (CCC 1949)

Do Catholics Turn You Off from the Catholic Church?

One of the most common issues when talking with devout non-Catholics about the Catholic Church is that they haven’t found Catholics who really act like Christians and love Jesus.

I know what they mean. This is a problem, but it isn’t the end of the story.

First off, let me address reality: too many Catholics are apathetic about their faith. Too many treat their faith more like their ethnicity rather than a way of life. You’re right, Catholics mess up and sin and are unfaithful. Hello, I’m one of them. But isn’t it also true that many Christians of other faiths are the same way? You go to the South and “everyone” is Christian, but even there, there are many apathetic Christians as well.

Is the lack of devout Catholics a reason why you shouldn’t join the Church that Jesus founded? No way Jose. Find me a church full of perfect people, and I’ll join. But you can’t. We are all sinners, every single one of us.

What sets one church apart from another? A couple of traits stand out: where does it receive its authority, and what do they believe?

Where do churches get their authority? The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus. 1500 years later, Martin Luther decided to start his own little church. Did God tell Him to? Was it the workings of the divine or the workings of man?

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18

Jesus doesn’t lie. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. So where’s the need for a new church again?

Yes, there were a lot of things wrong inside the Church, especially around the Reformation. Yes, there are always things wrong inside the Church, including me. But we have to see that the Church is above the sins of the individual members of its body. Jesus sent down the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to lead and guide the Church, to keep Her faithful to Jesus’ teachings. So is it bad that there are sinners in the Church? No! That’s the whole point! We need the Church because we are sinners. The Church, made holy by God, is here to help us to come to know Jesus and His love for us, and to call us all to become saints. If we were all perfect people, where would the need for the Church be? The Church is like a hospital for sinners, we’re all a work in progress.

What do different churches believe? Agree or agree with me: the Church has to believe what Jesus taught. Sadly, over time we have seen many different churches stop believing in Jesus, the gospel message, and even the bible. This means they are heretics and are not fully in union with the Church that Jesus founded. They usually are not very successful, despite their “progressive” beliefs. Look at the Episcopal Church in America, for example.

Not only is believing the wrong stuff an issue for Christianity, but a “watered down” faith is also problematic. This “non-denom” movement seems to be slowly changing Christianity into a few basic beliefs, and the bible. Think about it: this is actually the exact opposite of what the early Church was like. In the early days, the Apostles like Paul were constantly instructing the churches on what the faith is and what is and isn’t heretical, even with the little things, and they had no bibles but rather the authority that Jesus had given the Apostles and their successors, the Bishops to make these decisions. (In case you weren’t aware, the Bible as we know it didn’t come into being until a few hundred years after Christ.) “Non-denom” can’t be the answer.. Jesus desired us to continue ALL of His teachings, not just a few non-controversial ones. Jesus desired that we be ONE, not 30,000 separate denominations, and not even one giant blob of “watered down” Christianity.

Despite all of the challenges that have faced the Catholic Church over the years, it has lasted, and nowadays, it is perhaps more alive than ever in certain aspects, while many other Christian churches are getting hit a lot worse. I immediately think of World Youth Day, FOCUS, and Lifeteen as movements that highlight all that is beautiful about the faith that Jesus gave us. If you don’t have any devout Catholic friends, I’m praying that you’ll run into someone one day. Maybe they’ll show you that there’s more to this faith than what the apathetic Catholics have been doing for all of these years.

Christian Unity

There aren’t too many other wishes that I’d have for a genie other than for all Christians to be fully united as one Body of Christ. It’s silly how there are completely different churches that can’t seem to agree, yet they all claim to be following Christ. Heck, most of them even admit that they aren’t the one true Church. All this despite Jesus’ plea that we all be one!

The following is an essay called “The Unity of the Catholic Church,” by St. Cyprian of Carthage in 251 AD. He was martyred in 258 AD. Try to read the whole thing, it really is a quick and easy read, but if you don’t, the first 10 chapters hold the majority of the argument.

The Unity of the Catholic Church

The following are some of the more significant quotes from it:

Does he who strives against the Church and resists her think that he is in the Church, when too the blessed Apostle Paul teaches this same thing and sets forth the sacrament of unity saying: ‘One body and one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God’?

 

This unity we ought to hold firmly and defend, especially we bishops who watch over the Church, that we may prove that also the episcopate itself is one and undivided.

 

Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined with an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he who has abandoned the Church arrive at the rewards of Christ.

 

He cannot have God as a father who does not have the Church as a mother.

 

The Lord says: ‘I and the Father are one.’ And again of the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit it is written: ‘And these three are one.’ Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills? He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.

 

Who then is so profane and lacking in faith, who so insane by the fury of discord as either to believe that the unity of God, the garment of the Lord, the Church of Christ, can be torn asunder or to dare to do so? He Himself warns us in His Gospel, and teaches saying: ‘And there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ And does anyone think that there can be either many shepherds or many flocks in one place? Likewise the Apostle Paul insinuating this same unity upon us beseeches and urges us in these words: ‘I beesech you, bretheren,’ he says, ‘by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, and that there be no dissensions among  you: but that you be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same judgement.’ And again he says: ‘Bearing with one another in love, careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.’

If you’d like to read more of the Church Fathers, New Advent is an awesome resource.

Related:
Why Catholic? 

A Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ and Evangelization

Contrary to what might be popular belief in Protestant circles, Catholics also strive for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, it is perhaps the most important thing we can do as human beings! (I had to add the perhaps in case I was forgetting something really important..)

I often notice a problem with the way that I evangelize and the way that many Catholics evangelize: we love talking about truth. We love philosophy and theology. We love history. We love apologetics in general. Why wouldn’t we? They are all in our favor and it is the most “scientific” way of proving that being Catholic is the right religion, the religion that Jesus founded. But there’s a major issue with this: it fails to reach people’s hearts. I watched a pretty interesting TED video today on perspective:

I don’t endorse everything he says. For example, when making decisions, morality must be at the very least one of the factors taken into account. But the main point that I kept thinking about is how people perceive you is often way more important than what you actually say or do for them. To become an effective evangelizer (to evangelize means to proclaim the good news-> the gospel), we must do more than know our creed. We must also live the life of Christ.

Our first step in living the life of Christ is knowing Jesus and forming a personal relationship with Him. As much as proving to me that scientifically it makes sense to believe in God, that isn’t going to make me want to serve God in the same way as learning that Jesus personally died for me.

How do we form this relationship? We start by simply learning. We can do this by talking to friends that are Christians, and asking them who Jesus is. A more straight to the source technique, something that I did, is to straight up read the bible. It is so important that we familiarize ourselves with the bible so that we can learn who Jesus is and what He taught. You can do this by reading the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These are four different accounts on Jesus’ life, so they will sometimes all say the same thing, and other times you will get some new insight with different Gospels. John is especially different than the other three, which are called the “synoptic gospels.”

The next step in this relationship is by growing. We can do this by prayer. So what is prayer?

“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” – St. John Damascene

There are basically 4 types of prayer, which can be remembered by the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Adoration is a call to worship God. Confession is when we confess to God that we have sinned and ask for forgiveness. Thanksgiving is, well, being thankful for all of the blessings in your life. And finally supplication is asking God to provide for your needs. All of these types of prayer should be done in order to have a solid prayer life.

Another way to grow in our relationship with Jesus is to participate in the sacraments. The sacraments are means for us to have encounters with God while still on earth. For example while adoring the blessed sacrament in adoration, we are literally in the presence of Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity, just as He said in John 6 in the bread of life discourse. Communion is especially designed to unite us with God and give us the graces to go forth and serve Him for the rest of our days. The word “mass” basically means sending, if you look up its etymology. So the point of the mass is less to evangelize and seek new Christians but to send those Christians out into the world. Confession of course is a great gift that us sinners need so that our sins will be forgiven.

Finally, we must live the life of Christ, uniting our struggles with His. St. Paul put it pretty clearly in his second letter to the Corinthians:

“Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Of course we will continue to struggle as we try to live the Christian life, and we can look back on all of the earlier steps I outlines for inspiration to have hope and persevere. And as we live our lives, we will be doing it more effectively because we are doing it for Jesus, the God who loves us so much and we love too! What a much more effective way to reach others!

“Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ… Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians… Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world.”

“The Church is not an association that wishes to promote a certain cause. It is not about a cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ.”

“Many people perceive Christianity as something institutional — rather than as an encounter with Christ — which explains why they don’t see it as a source of joy.”

“The essence of Christianity…is an ever-new encounter with… the God who speaks to us, who approaches us and who befriends us!”

- All by Pope Benedict XVI

Why Catholic?

Why am I Catholic?

There are so many reasons! So many! Being Catholic is a way of life, it is truly following Jesus who is the way, the truth, and the life! And the more that I have learned about it and lived it out, the more it makes sense. Catholicism is truth.

Among all of these reasons that I could attempt to list, I’ve got one “above all the rest” reason why I’m a Catholic Christian. After thinking about this for a while now, it really comes down to one thing, and everything else is icing on the cake (unless I’m missing something else huge.. let me know in a comment what you think!).

I’m Catholic because Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

“Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” -Matthew 16:17-19

Check out the big header up there, ↑ that’s a painting of Jesus handing St. Peter the Keys to Heaven. Very cool, course I doubt Jesus whipped out a set of giant keys.. haha!

Jesus, God, founded the Catholic Church. He desired that it be one. He instituted the sacraments. He chose the apostles, who would become the first bishops. Who are we to change the Church that He founded? Who are we to found a church? Unless you build a house on the cornerstone, when any floor comes, the house will be swept away. Are we not seeing this right now with the Protestant churches? Are they not being swept away by popular culture?

And to those who say the Church “lost its ways” and isn’t the same as the original, I say we are overlooking the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember at Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit down on the Apostles and Mary (Acts 2)? That’s the Church’s birthday! Jesus founded it, but it couldn’t function properly without the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide it. Another note: Check out Matthew 16:19. The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Any more questions?

Why should we believe that 1500 years after Christ or anytime after that, people all of a sudden knew better than the early Christians? Why should we believe that we know better than God?

Here comes the “but the Church did bad things!” question. Yes, we hear that over and over again. The Church is full of sinners. I’m one of them. That’s the point of the Church, to help us sinners. And even some popes have been bad. The media loves that. But still, that doesn’t discourage me. Look at the amazing fact that the dogma of the Church has never changed, even DESPITE these horrible popes! Crazy! Plus, look at the fact that the Church is still alive and kicking 2000 years later. There is not a single institution on earth that can say they have outlived the Church.

The issues are tough for most people. It takes time to understand. Abortion is hard enough, and then we have to talk about contraception too!? Yea. And then our opposition to homosexual marriage. But the point of the Church that Jesus founded would not be to “fit in” with the world. The Catholic Church’s job description, written by God, is to call all of humanity to lives of holiness, to become saints! Catholic means universal. It is for everyone. Catholics all over the world believe the same exact thing, and for good reason: the truth doesn’t change based on your location, age, ethnicity, bank account, etc. The Church is like the bridge from us to God. Look at the sacraments! In the sacraments, we get personal encounters with Jesus, with God! Not only do I get to communicate with God in prayer and learn about Him in the bible, but I get to be forgiven by Him in confession, adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and receive Him in Communion. How cool is that?! Talk about a personal relationship with Jesus!

There is so much that I could say on this topic, this is a good start I hope and pray.

I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. —St. Jerome, A.D. 396 , Letters 15:2 (St. Jerome was essential to translating and compiling the bible, FYI)

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