Sunday, December 23, 2012
Why Am I Catholic?
But this morning, as I held my rosary, I looked down and gazed for a moment on its metal crucifix, looking for inspiration for more writings. The question came to me, as the surge of old comforts and memories of my first days of exploring the Catholic faith flooded back into my mind:
"Why am I Catholic?"
I remember well that St. Bernard of Clairvaux used to ask himself every day why he had come to the monastery, and in my own little way, I try to ask myself the same thing - why am I doing this? Why did I choose this? Why did I choose Christ? Or did He choose me? Or am I forgotten altogether?
I remember that when my priest asked me in my first meeting with him for entrance into RCIA why I wanted to become Catholic, I answered, "Because I want to go home. I want to come home. I know where I belong and I want to go home."
Looking back, it seems like such an immature answer, one that makes me a little surprised that I was allowed to enter RCIA actually. My answer should have been simply "Jesus."
My search was for truth - the experiences that happened to me, the bizarre intercession of saints in my life and the lives of others, the sweetness I experienced in praying the rosary in secret every Sunday afternoon - all these things should not have convinced me. Truth, the Truth of Christ, is what I was looking for. Only Christ had the answer.
I have always had faith - there was never a time in my life that I thought that God did not exist. In some ways, the veil between here and heaven for me feels very thin - the presence of God for me always feels so near that I always wonder how others do not sense it. Of course, I do not mean this in some strange psychic, New Age-ish sense - it is for me, a simple knowing. I cannot explain it.
But when the time for my first Holy Communion came, I knew that this was where I belonged. I ate the Body and drank the Precious Blood of Christ, and every day, I hunger to go to the Supper of the Lamb again and again. It keeps me strong.
So why am I Catholic? Jesus. History, theology, experience, intense study, prayer - all these things helped. But I am Catholic because I know this is where I belong, that Jesus loves me despite everything, and that I have a home. Truly, the Church is a hospital for sinners then.
In a world of competing religions and philosophies, even within Christianity itself, it can be overwhelming for the seeker of truth. Perhaps I have survived this seeking for truth, simply because the Truth heard my prayers. I don't know.
But I know where I belong - and when I receive Jesus this morning in Holy Communion, I will be reminded again of God's love for me, and my tiny and imperfect love of Him.