Patheos posed the question and asked for a 200-word answer. Okay. I’ll keep it simple.
At bottom, it’s all about the stuff.
- Free stuff. Stuff like grace, inspiration, consolation, joy. Oh: and best of all, Jesus Christ himself, in the Eucharist.
- Old stuff. History. Tradition. Scripture. Latin.
- Mysterious stuff. Things I will spend a lifetime praying to understand, like the Eucharist, the Passion, the Trinity and, to top it all off, why God loves me in spite of myself.
- Beautiful stuff. Flickering candles. Incense. Icons. Gregorian chant. “Tantum Ergo.” The Easter Vigil.
- Simple stuff. Silence. Tranquility. Adoration. Listening in the midst of my life’s chaos to hear the comforting voice of God.
- Lasting stuff. Teachings that don’t change, moral certainties that don’t bend, truths that don’t waver, love that never fails.
- Tangible stuff. Ashes. Palms. Oil. Bread. Wine. Water. Wax. Marble. Wood. Glass.
- Incredible stuff. Stuff like compassion for the wounded, mercy for the sinner, love for the unlovable, hope for the hopeless. It’s the saints who live all that and us sinners who fail at it, but then, dammit, get up and try again. Plus: 2,000 years of breathtaking, courageous, confounding, painful, exhilarating history. It’s a big church. With some cool stuff. Ain’t that something?