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What I love about the Catholic Church is that it’s history reads like the Old Testament, and that feels authentic. What I mean to say, is that it is a history of rogues and scoundrels, criminals, psychopaths, spiritually insane people and incomprehensibly awful sinners.
Where else but the Catholic Church do you also find the most amazingly radiant saints, supernatural warriors for God, courageously innocent virgin martyrs, tireless friars, magnificent theologians, world changing figures who exhibit the height and breadth of redeemed humanity?
This is what the Reforming Protestant and the other worldlings don’t get. They look at the sinners and the skunks in the Catholic Church and get all huffy and cry out for reform and point fingers at the failures and mock the hypocrites and go all serious and sign a petition, never understanding that Jesus himself said the wheat and tares would grow together and the sheep and goats would be in the same flock.
I trust the Catholic Church because it is full of sinners. The religious groups I don’t trust are all the squeaky clean grinning Christians with their button down shirts and buttoned down lives. The ones who give me the creeps are not hard drinking swearing, repenting sinners in the Catholic Church, but the holier than thou Christians who retreat into their little spiritually self massaging study groups and sects pretending that nothing bad ever happens there.No. The Catholic Church is like the Old Testament. There is Noah, lying drunk and naked. There’s Abraham disobeying God and taking his maid instead of his wife. There’s David ogling Bathsheba and plotting to kill her husband after he makes her pregnant. The same rich stink of sin wafts through the Catholic Church too, and that is what makes it seem real.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not glorying in sin and making excuses. I’m just pointing out that reality has stench. Real things cast shadows. The Way is a road and every road has a gutter.
And what I love about the Catholic Church, therefore, is that in the midst of this horror and stench and ugliness–the light of redemption shines. There is such a thing as repentance. There is grace. There is forgiveness. There is light and sanctity and goodness and beauty and truth–and it is all the chaos that makes the order stand tall, and in the darkness the light shines more brightly.