One of the most common arguments against Catholicism is that it’s just too complicated. There are so many rules to follow, so many rituals to observe, and so much detail in the explanation of its dogmas. Can’t we just love Jesus and accept Him as our Lord and Savior? Can’t we just believe in God? Why do we have to make religion too much of a burden?
Preaching a Difficult Gospel
As a Catholic who still needs to grow in spirituality, I can understand some of these presumptions against the Catholic Church. There were times when I wished there were fewer rules to comply with. There were times when the teachings seemed so difficult for a normal person to understand.
I also asked myself how the Good News could possibly be preached to others when all they may hear is something similar to solving an impossible math problem.
It would have been better if everyone had been born into a Catholic family where they were able to receive sufficient Catholic education from the start. But what about those who hardly know what the Holy Trinity means? What about those who can’t even start to believe in God?
Layers of Truth
I think one way we can address this problem is to see it the way we see an onion. Like an onion that has many layers, the truth can also be revealed gradually.
Not every person may learn Theology or appreciate the arguments in Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas. But one can learn slowly just like a child learns from grade one until college graduation.
To evangelize people, one could start by sharing about the wonderful existence of God. For those who have some belief in a Higher Power but have not known Jesus Christ, we can let them know about how He has saved us from our sins. Then we can share our knowledge about the Church to whom Jesus Christ has entrusted the mission of preaching the Gospel throughout the world.
The universe is filled with layers of truth that point toward God. Just looking at nature and the majesty of creation can be the start of one’s journey to knowing more about God.
“Beginning with self, we can proceed outward to creatures, in all of which there are vestiges of the Creator. We can contemplate the law, order and harmony that are visible in them as transient reflections from the great source of all harmony and beauty. So marvelous in number and variety are the rivers of truth, flowing from the eternal well-springs of Being, that every day new sciences and new developments of the older knowledge are required to explore them.” – Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love
Knowledge Through Grace
There is another path that enables a person to understand the deep truths about faith. This is through a direct grace granted by God.
Many of the saints are known to have what we can call “infused knowledge” about God. Despite some of these saints having poor earthly education, they are known to understand deeply the things related to God.
One example is St. Joseph Cupertino who was known to have difficulty in earthly learning but has this infused knowledge from God. He was even rejected at first by the Franciscan friars due to his lack of education. However, due to his persistence and faith, he was later accepted. He was a saint known for flying or levitation while having ecstatic visions.
Another example is St. Teresa of Avila who is a mystic and a doctor of the Church. She received visions and infused contemplation from God.
Here is one quote from her about the Holy Trinity:
“The three Persons are distinct from one another; a sublime knowledge is infused into the soul, imbuing it with a certainty of the truth that the Three are of one substance, power, and knowledge and are one God.”
Another example of a more recent saint is St. Faustina who is also a mystic and has received visions of Jesus. Tasked with spreading the message about the Divine Mercy, she wrote her visions and conversations with Jesus in her diary. In one of the entries in her journal, she mentioned the knowledge of God in believers even if they lack earthly education.
“I have learned and experienced that souls living in love are distinguished in this: that they are greatly enlightened concerning the things of God, both in their own souls and in the souls of others. And simple souls, without an education, are outstanding for their knowledge.” – St. Faustina (Divine Mercy In My Soul, 1191)
God Is In The Details
We could oftentimes fear the many details that accompany the Catholic faith. But what we should remember is that the God we worship is a God behind the minutest details of our lives.
Let’s start by looking at the universe he has made. Science reveals to us the details present in the laws that govern the universe. It is in the smallest molecule that exists. It is in the very fiber that makes up living organisms. Can’t we see the power, wisdom and beauty behind every detail in creation?
Shouldn’t we be grateful that He knows every detail of our lives?
“Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” – Luke 12:7 (NABRE)
The details we avoid so much have a purpose. And often, it is for our sake, for our protection. Just like the many laws and regulations enforced by earthly governments to keep our countries safe and functioning well. Do we feel burdened that we have those laws? Would we feel better if they did not exist?
Sooner or later, our spiritual growth would urge us to look for the details in our faith. Without these details, there would be confusion and even division among believers.
Here then are just some of the vital points we must remember when it comes to appreciating God in the details:
-The details protect us from being lost
-The details help prevent confusion
-The details avoid division
-The details make us appreciate a powerful truth
-The details proclaim God’s beauty and perfection
The details need not scare us because God will equip us with the understanding we need for each step of faith that we should take. We should do what we can to understand our faith and then pray for that knowledge that only God can bestow.
God is, after all, the light that illumines our darkness. We may see only a speck of that light at the beginning, but He gives us the grace to carry on as we draw closer and closer to the brightness of His glory.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 (NABRE)
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (NABRE)
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)
You may also want to read “Why You Shouldn’t Leave the Catholic Church”