I extended an invite to my readers to write about why they remain Catholic, this is one of the submissions I received from one of the regular commenters on my blog. I am always delighted to see Justin’s comments in my combox. They are always irenic (haha), patient, calm, humorous, and lighthearted. His comments are a model of Christian charity for so many of us (including myself) who so easily lose our marbles in the Wild West of combox land. I hope you enjoy this piece. – Sr. Theresa Aletheia
By Justin Gray
When Sister Noble asked for contributions to her “Why I REMAIN Catholic” series, I glibly replied: “I suppose ‘because it’s true’ is a little too succinct? ;).”
Cue polite giggle: “hah-hah.”
Then she asked if I was going to contribute a piece. “Hah-hah… oh, crap. Now I need to actually think about this!”
So, I started thinking. Before long, however, I realized that my first response, my cute little joke, was actually the only real answer.
“Because it’s true.”
It’s an answer that will mean nothing to a non-Catholic, and that’s perfectly fine; if the question was “Why I believe in the Catholic Church”, that would be the story of why I became Catholic.
“Why I remain” is the story of what I do with that belief.
The great strength of the Catholic Church at first seems like a millstone tied around our necks; as Catholics, we acknowledge that God left an authority on earth who, with His guidance, actually knows what is “true” better than we do!
At first blush, this does not make for a compelling pitch. It’s preposterous to a modern, enlightened mind that we should trust any authority to this degree (or so we think – I’ll touch on that in a moment).
And yet, isn’t it also preposterous that I assume, at my wizened old age of 36, and within the limited confines of my own accumulated wisdom, education, culture, and experiences, that my judgment on life’s biggest questions are the most authoritative ones I shall ever encounter? None of us truly thinks that way about all things. Few of us would fire our plumber because “that pipe looks wrong,” or push aside a bomb squad technician because our instincts tell us they should cut the red wire, not the green one! We recognize in applied fields that thousands of professionals have spent hundreds of thousands of hours working out the principles of their disciplines.As Catholics, we not only benefit from 2000 years of such studies, but are perhaps alone in benefiting from professionals so disciplined that they devote their ENTIRE lives to the pursuit of their profession (I’ve yet to encounter a society of cloistered plumbers).
Cue the naysayers: By all means, go ahead and list all the other philosophies that have been around at least 2000 years, or the very erudite professionals who disagree vociferously with Christianity. Put your Maimonides and your Sagan against my Augustine and Aquinas. These are sufficient arguments if you are not a Catholic.
But if you are a Catholic, you have a benefit, one you may have forgotten or mistaken for a liability: faith. Faith that the Holy Spirit guides your Church, faith that God didn’t leave every generation with no hope of discerning the truth between a thousand well-reasoned but dissenting perspectives. Faith that the oh-so-stifling infallibility claimed by the Church is perhaps not a cumbersome burden, but is in fact God leaving us a source for licensed certification in “Truth.”
Consider; when a TV celebrity and a doctor from Johns Hopkins give you dueling medical guidance, which one do you trust? Probably the one backed by the authority of the prestigious hospital. Our guidance is backed by the Holy Spirit- and when the Spirit tells us a piece of guidance is infallible, it should carry the weight of a Johns Hopkins doctor telling us “if you don’t do this, you will die.”
I remain Catholic because I like that lifeline!
There are plenty of dueling philosophies out there right now, and the prevailing wisdom does not promote the Church’s; it can make us unpopular, and it can lead us to miss out on things that look harmless (or even fun)! But I know our guidance comes from The Top. That’s a really good reason to stick with it! So, yeah. “Because it’s true.”
Justin Gray is a recent convert to Catholicism from atheism. He has had a career-long involvement in the not-for-profit sector focusing on poverty-related services. Justin and his wife currently live in Southeastern Ohio, where he manages the local office of a national non-profit organization.