This is the first is a series of posts attempting to answer the question: “Why Be Catholic?” The series does not claim any great wisdom, is probably completely incredible based upon the blogger's shortcomings, and any similarities between a session at a local parish are an astonishing coincidence!
Most of my regular readers (all 5 of you!) know that for much of my life I openly dissented from Roman Catholic teaching, despite continuing to call myself a Roman Catholic. Sometimes, my dissent stemmed less from will as from ignorance. I was horribly schooled in the Faith-if at all. Left to my own devices, I fell into the crowd that claims to truly understand Church beliefs and relies for support upon the research and writings of people who base their scholarship upon dissent as well. It’s not that they don’t use the official Magisterium writings of the Church; they do, but they pick and choose selections that justify their position. They take information out of context to make their point.
This post is in conformity with Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium, in as much, in my ignorance I can compose it as such.
Why be Catholic?
The richness of the Catholic Tradition is one of thousands of good reasons.
When people talk about the Catholic Tradition, Tradition is not a stand alone concept. Tradition must stand alongside: Scripture and Magisterium. All three are needed to define a truly Catholic life. Scripture is the core, the original documents, Magisterium interprets Scripture, Tradition is the lived history of the Church thru the last 1000 years to today. Magisterium and Scripture help define Tradition.
Why do I define Tradition? There are people who will have you belive that Tradition is self-defined, or defined by a enlightened lay subgroup, and that the only authentic Tradition of the Church worth paying attention to happened over the last 40years. The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, did not overturn the Tradition that preceeded it. In truth, it enhanced them, but, honestly, the interpretation and execution of Vatican II was not always accurately implemented.
As a Catholic, you can trace the history of your Faith back to Christ Himself thru St. Peter (the first Pope). You cannot find this unbroken line of sucession in any other faith tradition. Tradition with a small t. Other faiths may have elements of truth (small t) but they don’t contain the fullness of Truth (capital T) as Roman Catholicism does. This is radical belief in this day and age. I make no apologies for believing with my whole soul that Catholicism is The Truth of Jesus The Christ.
An even more radical belief and, to me, the primary reason for being Catholic is the Eucharist. Only in the Catholic Mass, if we are properly disposed, can we literally receive the Lord: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our selves via the consecrated Wine and Bread.
Eucharist is Tradition. Belief that the bread may become the Lord is a Tradition that Scripture tells us even the disciples had trouble believing. Historically, Protestants have as well. The Magisterium interprets Scripture to mean: The Lord wasn’t kidding in John 6.
When you have a treasure attainable to you here on Earth what can be worth more than that? Catholic belief is true wealth. Even the poorest person (sinful or lacking in money), who receives Christ, is rich.
Everyone is welcome to believe. However,and here’s where I probably differ from many but again I’m telling it Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium, not everyone MAY receive the Eucharist. There are conditions. I once listened with horror to a priest describe the consecrated Host as a piece of birthday cake and Mass as a birthday party with “Why would you invite someone to a party but not give them a piece of the cake?” Meaning, why not give everyone who approaches the altar a consecrated Host and a sip of the consecrated Wine? It is the Lord! That’s why.
The Lord called everybody and welcomed everyone. However, he challenged them to change their life, to turn away from their sins. The Lord said ‘Follow Me’ to St. Matthew. Follow means “follow my example” not “Hey, come hang with me and be a part of my entourage!” The Lord was pure as His Heavenly Father is pure. That is following Him. It’s not easy. I’d never sit and tell someone it is. I’m reminded every day of how unworthy to follow Him I really am. But, I try. I take the conditions for receiving the Eucharist and I strive to follow them. When I fall I get right again via the Sacrament of Confession.
I try to live within the approved guidelines. Why would you do something else? Why would you listen to the counsel of those who would encourage you to follow “their” method or your own way? There is no assurance with those methods. Life is uncertain enough.
Follow Him thru the Church He established. The people in the Church are not perfect. The priests of His Church are not perfect. But, He and the Church are perfect. We are perfect when we follow Him. Truly.
Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to them. Listen to Him. Educate yourself by reading the actual documents of the Church in their original form (not as interpreted or summarized by others who may have other ideas). Read the approved Catholic translations of the Bible
. Read the approved Catechism.
Read the Church Doctors and the approved Histories of the Church. Put it all together. Knowledge is also treasure. You are not stupid. Don't be misled. You don't need an advanced degree in Theology to "get it"