I Like Being Catholic

Besides being true, it is also the title of a book I recently read.  It’s a collection of anecdotes and observations made by a variety of Catholics and edited by Michael Leach and Therese J. Borchard.  The book itself was very clear that it is not a book about theology, but it was a nice enough little read.  At the time, I was going through it I did not particularly think it was going to be worthy of its own post, yet here we are.

The title of the book comes from something Father Andrew Greeley said while appearing on “Donohue” when asked why he remains a Catholic if he disagrees with many things the Church teaches.  He simply said, “I like being Catholic.”  This reminded me of when I agreed with my husband to try and find a compromise church early in our marriage.  I told him that I would try to find a denomination that we were both comfortable in, but deep down I would always be Catholic.   He wasn’t really happy about my honest admission at the time, but I think he might understand better now that he is Catholic himself.

Because one of the things that the book drives home is that whether you are a very orthodox Catholic or a “cafeteria” Catholic, once you’re a Catholic you’re pretty much always a Catholic.  Even if you get disgusted or disenchanted with the Church, if you protest or drop out, or even if you get ex-communicated, the Church will always be waiting there for you to come home like the Prodigal Son.  Being raised Catholic, even nominally, shapes your view of the world and your place in it in sometimes subtle ways that you don’t even realize.  And the power of the Church may lay dormant in you for years, popping out at times you least expect

The other thing that struck me was the familyhood that the Church offers.  It is more than a sense of community, even if that is how it is often described.  The Catholic Church is really a family.  There are people you love and people you can’t stand in your family but you’re stuck with them no matter what.  That’s how it is in the Church.  Even when you don’t want to be part of the Church’s family anymore, you can never truly escape it.  The Precious Blood is thicker than water, so to speak.  Mandatory weekly Mass attendance is like the Sunday dinner with the family that you feel obligated to attend, even at those times you don’t really feel like it.

Of course, anywhere in the world that you can find a Catholic church or even a lone Catholic priest able to say the Mass you can find the comforts of home.  And just like your Cousin John who you haven’t seen in two years shows up to help you move, your family is always there when you really need them.  The Catholic Church is one of the largest single providers of social services in the world.  Despite the sometimes shoddy theology I was exposed to in Catholic schools, my fondest memories are of working together with other Catholics for the betterment of the parish and the larger community.  Whether it was counting coins to make change for games at the Church picnic at age five or six, running my own booth at age 13, ushering at Mass starting at age 14, raising money and can goods for charity, or working at a dinner program for underprivileged children in high school.

As I was thinking about the familyhood of the Catholic Church, I thought about one of the catch phrases of Protestantism:  “What you really need is a personal relationship with Jesus”, often implying that Catholics do not in fact have this.  As the book points out, from the cradle to the grave, the Catholic Church offers a most personal relationship with Jesus.  Jesus isn’t just there when we choose for him to be; he is always there with us.  Most Catholics are officially presented to God within weeks of birth (not that He didn’t already know every hair on our head before we were born) in the sacrament of Baptism.  From the age of seven, we are invited to God’s house for dinner every week with him in the Eucharist.  We also learn to say we are sorry when we have done something to offend God through the Sacrament of Confession, and we experience the joy when we know that God has forgiven us for our transgressions.  This is an important part of any personal relationship.  God is there when we join ourselves to another human being in marriage or to the entire Catholic Church through Holy Orders.  And like the most loving relative, God is there to comfort us and nourish us when we are ill and/or dying through the Sacrament of Healing.

These things are just a very small part about why I love being Catholic, and they are a few small reasons why I will always be Catholic.

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2 Comments on “I Like Being Catholic”

  1. Cable Says:

    Why age 7 for Eucharist? Just wondering. As Episcopalians, we give Eucharist to all that have been baptized. This means that DD can take communion.

  2. barboo77 Says:

    Age 7 is considered “the age of reason” by which most children can distinguish right from wrong and understand that the Eucharist contains the true presence of Jesus Christ. And since the bread and wine are no longer “just” bread and wine or a symbol but Jesus Christ himself, the person receiving communion must know how to treat it with extreme reverence. This is the same reason that non-Catholics are not allowed to receive communion (with the exception of Eastern Orthodox).

    However, at many Catholic Churches children under age 7 and non-Catholics can come up with their hands folded across their chest and receive a blessing from the priest or Eucharistic minister.


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