#WhyRemainCatholic Why on Earth would I leave?

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.

Matthew 7:13-14

I have to admit when I saw this piece at the Anchoress’ site

Let’s do this! If you’re Catholic and have access to a web-page, a radio program, a Facebook page, whatever, take a few minutes, and tell the world why you are remaining a Catholic in an era where doing so seems not only counter-cultural, but also counter-intuitive and even, perhaps, a bit risky?

my thought was, Really?  

Now in fairness to a person who is not Catholic or Christian,  to a person who has not read history and a person who has been immersed in popular culture this might seem a legitimate question.

They might ask:  What are the advantages of being Catholic?  And one could give a long list of good answers.

You could point historical facts, that it was the Catholic Faith and scripture that elevated and established the principle of the dignity of all human beings.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:28-29

Even those you hate:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you,

Matt 5:43-44

You have the development of education and the university system that educated those who did not have power and might, the hospital systems that cared for the sick and poor (do you think all of those hospitals called St. So & So were a coincidence?)

Or you could look at what the church does.  The Catholic church feeds more people, clothes more people, visits more people in jail, educated more people, treats more people who are sick than any institution in the world.  Go to any Catholic Parish and you will see people involved in programs for the poor, for the needy, for people around the world.  After any disaster go to any church and see the collections for those struck by disaster.

Not only do lay Catholics do this (mostly without pay) but they teach their children that such service is a virtue and encourage them in these things.

Or maybe you might consider the intellectual, artistic and  philosophical thought and you might decide that all of these expand the mind, maybe you might look at the cultural part of the church and find those appealing.

Or perhaps you like the idea that in the parish priest you have a marriage counselor, psychologist and ethics coach all rolled up into one.  Even better they will provide said services & advice without cost but who, if you are feeling guilty about something will not only hear you out, forgive you (even if the offense is directly against them) but will go to jail rather than disclose the secret you confess to them.

All of these things are appealing and might attract people to the church but none of them are, in my opinion a reason to be Catholic or stay Catholic.

Let’s be clear, yes I was brought up Catholic, but that means nothing.  Most of my extended family don’t attend mass or practice the faith.  Furthermore most of my friends aren’t Catholic or even Christians.  In many ways my Catholicism isolates me in my social circle.

And even at my own parish there is trouble.  As I write this there is a clash over our new Pastor.  Some people at my church have written to the Bishop asking for him to be removed over hiring and spending decisions (not for any misconduct) others (myself included) have written to the Bishop urging him to be retained.  The end result of this will, at best, be a division at our parish or  at worst, be a soiled reputation for us among priests and in our diocese.  It’s something that will cost us dearly, particularly if there is a second batch of church closings in Fitchburg.

And I haven’t even gotten into all of the social pressure in media and culture against Catholic belief and teaching particularly in a state like Massachusetts.  In fact I’ve been writing for a while that it’s going to be a very hard time for Christians in general and Catholics in particular

So given all that the question remains, why would you or anyone remain a catholic under these circumstance? 

The answer is so obvious that I’m almost ashamed to have to write it:

Because it’s true!

That’s what it comes down to, that’s what it’s all about.  It is my conclusion based on my study of history, my view of events and my personal experience that what the Catholic Church teaches is the truth.

If for one second I thought that Jesus was just some guy who lived a couple of thousand years ago then then the Catholic church is just another business/NGO.  It’s an Elks club that does some good thing and has some odd customers rules and creeds that people recite.  If that was the case there is no way I’d allocate either my limited financial resources or my even more limited time to the church.  I’d sleep in on Sunday, skip daily mass or novenas for game nights and I’d dive into the lucrative pot business that has the potential to bail me out of serious financial straits.

But if Christ is the son of God, if he was born of the Virgin Mary, Crucified died and rose again, if he did made Peter the head of his church and if that authority was handed down from Peter to Linus to Cletus to Clement all the way down to Benedict XVI and Francis, if the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ.  If heaven, hell and purgatory are real and this brief life we have is only a brief pit stop to eternity,  then not only does logic demand that I be a member of the Church and follow its directives but I’d be a damned fool (literally) if I was willing to change my belief based on either cultural, financial or social pressure.

You shall know the truth and it will set you free

John 8:32

That’s why I don’t understand this paragraph:

How about it, folks? This is a call-out to CatholicMom.com, and New Advent andEd Morrissey and Our Sunday Visitor, and Crux, and dotCommonweal, and Brandon Vogt, and dear, brilliant Heather King, and Jennifer Fulwiler, and Big Pulpit andCatholic Digest, and DaTechGuy and Hallie Lord and In the Arena, and Relevant Radio!

I could go on and on but you get the idea, and I must dash out to noon mass, but what do you think? Ready to share your reasons why you will remain with the church as the world increasingly bares its teeth against it?

I presume that all of these people and the long list of those who have answered Elizabeth’s question believe the church is true.  That being the case the question isn’t:  Why one would remain Catholic, the question is:  Why would any of them, no matter what the cost, consider leaving?

Update:  If you want to see the answers given by others:

Marge Fenelon: Forever Catholic: Why the Pew study doesn’t matterMax Lindenman Why I’m still CatholicTom Zampino: Upon This Rock: Why I RemainKate O’Hare: Why I Stay in the Catholic ChurchKathy Schiffer: 8 Bad Reasons to Leave the Catholic Church, and 1 Good Reason to Stay, Swimming the Depths Why I Remain Catholic, Julie Davis: Why Do I Stay Catholic?Tom McDonald Why I Am Catholic, John Stegeman at Catholic Telegraph: Four reasons I’m not leaving the Catholic Church,Sarah Reinhard Why I Stay Catholic, Leroy Huizenga : Why I Stay, Notre Dame’s Tim O’Malley: WHY I’M STILL CATHOLIC, Artur Sebastian Rosman: Takes Why am I Still a Catholic? What Else is There?,Sherry Antonnetti: Why I Am NOT Leaving the Catholic Church, Leticia Adams Why I Stay Catholic, Gregory Hillis: Gregory Hillis | For the Catholic Church, an abiding vision (this piece is an old one), Mudblood Catholic: Raw Tact, Part X: Agony, Ecstasy (this one is  an old piece too), Katrina Fernandez: Will Remain Catholic For Beer…, Maria Morera Johnson Why I Remain a Catholic, Deidre Mundy: Take Up and Read: Why I Remain a Catholic, Erin Martin: Why be Catholic? (another old piece) , Catholic Drinkie: Why I Remain a Catholic When my Peers Don’t, Michelle Arnold: God Only Knows If I Stay CatholicDiane Korzeniewski: Why I remain Catholic: I need the Sacraments, Caitlin Marchand: Why I’m Still Catholic: Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you., Sister Theresa: Warning! Atheist in the Church: How the Eucharist Saved My Life, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: Why I Remain Catholic, Rebecca Hamilton: I Chose Christ, and He is There on All the Altars of All the Catholic Churches in the World., Erin McCole Cupp: “WHY I STAY CATHOLIC,” WITH THE AID OF THE INTERNETMatt Nelson: The Catholic Church: Why I’m Staying

And lasty Elizabeth Scalia’s own piece:  Pew Studies be damned


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