Thursday, February 10, 2005

Why Catholicism 

Several of us in our RCIA class were discussing during a break just why we were joining.

For some, it was rules: they had been raised totally without religion, perhaps to think ill of religion, but now they had their own children and had found in the Catholic Church a place where there were rules to live by that don't change with the cultural wind.

For some, it was beauty: they had attended Mass with a friend, or an Easter Vigil when a friend or family member joined, or happened to go to a Catholic Church for a wedding and were taken by the mystery and beauty of services.

For some, it was more simple: their intended spouse was Catholic and they wanted to worship together, they were tired of not participating fully with their family, they are old and want to, need to, take this further step with the church.

I've tried to understand my own case. I said in the past it was conflict in the Methodist Church that drove me away, I've said that it was the weakness and willingness of the Methodist Church in the face of culture that drove me away... but the further I go, the more I believe I wasn't driven away, but was instead, led home. I link the beginnings of my becoming Catholic to an online Bible Study class I taught at our Methodist Church. Our pastor gave a sermon about how lightly attended Sunday School was and how so few people were reading or studying the Bible, so I decided to use the "Year of the Bible" site and a message board (a precursor to blogs, don't you think?) to re-examine the New Testament. Each entry was pushed to our congregation's mass-email list. So for one year, I read a small portion of the New Testament every day and read what I could about what it meant. I had read the New Testament before, but I'd never examined it so closely and had never shared my own thoughts about it. I began to see many teachings our pastors were glossing over or ignoring; teachings on divorce and other cultural issues. I was led to web sites like "Early Christian Writings" and "The Catholic Encyclopedia." I was drawn to the histories of the saints and many sites concerning the Crucifixion and Miracles. I read for the first time the miracle stories of Lourdes, Guadalupe and Fatima. I began asking our pastor why Methodists don't talk or preach about the lives of the saints and miracles. I asked him how the Methodist Women could march for choice when everything I was reading seemed so very much pro-life. In short, I was taken by the mystery and logic of Christianity and upset about the lack of mystery and logic in my own church. I was taken by the teachings of the early fathers, the teachings of the saints, the teachings in the Catechism, the teachings of the Pope and the Teachings of the Magisterium.

And now, here I am, nearing my own confirmation at the upcoming Easter Vigil.

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