Thanks to Teresa Rita for her lovely post over at “Zeal for Your House Consumes Me: Why Be Catholic?” by Fr. Richard Tomasek S.J.
There, she’ grieves over the very recent passing of Fr. Richard, (may he be received by our Father in heaven!). Teresa Rita shares Fr.’s wonderful response to a devout and concerned Protestant woman writing him some time ago about why anyone would want to be Catholic. Fr. Richard’s response is, well frankly, worth sharing — for it speaks of the logic we here at the ranch feel when asked about our conversion to Catholicism 25 years ago:
“The main reason to become Catholic is that it is the only true Church founded by Jesus Christ himself for the salvation of the human race. All of the other Christian churches, most of them founded in the 1500s and later, preserve and practice SOME of the ancient Faith but not all of it. They stem from people like King Henry VIII, Martin Luther or John Calvin who disagreed with some of the Church teaching or practice and decided to start a “more pure and biblical” form of Christianity. These men for the most part meant well but they created a terrible confusion wherein we now have literally thousands of Protestant churches all claiming, despite their big and small differences, to be the real Church of Christ. The orthodox Churches Russian, Greek etc. are an exception. We Catholics regard them as an authentic Church, founded by Jesus and the Apostles, believing in all the articles of the Creed, endowed with a valid priesthood and celebrating all seven sacraments etc. There are only two things that divide us to a certain degree: They do not accept the full authority of the Pope and they blame us for adding the words “and from the Son” to the words “He proceeds from the Father” to the Nicene Creed. . .
“So, why be Catholic? As I said, the Catholic Church alone retains all the truths believed and practiced by the Church of the biblical and patristic first seven centuries after Christ times. It believes in “apostolic succession“, namely that all the present bishops today can trace their lineage of office back to one of the Apostles. It has all seven Sacraments initiated by Christ. It has clear authority which holds the Church together in fidelity to our sources and in unanimity of faith and morals with one another. In other churches, the individual feels entitled to “pick and choose” what he/she will believe and do. Each person feels guided interiorly by the Holy Spirit and so does not need to validate these inner intuitions or beliefs with the living, external Church authority, that is, the Magesterium, Pope, bishops, Tradition. Jesus promised to preserve and accompany the Catholic Church until the end of the world. Other churches come and go.
“The Catholic Church possesses the “four marks of the true Church”:
- She is One; the same faith throughout the world and throughout history; same Catechism used by all
- She is Holy; She produces Saints and calls us to holiness; obeys the Ten Commandments etc.
- She is Universal; She exists everywhere in the world
- She is Apostolic; She can trace her origins back to Jesus and the Apostles; the Pope and the bishops continue the apostolic mission given by Jesus.
“Additionally, the Catholic Church is a family, full of grace and compassion, dedicated to caring for the poor and powerless, a creator of culture through a biblical view of human destiny, great educational institutions, reverence for life in all its forms, dedication to family, protection of human rights and dignity and a patron of beauty and the arts which ennoble the human spirit.
“You asked if there is really all that much difference between Catholic and other Christian faiths. Thanks be to God, we do have a lot in common. But unfortunately, too much is different. . . “
Remarkably, many non-Catholics know so little about the Faith; our own brother once asked if Catholics were Christian! Many apparently have little to no curiosity to learn about the Church. While this is unfortunate, we all simply must show them by example and trust that the Holy Spirit will help us answer their questions when they ask.
Fr. Richard has left us a dynamic and wonderful ‘cliff note’ on why anyone should consider being Catholic.