Why Catholic? Here’s a Start!

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.

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3 Responses to Why Catholic? Here’s a Start!

  1. ThereseRita says:

    You formatted this much much better than I did. Thanks for posting. Fr tomasek left an easily accessible legacy for all who have ears to hear!

  2. Tom Wiley says:

    Growing up Protestant, I have never understood this argument, I still don’t. Jesus never actually started a church, his followers did. Of those, the Roman Catholic was actually the last church founded by Paul. While attending the fair recently, I stopped by the Catholic booth out of curiosity. I asked about another Catholic booth, but was told they were unaffiliated, because their order only held Mass in Latin. When talking to the Latin Mass group, I thought they were part of the order that Mel Gibson followed, but found out they too were “different”. My church was approached by a group that called themselves “Women Priests”, pertaining also to be Catholic and wanted to rent space in our building. All of this doesn’t lend credibility to the “She is One” or “She is Universal” theory.
    While I was taught to follow the teachings of the Ten Commandments, we don’t worship saints, as we see that being Idolatry, a violation of the very first Commandment.
    Of the many Protestant churches I’ve attended, they also claim to be Apostolic, so I don’t see this being an issue.

    By placing my comments here, I do not intent to offend of cause division. Actually the opposite, I believe the Christian churches have more in common as mere followers of Christ. This is especially important today as we see Catholic and Protestant churches alike under attack from government, the media and compromise to moral failures.

    I have always been curious about the Orthodox church and how each, be it Greek, Roman, Russian, Egyptian, etc, etc. claims to be the final authority. Yet ultimately it appears to be more about the hat that their respect Pope wears and the rituals they’ve developed over the years rather than their devotion to Christ and to studying the scriptures. Most of my Catholic friends have not impressed me with their faithfulness to Christ or to the scriptures. Yet, I could make much the same claim of those within my own church.

    Anyway, I enjoy your posts and agree with them probably 99% or more. I may never understand Catholicism, but I find ALL of church history educational and will endeavor to try harder at understanding.

    • CowboyPapist says:

      Tom, thank for your comment; we’re very grateful. Learning about the Catholic Church is a life long process, as we continue to learn after converting from Southern Baptist in the mid 1980s. We would urge you to continue to educate yourself on why the Catholic Church is indeed, the Church founded by Jesus Christ. This isn’t an point open to interpretation; it is fact and is scriptural. Your comment about the last church founded by Paul is interesting, but not one we’ve heard before. To your point on un-Christian behavior, we couldn’t agree with you more. The Church was founded by sinners, and has existed through history despite the many sinners who claimed the Faith.

      Bottom line is that a blog post cannot be a sole source of teaching; it should simply light a flicker of interest to pursue further interest. Should you wish to look into Catholicism further, we would recommend you visit http://www.beginningcatholic.com or http://www.fisheaters.com, both which offers many answers to the many questions.

      Here is the Creed, which is recited at each Mass every day, which may be of help to understand the foundation of what Catholics believe:

      We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
      We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
      eternally begotten of the Father,
      God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,
      begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.
      Through him all things were made.
      For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
      by the power of the Holy Spirit
      he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
      For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
      he suffered, died, and was buried.
      On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures;
      he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
      He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
      and his kingdom will have no end.
      We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
      who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
      With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
      He has spoken through the Prophets.
      We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
      We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
      We look for the resurrection of the dead,
      and the life of the world to come. Amen.

      Again, thank you for your post; we appreciate your visit!

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