RSS

Why I Love Being Catholic

Today, while going through my email and checking Facebook for the first time in a few days, I noticed something very exciting. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is giving away an iPad Mini full of Catholic content! The sweepstakes is easy to enter and there are multiple ways to enter. Go here to find out more about it and all that the Archdiocese is doing to celebrate the Year of Faith!

One of the ways you can enter to win is by commenting on this post and telling the world why you love being Catholic. Well, for those like me who read blogs regularly, leaving extra long comments are not generally good form, even on a post like this. (They generally get skipped over if they are more than about 100 words long.) So, I’ve decided, since there really is so much to say about why I love being Catholic, I should just write my own blog post, like Lindsey Simmons did, and leave my link over there.

So, why do I love being Catholic?

Catholicism_4

  1. The Eucharist. The key teaching of the faith and the source and summit of all the Catholic Church does. We believe that Jesus, in instituting this sacrament at the Last Supper, truly gave us his body and blood and we continue to re-present his sacrifice at every Mass, every day, every hour throughout the world. In the miracle of the transubstantiation, the changing in substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, Jesus shows us at every Mass that he loves us so much and wants to be so close to us as to become nourishment to our very bones.
  2. Mary. No other religion in the world understands Mary’s role in our salvation and her role in the life of the Church today so much as the Catholic Church. Our devotion to her and the honor we bestow on her as our Queen and mother are just a beautiful expression of the depth of the teachings of this Church. Without her great “Yes,” Jesus’ mission would never have come to fruition. Does she not deserve the respect the Church gives her? I say, that’s the very least she deserves.
  3. Its Biblical Roots. Not only was the Church formed in the time of Christ and its inception dictated in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and its first Papal encyclicals recorded in the letters to the early Church, but the teachings of the Catholic Church can all be found and supported by the Truth found in the Bible. While most teachings also depend heavily on the constant teaching Tradition of the Church, all of them find their inception in the Bible. (Of course, those matters which are new to our specific place in history have teachings whose conclusions were drawn by way of reason from those whose foundations are in the Bible.) It’s spectacular to see when we study the Bible all the connections one can easily make to what the Church teaches today.
  4. Its history. The Catholic Church has been around for over 2000 years and is the only Church instituted by Christ with a direct line of succession to the apostles, whom Jesus picked to form and lead His Church. Throughout those 2000 years it has studied and discussed and taught on nearly every subject that effects our daily lives, and not just once, but studied and re-studied and always it arrives at the truth in love. The position is not always popular, but it is right and true and when we accept those teachings and try to live in accord with those teachings, our lives are all the better for it.
  5. Its Community. Not only is the Church full of wonderful people who love and want to do what is best for all people, especially those who have no one else to care for them and cannot care for themselves, but you can find those people throughout every country in the entire world and we all believe and teach and practice the same faith!! In addition, this community of people doesn’t stop at this world but extends into the next in the communion of saints who are the greatest source of inspiration for us and can show us, by their supreme examples, the way to live today with God’s grace so that we can live in God’s presence eternally in heaven. In addition, the prayerful support we can attain from these saints is nothing short of overwhelming.
  6. Its Sacraments. In addition to the sacrament of the Eucharist, the other six sacraments are like the guideposts and aids for us as we try to live our lives and “become perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” The sacrament of reconciliation especially is not there to punish us for doing bad things and it certainly isn’t there to make us fools in front of another human person. It is such a wonderful gift that allows us to be free of those past mistakes and to receive the grace of God to help us to not make those mistakes again. The experience of receiving that absolution from the person of Jesus Christ, whose spirit was given to the priest on his ordination (another great sacrament of the Church) is one of the greatest treasures of our faith.
  7. Its Social Teaching. The Catholic Church is the greatest source of charity in this entire world! It beats the great work of national governments in the amount of aid and support they give to all those in need. They stand on the front lines to protect the unborn and the dignity of every human person. To be part of such an amazing institution is just awesome!
  8. Its Cultural Richness. The number of different people and cultures that make up the Catholic Church is almost innumerable. The number of different traditions and prayers and devotions available to help me to get to know, love and serve my Creator are likewise nearly countless. You can never come to the bottom of the barrel as you draw from the well of the richness of this Catholic faith.
  9. Its expectations. The Church, like Christ, expects us to be holy. To live holy and to enter into heaven at the end of our earthly lives is the goal the Church has set for us, because Jesus set that goal for us. They give us the tools to do it, too! With access to God’s grace in the regular reception of the sacraments, the community of believers with which the Church wants to surround us, the many examples of holy men and women throughout the ages and the volumes upon volumes of spiritual readings and reflections from the saints and those who are still studying these things today, the Church not only expects great things but they give us what we need to reach those expectations with God’s grace.
  10. Its Willingness to Stand Alone. The teachings of the Catholic Church are often unpopular and do not change with the times like so many things in society. However, that has not stopped the Church from standing firm in its teaching and doing so by constantly proclaiming the Truth as has been handed to it by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is reassuring to know that even though so many things are uncertain in this world, I always have a steady foundation in the Church upon which I can rely.

That is just some of why I choose to be Catholic and why I love being Catholic and yet, as I said, there are so many other reasons not mentioned above. The smells and bells of the liturgy, the beautiful way in which the Church’s calendar works, the celebrations, the beauty of its buildings and art…I could go on and on with the little things I love about this Church, but none of that matters if I can’t inspire you with my life. So, why do you love being Catholic? Or, for those who left, what made you stop being Catholic? Or for those who aren’t and have never been, what’s keeping you from being Catholic? I love this Church, I want you to love it, too!

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 6, 2012 in All In, Discipline, Mass, Prayer, scripture, St. Joseph, Virtue

 

Window Glare

I was in my car on my way back to work during one of those rare sunny days we’ve had this month and I came up to a stop light. Right across the intersection was a car who seemed to slowly move right into the spot where the sun was shining the brightest and send those rays of light beaming right into my pupils. It was painful and there was nothing I could do to get away from it, except squint and turn my head. Of course, turning my head would lead to me missing the light change, so I decided to bear it.

In that moment, though, I had two somewhat profound (for me at least) besides the fact that I should have worn my sunglasses. The first thought is this: this is glimpse of God’s glorious light and I’m called to be that car! Okay, so maybe not that car exactly, but I’m supposed to be reflecting God’s glorious light to the world and I should not be seen. When I looked at that car, even for the briefest second that I could, I didn’t see the windshield or the person inside, I saw the light. The car was simply receiving the light and passing it on in all its splendor. When people see me on the street, when they talk to me in my house, when my kids work with me on their school work or when we make cookies, do they see me, or do they see God working through me? Do they get a glimpse of God’s love pouring out of me into the world or do they get a glimpse of selfishness and anger?

The second thought I had was that despite the imperfections of the car (certainly, this car wasn’t perfectly clean and free from scratches), God was still able to radiate. And so there is a message of hope in here. Despite our imperfections and despite our moments of selfishness and anger, God can still use us and wants to use us to help spread His Love and Mercy and Hope to everyone we meet. Certainly, as was the case when that light hit me, people may be uncomfortable with seeing Christ’s love and light. Some people may even reject it (it certainly was the case when Jesus walked the earth), but we are called to shine nonetheless. Because even when I turned my head, I could still feel the warmth of that light and I knew that it was truly there no matter where I looked.

So, it is my prayer, that throughout the coming Advent season, as we await the coming of Christ’s light into this world, we are all able to prepare ourselves to be the bearers of this great and glorious light and that we are able to carry it boldly to all the people we meet.

God, grant us the grace to be your windshields. 🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Virtue

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Patience is a Virtue (that I wish I had)

Below is a post I began writing a couple months ago but until now didn’t get a chance to finish. Reading over the beginning I found that it is as true now (if now more so) as it was then, so I decided to finish it because I need to hear it and it needs to be said.

Attending a beautiful wedding this past Saturday, I was afforded a welcome retreat from the constant movement of taking three kids to Mass. I was actually able to listen to the readings, the psalm and the homily! Of course, it is in those times when we have a chance to listen that God comes in and speaks to our hearts and so it was this time.

The psalm chosen by the wedding couple was one I had heard a thousand times growing up: Psalm 103 “The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, rich in kindness, the Lord is kind and merciful.” While I know this particular version of the psalm is not drawn directly from Psalm 103 as it is meant to be, it struck me how directly this related to my life and the life of the soon to be married couple on their wedding day!

It is something I’ve been reflecting on a great deal, really and hearing it in Church made it all the more prominent. We are the children of God and as children are wont to do, we make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are huge, sometimes they are minor. Sometimes we don’t live up to our potential and yet, how does our God repay us for those failures? With love! With compassion! With Mercy! With overflowing, total self-giving, sacrificial LOVE! 

And here I am, the father of three children, the husband of one amazing wife, and how does my response to my childrens’ mistakes and bad choices compare to God’s? I’ll tell you right now, that it’s not a pretty comparison. Of course, you might say, we can’t expect to be like God, he is perfect, and that is true, but I remember a line in scripture that says, “be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.” A lofty goal to be certain, but one toward which we should all be striving. And so it is with fathers in a particular way because…well, we’re fathers. So, the image of God the father that my kids will first see is supposed to be me. If they don’t see me being slow to anger, rich in kindness, full of compassion, how can they be expected to understand that God, who is all knowing and all powerful, is also all merciful, all just and all loving.

I think I just realized my new year’s resolution.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Children, fatherhood, scripture, Virtue

 

Tags: , , , ,

“This” is What Life’s About

Just a few days ago, I was in the car on my way to work and a new (to me) song by Darius Rucker came on the radio. The title of this song was inocuous enough and, in fact, I completely didn’t know what to expect, so when the DJ said, “This” by Darius Rucker, I was intrigued. As I listened, I was blown away and brought back to so many conversations my wife and I have about the way we first met.

Then, it got me thinking about how great it is to share “our story” with so many people. Each time we tell it, we get to go back to all those little decisions we made that eventually brought us together and kept us together. We remember how we looked when we first met, what we did together when we were first dating and learning all the quirks about one another, how we felt when we had our first kiss, the letters we used to write to one another when we couldn’t be together that first summer, and the memories go on and on. But most of all we look back over all of it and see the way God was guiding us through it all. There were so many things that could have gone differently in our lives and so many other decisions we could have made that would have kept us from ever knowing one another. How different our lives would have been! And yet, for some reason, God saw it fit that we should meet, that we should make all those decisions because in the end, the greatest good we could each hope for has happened to us and continues to this day.

Now we are tasked with maintaining this gift, keeping it beautiful, keeping it alive and strong and I think, again, it comes down to decisions. There are times when we feel like the last place we want to be is in the presence of the one we love. There are times when we just want to be alone, with no spouse, no kids, no responsibility and it is in those moments when we have to make a decision to continue to love. I think that everyday, in fact, we must make the decision to love again and anew. Some days, it’s easy; somedays, not as much, but if we recognize that each time we choose to love our spouse, we are also choosing to love the God who brought us together by way of all those other crazy decisions in our lives, then we also have hope that God will continue to bless that love and help it to grow stronger.

Mr. Rucker has it right. There is a certain freedom when we can say, “Thank God for leading me to this.” (You can literally feel the freedom with which he sings the song.) In that statement we have hope and trust that in this moment we are exactly where God wants us to be and we have the opportunity to love, to learn, and to grow more closely to Him and to the ones in our lives with which he has blessed us.

Now, I have three parting favors to ask:

This by Darius Rucker

1. Listen to the song!

2. If you haven’t done it recently, think back to when you first met your spouse, think back to all the decisions you made that led you to meet, and tell someone.

3. Thank God for leading you here to “this!”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 29, 2011 in All In

 

Tags: , , , ,

Family is the Reason for the Season

Okay, so perhaps that isn’t exactly how the saying goes and I, like author Steve Pokorny, certainly don’t want to downplay the importance of Jesus’ birth as the linchpin to our entire Christian faith and especially this Christmas season, but Jesus was born into a family, a pretty awesome one if I might add. But don’t let me tell you, it’s already been said:

While it’s true that Jesus in his divine nature knows all about love because He is Love, we cannot simply whitewash the fact that because Jesus was also 100% human (remember, He’s true God and true man), He had to learn about human love from somewhere and someone(s). That somewhere was during the silent time in his home in Nazareth, hidden away from public eye. And those someone(s) were Mary and Joseph – one sinless, and one a sinner with incredible virtue.

It was in the home of Joseph and Mary that Jesus learned the meaning of love. From the moment of his divine conception, he was received as a gift. Jesus would grow up seeing how Joseph treated Mary, how he interacted with others, how committed he was to taking care of his family. Jesus watched Mary, the most pure of all women, the one whom He had selected from all eternity interact with her husband, of how she fulfilled Proverbs 31 before his eyes. Through their love, He witnessed how their marriage and family life quietly impacted the lives of those around him.

Go here to read the rest>>>

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Children, fatherhood, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Confession with Dad

Astonishingly enough, my boys, from time to time do things that are not nice and on occasion they don’t do what my wife or I ask them to do.

I’ll give you a little time to get over the shock….

********************************************************************************
Okay, you with me again?

The other day while driving in the van one of my sons was apologizing for something he had done wrong and I accepted his apology and asked him to then sit quietly for a couple minutes without any music (torture for this one, I’m telling you). He then proceeded to repeat the wrongdoing about 5 times in a row during the next 60 seconds and after each time apologized.

Now as you might or might not agree, at this point, I’m really starting to not believe his apology and here is where the revelation of the wisdom of the Catholic Church came to me and I proceeded to explain what true contrition really is (of course, I used little kid words).

True contrition can only be recognized when three things are in place: you recocognize that what you did was wrong, you feel remorse for what you did, and you will TRY not to do it again. You may end up doing that thing again (several times) but you must promise to TRY not to by avoiding the situation, finding different words to express yourself, taking a deep breath before responding, etc. When one of these three things isn’t there, it is sensible to believe that you are not sincerely contrite. I think we recognize this pretty regularly in society. When someone hurts us and then apologizes, we expect that he won’t repeat that hurt over and over again. We tell him to “say sorry like you mean it.”

This all plays out beautifully in the sacrament of Confession. When we go to confession we begin with the sign of the cross and then proceed to tell the priest all the things we can remember doing wrong since our last confession. The priest then gives us a little counsel and then gives us some form of penance to do. Finally, he asks us to say an Act of Contrition. In that little prayer, and there are many variations, we say three things: I’m sorry for what I’ve done, I will try to do reparation for those failures, and I will try not to do it again!

The Church in Her wisdom gives us this opportunity to publicly make amends for what we did. It allows us the opportunity to tell someone that we truly are sorry and that we promise, with the help of God’s grace, to avoid that sin in the future. If we fail again, we come back again and again until we get it it right. The point is our real sorrow, and our real struggle to kick the bad habit out of our lives so that we can truly be closer to God and his entire family.

In that car ride home, I got to be the priest to my family once again; the counselor and the forgiver of sins. For a few more years, my wife and I will get to stand in that role and what an awesome responsibility and privilege that is. Our children will be going to confession with Dad (and Mom) and, hopefully, will get to see in us the mercy, forgiveness, and justice with which God treats each and every one of us. We will fail (perhaps miserably at times most of the time) at reaching that level, but that will give us the opportunity to experience that mercy, forgiveness and justice ourselves.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Children, Discipline, fatherhood, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

A Priestly Calling from a Father’s Perspective

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a national convention for Diocesan Vocation Directors. This convention has several functions for the priests who attend: social networking and just plain camaraderie with fellow Vocation Directors, education and “professional development,” and spiritual and physical refreshment. Each of these pieces year in and year out are equally valued by the members of the NCDVD and I, being a lay, married, father of 3 children and an associate vocation director, get a chance to experience all this from a decidedly different perspective.

Throughout the week I listened as priests and lay people taught priests how to work in the field of Vocation Promotion, how to increase the effectiveness of the message they hope to spread and how to reach more efficiently the right young men who are being called to the priesthood. I listened as priests taught their brother priests in the homilies during Mass. I watched as young priests met fellow young priests from across the nation and shared what is working for them and what they need help with and all the while I was able to sit back and think, what does this all mean for me as a husband and father.

The answer I received on the last day of the convention was one that surprised me a little. The realization is that almost everything that was being taught in those workshops and applied to the priesthood in those homilies was also very personally applicable to my life! Sure, the “professional development” applied very directly to my work, but the homilies about the role of a vocation director, the hard work of the vocation director, the importance of the priesthood in the life of the church all applied to me personally, because, I am a FATHER!

In paragraphs 1655-1657 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read that the family has the special distinction of being called the Domestic Church, the place in which our Faith is first introduced, fostered, and shared and it is in leading ones children to discover their vocations that a father and a mother participate fully in the priesthood of the baptized.

At the conclusion of this fantastic week of learning and reflecting, I finally understood that my role as father of my family is not so different than the role of the priest of my parish. We are entrusted with the souls of our families. It is our duty to make sure that while attempting to work with God’s grace to get ourselves to heaven, we live out a life of total self-sacrifice that enables those around us to get to heaven as well. We are expected to be holy examples of virtuous living and when we fail to do so, it matters all the more because of the responsibility in being entrusted with God’s children (no matter the number).

So, there I was, at the convention’s closing Mass, in front of the icon of the NCDVD patron, St. John Vianney, asking for prayers that I might be a good and holy priest for my family because, in that moment, I realized, that is my vocation; that is my responsibility; that is my gift.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 9, 2011 in All In, fatherhood, Virtue

 

Tags: , ,