Why I am a Catholic

Not, please note, why I am still a Catholic. That would need a different kind of post altogether. No, I am happy to say that at the heart of my faith is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe everything the Catholic Church teaches about him to be true. That is why I am a Catholic and, please God, will remain a Catholic for the rest of my days.

Many readers will be disappointed by such an answer. They would really like a little bit of angst somewhere, or at the very least a stirring account of struggles with intellectual difficulties and existential doubt. I am not saying that faith comes more easily to me than it does to others, nor am I suggesting that I inhabit an untroubled upland where all is peace and light. The point is, nothing, absolutely nothing, can compare with the infinite truth and goodness of God. Once one has a sense of that, nothing less than God himself will do, and nothing less than God will one find. That is why I can identify with Walter Hilton’s pilgrim, who was determined to be at Jerusalem, no matter what terrors menaced him on the way, no matter how many wrong turns he made, no matter how uncongenial he found some of his companions (or how uncongenial they found him, understood).

Faith, for me, means keeping one’s gaze fixed on God, or rather, where one knows he will be found. Most of the time, of course, he is hidden from sight, which is why Benedict talks always about searching for God. But a glimpse of the true north is enough to set one’s course. Mistakes are made, alas, and one goes forward and backwards and wobbles along and gets stuck in all kinds of unprofitable situations. That is when grace steps in and puts right what one has managed to get wrong. It isn’t easy, and I think it gets harder as one goes on. Little by little, one is stripped of all the ‘comforts’ one formerly relied upon. The spell-binding liturgy of my youth is long gone; the churches are bleaker, emptier; the monastic world that has been my home for nearly forty years has changed beyond recognition. But, and it is an important but, God has not changed. He leads us deeper and deeper into the mystery of his being; and who could ask for more?

So, I am a Catholic, and glad and grateful for what I have been given. What I call the truth of Catholicism is something I experience daily, and it is a source of great joy. It is a pity that we tend to think of both truth and joy in largely negative terms — truth too often reduced to meaning an exposé of the latest criminality, joy nothing more than the absence of pain. A very little thought should convince us how wrong that is because truth and joy are ultimately a person, our Lord Jesus Christ, and he accompanies us wherever we are, including our darkest, most painful moments. So, I end where I began; but, thanks be to God, a little further along the way, I trust.


15 thoughts on “Why I am a Catholic”

  1. I love this; especially the truth and joy which is found in Jesus. Amen to that! Sr Catherine you are an inspiration to so many because you point us back to Jesus. Catholic or not, we find ourselves in Christ; the author and perfecter of our faith. I long for the day when we will see the true beauty of his face.

  2. I absolutely agreewith you and especially your second sentence. However I am ‘officially’an Anglican, although I think of myself as belonging to the Catholic church as well, espeically after walking the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. I was brought up in the Anglican church and so were my husband and children. Our services are the same as yours (though that isn’t true of all Anglican churches). I have thought of changing churches, but for me there are more readons to stay because of worshipping with my husband. Eventually I have concluded that God really doesn’t matter how I am ‘labelled’, he knows me as an individual not as a church member.

    • There are a number of differences between our Churches, as we have discussed before, and we have each based our decision as to which which we must belong to according to different criteria. It wouldn’t be honest of me to say I don’t think it matters. It DOES matter, but that does not prevent or lessen the fellowship we share in Christ. One day it will be perfect. It isn’t yet.

  3. Dear Sister Catherine

    A wow blog! – cheer! Although ….? You always come across to me as ‘a bred in you’ ‘outside my knowledge’ Catholic- but to me a non- Catholic it seemed the least important bit of information in the blog. I suppose the clue is in the title and ” I believe everything that the Catholic Church teaches about him to be true” ( is this the truth of Catholicism?) which for you makes it the most important bit because it is the Catholic Church’s teaching about Christ which enables you to express your faith in a blog such as this?( Also gets to the core of the Catholic Church- it is not all about the institutional stuff?). I may have missed the point however it is such a lovely blog. Thank you.

    • Thank you, Jo. I’m not sure I understand you fully (I can be very dim!). I was really just trying to make the point that I’m a Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church contains the fullness of teaching about Jesus Christ — we have the scriptures, the sacraments and so many other things to lead us to him. After yesterday’s post, in which I discussed some questions concerning the institutional aspects of the Church, it seemed right to express what underpins everything — faith in Jesus Christ.

  4. I can understand where you are coming from entirely, as I was raised a Catholic albeit, now I am an Anglican, probably embedded in the Sacramental Tradition, now serving with a Central parish in the Anglican Tradition. As I have grown and been formed as an Anglican in the past 12 years, my catholic heritage, fits right in and I have no doubt that there is much in both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Tradition that we hold in common.

    Visible unity should be an aspiration for both churches, but I am content to wait for the Holy Spirit to bring this about, if we pray together for unity, it will come in God’s time, not ours.

    And I owe much of my growth in faith to your example, of patience, faith and purity, which I can only hope to emulate. God gives you the strength and certainty and contentment to believe that the Catholic Teaching holds everything you need. I just wish that I could feel the same. My differences are miniscule, but important, until I am able to overcome them, I will remain an Anglican Catholic without any qualms.

  5. Thank you always for your post, which inspires me to rethink of “what I am up to” as a person who has bee waiting and wondering for my vocation.

  6. Thank you for this joyous post which, once again, articulates something I was unable to put into words myself. I am leading children through classes towards First Communion and Confirmation at the moment (including my own younger son) and increasingly I understand, I think, the centrality of Jesus. How lovely to have you spell it out for me. 🙂

Comments are closed.