Answering for My Catholicism

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When I was in college and traveling I would often get into conversations with my airplane seatmate about my college thesis. It was a good follow up since my major is in the wide and vague field of Anthropology. Somehow I always managed to be talking to a former Catholic about my thesis on Catholic women and veiling. Their first response always included that one liner that you just know has gotten a lot of use since they left the Church.

"Oh, I'm a recovering Catholic." Like there's an AA for that.

"I used to be Catholic but now I'm a free thinker."

That one always galled me a bit. The implied idea that anyone who is truly intellectually curious cannot exist in the Catholic Church came up quite a bit. I would have to calm my internal ruffled feathers and ask more questions about their experience in the Church. I tried to keep in mind one of my favorite quotes from Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing."

The top of my list of why I love being Catholic is that no matter how hard I investigate and seek to understand Church teachings, there are still more depths to plumb. It makes me so sad to meet so many people who came against an obstacle to faith and chose to turn away. For many it happened as a young kid. Young enough that the initial turning away came from being failed by the teachers and leaders they trusted and asked to help them understand.

It is true that the teachings do not have all modern sensibilities in mind. Thank God! I want a Church able to articulate who she is and not a chameleon one can never be quite sure about.

I find it amazing that I can read the desert fathers and hear someone speak to the heart of my struggles. A hermit man who lived thousands of miles away and over a thousand years ago can speak truth to my heart because that truth is still truth. That is the amazing beauty of the Catholic Church.

Understanding the teachings does not take faith to move mountains, it just takes a heart willing to listen. I love that the teachings are very logical - the reasoning of a position has been followed to it's logical conclusion and made sure that conclusion is still where we should want to go.

One of my guilty pleasures is reading about all of the heresies that have occurred through the ages.
(I know it sounds weird, bear with me!)
Heresies almost always start with a subtle, but important, misunderstanding of a theological principle. From there the heresy spreads, and what plays out is the full impact of following error to it's logical conclusion. It is not a place I would want to go. Getting intellectual concepts down has a huge impact on avoiding error, and when one reads about just a smattering of the many heresies that have led to great loss of life and terrible practices one starts to understand how important a role intellectuals can play in the Church.

I think we should all be intellectuals of a sort in the Church. Understanding theology is not just the arena, or responsibility, of a select few. Regular Catholics in the pew need to understand why we believe what we believe. Every Catholic, at some point, will be asked to answer for those beliefs. Best be ready!

This post is part of the monthly CWBN Blog Hop. Hop over to read more responses on this month's theme "why I love my Catholic faith".

Why do you love your Catholic faith?


  1. I always love how you defend the Faith so logically and compassionately! Thank you for sharing your insight, and how you are led to believe so strongly in the Catholic Faith!

    1. Thanks Anni! Loving reading through all the different takes on the hop!

  2. YES! Regular Catholics do need to understand Theology, Apologetics... and be able to defend our Faith with love and real examples.
    When I first converted, I felt overwhelmed because I knew that I'd never know ALL about the Catholic Church. But someone pointed out that there was no way we could. We just have to learn daily. And it's ok!

    Great posts.


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