I learned this week something I had suspected for some time.
People close to me have serious misgivings about the faith I've re-embraced, about the faith I find so incredibly beautiful and true. It's not a surprising thing yet still painful. Of course it means simply that my prayers for them, prayers I've been praying for some time now, will continue.
Learning what I've learned makes this brand new piece by Tod Worner all the more hopeful, all the more revealing, all the more relevant:
If you would have asked my wife just a few years before if she could ever conceive of my conversion to Catholicism, her answer would have been a resounding “no”. That’s because for years I approached the Catholic faith with biases and misunderstandings about nearly everything: the role of Mary and the Saints, the primacy of the Pope, the seeming aloofness of the Catholic hierarchy, the exclusivity of Holy Communion, the restriction that priests must be single, celibate men, the emphasis on Tradition, the pervasive sense of guilt outweighing redemption and the obvious priest sex abuse scandal. To speak to each of these misgivings would require a book-length piece (perhaps something for the future…), but I would ask that you read my blogs over the last year and a half which have attempted to speak to these particular issues, what I have come to understand about the Church and why I converted.
However, just because I entered the Church didn’t mean that the imperfections of the Body of Christ ceased to exist. Further sexual abuse has been uncovered, certain Archbishops embezzle or design lavish lifestyles for themselves and Cardinals debating extremely sensitive issues of great moral import resort to name-calling, back-biting unChristian behavior. Lawsuits have been filed. Books have been written. Polemics have been penned. Respected thinkers such as Rod Dreher left Catholicism several years ago while Mark Judge, Michael Coren walked away this year offering very public and honest testimonials (while thoughtful responses have been offered by many including fellow Catholic Patheos colleague Kathy Schiffer) . Negative momentum has been building for a long time. And surely there are many Catholics who are considering that they too should hang it up and walk away.
But not me.
Here is why I am NOT leaving the Catholic Church.
When British journalist and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton composed his famous essay, Why I Am A Catholic, he began by simply saying,
“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true. I could fill all my space with separate sentences each beginning with the words, ‘It is the only thing that…’”
He then goes on to list numerous brilliant reasons for his Catholicism. I completely sympathize with this. The entire reason I write this blog to begin with (from my first essay to my last) is to humbly and self-critically articulate how wrong I was. All the perceptions, insights and criticisms I had of the Catholic Faith before I truly encountered it were just plain wrong. Ironically, these blogs are a testimony to my own ignorance. And as C.S. Lewis remarked on conversion, “Every story of conversion is the story of a blessed defeat.” Each piece I write is one small brushstroke in the ever-unfinished portrait of my unfolding Catholic faith. For me, like Chesterton, there are ten thousand reasons amounting to one reason.
I am NOT leaving the Catholic Church because I believe that the Catholic Faith is true.
I encourage all to read the entire thing. Mr. Worner writes beautifully and this piece is most beautiful. Here's hoping many read it.
Here's hoping my loved ones will.