I’m still Catholic because it lacks something

Mount Hope Cemetery — Toronto

^My poor Guardian Angel will finally get some rest one day!

A little while ago, Elizabeth Scalia posed a simple question to the Catholic Blogosphere: Why are you Catholic? I found that post and made a mental note to do something with that after semester was over.

Semester is now over and I’ve had a couple of weeks to ruminate over it. I don’t often talk about my faith journey. It is something I keep relatively close to my chest since I feel that the people I interact with need to be in the right space to hear it and accept it with respect. I am always deeply grateful for other people who take a chance and share something so personal with me, regardless of what kind of faith it is.

However, I do wear a a delicate, silver rosary around my neck. I do frequently discuss my points of view on topical matters that are informed by the philosophic traditions of Catholicism. I am also a total geek when it comes to history and literature, particularly the history of the Catholic Church and the ways that Catholicism does (and doesn’t) inform the works of Catholic and non-Catholic authors. I do a podcast on the topic regularly.

So why am I (still) Catholic? To put it simply, I am going to quote one of my favourite literary characters ever:

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

– John, from Adolus Huxley’s Brave New World

I read Brave New World in my final year of High School and it left a profound impression on me. This moment in the book pierced me like nothing had before. Huxley captured so simply the deepest longings of my humanity.

This is why I am Catholic: she has it all. God, poetry, art, beauty, danger, freedom, goodness, virtue and sin. Yes, I want sin too. I suppose I should clarify: sin is not something you are, it is something you do. It means in Ancient Greek ‘to miss the target’. Archers who missed the bullseye ‘sinned’. You can’t have freedom or virtue without the possibility of sin. I ‘want’ sin, not because I want to act sinfully (which I do), but because I want to be free, be virtuous and be good and I don’t always get it right. I ‘want’ sin because God uses my failed attempts to give me mercy, to push me to grow, to mold me into the daughter I was created to be.

Catholicism has a distinctive lacking too. It lacks comfort. There is solace, serenity and peace, but not comfort in the sense that John is talking about. If you are Catholic and comfortable, you are doing it wrong. Jesus was not a man to make people comfortable. He challenged, poked, prodded and freaked people out. Very much like this…

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I love being Catholic, I love the rituals, the words, the feasting, the fasting and the people (note: this does not mean they never drive me insane sometimes). The Church is my family. We don’t always get along, we do terrible things to each other, but we still stand in the pews as equal, wounded, sinners desperately in need of mercy and grace and we still try to do better. We have the most mind-blowing gift: the Incarnation. It’s a living conduit of the love and mercy of God at it’s most intimate. I have not come across any other religion that invites us to ‘gnaw’ on the very essence of God in the flesh. Literally, not symbolically. Most people (rightly) think that is weird.

I could go on, but ultimately all the reasons I am Catholic boil down to this. My heart is hungry, aching and yearning for something other than comfort and to put it simply, Catholicism delivers above and beyond. She provides so much food for my hungry heart in the form of God himself, not even a thousand lifetimes could consume it. Thankfully, there is eternity.

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