What’s so great about being Catholic, anyway?
Have you ever been asked that? Have you ever asked yourself that? Most days, it would be hard to try to come up with just one thing, there are so many.
My first answer would be the Eucharist: the real presence, body, blood, soul, and divinity, of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word become flesh, who dwells among us. It’s no metaphor; we know where He is, and we know what He’s for.
After that, the list gets crowded and a bit jumbled. The Pope – and this Pope; Mozart and Michelangelo; Lent (yes, Lent!) and Easter. Votive candles, the Rosary, backyard shrines to the Blessed Mother, and Mardi Gras. And Catholics!
I could go on and on – but I don’t have to tell you that. The real question is, how would you answer? And now, to make it even more challenging, this is the real question: who is it in your life just now that wants to know?
There’s got to be someone who knows you and really wants to know, what’s so great about being Catholic?, but is afraid to ask. So in addition to your needing to have an answer, you need to give that someone the answer without waiting for them to ask the question.
It is that time of year again when we start huddling in the rectory meeting room with folks who want to know just that – what IS it about being Catholic? And is “it” for me? We call it RCIA, which stands for: the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. And it does move toward the sacraments. However, in the beginning, it really is simply inquiry, that is, all their questions. And since people hesitate to ask these questions, they need YOUR help to find their answers.
This is an important inquiry to pursue, because everybody knows our story is not all great, at all times, and in all ways. There’s a reason for that, too: human nature. The Church is made up of people, and people are marked by original sin, and original sin by definition means that there are flaws. For example, I am a flawed priest – but that doesn’t mean it would make sense to equate my flaws with the Sacred Priesthood.
In fact, sin is why we need the Church. Being sinners is what makes us eligible to be members! We have Sin, and we have sinned, so we need forgiveness. Forgiveness is what the Church exists to give, to make Christ’s saving sacrifice, his once-and-for-all death on Calvary, available to everyone who needs it. And since “who needs it” is precisely everyone, that is who the Church is for. That’s why she is called Catholic (universal); she is for everyone, because she has what everyone needs.
So think about your answer – what is so great about being Catholic? – and then share it with a few people in your life (friends, neighbors, co-workers, spouses) who may not know that it is a very legitimate question and that the answer is very much worth finding. Explain to them how they can bring their questions to this year’s RCIA, which starts soon.
Then point them in our direction: contact Norma in the rectory, Fr. Gallaugher, or me here at the rectory, or Neil Sloan in the Religious Ed office. Tell them to use the phone, a letter, email, voicemail, text, tweet, or smoke signal. We are eager to answer their questions, because that’s one of the things that’s great about being Catholic.