Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I love being Catholic

This past week, I've had many opportunities to reflect on my Catholic faith while being exposed to various other religions. I went to some prayer meetings with Baptists and different Protestant groups, and let me say, you guys know how to pray! It was such a powerful experience, and I love how the Holy Spirit is so present in your prayer groups! That being said, I can't imagine not being Catholic. While there is that power and zeal  unfortunately missing from a lot of Catholic's spirituality (that's a soap box for another day), there are those of us Catholics who do pray with that same fervor and zeal under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. During a prayer meeting at one of the Protestant churches, one of the ministers began explaining that they were "just speaking in tongues" as if we didn't know what they were doing ... And I'm like "Yea, we do that too!" The Charismatic movement is a relatively new movement in the Church... I never experienced anything like it since I came to college at Franciscan. But I honestly cannot imagine my faith without this aspect. We love to praise too! It's in the Bible that the Apostles were speaking in tongues, and people who witnessed them thought they were drunk because they were so on fire with the Holy Spirit and could not contain the joy they felt for the Lord.

Another reason I love being Catholic: the saints. Great, holy, men and women who have gone before us as an example of faith. By their examples, we can learn how to be more faithful and to love Jesus better. We don't worship them. We ask for their intercession the same way you would ask for a friend to pray for you. We remember them, as much as you would remember loved ones who have profoundly impacted your faith journey. It is just more powerful that they are in Heaven and adoring the Lord and can intercede more completely in their holiness than we presently can. There is so much to be learned from the example of the saints: so much wisdom in their writings, so many beautiful prayers and lessons...perhaps we are too prideful to admit that we need to learn from them...

A third reason: Mary. Our beautiful Mother. No one loved her more than Jesus did, and He tells us as He is dying on the cross to "behold your Mother". He gives her to us as a gift. Now there are some who are in error and seem to hold her in higher standing than Jesus, but that is not true of the Catholic religion as a whole. Anywhere you go, no matter what religion, location, people, you are going to have some who take things to extreme, and unfortunately that is what the media seems to focus upon. But the Church does not put Mary higher than Jesus. We entrust ourselves to Her because Her only desire is to bring us to Christ. She directs us always to Her Son. She was the Lord's first tabernacle. She carried Him for 9 months in Her womb. I think we should give Her some credit for that and for raising Him and loving Him more than any of us ever could! She is the most perfect example of how to love and be obedient to the Father's will. There is so much that She wants to teach us, and She longs so much to wrap us in Her motherly embrace and carry us to Her Son.

And the best reason of all: The Eucharist. Our Source and Summit. Jesus says in the Bible "This IS My Body...This IS My Blood... Do this in memory of Me." Now, I know that non-Catholics believe that He was  speaking metaphorically when He said this, but why would you not want to believe in the true Eucharistic presence? In giving Himself to us in the Eucharist, He is giving us the best gift of love to keep us sustained while we are on this earth. He loves us soo much that He desires to dwell within us so intimately through this Sacrament of the Altar. Why would you not want to believe in that love? It is almost too good to be true. It just seems like such an oxymoron of His love to believe that it is just a symbol. It would be as if He was saying: "I only love you so much as to give you this symbol of myself for you to remember me by, because I am going off to Heaven and you will just have to physically reach me when you get here!" What kind of love would that be? That is not the love that I know, the Love that would give of His whole life for us on the cross, even if we don't return it or care, the Love that would be beaten and bruised for the sins that I would commit, the Love that would do it all again if He had to. No, the Love that I know would leave us that same Body that was broken for us and that same Precious Blood that was shed. That Love would want us to be with Him so intimately, so profoundly, so badly that He would give us His body again in the Eucharist, so that we could have Him physically with us always. The same Jesus that walked the hills of Nazareth preaching the Gospel is the same Jesus present in all the tabernacles around the world. Now that is love. He wants us to have Him. How can we look in the face of that Love and reject Him?

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