How Catholicism changes me.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
St. Augustine

I am very satisfied with my life. In fact, I love it. And, I wholly attribute this to Jesus and Catholicism.

Why is this?  Do I mean this? Does my life bare witness to this? This is not meant to be triumphant, or to gloat. But hopefully instead, it is a reflection on what I am grateful for in the life I have lived to this point. I pray that if you’re open, you might have this  experience too.

I’ve got a restless heart. My finite body has infinite desires. I desire fame, fortune, and power. I have lustful desires too. Girls are really good looking. I’m a slave to many things in life, most of all desserts. In the immortal words of B.O.B, “Everyone’s addicted to something.” I’m definitely selfish, and prideful.  But Catholicism teaches me that God still loves me. Jesus never abandons me. Even in my weakness and failings I know deep in my heart that Jesus loves me, and that He is gracing me in life, helping me to grow day by day. God desires me to be happy, and to grow in holiness (to become whole). My life is not meaningless. Every life has inestimable worth.

The Christian life is not so much about being good, as it is about being free.

I also am taught that the world is created good. The world is something to be enjoyed. Desserts are good, when used properly. Alcohol is good, when used properly. Sex is a beautiful gift, when used properly. God desires us to be happy, not miserable. And Catholicism is teaching me how to truly experience this freedom. Jesus Christ frees us from slavery.

Catholicism also inspires me in the true radical nature of what life can be. I’m freely choosing to live a celibate life because I have confidence in a dynamic loving relationship with God. Marriage is a wonderful good, a beautiful gift, and most all of us are called to it. I desire it more than you could imagine. But for some of us, freely choosing celibacy can be a gift and witness in the world. Jesus, though unmarried, found a way to love perfectly. That’s my mission to learn (and Lord knows I’ve got a lot to learn about it).

I’m Catholic because of the saints. Saints such as Francis of Assisi, Therese of Lisieux, John Paul II, Mother Theresa, Maximilian Kolbe, Teresa of Avila, and Damien of Molokai show me lives that are worth living. Catholicism produces the most wonder-provoking lives. Saints inspire awe and challenge like nothing else. Read stories of the saints and I promise you will find no greater inspiration. The saints glorify God fully in their life. They show us concrete examples of God working in the world.

Catholicism makes me humble. It reinforces that I’m most happy when I can strive to overcomes selfishness and greed. St. Francis’ prayer provides beauty and wisdom:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

I’m Catholic because of Reconciliation. Confessing my sins to a priest humbles me, and it is also cathartic. Through Reconciliation I know that I am forgiven for anything I have ever done. Reconciliation is the definition of grace- a free gift. The Prayer of Absolution, prayed aloud by the priest during confession is fantastically powerful:

“God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of your son, you have reconciled the world to yourself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Those words give me peace like nothing else. It provides a finality and concrete assurance to know that I am forgiven.

I could list a thousand more reasons for why I am so grateful to be Catholic. But for now I’ll end it here. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “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 honestly believe it is true.

So I offer you the chance as you explore what makes life worth living. What do you live for? I pray that you might at least be open to Catholicism. Please message me with any questions or struggles that you might have. I’d love to talk. I’d love to listen.

“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.” -Pope Benedict XVI

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