ON THE FEAST OF ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE
"You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!"
- John 20:29
I think I've always been destined to be Catholic. Not a particularly or consistently good one - but most certainly what author James Carroll calls a "Practical Catholic."
As you can tell from the title of this Blog, I refer to myself as a "Reluctant Catholic," in that I acknowledge the magisterium, or doctrinal authority, of the Catholic Church - but I still struggle and resist accepting some of the teachings and practices. I firmly assert that the issue is mine and not theirs!
I believe that I believe in the Nicene Creed, and I try to believe consistently in the authority of the Church and its Saints, Angels, and of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary. But, I am in good company with St. Thomas the Apostle as I wrestle with doubts. But I trust Jesus with my life and eternity - and in that I have no doubt
The Catholic Church is not perfect in practice - but it is a masterpiece of magisterial design and it has done a supernatural job, despite itself, of maintaining the integrity of its original processes and purpose.
THE DEEP CALL OF THE HEART
Since early May of this year I have felt the "call" deep within to return to the faith that I had vehemently and vocally rejected a few times in the past. I can offer no real rational explanation for my changes of heart - I could blame it on demonic influence - but that is no different than saying that I don't really know what drew me away so strongly - it is a mystery of doubt. In the same way, my return is a mystery of faith. If it is possible that my turning away was demonically motivated, then I cling willingly to the possibility that my return to Catholicism is the work of intervening angels.
ARMS WIDER OPEN
In this return there is a difference in the embrace. I do not cling blindly to the Catechism, nor do I disregard the "inner voice" that sometimes contradicts the sometimes theoretical dogmatic scenarios, in favor of what I sense is a more compassionate view of the reality of things. I have a bigger heart this time - and do not hypocritically whisper curses of damnation against those that reject that which I formerly denied myself, but now embrace as ultimate truth.
This time I have greater faith that God is better at love than we in the Church are at interpreting theology.
Returning to the Mass has been a reunion of my doubting mind with my grieving heart.
HOLDING ON TO THE VOWS
A relationship with Jesus Christ, through his bride the Church, is more like a marriage than a contracted, conditional partnership. The Bride can fall short of being worthy, in the earthly sense, of her children or husband's love because of her behavior - but the strong love of the divine bridegroom, (Christ) is truly unconditional and goes much deeper and far beyond the worst sins. The children love and obey their Father, the Bridegroom, and see in their mother the love for them that is reflected from the father - a love of commitment beyond fickle emotion. So, I have decided to stand firm in my commitment made in earnest a few years ago - to honor Christ in and through his Holy Catholic Church.
IT'S STILL ME
Behind all this rhetoric stands the cynical sinner that has always been me. I know I will struggle with my commitments and I'm sure I'll offer both fair and unfair criticism of those who stand with me in Church, but stand against me in word, and/or spirit from time to time - but such is the matter of conscience and confession - which will no doubt help me to stretch my faith in these times.
I am committing to live by and through the power of the gift of grace - which can only be given on the terms of the giver - who is the Lord of all.
Please hold on until this ride stops moving.
GLORY BE TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING, IS NOW AND EVER SHALL BE. WORLD WITHOUT END.