Why I Am A Catholic, Part II
“Wir müssen das, was wir denken, sagen. Wir müssen das, was wir sagen, tun. Wir müssen das, was wir tun, dann auch sein.”
“What we think, we must also say. What we say, we must also do. What we do we must, then, also be.”
If you have read Part I, you know how I rediscovered the immense treasury of the Church.
Why, then, do I remain Catholic?
There are many answers to this, but they all revolve around the same question: once you have tasted tiramisu, why don’t you start eating stale bread? Well, because I am not stupid, is probably the first answer. I met the Truth. I got the answer. Everything is in his place. Why I would willingly throw away all this, is beyond me. Particularly now, that I am fully aware of the dangers for my own soul of doing so.
Is it easy to remain a Catholic? No. To go with the flow is always the easiest. But then again being stupid is easy, too. I prefer to be smart, and suffer isolation or hostility in the company of Christ, rather than enjoy the abundant company of perfect cretins without Him. In life, you always pay a price. The desire to “go with the flow” also has one. Its payment may not be demanded immediately; but when the bill comes, it can literally kill you.
Yes, my life is abundantly filled with “Catholic guilt”. Yes, my continued inability to live the life I would want to live at times keeps me awake at night. But I see in this a salutary sign. It’s good to be afraid. It’s good to be ashamed. It’s good to be painfully aware of what a wretched sinner I am (you aren’t, I know; but I am, I am!). Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, mental onanism about “why should I stay in the Church?” may well be the beginning of hell.
The Church is the only reality there is. Every other group is a sect, a bunch of deluded children, a perfect folly, and a danger to your salvation. To ask me why I stay in the Church is like asking me why I do not throw myself out of the window.
Truths are things. Once learned, these things cannot be ignored anymore. You can persuade yourself that 2 + 2 = 5 if you so wish, but you’ll find it increasingly difficult to cope with a reality that will keep throwing your error in your face. So-called “same sex marriage” is a good example of this; it is 2+2=5 made pseudo-religious tosh.
This is the easy part. Now for the unpleasant one.
I am a sinner, but my faith is strong. By God’s grace, it is very strong. I do not entertain the least doubt about the Truthfulness of Catholic Truth. If I did, I wonder how I could write a Catholic blog. I write about truth, because I have learned it. I love it. I am totally committed to it. I have married it.
I do not write this blog to give it a try at being pleased with myself. I do not write this blog because I am trying to persuade myself as I try to persuade you.
I.Have.No.Doubts.At.All. May it always stay so, and may the Lord grant me the grace of believing all the Truths of the Church to my last breath. May this last breath come tomorrow, if a longer life should mean, for me, some horrible things like leaving the Church or even the Christian faith.
As long as you read this blog, you can be assured – and you have the right to be assured – that I think what I write. I could never write a Catholic blog and tell you that I, say, am or was tempted to apostatise, and belittle it as a “limitation”. God forbid I betray not only the Lord in this way, but you as I betray the Lord. Let me die, O Lord. In your goodness, have mercy on me and let me die before you allow me to be as foolish as to apostatise!
Nor could I ever – and I have touched on this in the first part – tell you that I lapsed, and consider this lapse a grace.
Lapsing is always a disgrace. A shame. My own personal shame, too. In His Providence, God can fish us again out of our error. But we make of our personal story the god to which God Himself has to bow when we say that God has given us the grace to gravely disobey His commands. I truly wonder what kind of people are around, and how much their faith is worth. And I wonder why, in heaven’s name, they pose as Catholic bloggers.
You will, also, never ever read me saying that the reason why I stay in the Church is not the sacraments, because those who want sacraments “outside of the church” (here the SSPX is chiefly meant) “get it anyway”. This is pure nonsense. The SSPX can provide those sacraments because the SSPX is part of the Church. No one can, in his right mind, say “the SSPX is outside of the Church, but I want sacraments and I will therefore get them from them”.
You will, again, never ever read me saying that I was tempted to apostatise, but hey, “no good comes from not admitting one’s own limitations”. The temptation of apostasy is not a “limitation”. It is something that makes one intrinsically unfit to talk about Catholicism! Have you ever heard Lenin telling you of his thinking of embracing the free markets, and demanding to be heard by you as Communist apologist because hey, “no good comes from not admitting one’s own limitations”? Ever wondered why?
I do not think I am the only one who notices here a strident contrast between what is on the tin and what is inside.
You want more? I am supposed to get oh so upset about the (homosexual) priests scandal. If I don’t, I have a big problem (“callous” is, I think, the world). Now, I am scandalised in the highest degree. I am so angry, I am just there with the best. I want the medal, three t-shirts, and the honorable mention. But the idea that this scandal should in any way, shape, or form diminish my allegiance to the Church, or speak against my allegiance to it – as abundantly implied – is obviously nonsense. And if it is nonsense, it follows that it is also nonsense to focus so much on this bunch of V II homos, other than to condemn them as… a bunch of V II homos who have done a lot of harm to the Church.
Dulcis in fundo, I’d say two words about this strange idea that hey, no one knows whether I remain a Catholic because you know, it’s all in the hands of God. Well, sure it is, but flirting with apostasy certainly does not help; doing so publicly is to give scandal; talking in positive terms of one’s own lapsing and say it was a grace is outright bonkers.
Yes, without God’s grace we can do nothing. But we give public allegiance to our values. We promise God a strong desire to do what is right. We may do wrong, but we are always careful that we think and speak right. Ever wondered why no one says “God only knows whether I will poison my children”? Well, they should well say it before they say “God only knows whether I will leave the Church”. Alas, it seems leaving the church is seen as somewhat secondary, a minor failure due to one’s own “goodness”. It is not so. It can lead one to hell. Particularly one who should know better, big time.
Can you see, now, why I remain Catholic?
Catholicism gives you a system of truths that are logical, simple, inescapable, even beautiful; though they are certainly difficult.
When we care for these truths we do not say all the things I have mentioned above. We don’t, because what we say, we also believe; because we have absorbed those truths, and we accept that our life will have to be lived in public allegiance to these values. We are weak, and sinners. Sure. But we will not, therefore, bend those Truth to our own foolish ways, and declare them a grace, or a “limitation”. We will be terrified of lapsing. We will be – even more – terrified of apostasy. We will never even think of them as a minor failure. We will never ever justify them. We have been taught the Truth.
The block of granite stays there, and crashes all vanities, even ours. We will not say “God only knows whether I will remain Catholic” more than we could say ” God only knows whether I will rape the neighbour’s children”. We know that we need God’s grace in everything, and we can do nothing without it. But we know that it is our duty to give our allegiance to these truths, with all our heart and all our strength. If we openly flirt with the most horrible things, well clearly there’s a problem here that does not depend on God’s grace, but on one’s collaboration with it.
Avoid Patheos. Nothing good can come from there. It’s a place where even Catholic bloggers think of the “limitation” of thinking of apostasy whilst pondering on the grace of having fallen from sacramental life.