Tough Swimmers, And Smart Guys.
I read around of people who claim that they have become better Christians after their conversion. Good for them. But let us enlarge the issue and pose the question: do Catholics, in general, behave better than other Christians?
No, is the short answer. They most certainly don't. I wouldn't bet my pint, but I would say the contrary is the case.
My take is that, historically – say: before the XX Century – your average Puritan, Calvinist, or Presbyterian led a noticeably more (rigidly) Christian life than your average Catholics. Whilst I wasn't there, I seem to understand this from history, from reading novels, and from observing the unavoidable consequence of rigid Protestantism, coherently lived.
The young John Henry Newman was shocked, when he visited Rome as a young rising star in the fake Anglican mini-firmament, of the immorality he found there. If you think the Victorians were rigid, just imagine how England under the rule of Cromwell must have been. If you think that Christian rigidity is a value in itself, Calvin's Basel must look to you like earthly paradise.
No, I do not think Catholics are better Christians. I think they are smarter ones.
A Catholic knows that he sits on the Barque of Peter. He is aware of his sinfulness, but he knows that to throw himself overboard means almost certain death in the perilous, tempestuous sea of concupiscence out there. He may be a bad swimmer, but he is on the barque. The barque will, if he does not stage a mutiny and does what is required, still save him from hell, imperfections and all.
The Calvinist, or the Puritan were, in my eyes, on average far better swimmers. Rigidly trained, and proficient in the sport. Tough guys, able to face the waves of concupiscence with an energy the average chap on the Barque could not even fathom.
But you see, this tough Calvinist guys weren't nearly as smart as their naughty Catholic counterparts.
They were there out in the cold sea,swimming like crazy, dealing with the cold, dangerous waves all their lives, stupidly relying on their own swimming ability to get to the shore. Fools! Who knows how many have perished, who snubbed or insulted the barque! Who knows how many of the others have reached the shore safely who were not only very bad swimmers, but even lousy crew members!
Catholics aren't the better Christians. They are the smarter ones. They do not refuse God's vessel, and therefore can hope of reaching the shore even knowing what lousy swimmers they are, and how fast they would drown if the barque weren't there to ferry them to the all-important destination: purgatory.
Forget all the “Joy of Being a Catholic” rhetoric. Forget all that emotional fluffy stuff.
We are Catholics because we know the sea out there is darn cold, and would swallow us whole. We know better than to try to get to the other shore alone. We are, if we are smart, positively terrified by it.
Pity those rigid Calvinists and Presbyterians, no matter how good swimmers they are. How many, how many of them will perish!
I for myself will stay on the barque.
I might be a lousy swimmer. But I prefer to be a smart guy.