Happy Sunday! Tonight I read a beautiful message on the Love Being Catholic Facebook Page. She took the thoughts that jumble around in my brain and put them into words so perfectly. I love God, I love His Bride – the Church. I love His Mother, my Mother – Mary; my friends, the Saints; the Sacraments – how would my soul be nourished without Jesus in the Eucharist or my soul healed and opened up for His Grace without Confession? How would the Spirit whisper His Truth and guide me without the seal of Confirmation and how would my husband and I fill up on the grace without the grace we receive through our Sacramental Marriage? I know the people of the Church are not perfect – for I know myself well! But like St. Peter said when asked by Jesus if he would leave like the others - “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” And where else can we receive this “Word” and live out our love for Christ to the fullest and most abundantly than in His Church? The Church is more than meets the eye or ear through the mainstream news and media. Look beyond that, look deeper and you’ll see something quite extraordinary and beautiful.
Read on for more…
For those without access to this Facebook page, I share – with permission – the rest of the message below:
This Facebook page was set up to spread the joy and beauty of the Catholic faith. It is for Catholics, fallen away Catholics, or anyone who might be interested in learning more about our faith, and perhaps understand a little bit better what we believe and why we believe it. Our Catholic faith is attacked on a daily basis by the media, atheist, other religion and organizations, and yes even by other well-meaning Christians, so it is important to know and understand your Catholic faith.
All of us know Catholics whom have left the Church for various reasons. Some left, and came back. Others were encouraged to leave and join other churches or religions, or they left religion all together. They left because they didn’t feel that they had a “personal relationship” with Jesus in the Catholic Church. They left because they were hurt about a particular teaching. They left because they were fed up with the behavior of other Catholics, priests and bishops. They left because they were not taught the true beauty and joy of our faith, even though they may have attended Catholic schools their whole life. They left because they thought the homilies were boring, or the music wasn’t entertaining enough. They left because they didn’t feel welcome in the Catholic Church. They left sometimes for no reason at all – just that God and church weren’t a priority in their lives anymore. Regardless of the reason, many Catholics have left the Church and we want them to come back home.
When they leave, and go elsewhere, they are often taught that the Catholic religion is wrong, that we worship Mary, that the Pope is the anti-Christ, that we are not Biblical, that we do not need to baptize our babies, and that we are all brainwashed and can’t think for ourselves. They are told that Catholics never read the Bible, that we don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, that purgatory is not biblical and doesn’t exist, that abortion is okay, that marriage should be re-defined, or not defended, that you should never ask Mary or the saints to pray for you, and that the Eucharist is just a symbol, and not the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.
Many Catholic countries are being visited by well-meaning Christians who are there to teach them about Jesus, which is a wonderful thing, yet they are also encouraging them to leave the Catholic Church, the Church that Christ founded. I am sure they are doing what they believe in their heart to be right, by what they were wrongly taught about Catholicism. But this is a big deal, and this is why it is so important to know your faith, live it humbly, and share it with others.
And why does it matter if they leave the Catholic Church, as long as they are following Jesus? It’s all the same right? Why should we care? Why does it matter?
It matters because as Catholics we think it is important to belong to the Church that Christ founded over 2000 years ago. It matters because when you leave the Catholic Church, you leave the Eucharist – and all the sacraments that Christ Himself instituted. It matters because as Catholics we believe the Church contains the fullness of the truth, because it was founded by Christ Himself. This does not mean that we think other religions and Christian denominations do not contain any truth, for they do. But the Catholic Church, since it was founded by Jesus Himself and not a man, contains the fullness of truth, so we think it is very important to belong to the Catholic Church and share our faith with others.
The Catholic Church is both human and divine. Because it is divine, it will last forever. Because it is human, it will have scandals, and sinful people in it, just like what you will find in all denominations and religions. Scandals do not prove that the Catholic Church is false. They only prove what is obvious: that the Church contains sinners as well as saints. Yes there have been terrible things that have happened in our Church – the sexual abuse scandal was horrible. I personally was disgusted with the behavior of some priests and bishops.
Unfortunately this is not just a “Catholic” problem – the abuse of children happens throughout every religion, denomination, organization (yes even atheist abuse children), school and family. According to what you hear and read in the media, it is just a “Catholic” problem. Not true. There is Evil everywhere. Evil does not discriminate and has no boundaries. Despite humans messing things up at times, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and will forever be guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time. As St. Teresa of Avila says, “The Truth suffers, but never dies.”
There are over a billion Catholics in the world, many of them holy and devout people, doing their best to imitate and lead souls to Christ. It’s not too often that we hear the good that the Church does to help so many. Among all the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots.
Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.
Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches to which door-to-door missionaries belong are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established.
The Catholic Church has existed for nearly 2,000 years, despite constant opposition from the world. This is testimony to the Church’s divine origin. It must be more than a merely human organization, especially considering that its human members—even some of its leaders—have been unwise, corrupt, or prone to heresy. Any merely human organization with such members would have collapsed early on. The fact that the Catholic Church is today the most vigorous church (and the largest, with about a billion members) is testimony not to the cleverness of the Church’s leaders, but to the protection of the Holy Spirit.
Church history does matter, because if you study it you will see that the early Church was totally Catholic. The early Church believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Christ appointed Peter the first pope as the leader of the early Church; Early Christians did pray for their dead; Christ did give the apostles the power to forgive sins; Mary was loved and honored by the early Christians, etc. . . Think about it – if you are looking for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can’t get more personal than when you receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the holy Eucharist, and are a part of the actual Church that Christ founded. It’s important to know this, know why we are Catholic, embrace the fullness of our faith and then be good, holy witnesses to others.
If you have never studied Church history, study it now and see what the early Church was really like, what Catholics believed, and what they practiced. So many protestant pastors have converted to the Catholic Church after studying Church history, particularly regarding the issue of authority. (Two great books to read on church history are: “Four Witnesses”, by Rod Bennett, and “The Father Knows Best” by Jimmy Akin.)
Blessed Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa are two Catholics who truly lived their Catholic faith. Their holiness, love for Christ, and devotion to Our Lady set a wonderful example for all of us to follow. Remember – our goal is Heaven, bringing souls to Christ, and letting others know about the Church that He founded. As Christians we are all in this together, doing the best that we can to imitate Christ. As Catholic Christians, it is important to know what we believe and why we believe it, so that we can share the joy and beauty of our faith with others, and hopefully, help others in their journey to the Catholic Church. And please teach your children all about our beautiful faith, about Christ and His Church. Be sure to teach them apologetics as well – how to defend their faith. They will definitely come across many attacks and wrong information that others will tell them about the Catholic Church.
So welcome to this “Love Being Catholic” Facebook page! Hopefully we will all learn a little bit more about our beautiful faith, and share the love of Christ and his Church with others. For those who have left, please come back. There is so much that many of us did not know about our faith growing up, and we hope with God’s grace this will touch some of you to at least think about returning to the Catholic faith. For those of you who are just entering the Church – welcome home!
Wherever you are on your journey, know that Jesus loves you. We love you where you are, and our hope and prayers are that you will be led gently and joyfully back to the Catholic Church. Being a part of the Church that Christ founded will bring you much joy, peace and closer to Christ than you could ever imagine.
So fellow Catholics, please know, love, defend, share, and live your Catholic faith humbly and joyfully. And please always remember to do so with truth and charity.
May God bless and protect you all.
Liz (Elizabeth Mary)