Thursday, June 4, 2015

To Whom Shall We Go? Why I Remain Catholic

The estimable Elizabeth Scalia has called on Catholics to share why they remain in the Church. The subject isn't so flashy as the more popular "why I left," but it's far more interesting, I think. If you want to know more about a school, why only listen to the people who transferred out?

So, why do I remain a Catholic? The question presumes that the alternative is the expected choice, as "What are you doing here?" implies that one's presence is a surprise. But in an age increasingly divorced from the mind of the Church, a Catholic could expect this question as much as a man wearing a toga who isn't in a frat house could expect to be asked "Why are you wearing that?"

But when anyone leaves the Church, I imagine Christ turns to each of us and asks us as he did his apostles in John 6: "Will you leave also?" And I answer with Peter: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

If I am asked why I remain Catholic, I ask in response, what's the alternative? A version of Protestantism that has unmoored itself from the anchor of Tradition and splintered on the rocks of private judgment? An Eastern religion that is philosophically unsatisfying? A vague religiosity that chooses randomly from different traditions and results in spiritual stomach ache? A scientific materialism that cannot answer the most fundamental questions? A hedonistic secularism that simply moves from one sense pleasure to another in between periods of existential doubt? No thanks. 

But it's not simply that the alternatives leave something to be desired. It's that what I have in the Catholic faith is satisfying in the deepest sense. Aristotle says that all men by nature desire to know, and in the Catholic faith we have the fullness of truth. St. Augustine says are restless hearts rest only in God, and in the Catholic Church I am united with God in the Eucharist. I have the beauty of cathedrals and the soundness of moral teaching and the true charity of service to others. I have the forgiveness of my sins and the gift of God's friendship communicated in tangible, human signs. What more could I ask for? What more could I want? Where else would I go?

1 comment:

  1. Reasons to Believe in Jesus

    Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

    Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

    Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

    And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

    Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

    From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

    If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

    by David Roemer