Why I Am Catholic

A Weekly Series by Rev. Joseph J. Shaute

 

The Following articles are downloadable in PDF format:  

Subject Index

What Make Us Different
Because of the Apostles Every Sunday we say: “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.” That we are the only Christian church or denomination started by Christ Himself by the sending of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost to the Apostles. “The Church, ‘the pillar and bulwark of the truth,’ faithfully guards ‘the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.’ She guards the memory of Christ’s words; it is she who from generation to generation hands on the apostles’ confession of faith.”
Healing

Jesus comes to heal the brokenness of our lives, our families, our world. Today He still offers His healing directly, but He also gave His healing power to His Church to continue His healing ministry. Beginning with the Acts of the Apostles, we see the Church continuing the same acts of healing we see Christ and his disciples performing in the Four Gospels.

Focus on God, not on us.

Because other Christian denominations have emerged during a time of focus on human beings and the individual, they tend to be more focused on a “personal relationship with Jesus.” There is much more focus on “my choice for Christ” and “my accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.” Often the focus is more about the person and less about God.

Celibacy

With the exception of permanent deacons and a few priests who are converts, the rest of our Atlanta diocesan clergy have taken a promise of celibacy. When I was ordained a transitional deacon (a year before I was ordained to the priesthood) I took a lifetime, permanent promise of celibacy.

Make God Your Priority

When God is the priority, everything works around Him. When He gets pushed down the list, it gets harder and harder to fit Him in. When I was growing up, we missed out on some things because of Church. I don’t regret that at all.

Our Great Respect and Devotion to our Blessed Mother Other Christian denominations do not give Mary the place of honor she deserves. Some accuse Catholics of worshipping Mary and claim we view Mary as a god. We do not worship Mary. Some Catholics over the century have on an individual basis, but the Catholic Church has never considered Mary to be the equal of her son Jesus.
Saints as Spiritual Heros ...saints who have defended and handed on the faith to us; “the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith” that goes back to the apostles and to Christ Himself
The Promise of Obedience

No other church, denomination, nor religion has as many people who make promises and vows of obedience. No other sees obedience as being critical and vital to its growth and the growth of all believers. And that is based on the Scriptures and the example of Christ.

All are welcome!

It continues to amaze me how many Christian churches—who claim to be established in Christ name and followers of Christ—are segregated churches. Who either subtly or even in church bylaws, have restrictions on membership based on race, culture, or other factors. That is not of Christ!

Hospitality From its earliest days, the Catholic Church has always had a tradition of welcome, of taking care of visitors, of showing kindness.

St Clement’s Welcome

Our visitors constantly complement and affirm us about their wonderful experience when visiting St. Clement’s. They feel immediate warmth and connection and a strong sense of welcome. We have families that come from Dalton, Rome, and Cartersville because they find us to be their spiritual home.

Misfits are welcome

Many of us have experienced rejection because we were different than everyone else growing up: Non-athletic, too tall or too short, struggled in school, wore glasses, unique features, birth defects, special needs, etc. We have suffered scars and been wounded.  In the midst of that, Jesus comes who understands, wants to love, and wants to heal us and make us whole.

Unity Not only is everyone welcome in Jesus’ House, everyone is needed. And when we pull together, great things happen that glorify God. “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Eph 2:10)
Universality

The universality of the faith and the fact the Catholic Church is still standing after almost 2,000 years.  The word Catholic means "universal" or "comprehensive." Today there are more than one billion Catholics in the whole world. The church through its missionary activity has reached out to every place and every land. When the Vatican issues a document, it is usually published in more than 200 different languages.

Belief in God's Judgment

Many denominations and faith traditions focus so much on Hell that it is no wonder most people are afraid of death. The Catholic Church focuses on Heaven and our teaching on Purgatory is further proof of our belief in a positive eternal future for a lot of people. Additional proof is that we have canonized over 10,000 saints.

Our belief in Heaven and Hell

From the perspective of faith, Heaven is a place we long to reach and is the eternal destination for faithful disciples. Our belief in Hell helps us to endure suffering and to maintain hope even when bad things are done to us by bad people. That God remembers the good and the bad and his power and love triumph over evil. And that there are consequences for evil and God’s justice ensures that.

God wants us to go to Heaven There are some denominations out there that make it sound like we have almost no chance of getting into Heaven: Fire and Brimstone. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” (Jonathan Edwards, 1741, Puritan) captures this—focusing more on Satan and God’s Wrath and less on Jesus and God’s Love. They may quote John 3:16, but then spend most of their time talking about who will not be saved.
No Fear of Death

The Church helps us to not be afraid of death and to remain connected to those who have gone before us.

Sources of grace and healing to avoid spiritual death

Spiritual gifts and sources of grace are the sacraments, the Bible, 2,000 years of Church teaching, the teaching office of the Church that guides us in matters of morality and faith, writings of the saints and other spiritual treasures,
Purification

The Way of Purification is a lifelong process. And if not completed in this life, may be necessary as well in the next life. Purgatory—the place of purification in the next life—is the first place many believers go before entering the heavenly banquet. Purification is necessary for believers—all of us are sinners in need of the constant grace of God who in his mercy forgives our sins and purifies us in mind, body, and soul.

Preparation For Our Future

The Bible tells us we do not know “the day nor the hour” of our own death or of Jesus’ return. The Church urges us to not be afraid of death nor to ignore death. The issue of death is always there whether we recognize it or it is in the background. Our morality can either motivate us to live well or lead us to paralysis or excessive living.

Preparation for Life After Death

No other church, religion, or denomination prepares us better for death and life after death. The Catholic Church offers us the Eucharist—the Body and Blood of Christ—available to us throughout our lives when we are in the state of grace. We also have the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

Death Preparation

Death is something we walk with and prepare for each day.  Not in a morbid way. Not in a fearful way. But in a way of carrying our crosses, facing reality, and participating in spiritual exercises that give us peace and less worry. One exercise is making decisions from a “death perspective” that shapes them for the better. We must live with and die with our decisions. Death can help us make good decisions now.

High Standards

Another reason I am Catholic is because no other faith has such high standards. Christ established the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church with high standards and also the means to forgive our shortcomings and struggles with sin. Our church is built on the blood of martyrs and people who never watered down the faith.

Belief in Moral Absolutes

We believe in right and wrong and moral absolutes. That what has always been right will always be right and what has always been wrong will always be wrong. We believe that sin is morally wrong, has short-term and long-term consequences, and has an impact on others. And that good conduct, filled with God’s grace, has a positive impact on others.

Magisterium Another reason I am Catholic is the teaching office of the church known as the Magisterium (from the Latin word magister or teacher). The bishops, together with scholars and professors of theology (theologians), work to ensure the faith is passed on accurately and effectively. They review everything to make sure new writings are consistent with Catholic teaching and the truth of Jesus Christ
Stability in a World of Fads

This year many people are not only shopping for Christmas gifts, they are “God shopping” as well. They go to a different church each week looking for the one that’s the “right fit” and agrees with their personal opinion.

An Unbroken Connection to Christ

Another reason I am Catholic is the institution of the church and the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon. The Episcopalians have something similar, but we do not recognize their ordinations since they were excommunicated when King Henry VIII broke away and started the Anglican Church. The Catholic Church is the only one with an unbroken connection back to Christ.

Tradition of Serving

A tradition of serving unmatched by any other denomination or religion, the Catholic Church since its beginnings has been a church of service and acts of charity. A church committed to living the gospel by loving others through acts of kindness.

Service Other denominations and churches have great histories of service, but only the Catholic Church has a 2,000 year history of service, charity, and active love; one that is unmatched and is the largest in the world
Tradition

Christ still speaks through His Church as we understand the bible more clearly and apply its teachings to new issues.  This we call Tradition

Teaching the Role of The Government

The ongoing healthcare reform debate has raised questions about: What is the role of government? The Catholic Church has always spoken on this, from its earliest days. The Bible also addresses this issue, directly and indirectly.

Devotion to Mary

We as Catholics have a devotion to St. Mary that no Protestant denomination has. A devotion of honor and respect that Jesus Himself tells us to have. As Jesus is dying on the cross, he looks down at St. John and says: “Behold, your mother.” (Jn 19:27) For us, St. John represents all believers, just as Adam and Eve represent all sinners. Jesus, the New Adam, is obedient and frees all sinners. Jesus, by giving His Mother to John, gives to all of us His Mother.

A Sense of Belonging

After my parent’s house and my family, the place and people I have next felt the most at home with has been in the Catholic Church. From my childhood to today, when I have walked into almost every Catholic place (church, school, offices, etc.), with rare exceptions, I have felt welcome, comfortable and wrapped in the arms of God’s love.

The Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit  


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