Reason # 8: Personal Transformation – One of the most profound things I have noticed about my life is the way that the Lord, through the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the Scriptures has transformed my life. I am now 47 years old, but I have only been serious about my spiritual life for the last 25 of those years. I spent the first 22 years as only a nominal Catholic. But I’ve noticed that my life is really changing for the better since I decided to follow Jesus more earnestly in the Catholic Church. Through daily prayer, Mass, frequent confession, and the daily reading of Scripture my life is changing! I am less angry and less resentful. I am more serene and less anxious. My priorities are in better order. My attitudes are more biblical and more Christian. I am more forgiving and less harsh. I love truth, goodness, chastity, and God himself so much more!
I do not say this to boast. I didn’t do it so I can’t boast. Jesus did this for me. An old Gospel songs says it well: “I’m not what I want to be but I’m not what I used to be!” I have a long way to go but I know that the Lord will bring to completion the good work he has begun in me. And Jesus has done all this for me in the context of my life in the Catholic Church. I have had the Word of God preached to me; I’ve been taught the faith; I’ve been nourished with Holy Communion and forgiven in Confession. The lives of the saints have inspired me and the noble Catholic intellectual tradition has helped me, by God’s grace, to have a new mind and heart.
So here’s a good reason to come home: transformation through the life of faith in the long and noble Catholic Tradition. I’m a witness!
Here’s an old classic Catholic hymn that speaks of how the Eucharist transforms us to be more like Christ, whom we receive and adore: O Lord I am Not Worthy
If you like Gospel music, here’s a song by Tramaine Hawkins about the personal transformation we can and should expect from our relationship with the Lord. It contains the quote from Gospel music I mentioned above. The name of the piece is “A Wonderful Change Has Come Over Me.”
A friend of mine recently challenged me and the other authors of this blog to set forth 40 reasons for coming home to the Catholic Church. Since there are forty days for Lent, we should set forth a new reason each day. Well, since Lent is seven days underway as of tomorrow you can see we have some catching up to do! So, to begin here are seven reasons briefly stated and described:
No one can take your place.T his may seem an odd place to begin but the simple fact is that God has summoned you for your own sake. No one can pray like you do. No one can praise God like you. No one has the same combination of gifts, talent and personality. You are an unrepeatable, irreplaceable member of God’s family and all of us are impoverished by your absence. God misses you personally when you are not present at the the Mass and are absent from the life of his Body, the Church.
You need to eat. Jesus says that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink. He also says, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (Jn 6:53) Simply put you and I starve if we do not regularly receive Holy Communion.
Guidance– the Catholic Church offers over 2000 years of experience and wisdom to us. For these two millennia members of the Church have meditated on God’s Word, lived through life’s joys and difficulties, and, through it all, recorded a rich tradition and teaching that helps us navigate life’s unpredictable paths. There is a rich tradition of teaching, the examples of the saints, the catechism and the steady proclamation God’s word that are here to guide you and me on our journey.
Stability – St. Paul told Timothy to preach the Word, in season and out of season, whether popular or unpopular. The Catholic Church is sometimes criticized for being “out of step” with modern times. But in a way, this is a great compliment since it indicates that the Church is willing to preach God’s Word in terms of what we need not merely what we want. We don’t always want to hear that we should turn away from sin but we need to hear this. Individual members of the Church may not always live perfectly the teachings of Christ, but the Church has never failed to announce Jesus Christ and his teachings even at great cost. The Church is often hated today for insisting on God’s Moral Truth and the dignity of human life.
Mercy – At the heart of Catholic practice is the “difficult” Sacrament, Confession. It is difficult because most of us struggle to really like going to confession. But truly there is great peace in hearing the Lord encourage us and absolve us through the words of the priest, “I absolve you of your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Great peace is experienced in those words and Confession well prepared and celebrated is a wondrous experience of mercy.
Rich diversity – The Catholic Church extends not only back in time two thousand years, but also to every land, language and culture. The Church exists on every Continent and currently has more than 1 Billion members. This gives the Catholic Church a rich diversity. In this Archdiocese Mass is celebrated in 11 different languages. Latinos, Africans, African Americans, Asian and Europeans and many others of diverse background enrich this Archdiocese with rich liturgical experiences and a beautiful tapestry of Catholic life. United in one faith but diverse in the cultural expression of that faith your Catholic Home is filled with many and varied gifts.
All Seven Sacraments. The Catholic Church celebrates all seven Sacraments of the Christian Tradition. Strangely, the majority of the Protestant denominations dropped many of the Sacraments such as Confirmation, Confession, Communion, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders etc. These sacraments were dropped by them despite the fact that they are well attested to in Scripture. The Catholic Church, (along with the Orthodox Churches), continue to celebrate all seven Sacraments. Maybe a way to think of this reason is that God has given us certain medicines to heal us. If I am going to the doctor I want to be sure that the Doctor makes use of all the helpful medicines necessary for my healing. The Catholic Church, like a good doctor and a good mother makes sure we get all our medicines. Life is much better, more spiritually healthy with all seven sacraments and this a very good reason to come home.
Please feel free to comment on these first seven reasons for coming home. You may have doubts, concerns, questions or even rebuttals to what I have written. Please feel free to weigh in!