Photo c/o: Edwin Dwyer
There has been a question that has been nagging me from the back of my mind for the past few years. Every time I try to silence it, it only grows louder:
“What’s the point in being ‘right’ when it comes to religion?”
When I struggled with deciding whether I wanted to continue being a Catholic in the past few years, I often asked myself “Which denomination is the ‘right’ one? They all have their disagreements, so which church is the most convincing? Which one makes the best arguments?”
I was looking for a church that matched my interpretations of the things I’d read in the Bible (which, at the age of seventeen, I was not nearly as familiar with the Bible as I should have been). In doing so, I thought I would find the church that was “right” for me and therefore “right” on what it preached on. All the other churches would be viewed as “wrong”.
In the recent year, as I’ve delved deeper into the Catholic faith, I get people asking me all the time “What is the point in being ‘right’? What real difference does it make?” I have to admit, it’s not always an easy question to answer.
But here is my answer:
That is what I want to build my life around; the notion that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If I am to fully embrace this notion, then I do not need to find a church that matches my interpretations, desires, and emotionally-driven preferences; I need to find a church that matches the truth that is found through Jesus Christ. I do not need to find a church where someone talks about what he thinks about Jesus, I need to find a church where the fullness of Jesus Christ can be found.
When I began to pray for my heart and mind to align with God’s, not for God to fit with my heart and mind, I found truth in the Catholic Church. It was not just a church that praised Jesus, it was the church that truly encapsulates all that is Jesus Christ.
So when it comes down to theological debates such as “Is confessing your sins to a priest necessary,” I don’t think it’s a good idea to use your personal opinion and see which church supports your opinions. We shouldn’t settle at “I don’t think it should be necessary, therefore I’ll find a church that supports my opinion.” Instead, we should look at what Jesus says about it, research the context of such verses, and see which church most lines up with Jesus’ teachings.
Though many people will try to point out flaws in the following statement, I will say it anyways: There is nothing that can be found in the Catholic Church that cannot be traced back to the truth found in the ways of Jesus Christ. (Disclaimer: This is not to say that Catholic individuals themselves are perfect.)
I write this today knowing full well that many people may stop reading my blog posts after this. Many people will start to (if they haven’t already begun to) call me a “stereotypical close-minded Catholic”.
If you’ve ever conversed with me, you’ll find that I’m more than willing to listen to what you have to say and will not try to diminish you because I view you as “wrong”. I am open-minded in seeing things in a new light and in experiencing new perspectives on things. However, my mind, like anyone else’s, closes around truth. My mind closes on the truth that is Jesus Christ. I don’t believe something just because the Catholic Church tells me to, I believe something because it encompasses Jesus himself. It just so happens that the two have been in full communion with each other for the past 2,000 years.
That is not to say that I think other churches are completely wrong. It is not as though the Catholic Church gets a 100% and all other churches get a 0% on the “accuracy scale”. There is truth that can be found in nearly every church. I’ve been to churches where almost everything they said matched up with the truth that can be found in Jesus. But when they said or did something (or didn’t say or do something) that did not embody all of who Jesus is, they simply couldn’t be viewed as being 100% “right”. Because other churches have hints of the truth, but do not convey the whole truth, I would say most of them are around an 85% on my terribly illogical scale, as opposed to a 100 or 0. Just because they are not Catholic does not mean they are completely “wrong”, there are just certain aspects of what they do or do not do that do not match up with the whole of Jesus.
And so I conclude by repeating what I’ve been trying to convey throughout this blog: The Catholic Church is not just another church with its own set of interpretations; it is the Church that features all of Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life”. If you’re struggling to relate to a church, don’t look for one that matches your preferences and opinions- look for the one that encompasses the truth found in Jesus Christ. Though many churches talk a lot about him, none of them can fulfill the desires that Jesus had when he spoke about the earthly church that would exist after his resurrection. None, except the one that he himself established, the Roman Catholic Church.
“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”