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Catholicism: A Few of my Favorite Things

One of the many blessings in my life, is that I get to help lead the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, at Saint’s Peter and Paul church. (RCIA is the process through which adults become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church.) That’s not to say that I don’t periodically grumble to myself about the relatively small effort involved: preparing for classes, arranging zoom calls, chasing people to get their forms in, and so on. All very minor stuff. But what I do love is that I get to talk about our Catholic faith and more specifically, all of the practices, structures, rituals, and even people/saints, that make up “the rock” upon which Jesus founded His church.

First off, a confession: I’m a spiritual book junkie. I love reading about our faith, to try to deepen my understanding of what we are supposed to be doing here on earth, why we are doing it and how we should go about it. And guess what? The more I have examined the Church and her teachings, the more I have found to admire and even love. Don’t get me wrong, the Church hasn’t always put its best (human) foot forward. Even Jesus disciples didn’t behave particularly well: Peter denied Him; Judas betrayed Him; Thomas doubted Him; and in Luke’s gospel, James and John wanted to call down “fire from heaven” on a Samaritan village that didn’t welcome Jesus. And these were Jesus handpicked guys!

But if we step back a little, a much richer story emerges. Yes, the Church will always be populated by sinners (aren’t we all?) but as Jesus told us, it will be led by the Holy Spirit and nothing will prevail against it. And through the Spirit, what has emerged over two thousand years is a rich faith tradition based on the gospels.

So here without further ado are the top 10 things I like about our faith:

- That our God is happy, loving God, who made us and “saw that is was good”, who is impossible to offend and who offers us endless forgiveness and fresh starts.

- That we are all broken and sinners, but that God “draws straight with crooked lines” and that He makes use of and redeems, everything.

- That we have the sacraments that both mark the important milestones of our lives and of course the Eucharist, the bread of life, that sustains us during our faith journey.

- That we have the Mass, the ultimate “come as you are” service, where the faithful gather, each with our own joys and sorrows, representing the mystical body of Christ, secure in the knowledge that Jesus promised to meet us wherever two or more were gathered.

- That we have social teachings that were thousands of years ahead of their time, telling us to love our enemies, and to care for those on life’s margins, whether they seem to deserve it or not: the sick, the imprisoned, the hungry, the stranger.

- That we have a beautiful array of prayer services to suit every christian preference, whether it’s the comforting rhythm of the rosary, the grounding of contemplative prayer, the solemnity of the Stations of the Cross or the reverence of Benediction.

- That we have the shining examples of the Blessed Virgin, the ultimate disciple, and all of the saints. That God seems to send us the saints we need when the Church most needs them including St. Francis, Pope John XXIII, Teresa of Calcutta and perhaps even our current pope Francis.

- That our year is framed by various feasts and especially Lent to support our pilgrimage in this life, and even Ordinary Time (which is derived from “Ordered” versus “mundane”) where we

are invited to deepen our faith through our daily routines.

- That we have the Christmas celebration that shows us that as Dorothy Day said: “The world will be saved by beauty”.

-And finally that we have Easter. The fulfillment of Jesus promise to us that in the end, to quote Julian of Norwich, “All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of being will be well”. So I mean really, what’s not to like?


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