Why I Remain a Catholic
by Richard Becker
“Something had given him leave to live in the present.” ~ Walker Percy
A friend of mine sent me an email with this subject line: “A challenge for your blogging….” She included Elizabeth Scalia’s invitation to Catholics everywhere in the internet cosmos to write about “Why Do YOU Remain a Catholic”—an invitation itself prompted by the recent Pew Research report on the statistical collapse of the American Church.
That report, with its grim portrayal of the Church’s retention record, already prompted me to write a bit about Catholic parenting and keeping our kids connected to the Faith. However, I’ll take Scalia’s proposition (and my friend’s email) as an excuse to add some additional, more personal thoughts.
So, why do I remain a Catholic? For me, the question might as well be, “Why do you keep breathing?” I can’t imagine not being a Catholic—there’s no alternative. Catholicism informs everything I think and say and do, and so the very concept of giving it up is unfathomable.
Curiously, this is not the case with regards to Christianity in general. I grew up in an Evangelical tradition, my beloved siblings and their families remain so, and I have great respect for my Protestant friends and colleagues. In fact, I not only admire their strong faith and piety, but I also strive to emulate their example. However, for me, Christianityis Catholicism—there’s no going back. Samuel Johnson (himself an Anglican) put it this way:
A man who is converted from Protestantism to Popery, may be sincere: he parts with nothing: he is only superadding to what he already had. But a convert from Popery to Protestantism, gives up so much of what he had held as sacred as anything that he retains: there is so much laceration of mind in such a conversion, that it can hardly be sincere and lasting.
That’s one of the quirky little secrets of Catholicism: It’s not just another denomination. It really does claim to be the true Church, and hence, the truth. Period. “The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic,’” wrote G.K. Chesterton, “is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true."