I wrote a blog page a while back explaining why I became Catholic.
However, one aspect I didn’t touch on in that article was the numerous pieces of evidence that confirmed my decision to enter full communion with the Catholic Church that I only found once inside of it.
As a Protestant, I once called them “the Catholic Hall of Fame members” when discussing Protestant-Catholic issues with my (Catholic) friend Gerardo.
While that is true, it’s true in the same somewhat irreverent sense that the Pope is “God’s homey”.
I was upset and felt cheated when I as a Protestant started reading the lives of the saints. “Why haven’t I been told about all these amazingly faithful people?!” I demanded. Their writings don’t show up anywhere at the Christian bookstores I went to, nor the secular bookstores. I had read most of the “Left Behind” series but nothing of St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, St. Therese of Lisieux, or St. Francis de Sales.
Something was wrong about that. My Protestant reading went from the Bible, then skip years 100 AD – 1800 AD, then “modern” Christian writing, though doctrines of the first-centuries Church and the reformers were interspersed throughout my beliefs.
These men and women loved God and accepted His love in a way I longed for and to a degree that I did not see among anyone I knew. They were special; they were the way Christians could be and should be, the fulfillment of Christ’s commands to us to obey His teachings and to love God and one another with all our heart.
And, all of these people were unabashedly Catholic. They were as Catholic as the Pope, believing in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, in the authority of the Church and in the Holy Spirit’s guidance of Her.
Ask any Protestant you know if they know who St. Therese of Lisieux is. Very few do, even though she is the “greatest saint of modern times” and one of the few Doctors of the Church. All Christians should learn about her and her little way to help them grow closer to Christ, yet she is hardly known outside of the Catholic walls.
This factor was one of the strongest confirmations that this was the Church Christ established.
The Theology of the Body
Pope John Paul II’s landmark work. Every person in the world should be taught this understanding of the human person, but so far, even most Catholics don’t know what the theology of the body is.
However, that is changing, especially with young Catholics, who are devouring these liberating teachings on who we are as male and female persons, how to understand our sexuality and sanctify our sexual desires, and how to understand who man was, who he is, and who he will be because of Christ.
I believe that our Protestant brothers and sisters will open up to this teaching as well, sparking a powerful movement within their communities, too. It is just too awesome to be contained and is the antidote for the post-modern world’s enslaving doctrines of hedonism and selfishness.
The theology of the body was a gift given the world by God through Pope John Paul II. It could have been given through others, through a Eastern Orthodox priest, or an Anglican priest, or a Reformed Protestant pastor, or an Evangelical one, but it was not.
It was given through the Pope of the Catholic Church, who spent his life for Christ enduring all manner of evil in World War II and communist Poland, who studied philosophy and theology and wrote encyclicals on how faith and reason complement each other, how women have tremendous dignity and gifts for the Church and the world, and how critical the family is to society and civilization.
Through the theology of the body, God gave me the grace to overcome habits of sin that had shackled me for years. Truly it is in hope we are saved and for freedom that Christ has set us free!
These two factors, the saints and the theology of the body, were the most powerful in confirming the decision I made to enter the Catholic Church. There were others, too, like the vocation to religious life and the priesthood, which perhaps I will write about sometime in the future.