Why I Love Being Catholic (Paperback)
People often ask me who I look up to, who my heroes are, who inspires me, and other varieties of these questions. They are always disappointed with my answer. They expect no doubt for me to name people everyone knows. I never do.
My heroes are the people who have contributed to this small volume, and millions more like them. The mere fact that you have picked this book up suggests that you are one of them.
My heroes are ordinary people, people who seek to live their one brief life with integrity and faith. They have dreams for themselves, their families, their church, and society. And they are serious about improving themselves, their families, their church, and society.
My heroes work hard to support their families. They volunteer in their parishes. They do what they can, with what they have, where they are, in order to bring a little more light into their corner of the world. They are lovers of a God who sometimes feels close, at other times seems to be far off and indifferent, and often seems elusive.
My heroes know their limitations. They have come face-to-face with their own inadequacies, and they know their faults and flaws better than most.
My heroes hold a common set of values that make them better people. And even though they fall short of these values on a daily basis, they wake up the next morning, dust themselves off, and strive again.
My heroes have money problems, marriage problems, and family problems. They strive to be the best parents they can be. They struggle with addiction, health problems, and often wonder if they are on the right career path. They show up and keep showing up in every aspect of life despite their shortcomings and uncertainty.
My heroes know that life is difficult. They know the ups and downs, the joys and heartaches, but they wake up each morning hoping for the best and working to make the world a better place for my children and yours.
These are my heroes. They make me want to be a better person.
The quality of a person’s life is easily measured by the quality of the people in his or her life. I have been blessed in so many ways in this life. The people who have surrounded me have played a significant role in blessing my life.
One of the many, many reasons I love being Catholic is that it has been in the context of our faith that God has surrounded me with people like you.
There are so many other things I could have written about to open this book. Catholicism is rich with history and mystery, but it is the people and our common humanity that most inspires me at this moment.
So, whoever you are, wherever you are, keep doing what you can, where you are, with what you have. Pour yourself into your parish, pour yourself into some ministry, dedicate yourself to your own spiritual growth, and together let’s remind millions of people of the millions of reasons to love being Catholic.
Why Do You Love Being Catholic?
I feel such a profound peace when I go to Mass. As soon as I walk through the church doors, I can feel God’s love engulf my inner self. It is a mixture of joy and peace that I cannot put into words. As I kneel to talk to my heavenly Father about my week and how I am so grateful that he never left my side for one second, I can tell him about all my problems and know he is listening to my every word. I am a lector at our church, and I read over the readings the night before to begin trying to picture what message God is relaying to me in the Scriptures. I go to Mass thirty minutes early to calm myself, but it doesn’t matter—my heart starts to beat fast. I know it is because I am so excited that I am getting ready to relay a very important message to my brothers and sisters. There is this little voice inside of me that is saying, “I am with you, and you can do it.” I love being Catholic because there are so many ways for me to show my love for the sick, the homeless, and the dying. But most of all it’s knowing that I am doing all these things as God would want.
Catholicism just makes sense!
—Mary Elizabeth Carrizales
In July of 2008, I attended a Cursillo retreat. During the three-day retreat, I experienced a profound change of mind and heart, and for the first time since my childhood, I fell in love again with Catholicism. I love how God makes me aware of his gifts and challenges me to use these to help others.
At one point in my life, I became very confused and mixed up, and I left the Catholic Church for a while. But with the help of a few very dedicated Catholic friends who prayed for me, instructed me, and loved me back into the Church again, I am here to stay. As a priest told me once, “You used to have your mother’s Catholic faith, but now you have made it your own.”
One of the reasons I love being Catholic is that when I immerse myself in the treasures of our faith, an insatiable hunger is created, a deep longing to draw closer to the Lord.
I was raised in the Lutheran Church. When I was three years old, we moved to a rural western Kansas town that had been settled by Volga German Catholics. The area has some of the most beautiful Catholic cathedrals in America. Most of my friends and schoolmates were Catholic. My family did not understand the Catholic faith, though, so we made fun of the “fish-eaters.”
Fast-forward to my high school years; I started dating the girl who is now my wife and the love of my life. She was born, raised, and educated in the Catholic faith. Her family, immediate and extended, are all Catholic and some of the kindest people I have ever met. As I spent more time with her family, a song from my Lutheran Sunday school kept coming into my thoughts, “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” This defined my wife’s family and their philosophy on life. As our love grew, my grandmother made a comment to me: “That Susie is such a nice girl; too bad she is Catholic.” I informed her that we were getting married and the wedding would be in the Catholic Church. She frowned and said she would not be attending, but she was there.
As we were going through our marriage preparation classes, I asked the priest if I needed to join the Church so I could marry this girl. He replied, “No, but we do believe the family is always stronger when both parents belong to the Church.”
I had promised to join the Church when we started our family. When our son was born six years later, I still did not jump into the RCIA process. When he was about two years old, he asked, “Why doesn’t Daddy go to Communion with us?” I realized the priest had been right, and I enrolled in RCIA, dreading the next nine months. To my surprise, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.
I love the Catholic Church because it has given us a faith foundation for our family that continues to grow as we now enjoy seeing our grandchildren grow in their Catholic faith every day.
I love being Catholic because I tried it the “other way” for almost thirty years. “Running around the barn” is the term I used for those years of trying to build a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. New age teachings, metaphysics, big box churches and television evangelists, meditation practices, astrology, psychometry, yoga—I tried it all, but I never felt the “fire” I feel for Jesus since returning to Catholicism. One of the “pieces to the puzzle” upon my return was being handed Matthew Kelly’s book Rediscovering Catholicism at Christmas Mass!
—Mary Anne Linsell
At a very sad and dark time in my life, attending Mass meant everything and more to me. I felt lost, alone, confused, upset, and sick to my stomach. Going to Mass gave me somewhere to go and something to do with my time. I needed to surround myself with people, and Mass was the perfect place to do that. I realized Jesus loves me even in my brokenness. It’s during hard times like this I’m glad there is daily Mass and ritual to depend on.
My sorority’s motto was “the first and the finest.” I think the same holds true for our Catholic faith. It can be traced all the way back to Jesus himself. What an honor to be part of the original Christian faith that has been passed down from generation to generation! I also love how we preserve so many symbols and sacraments that also lead back to the time of Christ. Our faith runs deeper than most rivers, and it’s flowing full of rich traditions!
I love being Catholic because it grounds me in my life. No matter what challenges I have faced in life, my Catholic faith has always been there for me. I have been fired from big jobs, my career position has been unjustly eliminated, I have been threatened with personal lawsuits, and I have had my life threatened by undesirable characters. In each of those cases, my Catholic faith guided me to a better place. How could I not love being Catholic?
I love being Catholic because it fosters community. I can go anywhere in the world and follow the same rituals: the Mass parts, veneration of saints, and Catholic values. To me, community represents the beauty of Catholicism. While I enjoy focusing on my personal relationship with God, it’s even better when I surround myself with other like-minded people in my community who embrace authentic Catholic values.
I love being a Catholic for all sorts of reasons. I’m an avid reader of work-related technical literature, which has proven to be highly positive and impactful in my career of thirty-plus years. I’m also an avid reader of Catholic literature. Catholic literature keeps me well-grounded and reminds me constantly of all the many reasons why I love being Catholic.
Catholicism is the team to be on. Yes, we have had some good players and some bad players, but over time, the team is the one I want to belong to because it stands for what is good and what is right, with an ultimate goal that cannot be matched. This team has and continues to have superstars; some of the best and brightest people through the ages are Catholics. Being Catholic is a way of life that is kind, compassionate, and wholesome. I cannot imagine being anything else but Catholic. As the saying goes, Jesus is the reason!
On December 12, 2010, I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by the ringing of the telephone. That feeling of dread instantly enveloped me as I struggled to hear the news of the tragic event that happened to my son only a few hours ago. It involved a car accident in which the driver had slid off the icy road while driving a car full of college kids home after a party.
Immediately, my husband and I got in the car and drove four hours to Roanoke Hospital, where our son was waiting to see us in the trauma unit. The long drive and the constant praying of the Rosary prepared us to receive the news of his condition: a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed from the waist down. We were actually astonished to see him for the first time. His body was bruised and his broken ribs were uncomfortable, but the one thing that was most noticeable was his spirit and his face, which was almost glowing. He kept reassuring us that he would be fine and not to worry about him.
It was Sunday morning, and since we were aware of the power of the Mass, we left our son, Kevin, and went to find the closest Catholic church, bringing two of his best friends with us. I can honestly tell you that we have never been as comforted as we were that day when we heard the words of Scripture. The first reading from Isaiah spoke about the lame leaping like a stag, followed by Psalm 146, which stated that the Lord gives sight to the blind and the Lord raises up those who are bowed down. The Gospel was about John the Baptist in prison and how he sent his disciples to Jesus to see if he was really the Messiah. Jesus said to them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear. . . .” We sat in utter amazement as we listened to these words and the words of the priest who gave a lesson on waiting patiently.
It has been over seven years since the accident, and although there have been some unpleasant times, we have always been comforted by our Lord and stayed very close to him through prayer. We have been surrounded by a wonderful parish, which has helped us out through prayers and support. Our son is joyful in the midst of his suffering and receives many graces from going to daily Mass. He teaches in a Catholic school and embraces each day with such confidence and trust in the Lord. We are waiting for a miracle but know for certain that God is working through this and we can definitely trust in his plan.
Why do I love being a Catholic? I have learned from the Catholic Church and from reading the lives of the saints about what life is really about and how to navigate this life, which is only a pilgrimage. No matter how hard life can get, we know that God has something great in store for us in the end. While I am here I can ask for the graces that I need each day. I love the fact that I can go to Mass each day and visit him in the Adoration chapel and he will give me everything I need to meet each challenge. This gives me the confidence that God’s will is what I want. On those days that seem a bit more difficult, I just have to say, “Jesus, I trust in you”
I love the guidance the Church provides on how to live life. Because of the teachings, I have avoided many pitfalls in my life, and risen above many issues and circumstances. When I got pregnant with our son (there were a number of medical issues), every doctor and person advised me to have an abortion. We were advised that our son would be born with many disabilities if the pregnancy went to term. I read. I studied. And I followed the Church’s advice not to have an abortion. Our son was born—perfectly healthy. He is extremely intelligent, very caring, and now thirty-one, getting married in October. He was Jesus’ miracle to me. That experience led me to a greater trust in the wisdom of the Church’s teachings.
I love being Catholic because it means I never have to carry the weight of my struggles alone.
Several years ago after Mass, I picked up a free book titled Rediscover Jesus and was also introduced to BEST LENT EVER, and that is when I began to fall in love with being Catholic. Since that time, I have attended adult education classes at my church (something I would not have done in the past) and have learned about the saints, contemplative prayer, and the life of Jesus and what it means for us.
I love being Catholic, because it’s a challenge. I love a good challenge and striving to achieve new goals. My hobbies have always been things that are challenging: learning the piano, learning a new language, disciplining myself for a bodybuilding competition, even my profession is a challenge every day—and so is being Catholic.
Being Catholic is challenging because Jesus calls us to perfection. He calls for us to discipline our selfish desires and put others before ourselves . . . and to put him first. And that’s precisely what helps us grow in relationship with him.
Being Catholic is challenging because in every generation, we follow Jesus and go against the grain. In every generation, the current culture of the world wants us to compromise on truth and love, but the Catholic Church never wavers. She maintains that we have been given the fullness of the faith from God Incarnate, and we have no right to change that truth. The truth supersedes time and culture.
Being Catholic is challenging intellectually. We have a fascinating history of brilliant theologians, philosophers, and scientists. There is always more to learn—a lifetime is not long enough for our finite minds to grasp an infinite God. Which also means, we need to realize that there are limits to what we can understand. It’s a challenge to recognize that there are limits to what we can understand and trust him even when it goes beyond human understanding.
Being Catholic is challenging because it requires us to look at our own lives and be honest with ourselves before we participate in the sacrament of reconciliation. A few years ago, I got to hear Matthew Kelly speak in person. He issued three options and challenged each of us to pick one to start doing:
- Spend fifteen minutes each day reading the Gospels.
- Use a Mass journal to write down one point from Mass that speaks to you.
- Start going to confession once a month.
Reconciliation was the one I wanted to do the least, which is why I chose that one: it’s a challenge!
Growing up in the sixties with two Catholic parents, I knew at a very young age that my parents did not love each other very much. They often barely seemed to tolerate one another and had separate bedrooms. But being Catholic, they felt they had to stay together. I recall feeling awkward and caught in the middle when running interference for them (“Tell your father dinner is ready”; “Tell your mother I’m not hungry.”) and trying to cope with the inescapable tension that resided in our small house. It wasn’t very pleasant growing up in this volatile environment, and as I grew older, I found many reasons to excuse myself from the house. One of my favorite places to escape to was our local Catholic church, which was within walking distance. The peace I found there was a balm to my battered soul and one I often escaped to.
Matthew Kelly talks about the classroom of silence, and I think my love of silence started in those quiet moments sitting in the empty or almost-empty pews at church. I may have been too young to understand that I was laying my wounds and troubles at the feet of the Lord, but that is what I was doing, and he never failed to soothe me. I would enter overwhelmed and confused, but after sitting in the darkened, quiet church, I would leave in a much calmer frame of mind, able to cope once more. I have many happy memories of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, etc. as a Catholic, but will never forget God’s warm embrace as I sat in the classroom of silence as a child.
I was not raised Catholic. My family wasn’t religious in any real sense, although my mother told me stories about Jesus when I was young. Like many people in the sixties, I wasn’t “into” any church, although I secretly believed in God and made up a lenient and convenient spiritual code to live by. Rudderless years flew by filled with excesses, abuses, divorces, and generally sin-filled behavior. My “code” flexed around all of that. Despite this, I was a successful person (by society’s standards) whose bad behavior was routinely rewarded.
Over the years, in my heart, I knew I was hiding from the truth. The week of my fifty-eighth birthday, on an impulse, I drove over to my neighborhood church and attended my first Mass. I was so nervous, thoroughly convinced that everyone there could sense how inappropriate it was that I was there. After Mass, I stayed seated until most people had left, but as I stood to go, I was suddenly face-to-face with Father Cyril, who stretched out his hand and warmly welcomed me. I quickly explained that I was not Catholic, not anything really, and he touched my shoulder and told me not to worry because Jesus loved me anyway. He told me to come back. And I did. Over the next dozen Sundays, as I sat through each Mass, I felt like every homily was a personal message to me about how to right my ship. It wasn’t easy—I had to own up to my many shortfalls—but I committed to becoming a Catholic then and there.
What I learned from Fr. Cyril was what I love most about being Catholic: God does love us, even those who resist it, and he invites us in and is ever prepared to show us how to become a-better- version-of-ourselves, even if we have denied him for decades.
During 2009–2014, I had four foot surgeries and became addicted to opiate pain meds, which escalated into heroin. A stay-at-home mom who dropped her kids off at Holy Family School in her white Escalade, then headed straight to the projects to buy her dope. I would even pray a CD of the Rosary on my way to pick up my drugs. Pretty screwed up, right?
Through three separate jail stints, two felonies, two separate rehabs and an enormous amount of pain and suffering that I caused myself and my precious family, I knew God was with me, but it was I who was filling my “God-sized hole” with something obviously other than God. When I was in my last rehab, I had the opportunity to go to confession. I was so nervous. I had committed so many sins throughout my addiction . . . was it really possible for God to forgive me through this priest? What if I forgot a sin I committed? I thought, Well, at least I don’t know this particular priest, that way I don’t have to face him weekly! I was fortunate this priest was extremely compassionate with me. I honestly felt my sins were washed away by the grace of God. How utterly amazing is that!
Now the “real” work had to begin: forgiving myself. How is it that God can forgive us, yet it is so hard forgiving ourselves? It’s been quite a journey, and I’m humbled and grateful to say I have been clean for nearly three years, and my twenty-three-year marriage is stronger than it has ever been.
I have found a home in the Catholic Church. I am a community-driven person and someone who needs accountability. The Catholic Church has provided me with a community that is more like family—people who walk with me and encourage me to become the-best-version-of-myself in everything I do.
I love being Catholic because it gives meaning to everything I do. The Mass is filled with so much meaning—every word is said on purpose, for a reason, and the ritual of the Mass is something that has been done for so long. As a “cradle Catholic,” I feel like I have learned so much in the last several years from the things Dynamic Catholic has put out there, things I wish I had been taught when I was little. Now that I have my own kids, it is so exciting to me to pass on to them the excitement I now have for the Catholic Church. My second-grade son and I have gone through the BLESSED curriculum in addition to his regular CCD classes (they haven’t implemented it yet at the parish), and he has changed his entire outlook on the Mass, the sacraments, and the Catholic faith. This has opened my eyes to how powerful it is for a young kid to have such a strong foundation to fall back on when things at school or with friends go wrong.
Whether life is going well or I’m having a rough patch, I always feel better after attending Mass. So many times, I hear exactly what I need to hear. There is a calming element of the Mass that helps me to refocus, reenergize, and remember why I love being Catholic.
I love being Catholic because of the miracles I experience because of my faith. I lost my husband in December very unexpectedly, and the only reason I’m making it day by day is because of my faith and knowing that this is God’s plan and that my husband is in heaven watching over me and our children. I hear God telling me that it’s okay, that he’s got this, and to not be afraid.
I love being a Catholic because I can share in the Last Supper every day at Mass and imagine myself sitting with Jesus and his disciples, over and over. It never gets old or boring. There is always something new in this wonderful, awesome sacrament.
We were just on vacation this past week in Aruba and went to Mass. I thought it was so cool that the Mass in Aruba is the same Mass we experience at our home parish in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
I grew up Methodist, which gave me a good foundation, and to this day I have a deep love for the Bible. It was this foundation, along with personal struggles with my family life, that led me to seek more.
At one point, I hit rock bottom. A friend invited me to her Catholic church, but then, for some reason, that Sunday she could not go. Consequently, I decided to go to another denomination’s church not far away. When I got there, I discovered that this church had moved.
Determined to go to church somewhere, by God’s grace I remembered the street where the Catholic church was located. As I walked down that street, I felt the arms of God pulling me lovingly. What came to mind was the Good Shepherd.
When I arrived at the church, I experienced the presence of God like never before. I knew without a doubt that he was there and that the Holy Spirit was surrounding me like a blanket. I experienced the Real Presence, without understanding the theology. I experienced Jesus both in the Mass and through the people. A lady invited me to sit with her. The music was led by the youth that Sunday. I was impressed that the Catholic Church was so open to young people.
After Mass, walking back to my college campus, two girls from that church pulled over and offered me a ride. They invited me to lunch with other young people. Such simple things, yet one of those girls started taking me to Mass on Sundays and to RCIA. When I returned to campus, I was completely overjoyed—never did I have such an experience at church.
My joy was so obvious that four of my friends came to Mass with me the next Sunday. The Lord continued to nurture me through RCIA, the kind people I met, the perpetual Adoration chapel at that parish, and also through a Catholicism class. On April 24, 2005, I entered the Church. The church’s name is Sacred Heart, and I have a deep love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. You can probably imagine why!
I love the beauty and simplicity of the Mass.
I love being Catholic because I always feel forgiven and loved. I never feel alone. I know Jesus and his Blessed Mother love me for myself. I know they never give up on me. I was a foster child abandoned by her parents, but I remember a nun telling me to just say aloud, “Hello, Jesus, this is Mary” whenever I felt sad or lonely. It worked then, and it still works now to help me focus on how loved I truly am.
At the core of my love for being Catholic is the Eucharist. When I receive the Eucharist, I receive Jesus, and I carry him out into the world with me. Wow!
One of the reasons I love being Catholic is our non-verbal prayers. I come from a Protestant background, and when I was first exposed to the Catholic faith, I was bewildered by all the Signs of the Cross, kneeling, standing, etc. It seemed like a bunch of meaningless voodoo, or traditional nonsense without added value.
But then I learned how Catholics enter the church buildings. As we enter the doorway to the church, we dip our fingers in the water and cross ourselves. Why? It is a non-verbal way to say “It is only by my baptism and Christ’s death on the cross that I am worthy to enter into this place, and presence of God.” That moment was a turning point for me. This was something I could get behind one hundred percent, and it instantly transformed all the “voodoo” into deep, meaningful prayer and worship. It opened the door to a new way to love and honor God.
I’m thirty-five years old and have been Catholic and believed in God my whole life. However, in my younger years when I was in high school and early college, I remember thinking, Well, there are so many religions that believe in God—Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Baptist—I wonder which one is the “right” one. Or are we all just going in the right direction because we believe in God? It wasn’t until I discovered Dynamic Catholic that I slowly but surely came to the realization, “Wow! I actually belong to the right one!”
There is so much truth in the saying “the genius of Catholicism.” The minute I had that “aha!” moment, my faith deepened exponentially. The teachings that Jesus left behind for us in the Gospels are just that: genius!
I also love, as a mom to three beautiful little girls, being able to have solid answers for life’s difficulties. I truly do not know how people survive without faith. I enjoy every single teachable moment I have with my children where I can say his name and reassure them because of him.
I have been attending the same Catholic church with my husband and three children for the last twelve years. It’s a warm and welcoming church, the way I feel it should be.
When my mother died in 2014, I found myself struggling. I needed to live my life, but was afraid that I would have to “let her go” in order to move forward. My friend and co-worker saw that and gave me a copy of Rediscover Catholicism. It was so simple and made so much sense! It comforted me. My husband and I then attended a Passion and Purpose event, and that is where I became a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador.
Now for a confession: I am not Catholic. My husband is and our children are, but I struggle with taking that step. But I believe in Catholicism! The Catholic Church seems to be the only church that stays true to its teachings and is not swayed by the times. I know it has flaws, but what doesn’t?
I love being Catholic because of the unity that love for the Eucharist brings about, along with devotion to the Blessed Mother.
—Fr. Shaun Foggo
I love being a Catholic. It is the one constant part of my life.
Being Catholic you have the opportunity to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist not just once a week but every day! Since I retired almost five years ago, I’ve tried to make daily Mass a part of my life. I think it has changed me in many ways. First of all, I feel more aware of God’s presence in my life. Second, I want to reach out and help people more often. It also helps me to be more patient with my husband, who retired the year after I did. That, I’m still working on!
Two words: Holy Eucharist. Today I brought the Eucharist to a woman at a senior living facility who skipped lunch so she could receive. When I showed up in her room, tears came down her cheeks. She was so appreciative. The Catholic Church has what other churches simply do not have. What a gift—what a blessing.
I love being Catholic since it is my “home” on this earth for this short life. Early in life I realized that you had to live by something as your guide, and I felt that even if the whole Jesus thing was not true, to live by his teaching would result in the best society possible. But as I have aged I see that the scrutiny our faith has undergone just polishes the truth it proclaims and radiates to the world. I love the simplicity and complexity of this faith. It moves the simple, and yet it is complex enough that the learned can study it a lifetime without running out of amazing revelations and discoveries.
I love being Catholic because I love knowing that holiness is possible for me.
I love being Catholic because I am part of a worldwide family. It doesn’t matter what country or city I am in. When I go to Mass, I am home. This summer, for the first time, I visited several Baptist churches with my mother-in-law who was trying to find a new church when we all moved. She struggled to find one that was like her old church, but I was home just by celebrating the Mass with my Catholic family.
—Mary Beth Lassiter
There is a sense of pride and responsibility that comes with being Catholic. When I tell someone, “I’m Catholic,” I tend to stand a little taller. Not because I think, I’m so much better than you, but because I feel like I am truly proud to be a part of the Church and everything it stands for. I feel like it is a great honor and privilege and something I’m not ever ashamed of admitting. Jesus himself started the Catholic Church, and to be a part of that same community comes with a great deal of responsibility, honor, and pride.
Many people say the Catholic faith is stifling, harsh, and repressive. However, my experience with Catholicism has been hugely liberating, a faith truly based on encouraging and inspiring individualized thought and compassion.
For me, my Catholicism has been my biggest saving grace in all of my toughest times; it’s been the most consistent, nurturing path I have found. The more I learn about the Catholic faith, the more I really appreciate my roots in it. I remain grateful that the seeds that were planted when I was a child blossomed when my life was in a negative tailspin.
Catholicism offers so many ways for laypeople to be the hands and feet of Jesus, therefore being a bright light attracting others to Jesus and our faith. There truly is something for everyone!
I am a convert to the faith. I grew up with many occult practices around me. I was lost. I was wandering through all the things that the world said would bring me happiness, but the search only made me emptier. As I learned more and more about the Catholic faith, I found solid ground: no more shifting sand. I found a true vision for the human person, an answer to the relativism our culture promotes. The truth set me free.
I’ve dealt with a lot of hard times over the last three years—loss in my family, anxiety, and health issues that have had me fighting for answers and hope. During this time more than ever before, I have pursued my Catholic faith. I never understood what being strong in my faith was until circumstances left me running fully into God’s open arms in times of fear, anxiety, and frustration. As a result, I find hope. I find meaning. I find purpose.
For those of us lucky enough to experience Catholicism as a way of life, life is overflowing with blessings. In keeping a spiritual journal, one in which I record experiences that I deem to be worthy of recording, it amazes me to discover over time that the most meaningful experiences of my life are now written to be enjoyed, learned from, and shared with family and friends forever.
I love how I feel like I’m at home when I’m in the Catholic Church. It could be the worst week, there could be so much going on in my life, but when I enter those doors and sit down in the pew, nothing else really matters other than what’s going on right there in front of me. Going to Mass really puts my life in perspective and sets my attitude for the week.
I was raised in a non-Christian home. My mother was anti-Christian. Somehow, though, I always knew Jesus loved me. When I was nine years old, I told my mother she may not need God but I did. She told me I would grow out of this fairy tale. After getting married and having two children, I decided it was time to become Catholic. What I love most about the Church is that the priest accepted us with open arms even though my first child was born out of wedlock.
Becoming Catholic is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I don’t mean that lightly. I started out as an atheist. For over twenty-three years, I firmly believed that there was no God due to my difficult childhood and depression. I made a solemn vow to myself that I wasn’t ever going to be pulled into the whole “believing in God” joke. I firmly believed that all Christians, and Catholics especially, were all just a bunch of do-gooders who thought they were better than everyone else.
My best friend (who also happens to be my cousin) is the one who knocked the sense into me. Let me tell you, we had some arguments, but once I understood the meaning of Catholicism and what it was all about, I wanted in! I figured, if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to do it all! I wanted everything that God and Jesus had to offer, and I didn’t want to do it lightly. If Jesus could give up his very life for me, the least I could do is believe in him and accept not some but all of his gifts and never take them for granted. That’s why I’m Catholic, and despite what any critics say, I am proud of my faith!
I love being Catholic because of the long history and tradition. I feel safe with my Catholic faith; it is a well-worn, much-loved quilt handed down through many, many generations.
I love being Catholic because of the people. I’m overwhelmed by the caliber of people in my parish. Seeing others live out the Catholic faith is inspiring and pushes me to become the-best-version-of-myself.
I am a cradle Catholic, but in my teens until my late twenties, I followed the three philosophies Matthew Kelly identified in one of his books: individualism, hedonism, and minimalism (in terms of my spiritual life). After some personal pain—my wife left me, my eldest son died in a motorcycle accident, and my youngest son turned to heroin to cope with life—I was blessed by encounters with Mother Teresa, Fr. Donald Calloway, and two great spiritual counselors who are also great friends. With all of this, I have learned about the brilliance of Catholicism. Once I opened my heart to God, I wanted his truth to become part of me. It is a truth that I work at each day in spite of my weaknesses.
There are so many things I love about being Catholic—the Church’s rich history of evangelization (especially the early Church), and the contributions to the arts and music, to social services, to healthcare, and education. In every area in which people are in need, the Church has responded to those needs. I love that the Church is not afraid to go against the tide of secular society, to stay true to the Gospel. The older I get, the more I fall in love with my Catholic faith.
I love being Catholic because the Church has a strong intellectual tradition. For me, the motto of St. Anselm (1033–1109)—“faith seeking understanding”—means that we continually probe the ineffable mystery of God with reason. The Church reveres philosophy as the bridge between reason and faith. I have been educated and made my living as a scientist, and I am thankful that modern experimental science had its origin in the Catholic universities of Europe during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
—Deacon Thomas J. Giacobbe
St. Augustine said, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him, the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” Catholicism calls each of us into a romantic adventure with the Lord. Through the Church, God extends his mighty hand, inviting us to an authentic, love-until-it-hurts, soul-transcending, eternal romance.
I have been romanced by our heavenly Father at the foot of the cross, transformed in the heart of his Church. Though raised Catholic, it was only at the cross of a dark physical trial that his love-light broke through. In the aftermath of sudden illness, job loss, and poorly coping with all I had become, I fell on the rocky soil of my soul. There, crushed beneath the weight of my cross, he met me with the unfathomable light of his merciful love.
In a myriad of intimate encounters, he loved me amid the raw pain of my brokenness. He held a mirror up to my soul, called me to repentance, and enveloped me in his merciful embrace. His love and light broke into the darkest suffering of my life. He resurrected my Catholic faith and graced me with unshakable peace and joy. My divine physician healed me in ways I didn’t even know I needed. He pursued me relentlessly. He called me back to life. This is the beauty of the Catholic faith. It understands that with life’s blessings there is inevitable suffering from the fallen nature of humanity. Yet there is hope for all the faithful during every season of life. As St. John Paul II said, “We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
Every Sunday, after being fed by the Word of God, my husband and I join our faith community and eagerly approach the altar for Holy Communion. Returning to our seats, we kneel in prayer as we watch our brothers and sisters in Christ reach out their hands to receive our Lord. Old and young, singles and families—we are all one body through Christ who strengthens us.
One particular Sunday, we were privileged to witness a beautiful portrait of love, commitment, and hope. A young mother, struggling but determined, processed forward with her disabled, eleven-year-old daughter. Not wanting to maneuver the cumbersome wheelchair through the worship space, this faithful mother, who was not much larger than her daughter, carried her child to the altar. Without hesitation, she carried her. Hopeful despite all limitations, she raised her daughter up to receive her Lord and Savior. My husband and I were awestruck.
That single moment in time has often led us to reflect particularly on our commitment as husband and wife. When we are faced with weakness, hardship, or discouragement, our bond is tested. Sometimes it’s hard to carry one another through the difficult times—to raise one another up so that we see the image of Christ disguised by our brokenness. But that’s exactly where he meets us and delivers us—in and through brokenness. So we process forward in a loving communion that draws us to the life-giving Communion. The witness and support of other faithful husbands and wives encourage us along the way. Through their example and prayers, we can raise one another up, despite our weaknesses, and receive all that the Lord desires to share with us. This is the blessing of the sacraments. This is what I love about being Catholic.
My journey has been an interesting one, to say the least. During the seventies, I was sort of a hippie and somewhat rebellious, especially toward my father. I was in Catholic high school at the time and didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was crazy, but my sister entered a convent, and about six months later, my dad told me to go and visit her in Boston. While there, at first I joked and made fun of the nuns a little, and I never thought I could give my life to God like my sister did.
A couple days later, I got sick and ended up in bed. The mother superior offered me a book to read called Heaven, written by the founder of that religious order. I read it and decided to stay there for four years and three months because I wanted to know God and have a personal relationship with him like all the sisters did; they seemed so joyful and at peace.
Looking back, I realized that God laid the foundation for me by talking to me through that book. I’m so grateful I went to visit my sister in Boston. All the experiences I had at the convent drew me closer and closer to God and prepared me to face the world today.
I’m proud to be called Catholic because of its reasonable truths and its beauty, and that beauty is Jesus Christ who wants my total happiness and wants me to be with him in heaven!
I love being Catholic now more than ever since coming back to the Church five years ago. I also love my Mass Journal, which I have kept for over four years, thanks to Matthew Kelly.
I love being Catholic because God placed this love in my heart from a very early age. My family was Catholic. I was baptized, but when I was four, my family left the Church. A young priest had come to our parish, bringing Vatican II, and my family did not approve. I missed going to church so much and would ask them if we could go back. They said no. Even though I was raised with no faith, there was something about being Catholic that called to me. As an adult, I tried out other churches, but no other church felt like “home.”
Two years ago, I felt the tug to come home. I knew I needed to start with confession. While talking to the priest and telling him the story of my family leaving due to Vatican II, he recalled when some of his parishioners left the Church for the same reason.
He asked where I grew up. I told him. He asked me the name of my parish. I told him.
He gently reached over and said, “My dear, I was the young priest that brought Vatican II to your family’s church all those years ago. You are supposed to be here. You’ve come full circle.” As an interesting side note, he retired a month later.
My husband and I talk all the time about how our society seems to have a “malaise” over it. Nothing seems to be a big deal anymore. The way we dress, speak, act—nothing about it seems sacred or of any importance, but Jesus uses Catholicism to make everything a big deal. He uses a simple rooster’s crow in the Passion to signify to Peter his denial, he uses all we take for granted and makes it a big deal. Life is a big deal, and Catholicism reminds me through the Mass, prayers, and silence, that all of life is sacred; it makes it a big deal again. Without these reminders, I too would quickly and easily fall into the same trap. Catholicism grounds me.
I love the holistic opportunity Jesus presents to us in his life and in his ministry! Living a holistic, joyful, and authentic Catholic lifestyle is such an incredible way to live. I love that there are no coincidences and God can find purpose in anything. Having a personal relationship with Jesus as the foundation of your life is the most peaceful and foundational part of thriving in life, not just surviving.
I’ve often heard the saying, “the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth,” but I actually experienced this in a very personal way when my sixteen-year-old special-needs son died in 2016. I love being Catholic because without the love, mercy, and beauty of our faith I would have been lost at the death of my beloved son. Instead, I have hope that one day we will be together again, but until then I have this beautiful Church to guide me.
I love being Catholic because it is where God called me. I was not raised in any faith—my parents called themselves non-denominational Protestants. We did not go to church. I heard about God and Jesus, but I knew nothing about them. After I married my Catholic husband, I started to go to Mass with him and my daughter, because I had heard that “the family that prays together stays together.” One day at Mass, I felt this incredible blanket of love enfold me. I had never felt anything that strong. It was warm and unconditional and directed at me. Everything in the church faded as I basked in this love.
I eventually realized, as my husband and daughter would go up to receive Holy Communion, that the love was coming from the Host. It was at that time I knew I wanted to become Catholic and be a part of what was in the Church. My most memorable moment as a Catholic was the day I became Catholic in 1986 at the age of thirty-six. It was the beginning of a new life for me. I truly felt reborn, and this exciting, fulfilling journey has never ended.
I love being a Catholic because I feel I am home. I am the only Catholic in my family. My parents called themselves Christians, but I have very few memories of them taking us to church when I was a child. What I do remember is them wanting Sunday mornings to themselves, so my sister and I attended whatever local church would pick us up on the bus. Since I moved around a lot as a child, I got to experience a variety of churches, including non-denominational, Methodist, Southern Baptist, and Calvary Chapel. I felt called to Jesus, but in all of these churches there was always something missing. The first time I attended a Catholic Mass, I found it. I can’t explain what the feeling was except to say “home.”