A Why am I Catholic? post, inspired by the work of Webster Bull.
It’s a question that can be asked a variety of different ways:
WHY am I Catholic?
Why AM I Catholic?
Why am I Catholic?
Why am I CATHOLIC?
As I sat in the middle of a downpour last weekend, cheering despite the rain dripping impossibly into my nose, I had this question running through my mind. The question I was really trying to answer was whether the answer changes when the intonation changes.
I don’t think it does.
Once I answer the Why part of the question, the rest of it falls into place. To answer the Why, I have to know who I am, what it means to be who I am, and what it is to be Catholic.
I’ve been examining this question, in whole and in parts, for eight-plus years. It started while I was in RCIA classes with Father Pat and has continued to today. I thought I’d know the answer after the Easter vigil Mass in 2001, when I gave in and actually went through with the “becoming Catholic” thing.
I’m Catholic, I guess, because I needed something. There was something missing from my life, though I couldn’t tell you just what that was. When I first felt the appeal of Mass, I attributed it to the human need for ritual. As the appeal grew and as I slowly began to wonder if this was The Place For Me, the need for something started to feel filled.
Am I Catholic because I found my Something?
I’m a sinner, and I always have been. Though I’m striving to be a saint, I have a lonnnnnnng way to go. What better place to seek refuge than the hospital for sinners (cf Mark 2:17)? I’d rather be in a hotel, mind you, one with a heated swimming pool. But before I get there, I have to be a saint…and the saints were all born human and had to struggle through this life.*
I’m Catholic because now that I’m here, where else is there to go? I’m Catholic because I don’t know all the answers. I’m Catholic because it only takes a word for me to be clean again, despite my best attempts at dirtying myself.
Why am I Catholic?
I’m still learning the answer to that, and that’s probably one of the reasons I am.