“Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to suit the vision. Progress does mean (just now) that we are always changing the vision. It should mean that we are slow but sure in bringing justice and mercy among men: it does mean that we are very swift in doubting the desirability of justice and mercy… If [a man] altered a blade of grass to his favourite colour every day, he would get on slowly. But if he altered his favourite colour every day, he would not get on at all… As long as the vision of heaven is always changing, the vision of earth will be exactly the same. No ideal will remain long enough to be realized, or even partly realized. The modern young man will never change his environment; for he will always change his mind.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy: the romance of faith, 1908
Why remain Catholic? Because it’s True. <– The one-word answer that everyone who has, and who will, respond to Elizabeth Scalia’s challenge to the Catholic web world will ALL come back to – because it’s True. And we are Church, we are the Bride of Christ, bound together by this Truth. Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:68.
But as a wordy blogging millennial, I’ll elaborate on my favorite parts of the Faith in which I endeavour to remain, and probably use others’ words where I have none.
The steadiness. Don’t we all crave it, deep, deep down inside? The steadiness of an unchanging, absolute Truth? The blessed assurance of a trustworthy anchor, an eternal home, an unfailing love?This isn’t TSwift singing, wondering which version of you I might get on the phone tonight. One wakes up every morning knowing that there exists an absolute Truth, to seek, to learn, to internalize, to grow into, a Truth after which to mold one’s self and attain perfection.
The timelessness. Timelessness, not stagnancy. Not finite, infinite – eternal. Not temporary, permanent. Not merely a means to an end, not blindly smelling a rose and hoping to know what it looks like in another life, not walking a road to a door that leads to a world of which we have literally zero concept: not a journey towards something unfamiliar. Catholicism: the practice of Catholicism, the practice of heaven, the orientation of our selves towards eternity, towards our promised life beyond the boundaries of this world and beyond the boundaries of time itself, so that none of us might face death in fear, saying with Ruby Gillis, “Heaven must be very beautiful, of course… but it won’t be what I’m used to.” Death is but our water and our wine (depending on whether you’re reading Chesterton or Sheen, and not necessarily preferring one over the other; we are a both/and people, after all).
The both/and. Versus the either/or. The embracing of paradoxes. Practical applications? There is both a time to drink and a time not to drink. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905. Both married persons and unmarried persons are called to practice chastity, for Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4 – 8. To make good choices, I need both my head and my heart; we strive to both think and feel with the Church. Both words and silence might be a sin, depending on the situation. Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate with them:
– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
– by protecting evildoers. CCC #1868
The joy in fearlessness. The martyrs. The courage.
Let us follow for a moment the clue of the martyr and the suicide; and take the case of courage. No quality has ever so much addled the brains and tangled the definitions of merely rational sages. Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage. A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he will risk it on the precipice. He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an inch of it. A soldier surrounded by his enemies, if he is to cut his way out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life like water and yet drink death like wine. No philosopher, I fancy, has ever expressed this romantic riddle with adequate lucidity… But Christianity has done more: it has marked the limits of it in the awful graves of the suicide and the hero, showing the distance between him who dies for the sake of living and him who dies for the sake of dying. And it has held up ever since above the European lances the banner of the mystery of chivalry: the Christian courage; which is a disdain of death; not the Chinese courage, which is a disdain of life. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
And what did they die for, but the Truth which we continue to uphold, regardless of the flippancy or rejection or violence of the world that has moved on, as Stephen King writes. A timeless, steady Truth, demanding the continual choosing of joy and the constant rejection of the devil’s lie of fear.
The solidarity. The Mass. “Normal” Sunday Mass, Latin Novus Ordo, TLM, charismatic, “modern,” Eastern liturgies – the Mass [barring all liturgical abuse, of course]. That I could go anywhere in the world and attend any Mass on any day at any time and partake of the eternal sacrifice, For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:22 – 25.
His relentless Love. Do not forget this: the Lord never tires of forgiving! It is we who tire of asking forgiveness. Papa Francesco, 17 Marzo 2013
The Real Presence. The terrifying intimacy of it. The equally terrifying vulnerability of it. Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist. Where else could you encounter Him so fully?