Why Am I Catholic?
The following is a personal testimony found on the Internet. This was referred to me by one of our writers. I found it so moving that I had to include it in The Defender. One thing we did not reproduce here is an image of Jesus holding the Eucharist with the caption "As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words." Here is the testimony.
Envision the image of Jesus holding the Eucharist and read on.
Okay, so maybe being a Catholic requires more than a thousand-word explanation. Since publishing this page, I received questions as to whether or not I had forgotten something since I had only the image above with the one line statement beneath it. This was my way of focusing this website on Christ and not myself...however, I do believe a personal testimony is long overdue. The point I was trying to make with the above painting is that it represents our Lord, Jesus Christ, holding the Chalice and offering the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the main reason that I am Catholic. There are many other reasons, because I believe ALL that our Holy Mother Church teaches without any reserve. But it was the Eucharist that led me back home to the Catholic Church after an 18-year absence.
I was born to Catholic parents and baptized at 5 days old. When I found that out I was thrilled, because I was without the Holy Spirit for only 4 days of my life here on earth. I went to Catholic School and attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day until I had my first child. After that, Mass was sporadic and not a priority as I was "too busy" and it was "too hard" to bring babies to Church. How wrong I was; but we all know that hindsight is 20/20. I was very young and didn't understand what I was leaving...what I was missing.
Three children and a divorce later, I had no room for God in my life. I was so busy raising my children by myself, working, keeping house, and dating (looking for Mr. Right) that I never thought of including God in that life. Sure, I still had faith and I prayed every night before bed; if you can consider reciting The Lord's Prayer like a runaway train prayer.
It may have seemed that I had given up on God, but God didn't give up on me. He placed two devout non-Catholic Christians into my path--one, a neighbor who became a very dear friend of mine, the other a wonderful faith-filled Pentecostal man who was placed in the office next to mine at work. Between these two beautiful people, I began to hear much about the love of Jesus and my interest peaked. I began to search for Him. I thought that I hadn't learned enough in the Catholic Faith and that the fault was with the Church. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I later found out that the Catholic Church teaches everything these friends of mine spoke of...and THEN SOME! But the journey to that truth was a long one. I went "Church-shopping" for a very long time, trying different denominations, eager to have this new spiritual hunger filled. I read the Scriptures and absorbed every word like a sponge. But I wanted more. I never felt completely satisfied.
It was at a Church of Christ service that I discovered what I was missing. My children were spending the weekend at their dad's house, so I went to the service alone. I truly enjoyed the sermons, as I could never hear enough about the love of Christ. But it was when it came time for communion that I realized that something was not quite right. After the communion and little cups of grape juice were passed around, I waited until it was time to eat and drink. Once it was time, I ate the communion and drank from the little cup with complete reverence as I had done in the past in the Catholic Church. I thought communion was the same in every church. And it was at that moment I KNEW in my heart and soul that this was not the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Even though I didn't truly understand the Real Presence at that time, I somehow knew that there was a difference between this communion and the Catholic Eucharistic Communion. How did I know this? Jesus promises that if we seek we shall find.
I was seeking, completely, and with an open heart; and I know that the Holy Spirit revealed to me that day what it was I needed to do. That was the last time I attended a non-Catholic service.
I began to attend Mass again, but didn't receive the Eucharist because I knew that I was in a state of mortal sin and to receive the Eucharist in that state is Sacrilege. It was close to Easter and there was a Reconciliation (Penance) service being held at a local Church. I went and confessed 20+ years of sins so that I could receive the Eucharist the following Sunday, Easter Sunday. Sure, it was difficult to sit there and talk about all the evil and sinful things I had done in my life. But none of this was new to God. He was there when I had committed those atrocities. And once I heard the words, "I absolve you in the name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit", I knew without a doubt that I was forgiven. How many times in the past did I mull over my sins, even though I had confessed them to God? I constantly found myself confessing to Him over and over again the same sins because I didn't "feel" forgiven. I wasn't given the graces that come with the Sacrament to truly let go of those past sins and really feel forgiven. With Reconciliation, there was no doubt in my mind.
What joy I felt when I went to Mass the following Sunday, Easter Sunday, and received our Lord Jesus Christ -- Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! And I began to crave the Eucharist! How can anyone crave something that is just a symbol? I believe that everything is possible with God, and just as Jesus could turn water into wine at the wedding of Cana, so too, He could turn wine into His blood at The Last Supper. From water, to wine, to blood. And I believe that He could turn bread into His body and that He continues to do so at every Mass. I believe the Eucharist is the fulfillment of Jesus' promise that "...behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (MT 28:20)
I cannot describe adequately the graces I feel after receiving such a Divine gift. Jesus' actual Body and Blood mixed in with mine. His soul and Divinity, uniting Himself with my poor soul. Jesus, completely whole, making His home in my heart!
I crave the Eucharist!
There are times at Mass that a feeling of impatience comes upon me for I desire Him so much, but I have to remind myself to be patient, that every part of this Divine Liturgy is important and each part leads to Our Lord's Supper. I have heard from so many that the Mass is boring. I used to feel the same way, too. Before this revelation of the Eucharist, I used to consider Mass as different parts -- "the standing up part, the long sitting down part, the short standing up part, the short sitting down part, the LONG kneeling part, Communion, then ... out the door we go"! It would be funny if it weren't true. With my new eyes, ears, heart and soul, I absorb every word said at Mass and I pray every prayer with my heart and soul. I feel like I'm in Heaven when I'm at Mass. And according to Scott Hahn's "The Lamb's Supper", I AM in Heaven! Mass is not what you get out of it, but rather what you put into it. When I give my all at Mass, I receive much more than I gave and the graces I receive last throughout the day and into the week.
I can go to any Mass, anywhere in the world, and even though the language is different, I can still participate in the Liturgy because I know it completely, and more importantly, I can receive the Eucharist -- anywhere in the world! I can recite the prayers in my own language while the faithful recite them in theirs. I can bring along my daily readings of the Scriptures...the same Scripture readings taught to all Catholics each and every day. If every Catholic were to attend daily Mass or to read and meditate on these pre-selected Scripture readings every day, over ONE BILLION people all over the world would be taught the same Scripture, the same Biblical lessons. To me, that is what being Catholic (Universal) is all about.... every disciple being taught the same thing each and every day based on the Scriptures.
No one forces us to go to Mass every Sunday as that is our free will to choose to do so; but it is a sin within the Catholic Church not to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days without good reason. Why is that? It is a violation of the Third Commandment not to keep the Lord's Day holy. When we choose to sleep in or just skip Mass it is a choice to do our own will, not God's. It is an act of selfishness..."I want to do what I want to do and I won't give one hour of my week to God". I'm convinced the Catholic Church enforces this commitment because the Church loves us so much, knowing full well how much we need to be spiritually nourished. If we stop going to Mass on Sunday, we slip, we fall, we lose grace; and the gap between God and ourselves widens with each passing week that we miss Mass. The more Masses we attend, the more graces we receive, the more spiritually nourished we are, the more holy we become. The Catholic Church is concerned about our souls and works to keep us in a state of Grace. I see love in this, not tyranny.
I've also heard many that say, "I never learned anything at Mass". There are at least three Scripture readings at each Mass, and a homily (sermon). I hang on to every word and I have learned much by listening attentively. Also, there are so many books about the Catholic Faith and its teachings, I believe no one could read them all in their lifetime. We have to take the initiative to learn on our own. Unfortunately, many Catholics see Confirmation as "Graduation", and I correct this false idea when teaching Confirmation students. It is up to us to learn more through reading, prayer, and meditation. We have the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the writings of the Saints, the Early Church Fathers, and the Doctors of the Church. It is up to us to continue to educate ourselves on the Catholic Faith beyond Confirmation and the Mass. My favorite quote by Pope John Paul II is "Christians are ALWAYS in training."
I am sure there is much more I can say, and I may add to this as thoughts come to me. I pray that you find the beauty of this rich faith as I did. I will never leave this Church again, nor will I ever take for granted the most precious gift our Lord Jesus Christ gave to us...His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist
God bless you and give you peace.
Ctherese has two other writings that have been published. Both are on her website.
Here is the link if you are interested.
http://www.geocities.com/paxctherese/lesson.html "A Lesson In Raspberry Picking"
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