After writing the previous post, I thought about how amazing it is that the bishops have not, in 2000 years, been able to destroy the Church. Why not? Because she was founded by Christ and He promised that the gates of hell (even when enabled by bishops) would not be able to prevail against her.
Now on occasion I have said to my spiritual director (a priest and a pastor) that if there were somewhere else to go, I would, because things are such a mess. But there isn't anywhere else to go. Peter is the rock and Peter leads the Church. I don't relish the thought of following a leader who has no authority from Christ. Why anyone, for example, would follow the leadership of a church founded by a syphilitic adulterer who was essentially a serial killer of most of the women he married is beyond me.
But I long for the days when the popes and bishops were real men who were willing to face martyrdom rather than abandon the faith, men who lived in poverty instead of million dollar mansions with plasma TVs, climate-controlled wine coolers, and servants. Ah, how we long for the dear bishop of Les Miserables who converted Jean Valjean.
For the first several hundred years most of the successors of Peter were martyrs and saints. We hear many of their names on the rare occasions when a priest chooses the Roman Canon as the Eucharistic Prayer (or always at the Tridentine Mass). You remember: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus..."
So a big reason I remain Catholic is that the only church I see with an authority given by Christ Himself is the Catholic Church. And today even in her weakened state, she is still the one Church most hated and reviled because she teaches the truth: against abortion, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage, the indissolubility of marriage, etc.. And so the devil attacks her relentlessly, a proof of her power.
And that's the second reason I'm a Catholic. I love the truth and, in the doctrines of the Church, I see the word of God reflected as in a mirror. the Catholic Church doesn't bend to fashion. Her doctrines, especially the hard ones, don't change with the weather. She teaches the truth in season and out of season.
The third reason I'm a Catholic is her heritage of love. The Church throughout the centuries has provided for the poor, the sick, the lonely, the handicapped, the children. The institutions founded and supported by the Church serve more people and have had more impact on the world than any other religion. She truly is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Evil men and women sometimes pervert her institutions, but the principles behind them remain true, and many have lain down their lives for those they serve.
So no matter how many posts I write about the scandals in the Church, I cling to her as a faithful daughter. When I speak out against scandal it isn't to tear her down, but to act like the surgeon who picks up the knife, not to kill the patient, but to cut out the infection. I pray and long for a purified Catholic Church that draws men and women all over the world into her arms, because they "see how these Christians love one another."
The greatest love in the Church is Christ Himself who comes to us in the Eucharist. I could not live without the daily bread that strengthens us in this wicked world. The Eucharist and Confession, the sacraments of daily life, are as necessary as food, clothing, and shelter.
Authority, truth, love, and the sacraments -- all good reasons to be Catholic.
Ann Roche Muggeridge, daughter-in-law of Malcolm Muggeridge, is a Canadian Catholic who was frustrated to death with the state of the Church in the north. She once vented to a friend that she felt like leaving. His response? "Don't let the bastards drive you out!" So I invite my Anglican friends and others considering becoming Catholics, "Don't let the bastards keep you out." Recognize the difficulties and challenges that we are facing in the Church and come join the fight where it really matters -- at the heart of the Catholic Church.