I’m still 100% Catholic. Do you wonder why anyone would stick around the Catholic Church after the sexual abuse scandal and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report that was released? When I was outside the church for twenty-five years I certainly would have wondered. What is it that keeps anyone in such a puritanical, prejudiced, judgmental and outdated (and now officially perverse) institution? I’m here to fill you in and answer any questions you may have. Don’t hold back, as this type of scandal is a test of my own faith and the faith of every Catholic. Let me tell you why I’m still here.
First of all, this is the church handed to Peter by Jesus. It is the deposit of faith and tradition that has been passed down through two-thousand years, and in Matthew 16:18 Jesus promises that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The church is the body of Christ which will continue through the ages, through good popes, bad popes, protestants, perverts, liars and thieves, the Catholic Church will continue. You either believe that Jesus is God or you believe he is a madman, there is no happy medium. As part of the body of Christ, I can’t be anywhere else. I recommend the book Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn if this intrigues you.
The Catholic Church is where the Eucharist is. The body and blood of Jesus is the source of all nourishment. Jesus told us we need to eat his flesh and drink his blood, but many of his followers were appalled and left. Jesus couldn’t be more clear in his teaching, and it seems that even in the time of Jesus, people within the church were sinners who could not be trusted. Check this out:
John 6:67-71 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” (after he told them they need to eat his flesh and drink his blood) Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
The church is here to bring me closer to God. It provides the opportunity for me to experience the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist during communion and adoration. It has given me the opportunity to stop worrying about the things I can’t change in the world and start feeding the poor, caring for the sick and visiting the imprisoned. The church allows me to build others up in faith, while being edified through my interactions with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The church gives me hope, as it lets me experience true unity and forgiveness. The church has provided all the answers and allowed me to stop searching. God is merciful. He alone sees us as the divine creations He intended us to be, and He alone has the power to raise us up to experience our own divinity.
Finally, I love the sacrament of confession. The truth is that none of us are perfect. Instead of just throwing up my hands and booking a room in Hell for all eternity, confession gives me the opportunity to admit I have failed and ask for forgiveness. It allows me to reconcile with God just as the Devil is trying to keep us apart through temptation and sin.
There is always a possibility that there will be a bad egg in the carton, just as there will always be sinners in the church. My job is to focus on my own freshness, purity and relationship with the Lord. Does He see me as rotten? God knows my heart, and the church allows me to commune with Him and know his most Sacred Heart. This brings me to a greater understanding of what God expects from me.
It gives me great peace to know that in 2002 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops instituted strict standards of fingerprinting and background checks for all clergy and laity who come in contact with children. Clergy are not to be alone with a child and are not allowed to communicate with any child under the age of 18 without an adult present (except in the confessional). I can’t control what happens everywhere else, but in my parish these rules are strictly followed and adults are not left alone with a child. In our highly sexualized culture which promotes homosexuality and pornography, it’s no wonder that even the holiest of men can fall prey to the temptations of the Devil. May God bless us always and keep us holy.
Blessings and hugs,
PS- If you are struggling with your faith as a result of these scandals or your own personal baggage about God, spiritual direction can help. Find out more here.