Catholicism is not merely a religion, or a sect, or a set of rules. When small minds and smaller spirits try to capture the essence of Catholicism, this is often what they tend to conclude. But Catholicism is more than a religion. It is more than just another movement. The essence of Catholicism is not sin, punishment, duty, or obligation, and it is more than a set of lifeless rules and regulations. Catholicism is more. It is more than most people think and more than most Catholics experience.
The essence of Catholicism is dynamic transformation. You cannot become more like Jesus Christ and at the same time stay as you are. To be Catholic means to be striving to live the Gospel, to be striving to become more like Jesus Christ. It is this dynamic approach to transformation that animates the human person–physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually–and allows us to experience life “to the fullest.” (John 10:10) When are you most fully alive? When you are changing and growing and exploring all you are capable of becoming.
God constantly calls us to new life. He continually invites us to higher and deeper places. Christ is constantly saying to us, as he did to Peter, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) The world, on the other hand, is constantly calling us to the shallow water.
Catholicism is a dynamic way of life that encourages and empowers each individual to become the-best-version-of-himself or herself. Quite different from pop psychology and secular philosophies of our time, this is not something we do to and for ourselves (self-help), but rather something that takes place in and through Jesus Christ. We may be able to help ourselves to a certain extent, but it is precisely because we cannot help ourselves to the extent that we need and desire that we need a savior.
The Catholic lifestyle, when it is authentically presented and embraced, promotes the integration of every aspect of our daily lives and every aspect of the human person. And as you journey toward your destiny, God intertwines your talents with the needs of others to allow you the privilege of touching them, serving them, and inspiring them as they make their own journey.
Catholicism is a way of life in which the giving and receiving happen in equal measure. It nurtures the individual, the local community, and the whole human family. Catholicism affects every area of our lives and is a guiding light in all of our decisions. It is both the philosophical and theological basis and the practical inspiration. Catholicism is a call to live an authentic life. When embraced as a lifestyle, it causes the elevation of every human activity. Catholicism provides the map and the tools for bringing each person into harmony with self, God, and others.
G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” This is particularly true of Catholicism. Of all the many people I know who have rejected Catholicism, or who are critical of it, I do not know a single person who has truly explored and embraced the Catholic lifestyle. If you humbly open your heart, mind, and soul to the genius of Catholicism, you will not find it wanting.
Copyright © 2010 Beacon Publishing. Used with permission.
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