Are you thinking of becoming Catholic, but just aren't sure where to begin, or even why be Catholic? Here at St. Joseph Community we would love to walk with you on this journey.
Why be Catholic? I suspect for many of us it might be because we were raised in the faith as were our parents and grandparents, and it’s something we’ve always known. But it’s worth thinking about. Why should one become Catholic? Why stay Catholic?
First off, Catholics believe that our Church goes all the way back to Jesus Himself. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Peter, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” As Catholics, we believe Jesus created His Church with Peter as the successor of Him to lead it. Throughout history, every other branch of Christianity separated from the Church founded by Christ through Peter.
Secondly, what also makes the Catholic Church distinctive are the Sacraments. The sacraments are celebrated by the Church to bring us closer to Jesus. They are visible signs of God’s love and grace. In particular, the Catholic Church has the Sacrament of Eucharist. In John 6:53-55, Jesus says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” At the Last Supper, in Luke 22:19, Jesus said, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” Jesus commanded us to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him, and we do so at every Mass. Through the Holy Spirit, we believe that Jesus is truly present at Mass with us in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not a symbol of Christ, but truly His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Eucharist gives us food for the journey and brings us closer to God as do the other Sacraments.
Thirdly, the Catholic Church believes in “Tradition” with a capital “T.” What this means is we believe the Bible is sacred, but we also understand the Bible, and what Jesus has taught us, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Saints, Popes, theologians and Councils of Bishops over the centuries have helped us to do that; especially Bishops and Popes in a special way as successors of Peter. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and teaching of the Church, we are able to grow in our understanding of God’s teachings and look at how they apply to things the Bible might not address with clarity, such as abortion, slavery, or the dignity of the human person. We are also believe the Bible needs interpretation, which the Bishops, assisted by Scripture scholars and theologians, have given us over the ages.
Personally, on my faith journey, I have wondered about my faith. I remember as a teenager thinking perhaps another branch of Christianity may be the way to go. But ultimately I realized that my faith wasn’t about the quality of praise and worship music, the quality of a sermon, or just hearing what I wanted to hear. I don’t go to a Church to be entertained. I go to grow in my faith because ultimately I want to be a saint, and God wants this for me too. For my faith to grow, what better way than in the Church Jesus gave us? Jesus knew what He was doing when He gave us the Mass and created the Church.
So why become (or stay) a Catholic? Because the Catholic Church will help you become a Saint and get to Heaven. The Catholic Church will help you experience God’s love and know what that love means and how to be an agent of God’s love in the world.
So if you are thinking about becoming a Catholic, consider coming to Mass or inquire about RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults where non-Catholics learn about the faith) or just write us if you have a question. Whether it is at St. Joseph Community or another Catholic parish, know whatever your faith and life story is, you are always welcome in God’s House.
Fr. Paul Kammen
The Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and the Rite of Catholic Initiation for Children (RCIC) are programs designed for those seeking to become Catholic and/or complete the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist). Each individuals' path is unique, so please contact FaithFormation@StJosephCommunity.org or the Parish Office at 651-423-4402 for more details and information.