by Therese J.Borchard
In a previous column, I listed some reasons to be Catholic, a ready response to throw at people who question why I would be part of such a flawed religion.
But by far the best resource on this subject is a book hot off the press from my longtime mentor and co-editor of “I Like Being Catholic: Treasured Traditions, Rituals and Stories,” Michael Leach.
In his new book, “Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question” (Loyola Press), Leach packs his chapters with the best of our faith – from a modern discussion of the sacraments to an exploration of the fruits of the spirit and a list of people who model what it means to be Catholic.
Reasons to Celebrate the Faith
He offers plenty of reasons to celebrate the Catholic faith here and now. Here are just seven of the many reasons Leach, often called “the dean of Catholic publishing,” gives for staying Catholic:
• God is everywhere. Leach begins his second chapter with this question from the Baltimore Catechism: “Where is God?” The answer: “God is everywhere!”
“…Catholics fall away from the church because they think there is no room for them … there is room in the inn for everyone!” — Michael Leach
To make his point, he goes on to quote mystics, such as St. Julian of Norwich, who said, “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything,” and Scripture, which says that God is “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28), “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8), and “We live (and move) and have our being” in God” (Acts 17:28).
• There’s still something about Mary. I love this chapter because devotion to Mary is a very Catholic thing. Not that Jesus’ mom loves only the Catholics, but we do show a special affection to her.
On some level, I think we all believe the joke that says that, when St. Peter denies someone at the pearly gates of heaven, Mary lets them in the back door. She is our mother!
• Stories. Lots of them. Catholicism is filled with stories of God. Writes Leach: “The stories of saints, the sagas of sinners, the rumors of angels! Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter! That’s what Catholicism is about!”
• The Bethlehem Principle, meaning that there is room in the church for everyone. Leach offers this insightful observation: “Too many Catholics fall away from the church because they think there is no room for them. Now more than ever the church must shout out that there is room in the inn for everyone!”
• The fruit of the Spirit. As a post-Second Vatican Council Catholic, I haven’t had to list the fruit of the Spirit in less than 10 seconds as, say, my mom had to back when she was in elementary school.
So I was glad Leach reminded me of this very important part of our faith, the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and discipline.
• Social justice. According to Leach, this is Catholicism’s best-kept secret. He would know, considering he is the publisher emeritus and editor-at-large of Orbis Books, which publishes dozens of books about social justice and Catholic social teaching annually.
I love his definition of social justice: “Catholic social teaching is founded on the principle of solidarity: a spiritual awareness that each of us is responsible for the good of all of us.”
• The best is yet to come. In other words, the Church upholds the promise of an afterlife and a reunion with Jesus and the saints and all things wonderful.
Writes Leach: “Catholicism promises us that after we die we will see Beauty that eyes cannot see. We will hear Music that ears cannot hear. We will know Love that no mind can imagine.”
Therese J.Borchard writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.