Perhaps the greatest witness to my love of Catholicism is that I cannot explain it without invoking the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic saint. A scholar and author of the Summa Theologica, St. Thomas’s writings are held in high regard for their detailed explanations of spirituality, society, and the soul of man himself. It is these writings, as well as the notably countless modern works inspired by them, that have helped me to understand that Catholicism is not merely a religion, but the gateway to everything that I have ever desired and loved, in the form of God the Father, who Himself is the epitome and source of all beauty.
As a child, I participated in my faith because that’s what was expected of me in my household. As I grew older, however, I began to question Catholicism. It began to seem ridiculous to me how my family would revere paintings of what, to me, appeared to be a giant grandpa sitting atop a throne of clouds. As I began to question the Church, I was introduced to a plethora of ecumenical, scholarly works that defended it. These appealed to me for their logic, but even moreso for their honest, unbiased tone. What I would later read, articulated, in a passage of Aquinas’s Summa is that these works appealed to my intellect–a faculty of my human soul. As human beings, we exercise “life-functions”, says St. Thomas, and one of these is the ability to retain and understand information. In short, I had an appetite for truth, and I found (and am continually finding) these truths in my Church: the Catholic Church.
The intellect, however, is not the only faculty of my soul, and, as such, truth is not the only good I desired in my life. The Catholic Church enabled me to find freedom: the ability to choose good over evil. Through disciplines, such as abstinence from meat on Fridays, I formed my will to reject what is hurtful to my mind, spirit, and body; to say “no” to those carnal desires which I might otherwise have formed a dependence on. Video games, sweets, and naps–all of these are good in their own way, but I am glad not to be their slave.
Above all, however, is the love that I have found in the Catholic church. I consider myself blessed with a highly devoted parish community, and never before in my life have I felt such a sense of belonging. I have come to know my fellow parishioners like a family, and they have always been present to me to answer my questions and to discourse with me. Indeed, it was my fellow Catholics that quelled my doubts about Christianity. But in truth, the logic behind their arguments was not what swayed me to embrace my faith–it was the love with which they did it. Despite my flaws, I was embraced by the Catholics I am now proud to call my friends and mentors–all hurting as I am, but eager only to give for the same reason God the Father Himself made us: out of love. So selfless was their example, that it gave meaning to a life in a depraved world. I now understand, through the Catholic Church, why I am, what I’m living for, and how to do it. Truth, freedom, and love: all gifts of God our Father, who Himself is not a means to some social end, but the End and embodiment of all beauty as its Creator. I love being Catholic because the Church has shown me to know, love, and serve Him.