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Why Do I Want to be Catholic
by Bro. Ignatius Mary
(a Hermit of St. Michael)

The following essay was written during the last weeks of RCIA just before I was confirmed into the Catholic Church. We were each given an assignment to answer “Why Be Catholic”. This was my answer...

The most accurate, albeit short, answer to the question, "Why do I want to be Catholic?", after growing up Protestant and serving as a Baptist minister for fifteen years, is that I have no choice but to be Catholic.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looks like. But the one who peers into the prefect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does. —(James 1:22-25)

I “peered” into the perfect law of freedom and found Catholicism. The Scripture lead me to the Church, and history confirmed it. Since I try to be a “doer,” once I saw the truth I had no choice but to follow it—even if that lead to the Catholic Church. To do anything else would have made me a hypocrite and a fool like the man like the man in the mirror in the verse above.

Matthew 16:13-19, confirmed by Isaiah 22:15-22, proves that Christ established His church on earth with Peter as the first &ldquot;Prime Minister” of the kingdom and historical facts confirm the line of succession that leads to our present Pope.

Matthew 23:1-2 establishes that Jesus expected his disciples to submit themselves to a “Magisterium.”. Matthew 16 establishes that the “Chair” of authority was transferred from the “Chair of Moses” to the “Chair of Peter.”

Many verses of Scripture, and a thorough analysis of the history of the first 300-400 years of the church prove the validity of the authority of both Scripture and Sacred Tradition, as opposed to the Protestant idea of Sola Scriptura. Several passages of Scripture refer to oral tradition (2 Tim. 2:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Peter 1:25; and others). New Testament Scripture even records revelation and information that was “not” previously inscripturated but was passed down by oral traditions. Two examples: (1) 1 Cor. 10:1-4 (the rock that followed them around is never mentioned in the Scripture before); (2) 2 Tim. 3:1-8 (the names of the magicians are never mentioned in Scripture). How were these things known? By oral tradition!

John 6 clearly shows the doctrine of transubstantiation and tradition shows the validity of the devotion to Mary, etc. I could go on.

In addition to Scripture I looked carefully at the documents of people like St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107-110) and other early Church Fathers. Since the Christians who lived in the first and second centuries were closer to “the horse's mouth”, as it were, what they said and believed is thus authoritative in the quest of “knowing” what interpretations and practices were sanctioned by the Apostles. The conclusion from that study is that the early Church understood the life of the Church in a way that is fundamentally the same as Catholics understand it today. Thus it is true that the doctrine of the Church is traceable to the 1st Century; and where Peter is, there is the Church. I didn't believe that before.

At first, when these insights were beginning to come to me, I thought to myself “I must be going crazy—I'm a Baptist and I'm beginning to think Catholic!” But the truth could not be ignored. History cannot be ignored. As Bishop Newman once said: “To immerse oneself in history is to cease to be Protestant.”

I don't know why I didn't see these things before. Actually I think I did see it, I just didn't quite accept the logical conclusion. Though, in reality I know now that I have been a closet Catholic since I was a child. Perhaps I always felt the truth “written on my heart” no matter where I was—even in the midst of Baptist fundamentalism.

Why do I want to be Catholic? Because the fullest depository of Truth, authority, and grace is with the Catholic Church alone; and my desire is to be in full fellowship and communion with my Lord and His Body, the Church.


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