I am seventy-eight years old and am about to be married.
I was not born Catholic. I had been baptized in a Protestant church. Then, as a young man, I met a girl in 1958 who had been raised Catholic. I soon came to respect her and the way she lived her life. It was, quite honestly, better than the way I had been living mine. I courted her for a year before we were married in a Catholic Church. I was quite grateful for the welcoming and accepting manner in which I was received by the Church. Soon, I decided I would like to have what they had and began taking instruction. I made my Profession of Faith and became a practicing Catholic. Our marriage was fruitful, and it was long-lived. I lost my beautiful and faithful wife, the mother of my children to breast cancer after fifty-three years of marriage. I am a better person because of her and because of our shared Catholic religion.
Why I am Catholic:
The Catholic Church has been a great stabilizing influence in my life and it has brought me many benefits. I am grateful that my church is the one Church that dates back to the very beginning of Christianity. In the first century the only Christians were Catholic Christians. They are the ones who wrote the Christian Scriptures so when we talk about going all the way back to the bible we are talking about going all the way back to those early Catholics who wrote it and passed it on through those writings and their even older Tradition of handing the gospel down orally.
How I live my faith:
The Catholic religion is not one of the easier ways to express and live out my faith. It is demanding. It does not tell me that Jesus wants me to be successful, rich, and happy. Our heroes (saints) were largely not wealthy business men and women. They were people who sacrificed their time and talents, their energy and possessions for the benefit of others. And they sacrificed their lives for their beliefs, like the early Apostles, and the Catholics who were martyred in Rome. There have been a steady succession of saints throughout the ages, to include Sir Thomas More who suffered death under King Henry VIII, up to Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II in the present day. These were people who dedicated their lives to their Catholic faith and were willing to sacrifice and spend their lives to stand up for their beliefs.
It is certainly true that there have been times when leaders of our Church have made grave errors and did not live up to the teachings of Christ. That will no doubt continue to be the case so long as humans are involved in church activities. What that means to me is that I have the opportunity and the obligation to live out my Catholic faith to the best of my ability in spite of the sensational and scandalous failures of a few. I am responsible for my own life and so I have chosen to teach Baptismal Preparation Classes, and to serve as a Catechist in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. I have Painted Tacoma Beautiful, and worked with Habitat for Humanity. I have worked in Food Banks. I have packed and distributed food baskets. I have sung in the choir and I have made a pilgrimage to The Holy Land and to Rome. I have given my financial support to my parish, my Archdiocese and the local and world-wide humanitarian and charitable efforts of my Church. More important than any of these activities: I try to pray every day that God will show me the way of patience, tolerance, humility, kindness and love. I pray he will teach me his ways.
All of this has not made me perfect. But it has made me better and it has made me happy. I feel that I am living my life to good purpose and hopefully; will leave this world a better place. The reward of course, is eternal and heavenly repose with Jesus, with the saints, and with loved ones. But there is a more immediate reward as well. I have met a lovely Catholic widow who has lived her life to good purpose as well. We would not have met had we not both been Catholic. She and I will be married later this month and she wants to take my name. I am so proud to give it.
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