Sometimes being Catholic in a mostly-protestant area of Georgia feels like missionary work. But I enjoy letting people know what Catholics believe, which is sometimes quite different from what people "think" Catholics believe. Lots of folks ask me questions because they're curious. And when they find out I'm a convert, the one thing they nearly always ask is "Why did you become Catholic?" Over the years I've thought a lot about my journey to Rome. Among converts like me, entering the Catholic Church is sometimes called "swimming the Tiber," referring to the river which flows through Rome and by Vatican City. My blog bears the name "tiberjudy" for that reason. So why did I become Catholic? Here are my top ten reasons:
1. THE EUCHARIST. Only the Catholic Church preserves the truth of this Most Blessed Sacrament. From Christ's own mouth in the sixth chapter of John's Gospel until the Last Supper and throughout the history of Christianity, the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus. In this Sacrament, Catholics encounter Jesus Christ as the Bread from heaven which He shared with His Apostles. Every Eucharist is Jesus. Catholics take Christ at His word when He tells us "whoever eats this bread will live forever (John 6:38). Just as regular bread is food for the body, the Eucharist feeds our soul with the living Christ. The Eucharist is the most intimate and profound experience of Christ's love that any Christian can know this side of heaven.
2. HOLY SCRIPTURE. For me, reading Christ's words in Scripture reveals the founding and the leadership of His Church (Matthew 16:18). If Christ entrusted His church to St. Peter, who am I to doubt Him? There is an unbroken line of church leadership from our current pope back to St. Peter. Jesus promised He'd never abandon His Church or let Her fall into error. That's good enough for me.
3. THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS. Anyone who wants to know about Christ's Church needs to read the writings of the earliest members of the Church. These are men like St. Justin Martyr, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ireneaus of Lyons and St. Clement. From the years just after Christ's Ascension, we find that the Sacraments are at the heart of Christian worship and practice. Deacons, priests, and bishops founded and taught our faith. Reading these early teachers of Christianity convinced me intellectually that Jesus' Church had been Catholic from the very beginning. My relationship with Christ grew out of that experience of His love and mercy found in the Sacraments.
4. THE MAGISTERIUM. This is a Latin word referring to the teaching authority of the Church. Comprised of the bishops and the Pope, the magisterium is led and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The authority that Christ gave to St. Peter continues to be inherited by his successors (John 16:13). Christ's Church is a living Bride, guided by Her Bridegroom. When questions of faith have arisen over the centuries, we have a source of leadership and teaching. The bishops and the Pope are the heirs of the Apostles and their authority is given them by Christ Himself.
5. WE HAVE AN ADDRESS. What? Yep, you read it right. For most other churches, if you want to contact "the person in charge" you speak to the local pastor. Catholic pastors have a boss which is the bishop and the boss of the bishops is the Pope. We have a catechism which outlines Christian beliefs and teachings and a code of canon law which governs the working of the Church. This is not a "make it up as you go along" faith. The truth of Christ doesn't change.
6. BECAUSE IT ISN'T EASY BEING CATHOLIC. Christ calls us to become more like Him and that's not easy for us sinners. A church that doesn't challenge us to change our ways isn't doing us much spiritual good. Our relationship with Christ means that we must leave our old self behind, pick up our cross and follow Him. That means calling a sin a sin. We follow the ten commandments and when we sin, we go to confession as Christ asks us (John 20:21-23). Being Catholic means living a Sacramental life. It means not being afraid to embrace the freedom the Lord give us when we follow Him faithfully.
7. "WHERE ELSE CAN WE GO?" Jesus had been teaching the truth of the Eucharist to His disciples. Many of them believed it was symbolic, but not truly His Body and Blood. So they leave Him. And Jesus lets them go. He asks St. Peter if he too will leave Him. But St. Peter knows that his hope is in Christ and in His Church and lets Jesus know that. "Where else can we go?" (John 6:60-68). I'll stand with St. Peter.
8. BECAUSE THE CHURCH IS HIS. Only the Catholic Church was founded by Christ (Matthew 16:18). Every other church was founded by a person and traces itself in some way back to the Catholic Church. It was the Catholic Church that compiled the Bible in the fourth century. Churches that pride themselves in being "Bible-based" usually don't like hearing this or knowing that the Catholic Church existed for 400 years BEFORE the books of the Bible were gathered together by the Pope and the Catholic bishops. The Church is the "spotless Bride" of Christ (Acts 17:11) and He has promised to never abandon Her.
9. BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I NEED THE CHURCH. He knows how weak I am. He knows my sins. He knows I need the Sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist. I need the example of the Saints who can show me a thousand different ways to know and follow Jesus. I need the rich history of our Church and the depth of Her theology, the beauty of Her art and music and Her centuries of devoted service to and love of the poor, the sick and the marginalized. I know my Church will always defend the dignity of human life.
10. BECAUSE OF I TIMOTHY 3:15. St. Paul assures us that the Church is the "pillar and foundation of truth." The living Church, composed of Her founding with St. Peter, Her custody and interpretation of Holy Scripture, Her Sacraments which Christ instituted and Her magisterium, led and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
I believe we're all called to love and worship Jesus Christ. His love led me to the Catholic Church and I'll be forever thankful.
If you enjoyed this reflection, visit my website www.tiberjudy.wordpress.com and follow me on Twitter @tiberjudy.
Charlotte McGuffey, Salem Baptist Church
Our Vacation Bible School was a success and was enjoyed by the adults as much as the children. Our director was Phyllis Johnson and she did an outstanding job of planning, recruiting workers, decorating, and leading everyone. Tommy Johnson and Wilma Leigh did the music. Christina Kittle was the secretary. Teachers were Betty Taylor, Janice Watkins, Lori Clowdus and Lesia McDowell. Reba Dotson supervised the crafts. Mickey Liner made pictures and videos of the action and plans to make a DVD for each family represented. Carolyn Lunsford was in charge of snacks and Michael Clowdus cooked the hot dogs for family night hot dog supper. Others assisting were Barbara Barton, Mike and Joyce Teague and Arielle Parson. The children worked really hard and $505.00 was raised for the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home in the competition between the orange team and the yellow team. The losing team will serve the other team at an ice cream supper on August 12. Phyllis thanks each and every one who had a part in making the week a success. Hopefully, the children learned Bible stories and verses that will stay with them throughout their lives.
We were excited to have Charlie Bates back in church Sunday following his knee surgery. We have missed him while he was recovering.
Sunday night we were to have the bluegrass group, Right Path for our 5th Sunday singing.
Our prayer list: Buck Blevins and his family, Herschel Spivey (recent open heart surgery), Rev. Wayne Hamrick, Demetrius and Ozella Stavrianos (friends of Charlotte McGuffey), Wilma Leigh, Sandra Higgins (cousin of Mickey Liner), Marie Held, Mel McGuffey (broken ribs from his fall), Kay Rymer (cousin of Linda Blevins who has cancer again), Theora Rogers (sister of Stella Cavin) is still very ill, and a brother of Bill Davidson who has cancer. Many of our people are suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, bad knees and backs.
Our sympathy is extended to Bill and Melba Jean Davidson and family in the recent death of his niece.
Jack and Barbara Ensley enjoyed a Bible study taught by Rev. Glenn Cavin during Vacation Bible School at New Liberty Baptist Church last week.
Beginning Sunday night, August 5, at 6:00 p.m., Rachel Teague will be teaching a class on Interpretive Movement for the youth. This will be ongoing depending on interest and participation.
There will be a Bible study on Esther for the ladies on Saturday, August 11 at 12:30, taught by Joyce Teague. Lunch will be provided.
Jack and Barbara Ensley enjoyed a concert by gospel pianist, Jeff Stice, at Tunnel Hill United Methodist Church. Jeff is the pianist for Triumphant Quartet.
Upcoming birthdays are Christina Kittle on August 1, Gregg Kittle on August 7 and Wilma Leigh on the 8th. Michael and Lori Clowdus will celebrate their wedding anniversary on August 2. Happy birthday also to little Charles Hooper, IV (great grandson of Marie Massengill) on August 2, Mike Teague on August 5 and Wanda Cornelison on August 8.
We were sorry to hear of the accident sustained by Spec. Jason Smith in Afghanistan where he lost both legs and had injuries to both hands due to an IED. He graduated from Ringgold High School in 2004 and his father still lives in the area. Spec. Smith is in a hospital in Germany and is expected to be moved to a hospital in Texas soon. He needs our prayers for his recovery.
Emma Jo Davis, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church
We had a really wonderful service on Sunday morning. A young man went to the altar while Dewayne Hill was singing. We need more services like that one when the Lord's presence is felt in the service in such a mighty way. There was a time of fellowship and everyone was telling others what a blessing they had been to them so Bro. David didn't get to preach. The two young girls were baptized at the end of the service. That was a blessing one of them was saved during Vacation Bible School and we heard that another one, that doesn't live here was visiting her grandparents and came for VBS and was saved. She couldn't wait until she got back home to tell her mother but wanted to call and tell her right then. Praise the Lord for Vacation Bible School. We trust there are others that heard the Word and will be saved later. We were so pleased to see all the ones that came out Sunday morning to see the girls baptized. Hope they will come back to be with us. I was glad to see Dorothy Longwith with her daughter, Ann. Ann has really been faithful about being in church when she is not working and we do appreciate her.
Dianne Hullender had her last radiation treatment on Monday. She is still praising the Lord for the way she has come through all these treatments and was able to be in church during them all. It had to be the Lord!!
Alma Bryson's great grandson, Tucker Ridge Davis was born on July 21st but just lived a few hours. His lungs had not developed otherwise he looked like a healthy baby. Please pray for this family.
Others on our prayer list this week are: Lula Petty was not in church on Sunday. She is in church if she is able. Ellie Pitts, Louise Clark, Thurman and Norma Headrick, Edna Allen, Jimmy Blassingame, Bernice Orr, Kim Owens, Jan Elliott, Susie McNish, Doris Pitts, Denise Phillips, our missionaries, our troops and our country.
Happy birthday wishes go to Ann Touchstone, August 1. Roger Evans, August 4.
Happy anniversary wishes to, John and Nancy Silvey, August 2. Richard and Dorothy Thompson, August 4.
Remember this Sunday is our Homecoming at Pleasant Valley. We will not have Sunday school and will begin the morning service at 10:30 AM.
Please come join us and hear a preacher, John Mitchell that will be a blessing. Hope to see you there.