Christianity has been around for nearly two millennium. It is as diverse as the depths of the oceans. Vast cultural characteristics span around the globe within Christian communities. For those that are Christian, or on the cusp of considering the Christian faith, the next logical question is, why be Catholic?
Catholicism proclaims the fullness of the Christian faith. It has only been in the past 500 years or so that Christianity became diverse through Protestantism and pseudo-Christian sects. In order to live the Christian life to the fullest, we have to ask, why be Catholic? The foundation of Catholicism is that Christ started one Church, not many church communities. It is an unbroken link that leads to the present. As Catholics, we shouldn’t take our faith for granted. We need to be able to answer the question, why Catholicism?
The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs approximately 122 times in the New Testament, primarily spoken by Jesus Himself. “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1)
Christ in essence is the Church, the cornerstone. But not simply a mystical church, where Jesus (i.e. Kingdom of God) is spiritually everywhere or only in our hearts, but it’s a living, breathing Church.
The earthly kingdom (i.e. the Church) and the heavenly kingdom are interrelated. They are in essence one. We see this in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus founded the Catholic Church.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18-19
We can establish two principles here. One, Jesus founded one church, singular tense. Two, that this church, singular tense, would have the power to bind and loose. What ever is bound and loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. Christ did not merely establish a mystical church, He primarily established a physical church, and He made that Church authoritative in terms of binding and loosing.
Jesus passed on His authority onto His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). The authority given by God doesn’t end with the death of the last apostle. No. Jesus proclaimed the gates of hell shall not prevail. The apostles were tasked with evangelizing. Sharing the good news (Gospel) to all known nations. In order to do this the apostles had to pass on their authority onto others. This is called apostolic succession. For 2,000 years there has been an unbroken line of bishops from the apostles authority given by Christ, to the current living bishops.
It is impossible for Sacred Scripture to be the sole authority of the Christian life. Scripture is not authoritative unless someone with authority, given by Christ, makes it so. Just like the Constitution of the United States is not authoritative unless the branches of the government, such as the judicial branch, makes it authoritative. Believe it or not, there was a time when there was no Bible. For nearly four centuries, there was no canonized Scripture. No table of contents. It took decades after the Ascension of Christ for the apostles to write the New Testament. Some theologians believe that the last writings were by the apostle John around A.D. 68. That’s over thirty years after the Ascension. Before anything was written the Church had only Sacred Tradition. Not to be confused with “traditions of men” or man-made tradition. Sacred Tradition begat Sacred Scripture, all bound by the Magisterium of the Church–the bishops in union with the Successor of Peter, the Pope.
It would take nearly a thousand years before the Church would see its first split, East and West. Then another 500 years after that before the Church would see a multiple fracture occur in the Protestant Revolt. But the gates of hell shall not prevail. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has stood strong since the time of Christ.
While Holy Mother Church is the pinnacle of holiness, there is still the human element attached to the Church. No Catholic parish is perfect. No priest, bishop, or even the pope is perfect, or impeccable. The Catholic Church itself is perfect. We have a perfect Liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass, full of beauty and reverence, with all the “smells and bells.” We have a perfect Eucharistic sacrifice given to us by Christ Himself that occurs at every Mass. Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity. Even though modernism and the progressive movement emits itself within the Church today, we can and should embrace our traditional Catholic faith.
“Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. A.D 110
by John Connor