Nope, That’s NOT Why I’m Catholic (Part 2: Love is in the air)

In my part one, I mentioned that the firestorm of debate that the HHS Mandate has created encouraged a number of conversations with people who are not Catholic or Christian…with atheists, with Satanists, with agnostics…with those who outright hate organized religion and those who are just suspicious of it.

Some of those conversations have been openly hostile, others have been vaguely mocking, and a few have been even curious, but there’s one thing they all have in common.  They all have made (faulty) assumptions about why I am a Catholic.

So, I’m here to set the record straight…

You’re Only Catholic Because You’re Afraid You’re Going to Hell

Going to HellThis is a pretty common argument from those who reject religion outright.  Here is one example from a discussion with an old college coworker (who at least at that time was a self-professed Satanist) on his blog:

The Catholic Church holds itself as the moral standard bearer for the world because it gains its authority from the divine. These rules are not up for a vote or appeal. If its rules are not followed, the sinner is punished in the afterlife. This is coercion not unlike someone giving orders at gunpoint. It negates the possibility of free will.

Or this comment on one of my Facebook posts by a really close friend.  We usually avoid religious discussions, and though he likes to poke fun and provoke me, it’s all in respect and love (I hope).

Well I was going to get a vasectomy but knowing the Church is against it and that Jesus won’t let me into the kingdom of heaven if I do, I’m just going to abstain going forward!

It’s a pretty common argument that assumes that the reason I follow the Church’s teachings or even believe at all is based on my fear of eternal consequences if I don’t.

Just like the “You’re Only Catholic Because You Were Raised That Way” argument, this assumption has some basis in truth, but is missing a much bigger picture.  In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s an analogy that explains that bigger picture…

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Nope, That’s NOT Why I’m Catholic (Part 1)

Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve had a number of conversations with people who are not Catholic or Christian…with atheists, with Satanists, with agnostics…with those who outright hate organized religion and those who are just suspicious of it.

Some of those conversations have been openly hostile, others have been vaguely mocking, and a few have been even curious, but there’s one thing they all have in common.  They all have made (faulty) assumptions about why I am a Catholic.

So, I’m here to set the record straight…in my next few blog posts I’m going to share my truth behind the many misunderstandings that have been leveled at me.

“You’re Only Catholic Because You Were Raised That Way”

It’s true I am a cradle Catholic.  My mom was raised by a strong Catholic family and I find myself still learning from the lessons she learned at the faithful, loving hands of my grandfather.  My dad converted to Catholicism (from “nothingism”) after I was born.  They were not perfect parents, but they demonstrated (and continue to demonstrate) for me more than just what it means to be Catholic – they have shown me what it means to be a good person, a happy person.

Cradle Catholic

But wasn't I a cute Cradle Catholic??

I teach Confirmation and one of the most common themes that teenagers are taught during the preparation for this sacrament is that it’s the moment when they become an “adult” in the Church.  Confirmation, they’re told, is the time when they choose for themselves the faith that they’ve been taught by their parents, godparents, and others.  I think – and have told my Confirmation teens – that this is a line of bull.  There is no magic moment when you become an adult in the Church – and there certainly is not one moment when you can separate yourself from the teachings of your parents and be Catholic all by yourself.  Here’s why:

We can’t separate ourselves from our history.

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