Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why do I embrace the Faith?

Why am I in the Church? Isn’t God simply some myth, some psychological construct, an “opiate for the masses”?

I believe in Truth, in Reason, in Love, in Equality, in the inherent dignity of every human person. I believe that we are more than a mere collection of molecules. I believe that we are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. No, as Pope Benedict said at his Mass of Installation, “Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”

I believe that there is truth, physical truth. One truth, or law, is that of cause and effect. The universe did not create itself. It had a cause. And the origin of the universe, and the fact that the elements of the universe are ordered, and follow physical laws, cannot be explained by mere chance or random events. The fact that some of the physical matter of the universe has become animate, that is, able to move and reproduce, i.e. alive, also cannot be explained by random events. I believe that we are sentient beings, that we think, and that our thoughts, our ideas, and our ability to freely choose one thought or action over another are somehow able to transcend our physical beings, that they are more than electro-chemical reactions in the brain.

I believe that there is truth, transcendent moral truth – right and wrong, good and evil – and that this morality is not relative, otherwise, it would not be truth. In a world without God, any evil thing is possible. Without God, why not steal, rape, and plunder? Why not put our desires and pleasures first? And if someone tries to stop us, why not kill them? To be sure, there are many in the world that already act this way. They reject God. God is not in them. But in a world with God, love and salvation and freedom are possible; life is possible. Their way of self is the way of death and slavery to passion and sin.

Indeed, Christ has already saved the world in a very tangible way. He has redeemed the world. Without Christian love and forgiveness and reconciliation, the world would have destroyed itself long ago. We only need to look at some non-Christian cultures in the world today to see that they differ from Christian values and morality.

Now, I say that others have put themselves and their own wants and desires first, and that others do not have an ethic of love and reconciliation, as does the Church. But I also tell you that I am a sinner. My sins are great and many, and I am greatly in need of a savior to pay my debts, to ransom me.

Maybe others believe that they can live well without Christ, and can have eternal life without Him. Maybe they don’t need Him.

But I do need Him. I do need, not only His forgiveness, but His grace – the power to do things that I could never do or accomplish on my own, things like love and forgiveness and chastity and perseverance and peace of heart and hope. If it is just me, I’d probably want to nuke the entire Muslim world as payback for the bastards that fly planes into buildings and set off car bombs and suicide bombs, killing thousands of innocent people. But Christ commands me and gives me the grace to let go of hate, to let go of the thirst for vengeance. He gives me the grace to do things like love and forgive such people. Yes, He gives me the grace to be able, when we hopefully have peace, to live together with them as children of God. Left to myself, I probably would not want to accomplish any of these things.

The Church does not offer you in this world a non-stop party. It does not offer you ecstasy and starry-eyed bliss. No, it offers you scorn. It offers you persecution. It tells you plainly, if you love Christ, the world will hate you. People will laugh and scoff, and accuse you of all sorts of outlandish things. But in enduring these trials, in remaining steadfast to the end, in carrying the cross with Christ, like Simon the Cyrenian, you will be led to the Truth, a truth that transcends all things, you will be led to real Freedom and Happiness; you will be led to Life.

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