Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Crossing the Tiger.... er... I mean Tiber

In the light of my recent post about Francis Beckwith's conversion and other events, I've been thinking all day about the Roman Catholic Church and how tough it is sometimes to "be" here.

A friend of mine once shared with me that he took a tax law course. The professor came in the first day of class and said to the assembled students "You will do well in here if you only remember two things about tax law: it doesn't make sense and it isn't fair."

There are days when I feel like that about the Church, also.

I love Her.
I work for Her.
In my "for-pay" job I deal each and every day with all kinds of Roman Catholics....
from proto-LeFebevre-ites to Post-Modern Dorothy Day fans.

I see the good and the bad in all of them.
Sometimes that gives me indigestion.

Yes, there is a wonderful sense of faith and reason in the Roman Catholic Church,
a strong history of compassion and action on behalf of the poor,
and, of course, the historical connection with Jesus himself.

All these things are important to me as a convert.
And this IS my spiritual Home.

But there are times when I look back across the Tiber
at my my evangelical or Lutheran or Charismatic friends
and I say to myself,
"how much easier you have it."

You can simply decide that "this is my faith, and that's that."

Fewer external measuring devices.
Fewer non-like minded folk needing to be gotten along with.
Less hierarchy, more anarchy.

There lots of greener grass over there in those other Ecclesial Communities.

But then I stop to think about why I am Roman Catholic.

I am here because this is the Church that Jesus founded.
I am here because this is where I have found the ability to live with some measure of virtue in this life and hope of happiness in the next.
I am here because God asks me to be here.

And that's enough.


Sam W said...

God created the world. Within he placed challenges that we might grow. Perhaps a world without challenges is perfection, but since I am imperfect I require challenges that I might strive towards perfection - and fail. And in the striving I learn to surrender to God, as only there can I hope to be perfected.

In His wisdom God has given us the Church Catholic (Roman and Greek), and within it a set of challenges. We cannot form the Church to ourselves, to the desires and whims of our age. When we attempt to do so we only find ourselves outside the Church, a state of our own choosing. Rather, we must conform to the Church - that is part of the challenge. I strive to conform and fail, but then I repent and surrender again into the arms of God. And only He can make me perfect - unified to Him through his bride, the Church.

Phil B. said...

Master Sam-wise:
The word that jumped out at me in your comment is "surrender." I used to cringe at the phrase- I think it was from Victorian England and referred to Newman's conversion- "he made his submission to Rome." But there is a sense in which dealing with the Church is always "surrender" and always "submission"- not once, but as you point out- over and over, and daily as we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.