Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So, Why Catholic? part 7

This is the conclusion of the reasons I've accepted the Catholic faith.
Part 1 here.
Parts 2 and 3 here.
Part 4 here.
Part 5 here.
Part 6 here.

7. Beauty. The churches. The art. The literature. The music. The vast amount of beauty inspired from the Church isn’t something to be ignored. There is the first, obvious way beauty attracted me, and the second, subtle, more important way. The first, I admit, is shallow. I like being in pretty places. One of my favorite things about my college was its campus of matching buildings in a quad. The uniformed, colonial style said, “This is a place of learning.” In contrast, I would get a mild depression when visiting schools whose buildings were scattered about a city and had no architectural similarities to one another. The collegiate feel was gone along with inspiration. I should have the fortitude to be able to study or pray or find inspiration despite the setting. But I like being in pretty places. Churches with narthexes and calices and an altar make it easier for me to focus. Add stained glass, statues, and candles, and I’m seduced even more. The higher and more beautiful the liturgy, the more positive reaction I have. It grounds me and points me in the right direction.

The second reason is the higher beauty that is the source of the more obvious kind. Mystics like Julian of Norwich and John of the Cross had powerful, personal experiences with God. I want what they had. I want the overwhelming joy and peace that come from a strong prayer life. The Church knows people are weak and often stupid. The religion is in place to help us lift ourselves up to be the best we can, to hold us accountable for our sins and cleanse us, to strengthen our praying, to always point toward God. And the saints serve as positive role models. I’m not afraid to admit that I need all the help I can get.

The Church (while remaining one) is big enough and wide enough to meet each of us wherever we are in our faith journey. She is rigid enough to provide structure for someone just learning about the faith and unrestrained enough to allow mystics room to search and meditate and constantly deepen their relationship. That’s Love. That’s Beauty. It’s that beauty that inspired the architecture and art and literature and music, as well as the missions, the charities, and the martyrs. And it inspires me.

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