All my life, I have been Roman Catholic.
My faith journey began when I was a small child, trying to sit quietly in church and show that I was better-behaved than my younger brother. Over time, it transformed into something so much bigger. It became the foundation that has shaped so much of my life: what I do, what I don’t do, who I am and who I want to be.
During my life, I have attended Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school and now attend a Catholic college.
My experiences attending The University, especially my involvement in the club Praise and Worship,
have given me the opportunity to become more sensitive to other Christian denominations and how they came about.
Spurred by the illicit sale of indulgences, Martin Luther kicked off the Protestant Reformation by outlining his theological disagreements with the Catholic Church. In the years that followed, many others established their own branches of Christianity for various reasons.
Today, many Christians—Catholic and Protestant alike—are firmly entrenched in their denominations. Others, however, seek to cast off such labels in the hopes of achieving unity as one Christian body.
In my heart, I would love for Christians to come together as one community. But my reflections on the subject have allowed me to understand the important reasons why denominations exist, and why we have become separated as Christians.
When I think about why I am Christian, the biggest reason by far is because I believe Christianity is true. It doesn’t always feel good to be Christian, it’s not always convenient, and if I didn’t believe in the Trinity with my whole heart and mind, I wouldn’t waste my time.
Taking it a step further, I am Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church was established by Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit for the past 2,000 years.
Its history can be traced directly back to St. Peter, who was given the keys to the kingdom of God. The Catholic Church is, of course, imperfect at times because it is run by humans. However, it provides structure and guidance to our faith as well as authority derived from God.
My Catholicism is the product of ongoing reflection and reasoning in search of the truth, and I expect that my peers who are Protestant would say the same thing about their faith.
Maybe some of the minor truths that Catholics and Protestants disagree on could be worked out in favor of religious unity. However, there is one point of contention that simply cannot be discarded or trivialized even in light of all the similarities between Christian denominations: the Eucharist.
The pinnacle of the Catholic faith is the belief that each week at Mass, we receive the true Body and Blood of Christ. It is the physical and the divine becoming one: through the Eucharist, God literally comes to live inside us. Do I understand it completely? Not at all.
But I believe that when Jesus instructed his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he meant it. They argued, they questioned and many turned away. If there was a misunderstanding of some sort, surely Jesus would’ve clarified. But he let them go.
When I attend Mass, I am either receiving Jesus’s body and blood, or I am receiving bread.Some of us are right about this, and some of us are wrong, and in my search for the truth this question makes all the difference in the world.
Much of Catholicism can be thoroughly explained using logic and reason. However, the Eucharist is a mystery that we cannot fully understand. In accepting it, each Catholic takes a leap of faith unique to Catholicism. Once we have jumped, we cannot turn back, even for the sake of unity among Christians.
I believe it is the duty of Catholics to continue to reach out to our Christian brothers and sisters with the intention of understanding each other and realizing that we still share common ground in our Christian beliefs. However, we cannot be so overzealous in our attempts to unite that we leave behind the dogmas our religion is built on.
Today, it is disappointing but understandable that we as Christians have wound up in different places in our search for the truth. However, the best thing we can do is continue to think, reflect, and pray for one another in the hopes that one day we are all led back to the same place.