The Sole Reason They Leave the Church

“Why are they leaving?” That’s what you’re wondering?! You’re perplexed about why the men, the women, the gen-Xers, the millenials, and whatever other irrelevantly categorized group you can name is walking out of the Church? No! No, you can’t be wondering that. Not today. Not less than a week after we just listened to the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel for the fifth consecutive week.

Unless… Unless, maybe you missed Mass for some legitimate reason. Or maybe you just couldn’t hear the proclamation of the Gospel over the sound of the child you were consoling — I’ve had that experience often enough.

I know why they leave. I’ll tell you why they leave. Everyone who has left the Catholic Church for a non-apostolic faith did so because they were one of the deserters in John 6. They left because they did not believe Christ’s words about the Eucharist, about his Real Presence.

Was the pastor at such-and-such parish a jerk? Were the parishioners rude? Did somebody get convicted of child molestation? Was the abuse scandal upsetting? Were the homilies uninspiring? Were you upset that women cannot be ordained?

Jesus. Doesn’t. Care.

Oh, sure, he cares about sin, because he cares about us, his creatures. But what Jesus doesn’t care about is whatever reason one clings to for not following him. Can’t sell all your possessions? Your loss (Mt 19:21-22). Want to bury your father? Oh well (Lk 9:59-62).

Objectively, we can’t prevent priests from behaving badly, erase the history of abuse, or change infallible Church teaching. The teaching is constant, and abuses come-and-go. So, there will always be reasons why someone or another wants to distance themselves from the Catholic Church. But what each of those people need is a reason to stay despite what they abhor (even when what they abhor is objectively good doctrine). Fortunately, the Church has that in spades.

The Church has Christ. “Oh, but the [insert Protestant denomination here] believe in Jesus.” No, the Church has Christ in a way that the short-in-the-tooth schismatics don’t have him. The Church has him in the truest and fullest sense of the word, ministering to her members in every single sacrament as the Great High Priest, especially and abundantly in the Eucharist. The Catholic Church feeds his sheep with the flesh and blood of God himself!

And nobody, absolutely nobody, abandons the Eucharist who believes it be what it is, *who it is*! “Oh, but I know somebody…” Just stop. Listen to the parables of the pearl of great price and the treasure hidden in the field. When we know what lies before us, we give up everything to have it. Nothing detracts from the value of the object before them. “Well, that treasure is great, but I’d have to listen to crap homilies.” No. No!

If you want to know why people are leaving the Church, here’s the reason: They don’t recognize the treasure before them. They don’t recognize Christ. Remedy this one thing, and not only will the other faults not matter, but they’ll all improve. When people see who it is they consume, they will echo the words of Peter: “To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life…”

What Makes Me Catholic is Why I’m Catholic

Because I want to be sure that my meaning is understood, allow me to restate the title of this article in more explicit terms. The characteristic that defines me as a member of the Catholic Church is also the definitive reason for why I will forever remain a member of the Catholic Church. What is it that defines me as a member of the Church that Christ established? Well, it is the same thing that defines the Catholic Church. And what defines this One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is nothing less than the unique and irrevocable authority of the Magisterium of this Church.

If you venture far from the Petrine house, you will find people who will not affirm the divinity of Christ or the Trinity we adore. Not so far out as that are houses innumerable that are filled with people pulled in every direction, unsure of what they believe. Their only anchor is an unflinching resolution that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are One. They have faith in Jesus as the Christ, but they have only a couple sacraments — and not all of them even have that.

Step outside of the Petrine house only a short distance and you will find neighboring homes where the Trinity is adored, where Christ’s divinity and humanity are absolutely affirmed, and where each sacrament is validly celebrated for the salvation of its inhabitants. These brother and sisters are so incredibly close, that it is hard to believe that they reside under a different roof.

Yet what all of those people have in common, what none of those groups recognize, what none of their members will affirm, is the thing that I affirmed on Saturday, 22 March 2008, when I received into the Catholic Church. Every one of them is unwilling to declare, “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

Might I jump ship and still find authentic faith in the hypostatic union? Without a doubt. Might I find belief in the Trinity and salvation through the Incarnate Son of God and his perfect sacrifice on Calvary? Again, yes. Is it even possible for me to find the sacrament of Holy Orders so that I could still avail myself of Reconciliation and receive the Most Blessed Sacrament, our Lord Himself? Yes, this is so. But what neither you nor I will ever find outside the Catholic Church is the authority granted to Peter and the Apostles that safeguards those who recognize and obey it against the deceits of Satan.

I came here for authority; it’s why I’m Catholic. I will remain for authority. Everything, for me, hinges on who holds the Keys to the Kingdom.

How Red Herrings Kill Our Children

For the sake of the children, stop with the idiocy! No, I’m not kidding–think of the children! All of this nonsense regarding gun control legislation, the supposedly inconsistent pro-life ethic, and the maligning of self-defense would be laughable were it not so damn pertinent and morbid.

The Error

First off, the charge that the anti-abortion folks are inconsistent in their supposed lack of outrage of murder by guns is nonsensical. Why? Well, foremost, because the corollary to banning guns in order to prevent gun-homicide is to ban the instruments of medicine. The instruments are not THE problem.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. The gun may not be THE problem, but the gun is a lynch pin. Removing the gun from the equation doesn’t solve the existence of suicidal-homicidal sociopaths, but it takes away their capacity for mass murder. (You were thinking that, right?) And you are right. You’d also be right to assert that guns are not as beneficial to society as the medical instruments utilized during infanticide. No argument from me on the validity of these ideas.

What I do object to is the infantile notion that gun control legislation to prevent the continued slaughter of already-born innocents is going to be remotely effective anytime in the next ten years. I’m not saying to not pursue it, but I am objecting to tackling one of the most contentious issues in American politics before doing something to protect our children in the immediate. That is as foolish and reckless as brandishing a handgun in a city park.

The Solution

When I was a student at the University of Cincinnati, I received frequent email notifications about local crime. One of the most frequent events was mugging. Late night, inebriated college kids walking alone make for easy targets. So, every few days, so it seemed, I would read about how a mugger, maybe three, would flash a gun (briefly remove it and then return it to his pocket) and demand some kid’s possessions. In every case, the victim gave up his/her things.

No, I’m not going to take issue with someone turning over her belongings under coercion; I’m not suggesting that they should have risked life or limb to save an cell phone or a laptop. However, I would like to praise the single individual whose response was to pull pepper spray from her pocket and use it on her mugger. That girl got away safely, and the jackass who tried to harm her (caught or not) was in a world of hurt.

Perhaps my point is not obvious, so I’ll state it outright. In the immediate, providing non-lethal force to be used as a defensive mechanism is the best course of action. And I am specifically recommending instruments that temporarily blind assailants. Save for live ammunition, there is not a more effective way to neutralize gun-wielding murderers than to blind them.

The Way Forward

So, why is the conversation not about effective, immediate means to deter this violence? Seriously, why? Realistically, even if a ban on all guns (outside of law enforcement and private security) occurred tomorrow, when would enough guns be confiscated to be reasonably confident that events like those at Sandy Hook would never happen again? Ten years? Fifteen years? Even then, you’d never be able to prevent a cop of member of the armed forces from going off the deep end (and taking a few lives with him)–something that has happened more than once in the last few years.

In the meantime, murderous rampages continue. As for me and my house, we will not waste our breath. First, give some hope of survival for when the rampages occur. Second, address the fact that mental health issues are practically ignored by the government. They are the most stigmatized and disenfranchised people in our world, and services to treat them (without pocketfuls of cash) are few and far between. Finally, only after these more immediate concerns have been addressed, then turn to gun regulations.

True religion (in the 21st Century) before God the Father is this: to care for the mentally ill and fetuses in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world (staining includes following red herrings and acting like an idiot).