Why do I believe what I believe? That is a question that I ask myself on a fairly regular basis. Don’t get me wrong, I am a devout Catholic, who believes in EVERYTHING the Catholic Church teaches, but that was not always the case. I spent the vast majority of my life serving no one other than myself. Everything was fine as long as I was having “fun”, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I was doing massive damage to my mind, body, and life with alcohol. I had entered into a marriage that I never should have, mainly because I had no idea what a marriage truly was, and that marriage quickly ended. And then I found myself in another marriage that I was promptly destroying by living my self gratifying life. I still thought that I was fine, it was just everyone else who had a hard time dealing with me. Then, one night in January 2009 it happened. I was sitting on the couch, minding my own business, when my wife, Emily, says to me “I want to bring our marriage into the Catholic Church.” I had no idea how that was going to change my life.
I told Emily that I would get married in the Church (of course, I had no idea that I was going to have to go through the annulment process), but that I would not be able to become a Catholic. I knew that the Church was nothing but a group of old men trying to stop people from having fun by having them believe in a myth. It sounds ridiculous now, but that’s what I thought at the time.
After a little conversation I told Emily that I would look into the Church and its teachings, but if I couldn’t believe everything 100%, I would be unable to become a Catholic. I couldn’t profess my faith in something that wasn’t true. It wasn’t really that I had some kind of high moral code, actually far from it. I only said that because I knew that I would never believe in the Church 100%. I was giving myself an easy out. Boy, was I wrong.
I decided to start my investigating by looking into the teachings of the Church. But I quickly realized that I could not look at these teachings through my own eyes, the eyes that are clouded by the reality of what the world around us would like us to believe. In order to understand why the Church teaches what it does, I would have to look into these things through the eyes of the Church. What I mean by this is that the teachings would all have to be looked at by remembering that the Church believes that there is a God who is all knowing and all loving, that God came to Earth as a man, and for some reason that I did not know at the time, had to die for us. Of course, I didn’t necessarily believe these things, but that didn’t matter. I thought that I could beat them even if I played the game by their rules.
I looked into everything that I felt was wrong; contraception, abortion, celibate priests, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, and many others. I wasn’t about to try to tackle the existence of God or the idea of the resurrection of Jesus, I didn’t have to. Luckily for me, or so I thought, I knew that the Catholic Church claimed that it did not teach in error when it came to faith and morals (I still don’t know where I learned that, I’m sure it was some anti-Catholic article I read somewhere along the line). As a result of this belief, I didn’t have to prove anything about God or Jesus, just prove the Church teaching wrong and you’ve proved it all wrong. Emily wanted to become a Catholic, not a non-denominational Christian, so I all had to do was prove the Church wrong in its teaching and get on with my life. The funny thing is that I was actually arrogant enough to think that I was going to do this relatively quickly. Big mistake.
Needless to say, I was unable to prove the Church’s teachings wrong. That is to say, I could believe that the Church’s teachings were correct IF there was a God, He came to Earth as a man, and he suffered, died and resurrected from the dead. I still was not sure of any of those things, but now I WANTED them to be true. I could see that the world the Church was striving for would truly be a better world to live in. But it was still a big leap from wanting a better world, to believing in a God-Man being crucified and then resurrecting from the dead. That was going to take a bit more convincing. So, the next step for me was to look into the evidence of the risen Christ, since this was the central idea that the whole faith rested on.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to spend the next – well, maybe forever, speaking of my journey to convince myself of the faith. Now I had something that I wanted to believe, but still couldn’t bring myself to do it. The whole idea of the God-Man just seemed way too farfetched for me. So I had to begin by investigating the person of Christ, what He was, and if He really rose from the dead.
I will tackle this task by splitting it into three categories:
- The Bible and God
- The Church
I hope you enjoy the journey, please check in often and let me know what you think. Thanks and God Bless.