Sunday, April 23, 2017

5. The True Reason for Entering The Church

Photo:  Among The Stones
Jesuit novices reading their breviaries during contemplative prayer amidst the tombstones of Jesuit priests at Los Gatos Novitiate. 
Location:  San Jose, California, 1953
Photographer:  Margaret Bourke-White

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The fundamental reason then why one should enter the Catholic Church is that it is the Church established by Jesus Christ, in which he intended that all men work out the salvation of the soul entrusted to them. Of course there are many reasons why one might be attracted to the Church, reasons that sometimes impel men to enter the Church. One might be attracted by the splendor and beauty of Catholic worship, by the dignity and learning of her priests, by the staunch way in which the Church upholds the sacredness of the married state or because at times one's friends are Catholics or one's husband or wife. But while all of these are things that might attract us toward the Church, one's motive in entering the Church should be more substantial than the mere beauty of Catholic worship or the fact that my friend or my wife or husband is a Catholic.  

Nor should a true conversion ever mean "hitting the sawdust trail" as it is sometimes vulgarly termed. For conversion to God means much more than the sole declaration that you accept Christ after listening to a sermon or two. An emotional sermon that stirs up an emotional response is hardly sufficient ground for the full acceptance of all that Christianity implies. It is true that emotions have their place in religion, but no one should rely on them alone either in his acceptance of religion or in his religious life afterwards. One should enter the Catholic Church after reasonable inquiry into her doctrines, convinced that this is the Church Christ Himself founded, and hence there is a solemn obligation in conscience binding one to enter.
 
The salvation of one's immortal soul is the most important business man has to transact in this life.
God demands of us that we take it seriously. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," Christ says to us. On the other hand just as no one should enter the Church unless from solid motives, so no one should remain in a Church unless he is sure that it is the Church established by Christ, and in which Christ meant him to work out the salvation of his soul. To embrace the Catholic faith then a certain amount of reasonable reflection is always necessary, a knowledge of her doctrines and an honest inquiry into her claims of being the One Church divinely instituted by the Savior of mankind.


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