Why I remain a Catholic

There was a time, when I had left the Catholic church.
I grew up in southern Germany, where most everyone around me at the time was still Catholic. Though among the young people barely anyone took their faith too seriously, in particularly not the teachings on family and sexuality. I didn’t feel I fit in any more,there among the other young Catholics with my so much deeper desires for spirituality and a good traditional family.
So I left the Catholic church for what I thought to be at the time a stricter, more conservative and more spiritually committed community.
And I did find many of the things I desired in this other church, and nearly all of the people I met there were kind, compassionate and committed to their faith.
I married in that church and moved to Iceland and I got a wonderful family, who to this day are still active members of this other church.
In Iceland just as in Germany I found the people in that church to be very, very nice.
But what I hadn’t realized is, that my Catholic faith has immeasurable deep roots in my soul.
After a while I could no longer deny the differences between the doctrines taught in that church and what I had been taught in the Catholic church.
And those differences started to bother me more and more. It became painful to sit through a Sunday service, feeling the contradictions deep down in my gut. I had lost all inner connection to God and to the spirituality I had sought so much.
It took me 19 years before I finally dared to return.
The first time I went to Holy Mass again an indescribable feeling of joy overcame my whole body and soul, flooding me like a wave, surrounding me and entering my mind with a single thought repeating over and over:
“Home again, home again, you are home again, I am home again!”

Of course, you don’t get this kind of spiritual experience every day, at least not such a prosaic person as I am, but a basic spirituality with occasional highs had returned to my life.
But our parish priest teaches us that we cannot just rely on our feelings. Faith is more than just a feeling, it is a choice we make with out hearts and our minds.
And so I started to read more about Catholic teachings. I read several encyclica and the “Social Agenda of the Catholic Church”, also a bit about the “Theology of the Body” and of course “Evangelium Vitae”.
All these modern writings are built on the rich spiritual and intellectual tradition of the two millennia of the Church, which have brought forth thousands of great thinkers. I love that aspect of the Church as well. And reading these things allows me to understand in depth the position of the Church for instance in regard to sexuality.
And then there are the charismatic prayer groups I joined to deepen my spirituality and my feelings of community.

Of course, there are people within the Church who I severely disagree with, and some of them frustrate me quite a lot, like the gun-touting pro-military and pro-death-penalty Catholics on the American right and the liberal pro-sexual liberation and sometimes even pro-abortion Catholics on the European left.
And then there is that -sadly at the moment ever growing- number of Catholics who hate Muslims and Islam with a vengeance, spreading the mantra that Islam per-se makes people violent.
I on the contrary believe that in order for there to be a chance for peace in the world, Christians and Muslims have to make peace with one another by showing respect to each other, recognizing that there is goodness in the other one’s religion as well, and that Christianity and Islam actually has quite a lot in common. Neither of those two religions inherently promotes violence and atrocities.
Every Christian who points out a supposedly violence promoting verse in the Koran is somebody who sits in a glass-house throwing stones, for there are at least as much violence endorsing verses in the Bible, for those who want this kind of interpretation. (And I met plenty of atheists online who are only too happy to throw those verses at me).
And no, I do not condone the horrific crimes of the ISIS and AlQaeda fighters against Christians, other religious minorities and other Muslims in the Middle East.
But from what I have researched so far I’m convinced, that both ISIS and ALQaeda are intelligence operations sponsored, armed and financed by Saudi Arabia, America and Israel to help their leaders to fulfill their geo-political goals, namely the fracturing of all Middle Eastern countries into smaller entities along ethnic and sectarian lines and even using those Islamist groups to destabilize Russia and China, while at the same time cutting down civil rights in western countries.
There is plenty of evidence to back me up on that one, including papers written by high-level individuals from within or connected to the Pentagon and the Israeli government.
The end-game might be to push all Christians out of the Middle East and then start a “Clash of Civilizations” between the West and the East.
Hating Muslims, or Orthodox Russians for that matter, and preparing for or participating in war turns us just as much into puppets for these geo-political games as those frustrated, stupid and gullible teenagers who are recruited into ISIS or AlQaeda right now.
Yea, yea I know, that’s a controversial subject, but we are most likely at the verge of WWIII, and some Catholics should be courageous enough to talk controversy. Maybe if a few more had done so before WWI and WWII in some countries, maybe, just maybe, they could have been avoided.

Anyway, these disagreements I have with some of my brothers and sisters in Christ, or any kind of scandal that has come out or will come out in the future, would never tempt me the slightest bit to leave the faith again.
Because I’ve realized that belonging here is not about the people, but about my spiritual relationship with God.
I also believe deeply in Jesus promise that He will be with His Church til the end of times.
And whatever the future will bring, even if it is a lot of suffering, in the end God will work His miracles, maybe by using people or maybe “coincidences” and most definitely His Church as a tool for peace in the world.
And different from a lot of other Catholics I do believe in Isaiah’s promise of one day swords being beaten into plow shares.


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