I have a great curiosity about conversion stories. Their depth and struggle is one I admire and enjoy hearing about. When Brandon Vogt released his book, Why I Am Catholic (and you should be too), it immediately drew me in. Not only for the conversion story, but also for the second part – you should be too.
The struggles that those who convert are not exclusively theirs. Many cradle Catholics also come upon these same struggles. And this is what makes Brandon’s book so poignant for both non-Catholics and Catholics alike. As he shares his story, he shares that which brought him to the doorsteps of the Catholic Church: his questions. These same questions are ones to which we cradle Catholics are not always immune either.
True, Good, and Beautiful
The structure of the book frames his argument — that Catholicism is True, Good, and Beautiful. The book covers the basic claims of Christianity, but also uniquely why the Catholic perspective helps us to gain a better understanding of who this Divinity is, and how our beliefs reflect that. While all three (True, Good, Beautiful) are important, the last two particularly continue to pull me deeper into my own faith.
The book shares that the Church is Good — we cannot deny that it has contributed so much to the basic building blocks of Western culture, including that of charitable actions. No other group or individual surpasses the Church’s charity. The Church also stands against the flow of the culture — we see this so very much in its pro-life activities (conception to natural death), in its treatment of the poor, the vulnerable, the least of society. There is great Goodness in the Catholic Church. It does not fail to stand up for the Truth and the Good, which means when we reflect on our lives, we see how we fail to let this Truth and Goodness rule our lives.
The Church is Beautiful. In this section, the part that I want to share most is when Brandon brings us back to God’s vision of humanity: imago dei — in the image of God. This is the hinge on why Catholicism is so radically different, and Brandon gets it. He shares once again how expansive Catholicism is — God invites literally every human to be a part of the Divine Life. Whether one is rich, immigrant, affluent, destitute, uneducated, sinner — all have a place in Catholicism. And it is because God has made us in his image, and Jesus has broken open for us the doorway to sanctification. Everyone has the chance to become more true to this image. In Brandon’s own words, “When we, through Baptism, enter into the drama of Christ’s mission, we are deified, made children of God, rendered holy.” (location 1362 or thereabouts).
We Are All Sinners
There are stains in our Church in some of these areas. We can admit that we are all sinners here, and the Church’s members have committed a multitude of sins. But Jesus is faithful to his bride, the Church, and so gives us a way to return from our failings. Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, we can return to the God who is pure Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. The foundation of this grace is the gift of forgiveness that Jesus brought to us through the cross, and through which he expected his apostles to continue to offer his love and forgiveness (Jn 20:23).
Brandon’s book is a great read. Admittedly it took longer than I anticipated due to children, thinking, and children some more, but it has been worth the time. For my personality, I would have enjoyed a bit more discussion of the ongoing struggles that come with Catholicism. It has its own major sins that can be a huge stumbling block to acceptance. But I also understand that this book is offering a glimpse into our beautiful faith. It really is just a starting point for a deep and ongoing relationship. It has rekindled my own thoughts on these subjects, given me added perspective, and reconfirmed my faith in Jesus through his Church. I recommend this book as a gift to those who want to learn why Catholicism stands apart. It is also great for Catholics who would like a refresher on the faith. You won’t be disappointed!
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Copyright 2017 Jane Korvemaker
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