Sunday, April 26, 2015

I guess their Nice Dreams went Up in Smoke

Last night I met with other members of the LifeTeen core team for wine and cigars. Smoking is bad for you but then so is drinking, and I've never known a nicotine addict to pick fights or kill himself and others behind the wheel when he's got the withdrawal shakes. I'm not going to argue that smoking is harmless, but I think the modern fear and hatred of it is overblown. Chug-a-lugging every night will eventually kill you just as surely as smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. Likewise, enjoying a cigar or two after dinner isn't going to hurt you any more than having two or three glasses of wine. Smoking is a skill a man should cultivate, just as knowing the time and the place for imbibing the fruit of the vine. Cigarettes provide instant camaraderie when you ask someone or someone asks to bum one. Cigars are an excellent way to unwind as they require a slower, more contemplative approach. It takes me at least 30 minutes to finish one, and sometimes an hour if I smoke it down all the way. Tobacco pipes are the highest form of smoking. I've known people who were otherwise anti-smoking to catch a whiff of burning pipe tobacco and say, "That smells good. You can smoke inside my house."

Tonight's subject is Catholicism vs. Protestantism. The speakers, which include myself, are all converts and we will explain why we were drawn to the faith. As my buddy the youth minister put it, the others will give testimony to their personal, loving encounter with Christ whereas I will explain the hard logic of it as I'm a well known stone cold bastard. He jests, but there is some truth to it. When I first considered joining the Catholic Church, I found discussing the matter with Catholics to be unedifying. I wasn't asking technical questions about soteriology or anything. It was basic stuff: "How come you guys pray to Mary?"

"Uhh, I don't know. I don't pray to her."

"Thanks for nothing."

My conversion was very much an intellectual matter. The awesome (in the Shakespearean sense of the word) thing about Catholicism is how quickly it snowballs into firm conviction once you accept even one of its premises. For me, it was the Eucharist. Once you accept the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, everything else follows. Likewise, if you lose faith in the Real Presence, then you quickly lose the Catholic faith in its entirety. I briefly considered Orthodoxy. Ten years later, I still sometimes gaze longingly upon its consistently beautiful liturgy after coming home from a particularly silly Catholic Mass. For several reasons I decided I couldn't become Orthodox in good faith, so to speak.

The goal of tonight's program is to explain why we should remain Catholic and why Protestants ought to convert. I'll let Pope Pius XI explain why:
“There is no need to insist how foreign it is to the virtue of charity, which embraces both God and men, for the members of Christ’s Church not to think of those unfortunate souls who live in error outside the Fold. Surely the obligation of charity, which binds us to God, demands not only that we strive to increase by every means within our power the number of those who adore Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ but also that we try to bring under the rule of the gentle Christ as many other men as possible in order that ‘the profit of his blood’ may be the more and more fruitful and that we may make ourselves the more acceptable to Him to Whom nothing can possibly be more pleasing than that ‘men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.'”

1 comment:

  1. . Once you accept the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, everything else follows.

    Pretty much. One possible exception might be the veneration of the saints. That is a different matter, and was for me the hardest part of the faith to both get and accept. Still is in some ways.

    But otherwise I agree that most Catholics don't know why they are Catholics. I blame the awful Catechesis of the last half/century more than anything else.