I Am…You Should Be

Many people have written books, article and blog posts titled (in exact words or close to them) “Why I am Catholic.”   A new book by a Catholic author just came out that appends to that phrase “and you should be too.”  The author is not the first to do so: Our Catholic Faith website, for example, has an entry with the same add-on.

I often find “why I am Catholic” or “why I am Christian” (or why I am [fill in the blank]) stories good reading.  The good ones can help me name things about my own faith, raise questions I need to grapple with, help me work though issues and so forth.

But I am not at all comfortable with the “and you should be too” part.  I don’t presume to know how God wants to deal with everyone else, and see no basis for my (or anyone else’s) ability to claim that everyone else should follow my faith.

I know this will upset some of my Catholic friends, but I have never thought my task as a spiritual director or retreat leader is to turn people into Catholics, but rather to deepen their experience of God and their understanding of what God is calling them to (however they name and understand God).  Christ is at the center of my faith, but I do not believe my understanding of Christ needs to be at the center of everyone else’s faith, or that my relationship with Christ is the model for everyone.

In his book Falling Upward, Richard Rohr writes

There is not one clear theology of God, Jesus, or history presented [in the Bible], despite our attempt to pretend there is.  The only consistent pattern I can find is that all the books of the Bible seem to agree that somehow God is with us and we are not alone.

I would add to Rohr’s comment – because I see it consistently throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament – that there is also an agreement that God calls on humans to be part of his plan for the healing of the world and the building of God’s kingdom.   One does not have to be a Catholic to accept that call.