Art: “The Resurrection of Christ”, by Giotto di Bondone
By Rev. Nolan T. Lowry, Catholic priest of the Diocese of Tyler
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Twenty years ago, I was “welcomed home” to the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil at St. Mary’s Parish in Longview, Texas. Before that time, I had attended a few churches – mainly Baptist – with my friends in Tyler. I am thankful for the Bible verses and stories I learned during this formational time on my journey home, but I am especially thankful to have been introduced to Jesus Christ through these Christian communities. Becoming Catholic helped me to put the pieces all together: where the New Testament (NT) comes from; how we get to know and love Jesus; why He instituted the sacraments; what we need to do to be saved and how we need to live this salvation.
The event of the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ that we celebrate on Easter Sunday is an opportunity for all — not just converts, but all the baptized — to reflect on the great gift of what it is to be a Christian. By our baptism, we share in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; we are made adopted sons and daughters of the Father; we are cleansed of sin and receive the infusion of grace into our souls by the Holy Spirit; and we are made members of Christ’s Body, the Church. The Catholic Church isthe Church of the NT — not just a religion founded by someone’s interpretation of the NT. And while many non-Catholic Christians have sincere faith in and love for Our Lord, no other church can be historically traced back to Jesus Christ Himself.
Because many who attend Easter Sunday Mass may not be regulars and may not even be Catholics, I would like to offer my personal “Top 10 Reasons” why I am a Catholic Christian:
1) The Eucharist. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ cannot be any more personal than receiving His living Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
2) The New Testament. The Catholic Church was the only Church around when the gospels and epistles were written. The Pope and Bishops approved the canon of the NT in the 4th and 5th Centuries. We have 2,000 years of Scripture commentary by the early Church Fathers, popes, scholastics and saints.
3) Unchanging Doctrine and Morals. There is NT and early Church evidence of all Catholic teachings. In particular, the Catholic Church is the only church that never changed Christ’s teaching against divorce and artificial contraception.
4) The Blessed Virgin Mary. The first and greatest disciple, the human mother of the Second Person of the Trinity, our mother as those united to her divine Son; she constantly intercedes for us in heaven.
5) Ways to Pray. Lectio Divina, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, devotions, Adoration, prayers written by the saints, oral and silent prayer, contemplation. There are as many ways to pray in the Catholic tradition as there are kinds of people. (I will be preaching on this theme during the Sundays of Easter this year.)
5) Beautiful Art & Architecture. Beauty is a transcendental. Beauty reflects God. Arguably the most beautiful images and buildings in the world have been created in the Catholic tradition.
6) The Papacy. Francis, Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II (to name a few recents). When these men speak or act, the whole world pays attention.
7) The Saints. Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas More, St. Joan of Arc — just to name a few. They show us Jesus in dark times.
8) Education, Healthcare, Scientific Method, Free-Market Economics, Natural Law Ethics. The monastic tradition and religious orders of the Catholic Church were responsible for pioneering these services and ideas.
9) Confession. Jesus working through His priests helps us to have assurance that our sins are forgiven and directs us to constant conversion.
10) Culture. Academic regalia, meatless Fridays, chant and classical music, Italian multi-course meals with lots of wine, great books and movies, bingo (need I say more?); 2,000 years of Christ inundating culture.
Wishing you a blessed Easter, I am
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Nolan T. Lowry is a priest of the Diocese of Tyler and pastor of St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Athens, Texas. He received a license in moral theology from Santa Croce University in Rome, Italy. He currently serves as director of the Sanctity of Life Office and coordinator of the Priestly Life Commission of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council.