Faltered by an Atheist – Rooted by the Catechism

I stumbled onto someone’s blog the other day. Let’s call her Amy*. She told the story about growing up evangelical Christian, turning to Catholicism, then doing away with it all together and becoming a proud atheist. It was convincing. I mean she knew her stuff and backed it up. It’s easy for someone who’s never known Christianity to write it off as farcical, but Amy appeared to hold considerable knowledge about both Catholicism and Protestantism. After reading it, I almost felt sick to my stomach – “Could she have some legitimate points? How could I possibly be influenced by one measly blog post?”

I had to remind myself that I am very, very young in my faith. I, too, was a self-proclaimed atheist at some point in my life. If you really want to put a timeline on it – I’ve only come to Catholicism in the last 7 or 8 months. (Despite being raised Catholic, I make a very distinct differentiation between being raised with it and coming willfully to it on my own intent.) This is all part of my journey, which is intrinsically different from every other person on this planet, Amy’s included.

So the first place I go is to the books. My boyfriend gave me a copy of the Catechism and I’m obsessed. I’ve been reading it for a week straight every night and morning. I haven’t read anything like that since Harry Potter. It’s absolutely beautiful. Shh…don’t tell my 17 year old self – she won’t believe you anyways. Unlike many young Catholics, I find no dispute with any Catholic teachings, at least any that I know of. I, personally (and personally is an important part of this sentence), feel no repress from the church for her teachings on sexuality (that includes being open to life, pursuing forms of purity in all stations of life, and refraining from a contraceptive mentality) for the grace of the sacraments, and the blessed eucharist. Did I hit all the Catholic hot points? Again, it’s a personal matter, and from where I stand, I feel no oppression.

But it was eye-opening to read about Amy’s journey, because I now see how people can fall to the wayside. People full well know what Christianity is and dismiss it. I didn’t quite get it before, I thought, “Who would do that?” This girl did, and I’m sure plenty others do too. It even makes sense when it’s put together nicely in one blog post. Heck, I almost reconsidered my own faith.

I’ve gained a lot of insight from reading the Catechism. If anything, it’s a beautiful recipe on how to live a virtuous life. Why would I want to live a virtuous life, you ask? Because I seek joy over pleasure. For me in my personal journey, pleasure has brought me a lot of pain over time. Therefore, the Catechism lays out healthy and pure principles for which to live by – principles that I find not only comforting, but also freeing.

But of course, we screw up. I do things that go against these guidelines, and God knows that I will fall short, because I have limited knowledge of his will. And this is all okay.

So in finishing, I would like to say to Amy (although she will probably never see this) I support you on your journey. Keep going and living joyfully. As for me, I believe in the Church, and I’m going to keep going with my faith. All those times they told you “Just trust. Have faith.” I’m doing it. God so help me, I’m trying my hardest. And the Trinity? I think I can handle it.

“Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed are contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason. In faith, the human intellect and will cooperate with divine grace: ‘Believing an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.”   Profession of Faith, Catechism

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