Conversion, Part Six: Summer Reading
It might seem a little bit odd to choose buy a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it, but that’s what I have been doing. My decision to (try to) read the Catechism, which packages the formal position statements of the Catholic Church for teaching and instructional purposes, arose from my inability to understand what was being said during the oral recitation of the “We Believe,” the Nicene Creed, during Mass. I found it hard to follow the verbage as other churchgoers began to recite what this somewhat lengthy pronouncement out loud and en masse; I wanted to see it written down in a form I could take in. Once I purchased a copy of the book, I saw what it contained in total and was most interested to go through it in its entirety, which will certainly take time since the copy I have hovers around 800 pages. I had hoped to be done by the time I started RCIA classes but that’s not going to happen. I am about a hundred pages into it now, what amounts to approximately one-third of the first (of four) parts.
What most impressed me about the Catechism came in the early pages. I have long believed that the dichotomy between science and the Church was a needlessly polarizing misperception of what was abundantly clear to me as reconcilable: that the complexity and diversity of Creation is evidence of God’s existence, not something that stands in contrast to a belief in God’s existence. I have long found it hard to believe that anyone could learn about physical science and respond that God does not exist, that it is all an accident or a coincidence. This position coupled with the Church’s insistence that our duty is to revel in the “mystery” parallels beliefs that I have held for a long time; some evangelical sects marvel in the idea of knowing that you are “saved,” but that can’t be, that notion of holding judgment in our own hands, rather than allowing the “mystery” to persist. Although I find Charles Darwin’s observations and consequent ideas to be intriguing, I also find them reinforcing the greatness of God who could create such a thing as the world we live in. Once I had read those ideas, which came very early in the book, I was sold. I knew I was making the right decision by joining the Catholic Church.