As I mentioned a few days ago, I am still in the process of articulating why I became Catholic. I am an INTJ and have a gift of recognizing patterns. I saw the pattern of the logical and scriptural consistency of the Catholic Church, and I became Catholic because of what I saw. It’s been four years, so you might think I would have worked out all of those details by now. But going back and articulating the mechanics of what I saw is not very interesting to me. So I haven’t spent a great deal of time doing it. I trust my own judgment about what I saw (another INTJ characteristic), so don’t feel a strong urge to reverse engineer what happened. But for some reason the words come to me spontaneously from time to time.
It happened just today.
One of the things I saw in my mind was how the history of Christianity is like a tree. Its trunk grows for a period of time, then it splits apart into branches as time goes on, especially at the Reformation. At that point it splits into smaller branches and even twigs.
Here is a diagram of Church history presented two ways. The first diagram is right side up. The next one is upside down. The upside down diagram looks like a tree, with a trunk, some shoots off the trunk, and branches at the top. It wasn’t that I had this particular diagram in my mind, but I am using this diagram to explain my thought process.
If you start at the top of the tree, on a twig for example, then trace the historical lineage down to the stump, you end up Catholic which is founded on Christ. Since He is the vine, then based on John 15:5 it made sense to me to get as close to the vine as I could. Once I saw the history of Christianity like this, I knew I would not be content spending time on what looked like the twigs of the tree. They seemed too far away from Him.
Later I saw how Ephesians 5:31-32 is related to this. St. Paul says something that did not make sense to me until I looked at it through Catholic eyes:
“‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.” (emphasis added)
As far as I am aware, the marriage discourse in this chapter is always applied to human married couples. I am not aware of these two verses being treated in a literal way among Protestants or Catholics. I’m not an expert on Protestant or Catholic apologists or the arguments they make, so I may be entirely off the mark there. It seems, though, that if people do apply those verses to the church, the verses are viewed figuratively or as a mystery that will be revealed after we die or at the resurrection. But it became clear to me that this is not the case. It is true right now. It seems clear we must take St. Paul at face value here, which means that where the Church is, Christ is. I don’t remember when, if it was at this juncture or earlier, but I was able to easily reject any argument that stated or required Jesus to have somehow lost control of His Church at some point in time. It seems clear that this could never be the case, first because to argue that way diminishes the power of Jesus and His work on the cross. Second, because He said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Third, we apply Eph. 5:31-32 literally instead of figuratively which makes it clear that there is no way Christ was ever separated from His Church.
Notice what He says about abiding in John 6:56:
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (emphasis added)
How do we do this? In order to abide in Jesus (John 15:5), we abide through His Church because they are one (Eph. 5:31-32), and because of whom we abide in Him by receiving His body and blood (John 5:56) every Sunday. Where the Church is, Jesus is. It is a mystery exactly the same way it is a mystery how the egg and sperm become one.