If I were not a Catholic, and were looking for the true Church in the world today, I would look for the one Church which did not get along well with the world; in other words, I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh. If you would find Christ today, then find the Church that does not get along with the world. Look for the Church that is hated by the world, as Christ was hated by the world. Look for the Church which is accused of being behind the times, as Our Lord was accused of being ignorant and never having learned. Look for the Church which men sneer at as socially inferior, as they sneered at Our Lord because He came from Nazareth. Look for the Church which is accused of having a devil, as Our Lord was accused of being possessed by Beelzebub, the Prince of Devils. Look for the Church which the world rejects because it claims it is infallible, as Pilate rejected Christ because he called Himself the Truth. Look for the Church which amid the confusion of conflicting opinions, its members love as they love Christ, and respect its voice as the very voice of its Founder, and the suspicion will grow, that if the Church is unpopular with the spirit of the world, then it is unworldly, and if it is unworldly, it is other-worldly. Since it is other-worldly, it is infinitely loved and infinitely hated as was Christ Himself.” —Archbishop Fulton Sheen
I haven’t ever spent a lot of time wondering what I would do if I weren’t Catholic. I suppose that might be strange. As a “cradle” Catholic, attending Mass and such was part of my life from an early age. Even when we fell away from it when I was in high school and then college, I self-identified as Catholic.I was a poorly catechized young adult Catholic, but I felt as though I were Catholic nonetheless.
Interestingly enough, the sentiment found in Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s quote above is at the core of why I came to believe fully everything the Catholic church teaches. I remember when we went to our first Natural Family Planning course. We learned through the Couple to Couple League and the first session was full of Catholic Theology and a history of all Christian denomination teaching on the topic of birth regulation. It was where I learned that until 1930, Christianity was united in disapproval of artificial means of birth control. And, the fact that the Church stood strong and did not waver to the demands of the society of the time to change on the matter struck me not as stubborn or discompassionate, but moreso as something solid, something strong, something true.
Further reading on the topic, including the Encyclicals Casti Connubii (1930 – in response to the Lambeth Conference, which was the site of the first split) and Humanae Vitae (released July 25, 1968) emboldened my belief and faith that this teaching was indeed not something that could not be changed. The Catechism seems clear to me regarding the WHY’s of the Church’s teaching (go check the Catechism here.) Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI clarified beautifully in these two encyclicals. They did not acquiesce to the popular, but stood by the then-almost-2000 years’ teachings of the Church.
The fact is that the Church IS in opposition to the world on many issues. The Catholic Church has never wavered core magesterial teachings.
The Catholic Church is, always has been and will continue to be despised, hated, ridiculed, ignored and unpopular.
Damn, it is good to be Catholic!