May 31, 2013

Readers share what they love about the Catholic faith

By John Shaughnessy

(One in a continuing series)

At 14, Ben Kahles offers a youthful perspective on the joy of being Catholic.

“I love waking up in the morning knowing that God is watching over me,” notes Ben, an eighth-grade student at St. Michael School in Brookville. “Being Catholic means that I am free to make my own choices. I am able to tell what is right from what is wrong by listening to the teachings at Mass and reading the Bible.

“Even if I make the wrong choices, God is always willing to forgive me and set me back on the path to heaven. Every time I go to confession, I feel like I get a fresh start.”

Ben says another reason he loves being Catholic is “because I always feel safe when God is with me.

“God has helped me through the good times and the bad,” he notes. “God gives me a sense of security whenever I pray to him. Being Catholic makes me want to strive toward the kingdom of heaven. By doing good and helping others, I can get closer to that goal.

“I love being Catholic!”

Ben’s enthusiasm for his faith mirrors the joy of Catholics who responded to The Criterion’s invitation to answer the question, “What do you love about being Catholic?” The question stems from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s launching of a special Year of Faith on Oct. 11, 2012.

Here are some responses from Catholics across the archdiocese:

‘Everything is there that we need’

For Gina Langferman, her love of being Catholic is connected to all the opportunities the Church offers to draw closer to Christ.

“Have you ever visited a beautiful, old cathedral?” asks Langferman, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis. “Did you feel a holy hush as you looked at the immensity of its size, the beauty of the stained glass, the statues and the tabernacle? Did the stations of the cross or the crucifix move your heart?

“The Church is like a cathedral. In the Church, everything is there that we need to help us get to heaven. We have the Scriptures, the Eucharist, the saints, the angels, the prayers, the teachings, the sacraments, the rosary.

“Jesus didn’t want us to miss even one opportunity to see him, to know him, to love him. He not only came down to earth to save us, but he gave us a Church to lead and guide us. He gave us a Church to belong to. He gave us a Church that we can help grow, and we can now be his hands and his feet and bring others to him.”

‘A strong anchor in my life’

As a mother and a teacher, Pat Killen has tried to lead children on a journey of faith to God. It’s a journey that has also strengthened her faith.

“As a former teacher, I was privileged to teach in a Catholic elementary school for 15 years,” notes Killen, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. “Teaching prayer and values was a part of our curriculum. Preparing students for the sacrament of reconciliation, on their faith journey toward a deeper love and understanding of God, was rewarding.

“In our family, my husband and I tried, by our example, to instill in our children a love for God and a desire to remain faithful to our Church and the loving community it provides. Faith in God and his goodness and love has been a strong anchor in my life when ‘the troubles’ occurred and I needed support. The Church community is a consoling and comforting presence in both good times and bad times, which are inevitable, during our lifetimes.”

Basking in the light of Christ

One shining moment during a Mass captured the essence of being Catholic for Jan Erlenbaugh, a member of the Church of Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis.

“On occasion, I have enjoyed sitting in a pew where the sun’s rays are brightest, and I bask in the ‘Light of Christ,’ ” Erlenbaugh says. “Most times, it brings healing and warmth. On this particular Sunday, right at Communion time, the sun was coming from the east, shining on the stain-glass window of the Nativity and shining on each person who stepped forward to receive Communion. It became so joyous to witness these sun rays bathing and enveloping each participant.

“I found such delight in being aware of the ‘Light of Christ’ being received as well as the Body of Christ. It enhanced my reflection of the faith we share, and deepened my prayer in thanksgiving to God to be a part of the paschal mystery that we partake.”

“A glimpse of eternity’

Seminarian Andrew Hess appreciates the timeless hope that is at the heart of being Catholic.

“What I love about being Catholic is the sense that the Church is timeless,” says Hess, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati who is in formation at the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University, both in Indianapolis.

“In our culture, people fear ‘the end.’ They fear running out of time and not living life to the fullest in this world. This is even prevalent within the faithful. The Church is the bastion of Christ’s eternal message, and she provides a glimpse of eternity to us on this side of heaven. In her arms, time seems trivial to me.

“If I am living the life the Lord intends, then I fear not the end of this world. This world is only my temporary home, and the Church is my bridge between temporal and eternal.”

Seeing the face of Christ

“When I see the priest hold the bread [at Mass], I know I truly see the body of Christ in it,” notes Elaine Nolan, a member of St. Ambrose Parish in Seymour.

“In the wine, I can see all his blood pouring out for me. It’s amazing how you can feel so full in the partaking of the Eucharist. So many Churches of today just look at [the Eucharist] as a piece of host. They toss out what is left. Not us Catholics. We see the face of Christ.”

(If you would like to share your thoughts and stories concerning “what you love about being Catholic,” submit them to assistant editor John Shaughnessy by e-mail at or by mail in care of The Criterion, 1400 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46202. Please include your parish and a daytime phone number where you can be reached.)

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