In long conversations with friends about our personal faith journeys, I find myself slowly developing my own apologia for why I remain Catholic. I suppose it helps that I also have had to come up with a response to the perplexed questions of the Protestant women in my graduate theological classes who want to know how I can stay in the Catholic Church as an intelligent woman. (Really, they ask me that!) I can never give them a satisfactory response in the thirty-second time frame they allow, so I usually mumble some clichéd answer, knowing that I will probably never be able to explain to them how the church helps me to survive, and to stay reasonably sane in what appears to be an insane world. Besides, how can I explain that even though I might disagree with some of the church’s teachings, I am committed to "staying in the relationship" because this is my church and my tradition and it still feeds me?
Their question reminds me that I once asked a Jesuit priest from India why he wasn’t Buddhist or Hindu, since he always spoke with great passion and love for those traditions. His answer didn’t satisfy me at the time, but now it is mine, too. "Why are you Catholic?" I asked him.
"Because I was born into a Catholic family," he said simply.
Like him, I know now that being Catholic is in the fiber of my being, just as being American is, and even if I were to leave the...