To balance out my post on why I am not a Oneness Pentecostal (here), I will give some reasons as to why I am Catholic. First some background. I was born into the Catholic church, baptized as an infant only a few months old. I was never catechized in my youth, and sporadically practiced my faith. Yet, I was always intrigued by God. In my teen years, I fell into the world until I was 22 years old, when I decided I needed to get right with God. At that time, I was part of a charismatic Catholic group in the Philippines (Bukas Loob sa Diyos [Open in Spirit to God]). On June 30, 2002, I received what Pentecostals would call the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
When I returned to the Seattle area, the only people I knew were Oneness Pentecostals (teen friends with whose church I had experience). Because of the similarities in beliefs about the Holy Spirit, I easily made the transition. I will not recount my Oneness experience here since I have done so briefly in aforementioned post. Because of my studies in seminary, I decided to investigate and eventually return to the Catholic church. Below are a few reasons I am now Catholic. Once again, this is not an exhaustive list, but it highlights some of the more influential factors on my decision to come home to Rome.
Church Fathers. As I read some of the church fathers for church history, I began to realize that of which the church spoke sounded much like the Catholic church. For example, St. Ignatius’s reference to the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality” accorded well with the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist as a sacrament. The recitation of the Nicene Creed (and the Apostles’ Creed during such devotions like the rosary) during Mass harkens back to that ecumenical council, which the Fathers defended.
Mystics Tradition. The Catholic church (as well as the Orthodox) have a strong line of mystics, those who are greatly in touch with and live out the love of God. At George Fox Evangelical Seminary, I learned about contemplative prayer, and found myself wired to this way of praying. In my exploration of contemplative prayer, I found that the most in-depth works on it were by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. I also took a class called Spirituality and the Writings of the Mystics where I noticed that most of the writings on contemplative prayer came from Catholic mystics. Many of those whom I have read and who have experienced genuine contemplation today are Catholics (here). The Catholic church seems to be a good place for one who is inclined toward mysticism, such as myself.
The View of Some Jews. A woman with whom I attended the same Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is Jewish. When she told her parents of her decision to become Catholic, they were quite happy for her, saying that the Catholic church is the closest in Christianity to Judaism. I have also heard from other Jews that if they were to become Christian, they would become Catholics.
The Charismatic Movement. As I mentioned above, I came back to God through a charismatic Catholic group. When I was thinking of returning to Catholicism again, I began to research the charismatic movement in the Catholic church. I came to find that, the Catholic church has embraced the charismatic work and acknowledged its validity. Pentecostal spirituality has many important aspects, and many of them can be found in the charismatic Catholic movement. The “fullness of the Spirit” that some (sectarian) Pentecostal groups want to claim is not exclusively theirs.
The Connection to Eastern Christianity. Before coming back to Catholicism, I was looking into the Orthodox church. I had attended Vespers for months until my work on my thesis prevented me from attending often. Through some Catholic forums, I found out about the Eastern Catholic churches and how Blessed John Paul II, when he was pope, encouraged the Eastern churches to de-Latinize and retain their culture. After some research, I found that some Eastern churches in the area and I attended a Byzantine Catholic church Vesper and Divine Liturgy this month (June 2011). It was virtually like the Orthodox: the entire Liturgy was chanted, it had the iconostasis, communion was administered in the same way, there was the antidoron bread (bread that is blessed but is not used as Eucharist), and so forth. What was awesome to me was that there were prayers for Pope Benedict during the Liturgy and that I could receive the Eucharist because I am Catholic. The Eastern and Western aspects to Catholicism make it a truly universal church.