Here is what I gathered from your email:
1. Do you think Catholicism or Christianity is in competition?
2. Other lessons/belief systems that offer it’s own wisdom, comfort, and moral guidance?
3. What is wrong with the idea that every religious tradition offers different, but equally valid lessons about the world?
4. Could there be more to life than just Catholicism?
5. Is there something wrong with the person who decides what they truly believe?
My initial thoughts:
1. Christianity – religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, or it’s beliefs and practices (it does not say some beliefs and practices).
2. The Catholic Church is the main and earliest form of Christianity (there has to be a reason for that like everything else in the universe).
3. How can something be in competition with itself?
4. Truths from other “Christian” religions are either natural truths or taken from the Catholic Church and that is an historical fact, repeated over and over.
The first question that comes to my mind is whether or not you believe or recognize Jesus Christ as God (not just another Santa Claus like pretty much everyone treats Him), the 2nd person of the Blessed Trinity, or if you think of Him as another human being with no real significance.
Let us consider some points that can help us recognize the Divinity of Christ using reason and history. Reason because everyone has it, even those without Faith. And history because everyone lives in it, and it’s applicable, whether you like it or not.
1. Socrates had no one foretell his birth. Buddha had no one to pre announce him and his message or tell the day when he would sit under a tree. Confucius did not have the name of his mother and his birthplace recorded.
2. Search the writings of the Jewish people and the related history of the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. There have been no more prophecies of anyone coming after Christ.
3. What separates Christ from all men is that first He was expected; even the Gentiles had a longing for a Deliverer, or Redeemer. This fact alone distinguishes Him from all other religious leaders.
4. A second distinguishing fact is that once He appeared, He struck history with such impact that He split it in two, dividing it into two parts: one before His coming, the other after it. Buddha did not do this, nor any of the great Indian philosophers. Even those who deny God must date their attacks upon Him A.D. so and so, or so many years after His coming.
5. A third fact is this: every other person who ever came into this world came into it to live. He came to die. Death was a stumbling block to Socrates – it interrupted his teaching. But to Christ, death was the goal and fulfillment of His life, the gold that He was seeking. Few of His words or actions are intelligible without reference to His Cross. He presented Himself as a Savior rather than merely a Teacher. It meant nothing to teach men to be good unless He also gave them the power to be good, after rescuing them from the frustration of guilt.
6. The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. “the Lamb slain as it were, from the beginning of the world.”
7. A fourth distinguishing fact is that He does not fit, as the other world teachers do, into the established category of a good man. Good men do not lie. But if Christ was not all that He said He was, namely, the Son of the Living God, the Word of God in the flesh, then He was not “just a good man”; then He was a knave, a liar, a charlatan, and the greatest deceiver who ever lived. If He was not what He said He was, the Christ, the Son of God, He was the anti-Christ! If He was only a man, then He was not even a “good” man, but He was not only a man. He would have us either worship Him or despise Him – despise Him as a mere man, or worship Him as true God and true man.
He will not allow us to pick and choose among His words, discarding the hard ones, and accepting the ones that please our fancy. We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation, who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity and love goodness to a point where we would drink death like water.
– The Life of Christ, Bishop Fulton Sheen 1958.
“It is thy own lips that have called Me a King. What I was born for, what I came into the world for, Is to bear witness of the Truth. Whoever belongs to the Truth, listens to My Voice.” (JOHN 18:37)
So as Christ is God and easily the most important and only pre-announced person in history, and as the Old Testament is mirrored through His Church in the New Testament. True Catholicism ties the ancient Jewish traditions of sacrifice (bread and wine for Thanksgiving, and the Pascal lamb for atonement of sins); Christ brought these sacrifices together as the Priest, the Victim, and the Redeemer all at once. With the Last Supper being the first Catholic Mass Christ said:
“And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat : THIS IS MY BODY, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: THIS CHALICE IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD: THIS DO YE, AS OFTEN AS YOU SHALL DRINK, FOR THE COMMEMORATION OF ME.
For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily (hence the Sacrament of Confession), shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgement to himself, not discerning (believing, reverence towards the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine, the whole of the Catholic Faith, and everything Protestants and everyone else aims to destroy), the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep.”
What it comes down to is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the same exact sacrifice offered to God the Father by His only begotten Son but in an unbloody manner. And the whole of the Faith depends on whether or not the person really and truly believe that after the bread and wine are transubstantiated they are completely and wholly, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Because it was given from Christ to His Apostles and passed down through the imposition of hands to the Bishops and priests of the true church today.
Nothing else that any human being has ever done comes even close to this importance. That is God on the Altar right in front of your eyes! He did it for the Jews in the Old Testament when they wandered the desert for 40 years. He was a white mana that came down for them every morning to satisfy all their physical needs. And now His precious Body and Blood are our spiritual food if we want an eternity of happiness with God and it’s the only way we get to Heaven. Everything else is made up because ex-Catholics could not live up to the moral standards Christ instituted to His Apostles.
Just as a father has love for his children and does things that may at first seem harsh but ultimately is out of love of his children, so Christ gave us His Church, and promised to be with us until the end of time if we only adhere to the truth and everything He has commanded of us. Not just the things WE want to do or believe in, because history is full of that. It is daily obedience to the Will of God. Baptism for the washing of the soul from the stains of original sin, frequent reception of the Sacraments, keeping the commandments, observing sundays and holy days of obligation, as long as we are alive on this Earth we can turn to God and repent and start living the way we are supposed to be living. Denouncing the world, and all its enticing material things, dying to our physical senses, and seeking only the solicitation of the things that are of God’s Will for us. Obedience is paramount in making it into the Ark of the New Testament. We cannot get to Heaven by ourselves, you need the Holy Ghost dwelling in your soul and you receive that through His Church not anyone else’s. Just as Faith without works is dead, works without Faith are useless. Christ’s Presence in the Holy Eucharist IS the Catholic Faith, and it IS Christianity.
“If any man eat of this bread, He shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, IS MY FLESH, for the life of the world.”
What could be more important, efficacious for the salvation of our souls, than adherence to what the Creator of the Universe has commanded us to do? And who else has such a love for us, as to make themselves one with Him by offering us the bread of His flesh for our salvation? How important is it to you? If one believes they are a good person, is that simply enough? Because if one were truly a good person would they not follow and listen to the Source of all Good, God made man, Christ Himself?