Reprinted from "I Like Being Catholic" with permission of Random House.

What I like about the Catholics is that they have this sort of mussed-up human way. You go to church, there are people of all different colors and ages, and babies squalling. You're taking a stand with these people. You're saying: "Here I am. One of the people who love God."
--Annie Dillard, author

As a child, I was obsessive about religion. I wanted to get leprosy and be miraculously cured. I used to sleep with a little plastic cross. One morning I woke up with an imprint on my chest, and I knew I had the stigmata. I ran to my mother and said, "Mom I've got it--the stigmata!" She said, "You fool--you've slept on your crucifix."
--Mary Gordon, author

I derive my strength from Mass.
--Vince Lombardi

I really don't discuss religion or my beliefs. But when Stanley [Kubrick] died, I had an extraordinary night. I actually went alone to St. Patrick's Cathedral and spent an hour and a half in the church. It was candlelit, the wind was whipping around that night, and I left at nine, when they close the doors. I thought as I came onto the street: Well, I suppose once a Catholic, always a Catholic. It was very humbling. I received such solace.
--Nicole Kidman, actress

When people have told me that because I am a Catholic, I cannot be an artist, I have had to reply, ruefully, that because I am a Catholic I cannot afford to be less than an artist.
--Flannery O'Connor, novelist

The church is unique in that it is governed by a vision that has not changed in two thousand years. It tells us, in just about as many words, that we are not accidental biological accretions, we are creatures of a divine plan; that the God who made us undertook to demonstrate his devotion to us as individual human beings by submitting to the pain and humiliation of the cross. Nothing in that vision has ever changed, nothing at all, and this is for all Christians a mind-shaking, for some a mind-altering certitude, with which Christians live in our earnest if pitiable efforts to clear the way for a love that cannot be required.
--William F. Buckley Jr., author

Becoming a Roman Catholic was one of the better decisions of my life. It permitted me to love and be loved. Never having had a father, it was great to discover I had the greatest of them all.. I am glad that I became a Catholic because it is as though I had been adopted by a noble family.
--Clare Boothe Luce

Catholics find joy in what we call "the communion of the saints." This means we belong to a community of faith that is not limited by time and space. Call it a fourth dimension, if you will; it is one that permeates the three dimensions we know through our senses. And through loving intimacy with God, we find ourselves participants in this community peopled by the countless souls who have gone before us in this work, all those now living and--from an eternal perspective, at least--all those who will be born in the centuries to come. What a mystery! What a joy!
--Mitch Finley, journalist and author, Spokane, Washington

The Latin Church, which I find myself admiring more and more despite its frequent, astounding imbecilities, has always kept clearly before it the fact that religion is not a syllogism but a poem.
--H.L. Mencken

I'm being confirmed Catholic at Easter Vigil Mass this year. A colleague of mine asked me why I wanted to become Catholic, and the only reason that I have is: because there is room. There is room for me in the Catholic Church, and not just me, for you too, and for my husband's mother who was inspired by devotion to Mary, and for my friend who will probably leave the priesthood because he is gay but remains Catholic, and for my other friend who used to worry about unbaptized babies going to limbo but doesn't worry about that anymore, and for Richard Rohr who is very critical of the way authorities in the church practice what they preach about social justice, and for Anthony DeMello even though his teachings are questioned, and for the pope. It is kind of like asking why Jesus was born in that particular manger. I guess the answer is because there was room for him and his family there. It wasn't a palace, and neither is the Catholic Church. It was not the only manger in town or even the one with the best accommodations, probably. But when you are aching to be born, wherever there is room for you and your family will do just fine.
--Tammy Greer, Picayune, Mississippi

I like being Catholic because that's where I first learned about Jesus. Jesus is the soul of my faith. I never tire of discovering more about him and learning more from him and sharing what I have learned with others. Catholicism, at its heart, is coming to "know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent" (John 17:3).

Isn't it marvelous that Jesus chose a wedding party to introduce his ministry? It was a feast filled with laughter, affection, and hope. He gave the guests an extra 150 to 180 gallons of choice wine after they had finished in only three days the original eight-day supply. How comfortable this God in the flesh felt with his human companions! What a myriad of messages in this simple story!

The tenderness with which Jesus spoke to sinners! The assurance he offered them! He didn't approve of sin or the evil that comes to us when we sin. But he was not obsessed with sin the way so many of us are. He focused on God and the goodness in life, and made people feel comfortable with a Father who loves them and cares for them.

This is the Jesus I have come to know over the years. It is a Jesus who asks us to trust his love and open our hearts to his friendship so he can become our companion and give us strength and wisdom and comfort. And when we fail, he will pick us up and encourage us, staying with us as we continue on the way.

--Joseph Girzone, priest and author

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