By Tom Quiner
Last night was big.
It was my 31st anniversary of becoming a parent.
And it was another anniversary.
I attended the beautiful Easter Vigil Mass at my church. It was the 31st anniversary of my entrance into the Catholic Church, an act whose significance grows each day. My baby boy and I both came into the Church that evening in 1981.
Thirty-one is a fitting number. After all, I attend a church called Holy Trinity, named in honor of our God in three forms, who nevertheless is one God.
The Father. The Son. The Holy Spirit.
The sweep of the Catholic Easter Vigil is awe-inspiring.
It is epic.
In two-and-a-half hours, we relive four millennia of God’s love for man, culminating in the the death and resurrection of His Son.
As I basked in the glow of God’s salvation history for man, I couldn’t help but think of my lenten journey. And I couldn’t help but think of Richard Dawkins and Steven Hawking.
Lent began with Ash Wednesday. Catholics believe we come from dust, and to dust we shall return. It is God who breathes life into the dust to create life.
In other words, Catholics believe existence comes from an Intelligent Designer, God.
Mssrs. Dawkins and Hawking believe existence comes from nothing.
It just kinda happened.
They’ve got their religion. I’ve got mine.
As I went up for communion, I thought of Mr. Dawkins’ recent comments at a gathering of evangelical atheists called “The Reason Rally.” He preached to the gathered acolytes the need to go beyond mere proselytizing his nihilistic religion, he encouraged mockery of my faith:
“Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated, and need to be challenged – and if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt. For example, if they say they’re Catholic: Do you really believe, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood? Mock them. Ridicule them! In public!”
What is there about Eucharist that so terrifies Dawkins and his followers? Seriously. As I went up for Communion, I thought of Dawkins’parting shot:
“When you meet somebody who claims to be religious, ask them what they really believe. I don’t despise religious people; I despise what they stand for.”
So, in response to Mr. Dawkins and his band of evangelical atheists, I humbly respond to his challenge:
Yes, I believe God created the universe.
Yes, I believe Jesus is Lord, and destroyed death.
Yes, I believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist.
Like so many of my Christian brothers and sisters, I am engaged in an intoxicating love affair with the Divine. What a 31 year journey it has been!
Join us. The door is open.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ has risen today!
[The ultimate mystery is the Catholic Eucharist, the “source and summit of Christian life.” The late, great Archbishop Fulton Sheen discusses it in his unique way below.]