For the Head:
Does it matter what religion you are?
Imagine an enormous mountain. Its base has a vast circumference and its peak is usually shrouded by clouds. Some sides of the mountain contain sheer cliffs, others rocky inclines, still others a wooded area. It has streams, crevices, level areas, fields, and even a small forest. Now imagine that at the top of the mountain there is a resort that is immensely hospitable, has wonderful food and lodging. To arrive at the resort is the only purpose of travelers who find themselves on the mountain.
Now, there were four different travelers on this mountain.
One traveler found himself alone in a flat and wooded area, with trees so densely packed and tall that he was not even aware of being on a mountain; much less, that he should scale it to arrive at the magnificent resort. As a result, he simply wandered in circles. He had moments of enjoyment, but the bigger picture of the mountain escaped him. To break out of his meandering, he would have to move beyond the trees.
A second traveler realized that he was at the base of the mountain, and that he should go to the top, where there were rumors of a resort. He knew nothing more. He was diligent and worked hard at it, but would often come up against sheer cliffs, waterfalls and other insurmountable obstacles. Discouraged, he would have to turn around and try again.
A third traveler knew he was on a mountain, that he had to go up to the resort, and that he was on a path. Nevertheless, the path was not always easy to follow. In some spots, it would branch off in two or even three directions. In other parts, the path would simply end. At times, it seemed to our traveler that he was going in circles.
A fourth traveler knew he was on a mountain, that he had to go up, and that there was a path. Additionally, he had an experienced guide to show him the way and assist him with various tools.
Who is most likely to reach the resort?
The mountain is our life. The resort is heaven.
The man in the woods is the atheist. He does not see beyond the immediacy of this life. He is unaware of the transcendent purpose during his time on the mountain. He runs the risk of ‘meandering’ through life.
The second man, who realizes that he should go to the top but no more, is a spiritual person. He realizes that this life contains some kind of afterlife and a corresponding responsibility to strive for it, but little else. Some of his confused ideas about God and the afterlife could even lead him to the sheer cliffs, making the journey more complicated.
The third traveler is an Evangelical Christian. He knows Christ, who is the way, or the path. He studies the Bible assiduously. Yet, he draws different conclusions each time he reads the Bible, and finds that his pastor disagrees with the neighboring pastors. So at times, his journey is rather confusing, and frustrating.
The fourth traveler is the Catholic. His guide is the pope and the Church’s Magisterium, which lead him to the truth about Christ and life’s journey. The Church also provides him with several tools: sacraments for nourishment, strength and healing; the saints as examples, teachers, and intercessors; and the community of his fellow Catholics. The Catholic still has to climb the mountain. It is still an arduous journey to the resort, but he finds it much easier to avoid common pitfalls if he follows the path and obeys the guide.
Now, every comparison has its limitations. It is true that everyone, even the atheist, can make it to heaven. It is also true that God loves everyone, and will take into account his or her particular circumstances. However, it is equally true that the more information and assistance we have, the more likely we will succeed in getting to heaven. Therefore, to know the truth about Jesus Christ as taught by his Catholic Church and to avail of all the tools it offers us is a tremendous blessing.
Yes, it matters what religion you are. As such, let us humbly, but boldly, proclaim Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.
Fr. John Bullock, LC