Have you ever had minor doubts about your faith? If I am being honest, there have been times when I thought to myself, “How do I know that Catholicism is the true religion? How do I know for certain whether or not there even is a true religion?” Actually, it was right after I had met my first universalist. He told me flat out that all religions worship the same God, but they just put their own spin on it. There are very obvious flaws to this belief (metaphysical, theological and philosophical) but at the time, I didn’t really know philosophy, I just knew I was a Catholic. This position really bothered me, and I went to a priest soon after and presented him with my dilemma. “Father,” I asked. “I know that Catholicism is a religion based on faith, but is there concrete physical evidence that Catholicism is the true religion?” He smiled at me and said this is a crossroad that many Catholics come to at some point in their faith life, and then told me about 3 things that confirmed the one and only true religion that leads us to Heaven was undoubtedly the Catholic faith.
The first thing the priest did was hand me a pamphlet on Eucharistic Miracles. I had read about these things, but I didn’t know that they still existed. I’ll give you one example. In the 8th century, a priest in the town of Lanciano, Italy doubted the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. During the consecration at Mass one morning, the host suddenly transformed into flesh, and the wine transformed into human blood. More information on this miracle is linked below, but hundreds of people witnessed the miracle when it first happened in the 8th century, and it has been a Catholic pilgrimage site ever since. In 1971 a scientist did an analysis of the flesh and blood, and the results were astounding! Neither the flesh nor blood had any preservatives and under natural circumstances, if taken from a cadaver, for instance, these species would have fully deteriorated in just a few years. The miracle though had been preserved for more than 1200 years. http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/the-miracle-of-lanciano.html
Next, he gave me a book on the incorruptibles. Later in life I was given the grace to go on a pilgrimage and see two incorrupt saints, Saint John Vianney and Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, and it changed my life. The incorruptibles refer to holy men and women of the Catholic faith whose bodies, by miraculous preservation, are kept from decomposition. There are many incorrupt saints, but probably the most spectacular is Saint Francis Xavier. After his death in 1553, his body was placed in a coffin between two layers of quicklime (an accelerating agent in decomposition) to reduce his body to bones as it was shipped back to Europe. However, when it arrived and the coffin was opened, the body was found to be as fresh as that of a living person. It defied explanation and remained in this state until the mid-twentieth century. There are over 250 (known) incorruptible Catholic saints around the world.
Finally, the priest told me that probably the most important and defining visible mark that distinguished the Catholic Church from any other religion was its power over the devil. Everyone in America has heard of “exorcism”, Catholic or atheist, as it has been sensationalized in our culture. However, demonic possession is a real thing, and Christ clearly displayed His power over the devil in the New Testament. Christ casts out many demons in the New Testament, to the astonishment of the witnesses. Power over demons points directly to Jesus’ divinity. This is important because later we read that Christ imparts this power to His apostles when in scripture it tells us, “and having called his twelve [apostles] together, he gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out,” (Matt. 10:1) Christ gave exclusive power over demons to His 12 apostles (bishops), and because of every ordained bishop’s direct line to the apostles, they too can exercise divine authority over demons. An exorcist receives this power over demons from the bishop of the diocese, imparting his authority to the priest who he appoints as exorcist. Now you may object to this conclusion and say other religions claim to have power over the devil as well. However, a story comes up in the Acts of the apostles that clarifies this exact point.
In this story (Acts 19:13-20) a few Jewish men were trying to cast out demons in Jesus’ name. They were able to make it work for a little while, until they encountered a spirit that did not want to leave the person it possessed. The devil knew they did not have divine authority, called them on it, and beat them half to death. This led to many people to convert from witchcraft. It’s an interesting story, but its point is that without the proper divine authority given by Christ, the devil will eventually refuse to leave the person or place it is cursing with its presence, and reinforces the fact bishops have exclusive power over demons. Now, I could write a whole essay on this topic, but needless to say the devil is a deceitful being and wants to hide this truth because it invariably leads people to the Catholic Church.
I hope this gives you a little food for thought, and the next time you have minor doubts about your faith, think about these great miracles and proofs that the Catholic Church is the one, holy, apostolic church, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it. If you are having major doubts (considering leaving, doubting doctrine) these small topics will not suffice; you need to pray for the grace of faith, throw yourself into the arms of Mary and find a good, holy priest to guide you. Back to our topic, science has proven there were no preservatives to the Eucharistic miracles, the incorruptibles can be seen as they were when they died, and the Catholic Church’s power over Satan has been recorded many times in history. I hope these 3 reasons help you as much as they helped me realize how blessed I am to be a Catholic!
*Important note: After writing this article, I did an internet search on incorruptibles, and needless to say I was shocked. There are plenty of naysayers on the internet that trash these miracles as “hoaxes” and deceptions that prey on the weak minded. I was immediately reminded of a quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas, “For those who have faith, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not, no explanation is possible.” Take these miracles as what they are, signs from God that the Catholic faith is true.