Matt D’Antuono is a physics teacher in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and seven children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and philosophy, a master’s degree in special education, and is working on a master’s degree in philosophy at Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Connecticut. He returned to the Catholic Church in 2008. He is the author of A Fool’s Errand: A Brief, Informal Introduction to Philosophy for Young Catholics, The Wiseguy and the Fool and Philosophy Fridays. On YouTube you can find him at DonecRequiescat and his family at MisterD418.
“I have noticed that there are teachers at this school of several different denominations, but no Catholics. Could a Catholic work here?” I was working as a teacher and Dean at a private Christian school, and I asked my principal this question because I was becoming increasingly convinced of the truth of the Catholic faith.
“Oh, no. Unfortunately, they couldn’t.” He explained to me that he had to turn down many applicants who came in for interviews who were Catholic. It turned out that there were still statements in the bylaws from the founding of the school that Catholics could not work there as teachers.
This was a problem for me. My wife had decided to stay home with our two foster children, and I was the main breadwinner. I had not been telling my wife about what I was discovering because I had been convinced my evangelical Protestant faith would win out. But I was starting to be able to answer all of my own objections to Catholicism. I was starting to realize that I could not deny the truth of Catholicism.
My primary goal was to get as close as I could to truth. I agreed with C.S. Lewis’ assertion in Mere Christianity that truth should be the most important thing when choosing a denomination. After studying the ethics of Plato and Aristotle, I was convinced that the primary good of the mind was truth. Scripture, over and over again, praises wisdom. Jesus identifies Himself as the way, the truth and the life. So, it was truth I was after.
I just had not predicted where exactly it would lead me. I was sure that my investigation of Catholicism would reveal some fundamental error or internal contradiction, but the more questions I asked, the better the Catholic answers seemed. Once I was able to get past ignorant and negatively biased understandings of the Catholic Church, I came to see just how Christ-centered everything was. As I questioned the very foundations of the faith, including the origin of the Bible and its canon, Catholicism gave answers where my evangelical Protestant faith didn’t seem to understand the concern in the first place.
I remember clearly thinking to myself, while sitting in a Sunday service, that maybe I could stay going to our church and keep my job, but just be Catholic in my theology. After all, our church was “non-denominational.” I was after truth, and truth was the good of the mind. So I could still have the good of the mind if I believed what was true, even if my body was in a Protestant church. Thankfully, that thought did not last long. If I believed in Catholic theology, then I believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. If I believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, then I would be either an absolute fool or a raving madman not to go to Mass. If the Catholic teaching about the Eucharist and the Mass is true, then the Mass is the most exciting thing that happens on planet Earth. Not going would be as bad as the choice of an academic who elects to attend a lecture on Heaven rather than to go to Heaven itself.
My search for truth had led me face-to-face with Jesus... literally. I could not deny the truth of Catholicism. Any time I was tempted to doubt, my reason got in the way. I had found not just true theology, but Truth Himself at the center of it all, inviting me to join Him at the feast.
When it came time to sign our contracts, which included a clause about agreeing with some Protestant confessions of faith, I appended my own vague statement of faith, but I knew what was going to happen. A group of board members called me in and asked me what was up. I told them I was a Catholic. The following year, there were no Catholics teachers at that school.
I write this not to demean the school or our Protestant brothers and sisters, but only to reflect on just how precious our faith is, not because our faith is a confession or a group of truths, but because of Christ Himself who gives Himself lovingly and freely to us in the Sacraments by the ministry of the Church. Nothing in life is more important than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.