I've been asked this a lot recently Why are you Catholic? Why do you STAY Catholic? They're good questions, with long answers. So I'll nutshell it here for you...
I was enamored with Church and Mass from the moment I can remember; from the smell of the incense, the sound of the hymns and choirs, the beauty of the art. Before I began CCD, I knew something...huge...was going on up on the altar during the consecration. When I did begin CCD, I became a "Church nerd". This meant my teachers loved me, my classmates ridiculed me, and I was left to ponder the Mystery on my own. I thought I wanted to be a priest (at least until puberty hit).
Fast forward a couple of decades...like many Catholics of my generation, I stopped attending Mass after confirmation, and my faith and prayer life dwindled. I dabbled in various esoteric religions; Buddhism, Paganism, etc. All had shreds of wisdom and the ritual I so loved, but my heart longed for the Eucharist. I tried to fill the emptiness from that and other things with booze, and this developed into full-fledged alcoholism. Luckily, I've been blessed enough to have an understanding and long-suffering wife to help me through all this without leaving me or killing me (but that is a whooooooole other story).
To make a long story short (too late), I remain Catholic due to the intercession of John Paul II. On August 30th, 2001, my wife and kids were away at my inlaws suummer house, and I was grimly setting myself up for a full weekend bender. I had been to the hospital several weeks before for excessive alcohol consumption. Didn't phase me a bit. There was drinking to be done. I was finishing off my third bottle of wine, had the bottle upended and was slugging it down. EWTN happened to be on in the background...I certainly was not conscious of turning it on...and my back was to the TV. As the last of the wine was disappearing down my throat, I heard in a warm yet unfamiliar voice:
"Thomas...you need to stop, NOW."
Of course I was alone but it was conversational, right in my ear. I looked back at the TV and there was the Pope, beset by his Parkinson's disease; leaning on his Papal Cross. And looking right at the camera. Right at me.
The urge to continue drinking disappeared. I called my wife, told her I was an alcoholic, and that I needed to get help. I called AA and made my first meeting the next day. I've been sober for going on 10 years, thanks to my wife, AA, Jesus in the Eucharist...and the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
I'm a better husband and father than I ever was. I'm a better man than I've ever been. And it's largely due to my regained faith.
Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles
Daily Mass Readings
1 Corinthians 15:1-8