What Makes One “Catholic”?

This question has come up recently in our Maniacs discussions… As the only convert in the group I sometimes see things that Guvnur and Deke take for granted for instance. It’s a matter of being to close to the trees to see the forest.

Anyway, we were talking about how some people call themselves Catholic without actually being Catholic. They don’t go to Mass, participate in the Sacraments or have devotions. Some openly flout Catholic doctrine and dogma by being pro-abortion or having them. Some have multiple marriages. Some go so far as to actually join another Church.

And all through this they call themselves “Catholic”. Why is this?

What I have observed is that it is one of the last vestiges of what was once a proud Catholic Culture. Being Catholic was at one time like your ethnic identity. It was similar to Jewishness. There is a racial and religious aspect to Jewishness and being Catholic had a sense of racial identity without being limited by race.

Ever heard a lapsed or practicing Catholic say “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic”? I used to scoff at that because I naively took it at the religious level only. After all the Catholic Church is not a national Church in the sense of the British Anglican Church or the Orthodox Catholic Churches which are separated from us. It is universal.

Anyway, somehow we have let these “bad” Catholics off the reservation as it were and let them retain the title because it is an identity that transcends normal identities.

But I believe we must reclaim the name. As much as it pains me, I believe that those that leave the Church in practice or in practical terms, must understand that being Catholic is too important to attach non-Catholic actions and positions to it. Our Church is the fullness of the faith left by Christ. How the most public of us behave is how others see us. How we live our lives and act on our Catholicity is how others judge our commitment to the faith.

When we let pro-abort pols remain “Catholics in good standing” or family members get baptized in the local mega-church (Six Flags Over JC here in the ‘ville) and let them go through the motions of being Catholic when they feel like it…

Well we are the ones at fault after it happens a few times. That’s right. US.

When we do not lovingly try to correct someone who has a flawed understanding of the Faith and how it is to be lived, we are letting them endanger their souls. And I believe we will have to answer for this as well. We will answer for what we do and what we fail to do.

We must not be afraid to take the heat for this either. We must remember that souls and their eternal salvation are at stake. This is not a matter of keeping the rules of some absurd secret order. It’s not Royal Order of Buffaloes and it’s not a social circle. It’s the means and conduit of grace and salvation Christ left us. We should want all to be Catholic and those that already are to be good Catholics.

That said… Let’s see what we can come up with to start righting the situation. Come on. Let’s hear it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *