Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Case for Traditional Principles: The Meaning of Being Catholic

As I had stated before in previous discussions, it is my goal that my contribution here to Friends of La Nef is to help outline the foundations of what Catholicism really is. In doing so I will not favor this or that Rite, this or that charism, this or that approach, but attempt to consider the principles as objectively as possible. Hence this first principle will be the principle upon which all other principles of Catholicism rest.

What does it mean to be Catholic? Many state that Catholics are those people who pray their Rosaries daily, attend Mass frequently, and practice many other pious devotions. Yet they would be wrong. Others will say it depends on what doctrines you believe. They would also be wrong. This is not to dismiss devotions, or dismiss upholding the Catholic faith. Both are necessary, but it isn't what makes one a Catholic. For schismatics have believed the teachings of the Catholic Church and practiced many devotions, however they were not Catholic.

Catholicism is not just a set of doctrinal propositions or devotions. Rather it is a worldview, a way of looking upon this world and beyond it. Indeed, have all those doctrines and devotions, but have not a Catholic mindset, and those things are far from graces, but store up wrath for the day of judgment. Think about that. Every faithful Catholic receives those doctrines and other things as a grace from God. The majority of them we would not comprehend were it not for God's grace. If we use it fruitfully, those gifts increase. If we use it wrongly, then we build up condemnation.

First and foremost, to be Catholic is to be in communion with Christ our King. It is to profess allegiance to His rule over Heaven and Earth. We say that every week in the Sanctus, Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory, Hosanna in the Highest! Christ is not just a nice moral teacher, or a force inactive in our lives today. Christ never presented Himself this way, nor should we.

It was Christ who said "I am the way, the Truth, the Light." He also stated nobody comes to the Father except through Him. As far as His active presence in today's world, He reminded His Apostles, "Lo I am with you always, even until the end of the age."

It is one thing to acknowledge that He has redeemed us, but quite another to acknowledge His authority and Lordship over all creation. That is if we take the name Catholic, Catholicism is not based upon our opinions. Rather it is something we must conform to. It is something we spend our entire lives doing. Many mistakenly believe that if they convert or are born into Catholicism, they are fully conformed to the Catholic perspective. They would be wrong. For as faithful subjects of the King, we continually strive to obey his laws, and obey them happily.

Part of that obedience includes obeying those he has set above us. That will be covered in a future setting.

God Bless,
Kevin M. Tierney