Thursday, September 6, 2012

Personal Thoughts about Name Only Catholics

by M. J. Joachim

While I was walking the dog this morning, I started to think about “name only” Catholics. You can find them almost everywhere. They’re the ones that wear Catholicism like a badge of honor, often snubbing anyone who doesn’t think and act like they do. Then there’s the authoritarian group of “name only” Catholics who enjoy the power of being Catholic. While many pseudo-catholic politicians come to mind, I also couldn’t help but remember the days of good old-fashioned Catholic discipline, administered by parents, siblings, teachers, nuns, priests and pretty much anyone who could get away with it.

Yet the Catechism clearly states that the true Catholic mission is to share Christ with others. Last time I checked, Christ didn’t lord himself over anyone, a pretty remarkable fact, indeed, considering He is Lord. Christ is professed as the center of the Catholic Catechism, the Incarnate Word, second person of the Holy Trinity, truly present and alive in Eucharist.

No matter how we choose to describe Jesus, it is never harsh, cruel or brutal. Christ is all powerful, but in a good way. He teaches us discipline of our senses without bullying us into submission. He shows us how to pray through silent reflection, carefully chosen words and the willingness to open our hearts.

This is not unlike other Christian faiths that understand the joy of knowing and believing in Christ. How is it then that any Christian – Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant,  regardless of individual denomination, would stand against our brothers, either within the community or because they’re not part of our particular group? When did we decide it was our place to judge, which is not to say everyone who believes in Christ has the same tenet of faith?

Being Catholic isn’t about being part of one of the largest religious groups in the world. It’s about discovering Christ, and learning how to live because He is my Lord and Savior. Learning about Catholicism from other Catholics is a good thing, but you have to pick and choose. Some Catholics are definitely “name only.” They’ll always have a lot to say. Just remember what the Gospels teach, “By their fruits, you will know them.” 

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain
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