Saturday, March 26, 2011

Response to "Why indeed be Catholic?" - "Me Too!"

Once in a while I run across something that helps me take stock of some part of my life. Sometimes it's how to drive during winter, dental hygiene, or website design.

This week, it was about being Catholic:
"Why indeed be Catholic?"
Therese J. Borchard, Featured Our Turn, (March 23, 2011)

"You never really know when you're going to be called on to defend your Catholic faith. I certainly wasn't prepared for it as I sat down at a job interview. However, two minutes after my interviewer reviewed my resume, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said, 'Religion is evil.'

" 'Are you a relative of Bill Maher?' I asked him....

"...'Being Catholic is a way of seeing the world. It's in the small things. It's inescapable.'...

"...The conversation made me go back and read the book “Why Be Catholic?” by Franciscan Father Richard Rohr with Joseph Martos, so that I am better prepared next time. They list eight grounded reasons to be Catholic:

"1. The appreciation of creation....

"...2. A universal vision. The Catholic Church has a worldwide faith, with many different cultures and customs....

"...3. A holistic outlook....To be Catholic means to connect your faith with your life experience....

"...4. An invitation to personal holiness....

"...5. An experience of community....

"...6. A call to social transformation. I have found that whenever you throw out Mother Teresa's name, people tend to stop their arguments about why they hate the church. They do this because she is just one example of the church's commitment to social transformation.

"7. A profound sense of history....The Catholic Church has been around for 20 centuries. That's four to five times the age of the oldest Protestant denominations and 10 times the age of the United States!

"8. An optimistic attitude....."
I recommend reading the original article - which I hope is kept on's website. An all-too-often ignored piece of website wisdom is keeping pages where visitors can find them: and that's another topic.

That eight-point list gives me an opportunity to:
  • Do a little navel-gazing
    • Re-evaluate my attitude toward my faith
  • Review this blog, and
    • See what I've been missing
    • And what I haven't
The navel-gazing, or self-examination, or whatever it's called, is going to take more time than what I've allotted for this post. Review of this blog, in light of that list: that, I've got time for:
  1. "The appreciation of creation"
    • The article's author limited this to the sacraments:
      • Baptism
      • Confirmation (or Chrismation)
      • Eucharist
      • Penance
      • Anointing of the Sick
      • Holy Orders
      • Matrimony
    • Some I've paid some attention to in this blog
      • Eucharist
      • Penance
      • Matrimony
    • Others, not so much
      • Baptism
      • Confirmation
      • Anointing of the Sick
      • Holy Orders
  2. "A universal vision"
    • This, I have opined about
  3. "A holistic outlook"
    • I've written "too heavenly minded to be any earthly good" quite a bit
  4. "An invitation to personal holiness"
    • As a Catholic, I'm expected to conform my will to God's
      • How much of that I accomplish is another matter
  5. "An experience of community"
    • For me, this is mostly my family
      • But everybody's different
  6. "A call to social transformation"
    • This may not mean what it seems
  7. "A profound sense of history"
    • Almost 20 centuries
      • And counting
    • And that's just since the Incarnation
  8. "An optimistic attitude"
    • You've probably met someone who thinks that gloominess is next to Godliness
      • So have I
    • Behind all that fasting and penance is Jesus
      • Whose first miracle was getting drinks for a wedding party
Now, rehashing some of what's in that list - - -

About the Sacraments

There's a lot to learn about the sacraments. A pretty good place to start, I think, is Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210. The sacraments that I haven't discussed all that much are those that aren't quite as closely woven into my daily life, like Holy Orders. Although that's tied into the Eucharist - and I do write about Mass quite a bit. Anointing of the Sick isn't practiced all that much in my part of the world, even by Catholics. Our loss, I think.

"A Universal Vision"

This is an aspect of Catholicism that I have focused on. I'll link to some of the posts later on.

"A holistic outlook"

This sounds like some of the goofier health fads of recent decades: but as defined in the article, it's a good point. A 'faith' that doesn't affect a person's view of the world and our place in it is - useless, in my opinion. At best.

"An invitation to personal holiness"

Invitation, yes. Accomplished, hardly. Working on it, yes. Moving on.

"An Experience of Community"

I'm not the most 'social' person in the world. A lifetime of undiagnosed major depression and ADHD-inattentive probably has something to do with that. That said, the community of believers is a wonderful aspect of the Catholic Church. In my opinion.

"A call to social transformation"

I've run into folks who seem convinced that
  • God is
    • A Republican
    • A Democrat
    • An American
Then there's Fred Phelp's "God Hates America" church. (see Another War-on-Terror Blog, "Tolerance Only Goes So Far" (October 31, 2007)) This ties into the "universal vision" mentioned earlier. Bottom line, as I see it, is that we are supposed to help those who are sick, hungry, or imprisoned. (Matthew 25:35-40) I also think it's a good idea to consider "social justice." Which doesn't mean that I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, or an uncaring conservative.

There's quite a bit written about social justice, by authoritative Catholic resources. (Catechism, 1928-1942, for starters)

I'm about as sure as I can be that curing the ills of society doesn't mean turning the clock back to the 'good old days' of '50s in America. Which is almost another topic. Again, I'll be linking to some related posts.

"A Profound Sense of History

Another aspect of Catholicism that I keep coming back to.

"An Optimistic Attitude"

This is important: particularly since American culture tends to assume that Christianity is Calvinism. In my opinion. And that's another topic.

"An Appreciation of Creation"

The article's author - correctly, I think - focused on the sacraments.

I think that an "appreciation of creation" in Catholicism also displays itself in the Church's attitude toward science. Which isn't the 'ignorance is bliss' notion that's endemic to America's frightfully faithful folks. I've discussed this before.

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:
  • "Why indeed be Catholic?"
    Therese J. Borchard, Featured Our Turn,, Official Publication of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis (March 23, 2011)


Brigid said...

Missing a word: "I also think it's a good idea consider "social justice." Which"

Odd place for a comma: "There's quite a bit written by authoritative Catholic resources, about social justice."

Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right you are: Found & fixed. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think of social transformation personally, as in not following the crowd, or not trying to be competitive, not trying to "fit in" with a group at work who are gossiping or being gross about women, gays, etc. or busting chops, not trying to control, giving it up to Christ....

Brian Gill said...

victor immature,

I'll agree that it's important for each of us to conform our will to God's.

However, I also see that we're required to act as if the rest of the world's people exist, too - and that sometimes mean trying to change unjust situations.

I've discussed the matter of individuals and society, in a Catholic context a few times recently: "Is Government Really Necessary?" (March 12, 2011); "Citizenship, Rules, Marriage, and Not Being Decently Quiet" (March 5, 2011); "Bishops, Congress, and the Poor" (February 18, 2011).

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.