Catholicism

Christianity 101 – The ‘elder brother’ syndrome

christianity-1012

It seems to have become the fashion these days, particularly in the US, to tell other Catholics who might disagree with one’s particular take on Catholicism that, “You are not Catholic.” The phrase, “You are not Christian,” tends to be hurled in a parallel manner by those of Protestant bent, in particular the evangelicals. Both phrases, however, are theologically incorrect, not to mention that such phrases are often used as weapons toward the ‘undesirable’ other Catholic/Christian by the ever-so-correct under the rationalization of evangelization. An analogous weapon seems to be the phrase, “You are not part of the Body of Christ.”

Leaving aside, for the moment, that the word Catholic means universal, not parochial, thus any parochialism or tribalism under the name of the Faith is to be eschewed, one becomes a Catholic Christian by being baptized with the Trinitarian formula in the Catholic Church. In a similar manner, one becomes a Christian, as the term has been appropriated and is understood by several evangelicals, by being baptized by another Christian using the Trinitarian formula. And let us not even consider here the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood.

So who is a ‘real’ Catholic? Who is a ‘real’ Christian?

Both of the above persons given as example are real Christians and the first is a Catholic Christian. This ontological change occurs no matter whether one of them professes what is either to the liking or the disliking of the other. Both of them form part of the Body of Christ, since both have been validly baptized with the Trinitarian formula – irrespective of whether the self-righteous like it or not, or if they can or cannot prop up their own egos. Whether one is a practicing Christian or a practicing Catholic, or a good/bad Christian or a good/bad Catholic, does not enter into the equation.

For Catholics, therefore, to tell other similarly baptized Catholics, “You are not Catholic,” because the former disagree with the latter, is an oxymoronic, but highly misleading, statement that is unreflective of the truth. The widespread use of these phrases also reveals what seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the ‘phrase-throwers’ (who would ‘evangelize’ others), in relation to what and who constitutes the Church and the Body of Christ. This leaves one wondering if the situation is not one of the proverbial case of the blind leading the equally blind. The same holds true for those who consider themselves just Christians.

Can a person become evil? Correcting the inadequate catechesis of some Christians in the United States

Michael (3)A tendency has arisen and seems to be increasing these days among some Christians, Catholics included, in the United States to regard human persons and their personalities as evil in themselves. Discourses and language such as, for instance, a “distorted and evil soul” or “becoming evil” is being used more and more often to describe “evil people,” or “evil personalities,” who are regarded as “lost souls.” Apart from the fact – obvious even to children – that no Christian, no Catholic, should ever use such language these days in relation to other persons, to consider an individual or a group of individuals as evil per se does not reflect the teachings of the Church.

To give a succint example that is easily understood by the many, not even in the case of a person who is perfectly possessed by evil spirits does the Church consider that individual 100% “evil,” despite the actions he or she may have carried out while under the influence of personified evil. Let alone in the case of people who are not possessed in such a manner, or even harassed by evil or obsessed.

Hence for some Christians and Catholics to consider and describe their fellow human persons in terms of the language referenced above is to manifest inadequate catechesis in the teachings of the universal Church, including Patristics, at best. And to manifest unexpunged self-righteousness – spiritual pride – at worst. The use of such language, therefore, in relation to fellow man does not bring people closer to God. It just calls down His judgment upon oneself, since the judgment of human persons is arrogated to God alone.