Friday, May 10, 2013

Just Label Me 'Catholic'

This Bad Catholic post gave Wife and I a bit to talk about last night.
He basically said we need to drop the labels - conservative, liberal, traditional, orthodox, charismatic, etc. - from the word "Catholic." We are not "(insert adjective here) Catholics." We are all just Catholics.
While I agree with him in theory, there's just something lacking from his arguments.
I can't lump a Joe Biden or a Melinda Gates in with the volumes of folks who stand by the teachings of the Church. There's a difference in attitude and execution of the faith.
I lean toward "practicing" and "non-practicing."
Practice makes perfect.

"Practicing" implies a lot of things. Like the "recovering alcoholic," it's an assumption that in this life, we will never reach perfection. However, there is an subtlety implied in that by "practicing" we mean that we're actually working on it.

Once perfection is attained, there is no more need for practice. That's why, for example, baseball players continually practice. Nobody gets a hit at every at-bat. No pitcher strikes out every single batter. Hence, they all continue to practice.
Likewise, no Catholic (or human, for that matter) is without sin. Therefore, we practice.
Put me in, Coach. I'm ready to play!

But there are those who claim the label "Catholic" but do not go to Mass. Or they use artificial birth control. Or sterilize themselves. Or marry and re-marry at will. Or otherwise flaunt the teachings of the Church to suit their own desires. These folks, I call "non-practicing."
The non-practicing Catholics are still Catholic by virtue of their Baptism (1 Peter 3:21 and CCC 900), but tend to neglect the "right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth." But the difference, from where I see it, is that the non-practicing Catholic works to have himself accepted by men.
So while agree that the labels of politics are unsuited for Catholic life, there is still a dichotomy. There is still a difference between Catholics who live out the sacramental life in grace, and those who do not.
Excuse me - practice just started.

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