First, allow me to offer my apologies on the length of my first essay, and for spreading it out in parts over several days. Nonetheless, this issue is right in the wheelhouse of something I have been hashing over and over in my head and heart for some time. Many, many Catholic bloggers (of much greater skills than me) have been adamant and ubiquitous in the mention and promotion of our Catholic identity. But I have to ask the question, just what IS our Catholic identity?
Is it merely our allegiance to a set of doctrines? Is it Mass on Sundays and eating fish on Fridays? Is it simply acknowledgement of our Church leadership as the folks who dress in “funny clothes” like white cassocks and sashes?
More seriously, does our identity rest solely in such things as our belief in the Real Presence, veneration of the Blessed Mother, and Purgatory? Or is it yet even more of an encompassing worldview of the purpose of our lives and how to lead them? If so, what exactly is that worldview which we should uniformly espouse as our identity?
Where do we go to get this identity? Do we need to go back in time? Did we have a complete sense of Catholic identity back in the Fifties? The Thirties? Just before the time of Luther? At the time of the Apostles? The Protestants, especially the charismatic/Pentecostal types, are all too quick to say they have the real identity of the first-century church before “Romish Popery” messed it up. So I guess we have to be careful before engaging in simple “Antiquarianism,” whether we look back fifty years or two thousand years.
I’ll be expanding on this theme over the next few posts, but I thought I would invite some preliminary thoughts from anyone else out there. So, comment away!