What Catholicism Is
What Catholicism Is
By John Mallon
With all the foolishness and rhetoric going around this election year, and with much of it involving the Catholic Church, I thought it might be a good time for a brief restatement of what Catholicism is, because many seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew at all.
Strictly speaking, Catholicism is not so much a religion as it is a wedding to the Son of God who laid down his life for His Bride.
Receiving the Eucharist at Mass is the consummation of this marriage. The altar is the marital bed of this marriage where the priest acting in persona Christi brings new, supernatural life in the Eucharist to Christ's Bride, the Church. This is why priests are male.
Natural human marriage is symbolic of this reality, not vice versa. The husband brings new human life to his bride in the marriage bed with the cooperation of God. The husband and wife contribute the flesh—the sperm and the egg—but only God can produce a soul.
Love, by its nature gives life; it is ordered toward life, new life. There are many kinds of love and many kinds of life which can spring from it but life in the form of a child is uniquely ordered to the love of a husband and wife.
This is why, by God's design, we have marriage and why it must be between a man and a woman; and sexual activity, by God's command is restricted to a husband and wife in an exclusive covenant in one flesh. The essence of life is a "yes" to God.
A large-scale "no" to God has brought about social, cultural and personal chaos with many people trying to douse the flames with gasoline. Morality is not so much a checklist of dos and don'ts as it is a measure of our love—our love for God and neighbor.
Abortion, according to the above, is then not merely murder but sacrilege of the highest order. It is a loud "no" to God and all that love means.
Same-sex "marriage" is a metaphysical (and natural) impossibility; and homosexual activity, as a violation of God's command, is sin, and therefore incapable of giving life in any form because sin by definition is death. Obviously, this is not only true in the metaphysical realm but the natural as well because human life does not issue from the human rectum, but toxic waste does, which brings death not only spiritually as sin but physically in the violation of nature. Scripture does list sodomy as one of the handful of sins that cry out to God for vengeance. Shedding innocent blood (for example, abortion) is another. This is serious ground.
The Big Lie of modern times is that Christianity is about "being nice." Actually, Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, is about being true. Christ said "I am the truth.." It is about living in conformity to the truth, as revealed by God in Christ, and by Christ's promise to the Apostles that they would be protected by the Holy Spirit from all error in matters of faith and morals. (It is understood that truth without love is not the whole truth, but love without truth is not love at all.)
This is what Catholics believe. It is not a "fundamentalist reading" of Catholicism, it is simply Catholicism. Without any hyphenation.
A Catholic is one in love with Jesus Christ who freely chooses and assents to Catholicism as a lover to his wedding vows, resonating with the truth and love "written in the heart" and read with a conscience formed in good faith. A Catholic is not one who grudgingly "takes orders from the Vatican," but rejoices and trusts in the astonishing gift of the Holy Spirit of infallibility, given to the Church in the Magisterium—the Vicar of Christ and the successors of the Apostles teaching in union with him.
Perhaps most astonishing of all is that this supernatural gift of infallibility functions regardless of the corruption, sinfulness, politics or weakness of the men to whom it is given. That is worth rejoicing over!
Obviously, Catholicism is much more than this but in the heat of election year lunacy a little metaphysics can sooth the soul.