Blog # 314 Catholic Theology #1
All of us, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, those who belong to a Church, those who do not, those who pray regularly, those who do not pray, those who are single, those who are married, those who are divorced, those who are healthy, those who are sick, those who are wealthy, those who are poor, those who are Catholic, those who are not Catholic, and every one else all have two ways of arriving at truth, either by experience or by faith. This experience is different from just taking a guess, hoping something would be true, or merely having an opinion on something that could be true or not true.
I am a Catholic. I want to be a Catholic. That has something to do with truth. The
natural truth I, a Catholic, experience, for example: Catholics pay the electric bills just as anyone else, Catholics get wet when they come to church in the rain without an umbrella, and Catholics get sunburned at the beach can be shared as experiences with all the people included above in the first paragraph of this blog. Also for a Catholic, even some truth dealing with God, a good moral life, the authenticity of the Bible as the word of God, the role of Jesus in our quest for justice, peace and salvation, and other important truth that lies beyond the scope of our experience can be shared with many of our neighbors who are not Catholic but believe in the same God in Whom we believe. In this case our believing in the same truth would be based upon our faith in the testimony of other believers rather than by experience.
There exists some truth, however, that is officially and exclusively claimed as truth by the Catholic Church. Examples of this would be our belief in the authority of the Pope as the Vicar of Jesus and the head of the Church, the presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, and the efficacy of the Sacraments. As a Catholic I believe these certain truths. In order to do so, I must know them as what the Catholic Church calls me to believe. (Rom.10: 14,15). And to know here means not only to be able to recite the words of a creed, but to know how the truths I believe affect and apply to our everyday experience of life in our current moment of history. In other words, as St. James puts it: Faith that does nothing in practice is thoroughly lifeless. (James 2: 14-17).
Since by definition faith deals with truth a believer would not otherwise know than by faith, the bottom line will not be for me as a Catholic whether or not I believe what we might label 'Catholic' truth. That question is answered "yes" in my claim to be a Catholic. The important question is do I know and understand what I believe as a Catholic.
In a series of blogs entitled Catholic Theology beginning with this blog, I hope to touch upon several important fundamental points of our Catholic faith that have been unfamiliar misunderstood distorted or neglected over the course of recent years. These points include the Incarnation, the divinity of Jesus, the definition of worship, how sacrifice in its true theological meaning fits into the definition of worship, the priesthood of the laity, and how the Crucifixion, the Last Supper, and the Mass must be seen in their relationship to one another before we can understand and believe in the true meaning of any of them. Some of what I hope to present may seem new and unfamiliar to you. That just plays up the need for it to be written. Please let me know if it is not clear or helpful to you. I hope it will help us in living out our Catholic faith in the spirit in which Pope Francis has begun his ministry among us these past several months.
The Lord be with you as you read!