One familiar prayer associated with Catholicism is the Nicene Creed. Like many a mission statement and affirmation, the Nicene Creed reminds Catholics of the basics of the faith. For this post, I’m going to be looking into this particular phrase from the Creed:
“I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic church.”
Although part of the New Evangelization involves dialogue with other denominations, Catholics are always praying that all faiths will become one again. Beyond just co-existing, Catholics desire a reunification. And just before you tell me “all paths lead to God,” I’m gonna quote a Bible verse here (emphasis mine):
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes through the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
This is Jesus speaking, people. Not the passive “nice” Jesus or the Superstar. The real Jesus. We want to make people see who Jesus really is: The Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God.
In spite of what mainstream society says or perceives about Catholicism, the goal of the Catholic Church is to be holy. Yes, the Catholic Church has a bad reputation worse than many serial killers. News flash: HUMAN BEINGS ARE FLAWED! Catholic or not, humans are corrupted by the world. That’s the nature of sin. But for ever scandal and sinner, there is a saint who changed the Church for the better. For every pedophile priest, there is a priest who gives shelter to the homeless. For every avaricious bishop, there is a bishop who gives asylum to refugees. For every horrible pope, there is a pope like Pope Francis or Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II.
To quote my favorite Doctor:
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.
This applies to the church. A history of bad events doesn’t take away the essential goodness of the Church. However, the Church does recognize its mistakes and is trying to make up for it. The holiness of the Church comes from Christ and, for those who let it, Christ’s holiness can overcome the corruption of the world and the inclination to sin.
I have a love affair with words and the word “catholic” (lowercase c) is one of my favorites. It means “universal.” Which means, for Catholics (uppercase C), no matter where they go, they will find someone who practices the faith and a church to pray in. Not to mention, the church takes the culture it lives in into account. Can you truly separate Mexican culture away from Catholicism? It’s kind of hard because even the worst Mexicans still see the Church as part of their lives. There’s a saint for almost every country in the world. Best of all, linking back to the previous two words, every member of the Catholic Church is united by a shared baptism, which means that a Catholic can never truly feel alone.
One thing unique about Catholicism is that it unites the idea of faith and works when it comes to salvation. Note: This does NOT mean that we think that if we do enough good deeds, we get into Heaven. Instead, the holiness of the Church inspires Catholics to go out into the world and do good for the Kingdom of God.
The word “apostolic” also ties together two other things: scripture and tradition. How many denominations can say that they can trace back their leaders back to the first century AD? I don’t know if it’s just because I’m Asian, but the fact that the Church holds traditions to such a high esteem is such a wonderful thing to me.
The problem is that oftentimes, Catholics learn the tradition without understanding why the tradition is there or how it applies to them. I had a talk with my brother recently and he brought this up to me. So here’s my answer to the problem of “relevance.”
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” “There is nothing new under the sun.”
No matter how much technology we have and how convenient our lives have become, there are times in our lives that we want to find someone who relates to our problems. No matter how cynical we become about people in power, there are people who want others to take care of everything. And most of all, there comes a time where we want to know where we came from. This is where apostolic tradition comes in.
And before anyone thinks that this doesn’t apply to Catholicism, watch this video:
Even though the technology and the way people find out about the new pope change over time, you can see that there is always a crowd at St. Peter’s Square, waiting for the new pope, and that when the bishop announces “Habemus Papam,” the crowd shouts out in joy.
There were a lot of other things I talked to my brother about that gave me ideas for stuff relating to Lent and to the Catholic faith. Follow my blog and see what’s around the corner!