What is a Catholic?

What is a Catholic?

Are you a Catholic?

What does Catholic mean?

If you call yourself Catholic, then you must know what the word means.

Okay, let’s see, there are world renowned Catholics, many of them self-professed, such as Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon), George Clooney, Nicole Kidman, Al Pacino, Leo de Caprio, Martin Scorcese, Alfred Hitchcock, Mark Wahlberg, Arnold Schwazennegger, Lady Gaga, Anne Bancroft, Bill Murray, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable, Danny de Vito, Dean Martin, Grace Kelley, James Woods,, James Caviezel, John Cusack, Jon Voight, John Wayne, Katie Holmes, kevin Kline, Liam Neeson, Mandy Moore, Maritn Sheen, Meg Ryan, Robert de Niro (of The Mission), Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Franco Zeferrelli, and even Andy Warhol, the pop artist who distorted Marilyn Monroe’s image and designed our favorite Campbell’s soup.

With these names, could anyone tell  what is a Catholic?

Difficult, huh?  It  gets more confusing if we look at the statistics.

Todate, there is a 1,2 billion strong Catholic Church all around the world.  Latin America leads with 483 million (41,3 per cent), Europe is a far second with 277 million (23,7 per cent),  and ranking in third position is unbelievable, Africa, with 177 million Catholics (15 per cent), and makes you wonder if the beasts of the wild are counted, followed on fourth, by Asia, claimant of the globe’s biggest or largest continent, 137 million ( or 11,7 per cent), and then North America (meaning Canada and the USA) with 85 million (7.3 per cent), and Oceana or those counties located in the ocean, with 9 million (or point six per cent).

1,2 billion Catholics? The world’s population numbers 7 billion? That means the Catholics  is just one seventh, so, in what sect or denomination, or religion do the rest belong?

Islam has 1,62 adherents in a 2010  survey alone.

Fellow Catholics, it had been some two thousand years ago since our Lord Jesus Christ instituted our Church, and we are a far cry from the believers of other faith. Why?

Perhaps because we cannot even define the word Catholic. Sorry.

LIterally, Catholic means……universal. The etymology of the word catholic comes from two Greek words: kata, meaning according to; and holos, meaning whole.  When combined, it means according to the whole. Colloquially, it means universal.

There are synonyms for the word universal, perhaps these words would helps us understand Catholic better. Words such as: diverse, diversified, wide, broad, broad-based, eclectic, liberal, latitudinarian, comprehensive all-encompassing, all-inclusive, all embracing. Or did these words made the meaning of Catholic harder to understand?

Our church is catholic because it extends over the whole world, and She teaches universally and infallibly every doctrine which must come to the knowledge of men, according to St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
This, of course, is with basis, for this is a direct order from our Lord Himself when He said “Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
The apostles and the disciples yielded, and the early Christians received a most trying persecution from the unbelievers. But, as time passes by, the Catholic spirit has been incorporated on mere mortals such as Stephen, he was stoned to death but never denounced his faith,  Francis of Assisi,  a rich kid who bared all and devoted his life to God’s creation,  Ignatius of Loyola, Rose of Lima, Bernadette of Lourdes, Therese of Calcutta, Karol Josef Wojtyla of Poland, otherwise known as JPII, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the one lunged cardinal who is now our Pope Francis.
We can enumerate many very Catholic names right here, we have the late Cardinal Sin, Cardinal Vidal, Monsignor Villegas, Cardinal Tagle, or let us not get farther away, let us come nearer, just in our own backyard, we have Sister Rose Esperanza,, Sister Rita, Sister Lydia, Sister Buena, and many more, of course,, they who offered their hours, despite the demands of their own families, to pray for another, to care for another, ,in the only motherly way they can.
That is the Catholic, one who loves God and shows that love in genuinely serving his fellowman, no matter the circumstance, for the sick needs comforting and the prisoner needs understanding. He who responds to anyone in need, he who gives food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, that is the Catholic.
The Catholic is measured by how much he loves another.
Some years ago, there was a famous Anglican (Church of England) who served as Prime Minister of Great Britain for a decade, from 1997 to 2007. His name was Tony Blair. He was a man who had seen the world, mingled with many faiths, dealt with situations that moved the earth. Tony Blair, after his pomp and glory, had himself baptized as Catholic. He said he only did what was right.
By and large, the Catholic is one who keeps the faith in his heart, again that means loving another person genuinely, selflessly.
(Oooops, sorry, this was not meant as a blog, this was supposed to be a mini lecture  i was tasked to deliver in a church meeting. I was in a hurry and I think I clicked Publish the last time I edited. I was surprised to see that this post generated many views, thank you, and so, I won’t delete this anymore.)

I’ve been crying!

My daughters call me the Drama Queen, because this past couple of years, the tears easily roll down my cheeks, over something I think I care about. Nope, the soft cries were never triggered by telenovelas, I don’t potato couch for overly scripted melodrama.

The heavens make me cry, or the rainbow that hovered over my home for an hour, the green leaves and the fascinating flowers, and tiny bugs that hide in the bushes, or even the classical music that keep me company while driving.

Something must have snapped inside, for I believe I had been a toughie since after college, when, as I went through the crossroads of life, I found my voice, and had become a fighter and a defender of everything good under the sun. I realized that we are all intertwined in this intricate battle of good and evil. Of course, I was wounded many times, and have scars to prove it, some of them jagged and deep.

Or perhaps, this past two years, my daughters have become adults, that perhaps there is this consciousness, that I can afford not to be as wary anymore, for my girls can handle situations on their own.

But yesterday, on my way home from bringing younger daughter to school, I tuned in to DZRH, for news about the aftermath of Typhoon Labuyo. I listened to Governor Bong (if I got the name of the lady right), as she narrated the missing fisher folks that set off to the high ocean even before the warning about the storm was announced. Fifty fishermen left, and six , all in one boat, did not make it back. One of the six actually texted his family that they will be home in two hours. The town folks waited four hours, considering that the lost boat must have battled the rough waves, but after that, the search and rescue was deployed, the waiting began.

The news made my tears roll down my cheeks again, and for reasons I can now imagine. Those fishermen only wanted to bring home fish for their family, and they lost their lives. These are simple people, with simple dreams, with simple lives, never ever dreamed of gift-wrapping a Porsche, never ever thought of coveting their neighbors’ money. Just some food for the family, after a long day at sea.

And the governor loved her people, perhaps Labuyo lashed her Catanduanes, so that we could hear her tell the story of her people.

Another reason I cried, because I heard a politician speak from her heart.

Perhaps my prayers had finally been answered. With all the unraveling of the Napoles greed, we are presented with a juxtaposition of two images, a rich woman who lived the easy and wealthy life by stealing the people’s money and that of a people who never asked so much for themselves but to live lives fearing God and the ocean.

I cried because finally, I wouldn’t have to fight anymore. Justice is being served. And I could get back to listening to the sonatas and the concertos, and watch the heavens unfold.