The Church is Universal, that means it’s cool to be different. So, be different.
But, isn’t that the opposite of Catholicism? Isn’t being different bad?
Most people in America – scratch that – most Catholics in America, when they hear the word “Catholic,” think: “American-style home parish Roman Catholic”. But, what we ought to think when he hear the word “Catholic” is: “Universal”. That’s what it literally means, right? We get so familiar with what we know that we forget just how BIG the church is. It’s literally the biggest tent in the world. There is room in the church for every (orthodox) style of prayer, every culture’s unique expression, and every person’s unique spirituality.
In the Protestant church, every time the Spirit moves and expresses itself differently in a church, the church splits and a new denomination is formed. The Methodists, with their methodological approach to spirituality; the Church of Christ, with it’s intense scriptural emphasis; and the Pentecostals with their emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit…these approaches would not need to split in order to be included in the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church isn’t a denomination with one approach to spirituality. It is the house in which all the other prayer rooms are contained. Just zoom the lens out and take a look at what the Catholic Church looks like from a distance:
- There are 20 different liturgical Rites in the Catholic Church that celebrate different saints, different liturgical calendars. To give you an idea of how different they can be: in all the eastern Catholic Rites, priests are still allowed to be married.
- The Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Augustinians, and Benedictines are only five of the hundreds of different religious orders with outrageously different spiritual characteristics.
- Every parish, every diocese, and every region has a different character and feel. The difference between Wichita, KS and Green Bay, WI is probably not too grand. But how about the difference between Wichita, KS and Abuja, Nigeria?
- There are entire lay movements in the church based around a single image, like Schoenstatt or the Sacred Heart movement, and there are movements in the church based around an apostolate, like the Salesian Youth Movement.
C.S. Lewis shows great support on the universality of those who believe in Christ. Most people think that coming to Christ means abandoning individuality, but, actually, the opposite is true. We become more distinctly different when we approach Christ. He writes:
“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.” – C.S Lewis
Every person, every ministry, and every community has a unique charism, a gift of the Holy Spirit that equips and characterizes it for it’s purpose. What is yours?