Tuesday, 29 May 2018 06:00

Too Catholic

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When I first met my husband, he seemed to me to be – too Catholic. I was disengaged from religion for the past ten years and had the more or less accepted theory that God was a placebo for believers. I thought that my husband was from another world - not ours, that's for sure, because he would think things that nobody else I knew thought. Either that or he was from the last century. Old-fashioned, I thought ... someone who liked to exaggerate; sometimes he seemed weird, strange, and incomprehensible.

For me, believing a little, going to church from time to time, praying sometimes ... that could be acceptable. But, to go to Mass every Sunday, to visit the Blessed Sacrament from time to time, to pray every day, to have outdated ideas... that went too far.  An ultra?  Well yes, I could have cataloged him that way, but it did not occur to me.

That's why I'm not surprised that today the term 'the ultra-Catholics' is so fashionable (note that the word itself does not appear in the dictionary). Often it is said in a derogative tone, referring to all those who are like my husband. The same thing that happened to me must happen to them: that they do not understand it, that these people seem antiquated, that they have not adapted to society, rare specimens, incomprehensible in their gestures, thoughts, and words.

It turned out that I had a conversion. And I tell you, I complained and had objections, but over time I could do nothing but surrender to the evidence. All the things that previously seemed impossible to believe now appeared to my eyes as the only possible truth.  So I turned into “one of them.”

And now, after hearing about “the ultra-Catholics this, the ultra-Catholics that” … I ask myself: will I also be an ultra-Catholic?

The first thing that comes to mind is that if they have had to invent this new term, it is because something is wrong with the meaning of 'CATHOLIC' ...

What does it mean to be 'ultra-Catholic'?

If one detached the term from the pejorative meaning that the prefix 'ultra' is intended to give, which gives it a violent and intolerant tinge, we take 'ultra' as an augmentative, greater than 'very', greater than 'hyper'. We then have a translation similar to 'very, very Catholic'. And then I ask myself again; can one be 'just a bit Catholic'? Can one be a 'normal Catholic, without going overboard'? The reality today is that yes, there are many Catholics, but only in name. Or there are conscious Catholics who choose to not show their Catholic identity.

And then there are the 'ultras' those who try to make the gospel their life. The gospel does not have half measures. It is clear, truthful, it is radical - as Jesus was. A life taken to the extreme for love. If the Catholic follows Jesus, his life must conform to Jesus’ life, and therefore the Catholic cannot be lukewarm, cannot walk on tiptoes around the world ... he must live in conscience. You do not need the prefix 'ultra' to be truly Catholic.

So no, I do not need to be 'ultra'. I'm Catholic. That's enough. 

In any case, it is clear that the only thing that is intended with the aforementioned word is to label believers as intolerant with all those 'new social realities'. But the reality is that 'the Church is the largest' non-governmental organization 'in the world' (from the weekly edition of “The Economist”, 2011). All people fit in the Church. It is one of its basic principles: that the Church welcomes everyone, just as Jesus did. But, in addition to welcoming everyone lovingly, Jesus did not stop correcting and healing all those who came to Him. Neither can a disciple of His cease from loving, correcting, and healing.

Therefore, in conclusion, “ultra-you have to believe what I tell you to believe.” The superlative nature of the culture at large is impossible to ignore.  So, what is a Catholic to do?  Live the “ultra” life Our Lord wants of us and the Church teaches us to live.  As Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “You cannot be half a saint.  You must be a whole saint or no saint at all.”


Mi blog "Camino al cielo en familia" 

Chris FernandezEstoy casada y soy madre de tres niños. Estudié Magisterio y actualmente trabajo como profesora de religión. Soy miembro de los laicos del Hogar de la Madre.

Judit Hernández es autora, editora y responsable del Blog Camino al cielo en familia, alojado en el espacio web de www.infofamilialibre.com