When we stop to think of it, being Catholic is a self-reflecting lens through which we understand ourselves and interpret our world. We have a language of our own, a way of talking about God as Mystery, about sacraments as invoking God’s presence among us now, about Scripture and Tradition as God’s revelation, about the communion of saints as our heroic sisters and brothers in faith. Being Catholic also means developing a set of attitudes so that we want to follow Christ, be
good, help the needy, correct injustice, and pardon sinners. Being Catholic gives us values that help us discern right from wrong, what our life’s purpose is, whom to marry and how to raise our children. We learn how to worship publicly, how to thank God at home and how to mark the states of our lives. Being Catholic also embeds us in a community not of our own choosing. We are linked to the saints, living and dead, and to the generations still to be born. In sum, being Catholic means sharing beliefs, practices, behaviors, attitudes and a language with others all over the globe. Understanding how enormous and embracing it is to be Catholic takes us a long way toward seeing how much our faith actually affects us. Turn the thought around for a moment. For a Catholic not to be Catholic, not to discover as an adult its riches, not to take one’s place within the community, leaves an important set of blanks. Without being Catholic, how do I mark the special moments of my life? How do I anoint my sick loved ones, bury my dead, celebrate my joys? What community holds me accountable and supports me? How would I teach my children the meaning of their lives? Everyone sees the world through one set of lenses or another. How fortunate for us that our set of lenses enables us to see the world as God sees it.