Have you found “Catholic Normal” yet?

I have not done a “snapshot” in a while but I get regular requests for it, so here goes.

What I’m thinking about lately: Finding “Catholic normal.”

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That’s right. Finding Catholic normal.

I’ll probably do a podcast on this soon. It seems that there is tremendous pressure for us to self-label ourselves as “fill-in-the-blank Catholics.” Here are some of the fill-in-blanks.

“Oh, that guy over there. He’s a ____________”

  1. traditional Catholic
  2. JP2 Catholic
  3. Benedict Catholic
  4. Francis Catholic
  5. Vatican II Catholic
  6. Pre-Conciliar Catholic
  7. Social Justice Catholic
  8. European Catholic
  9. Third World Catholic
  10. Charismatic Catholic

Why do we play this game?

Why should I feel the need to label myself and label others? Does it make me feel safe? Does it protect me from others?

(By the way, if you struggle with labeling yourself as trash or unworthy of God’s love and favor, you should listen to this audio podcast: 12 Attributes of the Baptized Christian, immediately. Don’t hesitate. You need to hear it.)

I actually label people all the time. I’m beginning to realize that it’s not good. Personally, I think this is from the devil. We love to hang negative labels on other people. Even more, we like to hang negative labels around our own necks.

Labels go like this:

  • “Oh, I’m not very good at _______.”
  • “Oh, I’m not attractive.”
  • “Oh, I’m an introvert.”
  • “Oh, I’ll never get married.”
  • “Oh, I missed God’s plan for my life.”
  • “Oh, I’m a afraid of _________.”
  • “Oh, I could never ________.”
  • “Oh, I’m a failure.”
  • “Oh, people would laugh at me.”
  • “Oh, people will make fun of me.”
  • “Oh, nobody takes me seriously.”

If you hear that dialogue in your head, that’s the devil. He is working you over. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

God has a different set of titles for you:

1. In Christ I reign in life (Rom. 5:17).
2. In Christ I walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
3. In Christ I am alive unto God (Rom. 6:11).
4. In Christ I bring forth fruits unto God (Rom. 7:4).
5. In Christ I have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
6. In Christ I have been made free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2).
7. In Christ I live by the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).
8. In Christ I am a child of God (Rom. 8:16).
9. In Christ I am an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17).
10. In Christ I receive all things from God (Rom. 8:32).
11. In Christ I am more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37).
12. In Christ nothing can separate me from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39).

This is how we should talk about each other. When I’m tempted to label you as a just “Charismatic Catholic,” “JP2 Catholic,” or “traditional Catholic” it is just an easy way for me to dismiss you or simplify you.

It’s more difficult to the do the right thing. To really appreciate a person as who they are and to see them in the light of God’s mercy. That’s what I’ve been learning lately. I suspect that “Catholic normal” will be find there.

Question: Is this a struggle that you have? Please share in the comments below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • MarytheDefender

    Yes, this is a struggle for me. I spent two years of grade school in an Opus Dei school and college and now law school in a Jesuit school. It would be so easy to stick to the labels and stereotypes of Opus Dei = conservative and Jesuit = liberal. I struggle labeling what I am because I’m straddling both sides of the spectrum. As though I need to be one or the other.
    You’re right only God titles for us matter. Thank you for this! I remember a book my Godmother gave us before, “You are Special” by Max Lucado. The stars (praise) and dots (criticism) others give us don’t stick if we are confident of God’s love for us. It is only is His great Love that we can find our true identity. 🙂

  • Chris Baker

    Great post, and I love the 12-steps from Romans! It’s interesting that you think that being an introvert is a negative thing. In my experience, and as someone with introverted qualities, I find that introverts have no problem with being introverts, though others, especially extroverts, do seem to find fault with introversion.

  • jmeyer3131

    My concern is what you said at the beginning, how we label ourselves as Catholics. It causes so much division. I see people who argue that there is absolutely no reason not to veil, and those who would never veil, for example. I see all those arguments over how to receive Eucharist…on the tongue or in the hand. Then there’s those who take every chance they can to tell us the Tridentine Mas is the only reverent Mass and clearly superior, and those who would never consider attending that form unless it was the only Mass available. I’ve even seen discussions on where we sit at Mass, with people suggesting that those who sit in front do this to show off their piety, and those who sit in back are not involved. I don’t like the disunity all of this causes.

  • Kattyes

    Very timely. I have really been struggling with this. We recently befriended a lovely family an after a few visits realized they despise the last few popes, among other things. It is not easy to continue this friendship, but i know God is calling us to truly “see them in the light of God’s mercy.” Thank you, Dr. Marshall!

    • Tiredofheresy

      “It is not easy to continue this friendship, but i know God is calling us to truly “see them in the light of God’s mercy.”
      They are thinking the same about you.
      There are good reasons for their disdain. Don’t be so prideful that you think you have the truth…. you just could be wrong.

  • Gonzalo Palacios

    Congratulations! “Catholic normal” is among the best two postings Dr. Marshall has given us. Now it remains for us to understand why that is true. Gonzalo T. Palacios, Ph.D. author of “The Virgin Mary’s Revolution or Love and do what you will.”

  • Kathleen

    I’m sitting here thinking about friends and family … I can’t put a label on any of them. It’s not a struggle for me at all. We’re just Catholic.

  • Justme

    I have been thinking about this lately, and I’m so glad to be a “normal” catholic. I attended the TLM for a year, and while I liked it a lot, I was constantly hearing about how the TLM offers more graces than the Ordinary form. Other parishioners wouldn’t go to the OF even if it was the only mass available (though they would, of course, call it “valid,” but not “good enough.”). For various reasons, I decided to go back to the OF and I am SO grateful I did. I am surrounded by “normal” catholics. “Normal” people who love Jesus, love the Eucharist, love the Church and are faithful to her teachings. I can now see the damage being caused by labels and division and what a sin it is for the Church and a scandal for the rest of the world.

    • ElizD

      I have had a somewhat similar experience. I too like the TLM but it has not seemed true that TLM goers have more charity for instance. I have also come to feel like what I was doing to try to help the TLM did not seem to bear much fruit for anyone’s spiritual good. I don’t think it has to be like that, but that was how it was, puzzlingly and sadly.

      • I too and puzzled and sad about it. I still love the TLM, too.

      • Gary Adrian

        I go to a TLM parish and have only heard about these types of issues at other parishes. There are families who live very close to a TLM and yet drive two hours to come down to our TLM parish because of the more charitable atmosphere. I do feel that what I do to try to bear fruit at the TLM is, well, fruitful. At one time I thought I could do more at an NO parish because they allow the laity to be more involved in things that only the priest can do. Then I realized that I could do even more at the TLM mass. There were many more spiritual opportunities for Mass attendance, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, etc. Also by the deeper prayer I can achieve at the TLM, I feel like my prayers are more meaningful and thus more powerful. My helping with the after Mass breakfasts and lunches every week, helping with janitorial or maintenance, being encouraging to my fellow parishioners, trying to keep conversations positive and not drifting to the latest TLM mass that was shut down. Supporting and encouraging the very holy priests we have. Helping those who need a ride to Mass, And much more. At the NO parish, I can help with CCD and RCIA but that is the extent of it.

        Sadly, I think some traditional Catholics have become very angry over the years over the fact that they are looked down upon by so many other Catholics including Bishops and priests. They work very hard with Bishops to establish TLM masses in their own towns just to be ignored. Then they drive miles and miles to the nearest TLM and watch as others are killed in car accidents in the long trek to the TLM (we had this recently happen to one of our parishioners). I hate to say this but historically several movements were formed just because a specific nation or group were suppressed and humiliated. The Germans prior to WWII for example. It causes a kind of mentality that can be very defensive.

        At the same time, even though I am generally known as a very charitable and kind person, I get questioned and ostracized by Catholic relatives for my TLM attendance. It is like I am somehow less Catholic then they. So I guess it goes both ways. I go to both the NO and the TLM and find that most that go to the TLM live a much more devout life. Because of this I too have a tendency to believe that the TLM is more fruitful than the run of the mill NO Mass. Sorry, but if it hadn’t been for the TLM 60 miles north of my home, I doubt I would have come back to the Church. I just wasn’t getting spiritually fed at the NO Masses I visited during my spiritual journey back.

        Do I look down on those that attend the NO mass? Not at all, in fact I very much look up to them. While I walked away from the Church because I felt spiritually dead, they have kept the faith in what I see as a less spiritual environment. All of the NO priests I know are very kind and loving men. And it isn’t that the NO Mass can’t be done well, but I have only seen it done reverently on EWTN thus far and I serve at the most reverent NO Mass I have found in our Diocese (they can’t find any boys or girls to serve Mass). When there is loud talking prior to and after mass in the sanctuary, nobody genuflects to the altar or tabernacle, otherwise a lack of knowledge of the presence of Christ, nobody seems to pray prior to Mass, lively protestant pop songs are the ‘songs of praise’, the church is empty before the priest even says ‘The Mass is ended, go in peace’, it isn’t very spiritually invigorating. I need the encouragement of my fellow Catholics and that kind of behavior at Mass gives me the sense that it isn’t important. Go up, grab the host, and head for the parking lot. Sad but true.

        So I will continue to encourage the priest I serve for at the NO mass to work for more reverence through his sermons, the Mass, and music. But so far my efforts have been fruitless.

    • Gary Adrian

      I should say that I attend more NO masses than TLM masses. In fact, I serve as
      an Altar server at the daily NO mass at my local parish.

      As a lover of Catholic tradition, I too love the TLM and have
      been attending for two years. Thankfully we only have a couple of people in our
      parish who seem to have a negative superior attitude as far as traditionalism
      goes. Most are very humble and don’t try to tell Father how to do things as one
      finds so much in NO parishes. I have noticed that if Father tells us to do
      something in a sermon, half the parish turns out for it. See how that goes over
      in your average NO parish.

      As far as the ‘graces’ go, I don’t know. Maybe it depends on the person, maybe
      some folks get more Graces from the TLM and others from the NO. From personal
      experience I have found a great difference in my ability to overcome sin and my
      sense of closeness to God while regularly attended the TLM versus the NO.
      Whether you want to call this ‘grace’ or emotions is your choice. But I
      struggled with a particular mortal sin for many years attending the NO, then
      left the Church completely. Then after many more years outside the Church I
      thought about coming back to the Church. I attended several NO masses at
      several parishes and found a lack of a sense of being with God. I enjoyed the
      sermon but found the talking, lack of prayer, lack of reverence, and the
      distracted and bored looking parishioners not very inspirational either.

      Once I attended the TLM mass about an hour away, I found myself transported
      spiritually into the presence of God. I could almost feel the conversion of the
      bread and wine to Jesus body and
      blood. I was hooked and with the help of the friendly parishioners at the TLM
      parish, returned to the Catholic Church. Also, while attending the TLM I found
      an almost immediate ability to overcome that insurmountable mortal sin I had most
      of my life.

      I do love my local NO parish and its kind priest. At first I was going to say
      that the NO parish offers me the ability to volunteer for more things, but with
      further evaluation I find that this really isn’t true. They just offer
      different opportunities.

      The TLM offers more spiritual opportunities and the NO parish
      offers more intellectual opportunities. For example at the TLM, there are
      multiple daily masses that I can assist at, a weekly visit to the local
      Abortion clinic with mass, weekly Eucharistic Adoration, more retreats and
      pilgrimages, a men’s and a woman’s spiritual study group, a breakfast and lunch
      most every Sunday after Mass, etc. The NO parish offers a closer daily mass
      (but only three days per week), a monthly breakfast after Mass, pancake
      breakfast about twice per year, a Bible Study (where the Bible is looked at
      more skeptically), parish council, involvement with RCIA and CCD classes as a
      teacher (whether you believe in all the teachings of the church doesn’t seem to
      matter as long as you are willing to teach the class), etc. I want to serve God
      more but find that when I get involved in the local NO parish, as a teacher I
      must teach a curriculum that questions Catholic truth, as an altar server, I am
      told to do things that are not correct according to the rubrics of the Catholic
      Church, when I get involved in spiritual groups, they want to explore new age
      type prayer life rather than a simple rosary, Eucharistic adoration, and other
      forms of Catholic spirituality.

      try to be involved with the most orthodox NO parish in my area, but find it not
      very spiritually fulfilling. The diocese had a very liberal bishop for many
      years and this might be part of the problem. The diocese north of us does offer
      much more orthodox spirituality in their NO parishes that I would love to be involved
      in but it is not my diocese. I have actually thought of moving their but I love
      my job where I live

    • Tiredofheresy

      wow. Could you be more arrogant?
      you say “I can now see the damage being caused by labels and division and what a
      sin it is for the Church and a scandal for the rest of the world.” … all the while you yourself uncharitably cause damage and hurt with your labels and division. There are thousands and thousands of good holy men and women who attend TLM’s – you just viciously insulted them… that YOU are normal with “normal people who love Jesus, love the Eucharist, love the Church and are faithful to her teachings.” … and because YOU deem them not normal, you and your normal people love God more. Wow. You really need to re-read what you wrote and ask forgiveness for your hurtful words toward fellow Catholics who love the Faith before all else.
      “…every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled:
      and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.”

  • Eli

    Thank you Dr. Marshall. I must say I needed to say this every morning (and through out the day) as an antidote to my negativity. I find my self saying the above one way or another through out the day. I am here (live in the West) as a foreigner (came from one the poorest countries and do speak English but not as the native here….so you know the struggle…) and also I can say I have good education. In all that, although I have a great faith in Christ and love for the Church, I caught my self one way or another with this negativity that hinders me from striding along side of holiness. I hope this insight will bring light. Thank you. Yes ‘In Christ I have no condemnation (Rom. 8:1)’

  • I guess I just think of myself as a REAL Catholic!

    Ave Maria!

    • Denise

      Sr. Mary, amen! I just try to be a “faithful” Catholic

    • May the Lord perpetuate His grace unto you to be one, Reverend Sister! I’m afraid I myself am a Benedict Catholic. 😉
      *hurrying back to EOTT — er — Mater Ecclesiae*

  • ElizD

    “To really appreciate a person as who they are and to see them in the light of God’s mercy.” This is a very, very welcome message to find in the blogosphere today and I would like to see more people embrace this Christian message.

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  • Simon Hill

    I am so glad to read this. I have become increasingly dismayed and frustrated by the 32 flavours of Catholicism. How can we possibly return to one flock under one shepherd if the devil has set wolves amongst our own people to distract us from this purpose? It is scandalous and embarrassing.

  • OneTimothyThreeFifteen

    The latest one I’m having ‘fun’ with (not) is ‘Intentional Disciple’. Woe betide you if you’re discovered not to be one! 🙂

    I prefer Weddellians. Because that’s what they are really. Too many catechists, to my mind, are allowing a book to categorise and set parameters on things they have no right to do so: define what is normative discipleship. (I say this after reading the book, and it has some outstanding content, but I believe this label can really create a damaging mindset in the wrong hands…)

    The Weddellian cognoscenti talk about, ‘the 2% club of “IDs” in your parish’, for example, as if the other 98% who don’t fit her framework are defective or inadequate Catholics in some way or other.

    My experience of catechists who are surfing this fad is that it’s proving to be pastorally damaging and elitist, and too many people are allowing the idea to dictate their parish life, insisting that we all have to be ‘Intentional Disciples’, proselytizing with the zeal of the worst Evangelicals I know.

  • Brendan

    I personally find the practice of adding a modifier to the word “Catholic” a sad but necessary reality in today’s Church. At one time, to call oneself Catholic simply meant that you assent to everything the Church teaches, and you were at least attempting to practice the Faith as the Church prescribes. Everyone knew what “Catholic” meant.
    However, at some time it became acceptable to some to call themselves Catholic while publicly repudiating Catholic doctrines or practices. The watershed in this debasement of the
    venerable word Catholic was probably Humanae Vitae. Since then, just calling yourself Catholic
    does not adequately communicate what you believe or practice to the average listener. You could be a “normal” Catholic or a rabid heretic. Therefore, many who do seek to think, live and pray with the Church find it necessary use terms like “conservative”, “orthodox”, “faithful”, or “traditional” Catholic. These terms are all inadequate and in some way misleading, but do make an important distinction. Catholic Normal is a possible alternative, as long as “normal” is not confused with “average”.

  • Jim

    When I first came back to the Faith, I considered myself “Catholic” but I had gone off to the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), largely because as a child I just had a bad experiences with the Novous Ordo Mass (NOM) and parish. On Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation I typically go to the Traditional Latin Mass, but if I’ve gone to the Novous Ordo Mass at my local parish any other time of the week and I will say this, having gone to the TLM I can come to a reverent NOM with greater appreciation than what I did before.

    I spend time with The Traditionalist Catholics, because I do think they are the most orthodox of any other group, and if I want Full Catholicity I know I will get it from them. But there are times when one gets a sense of some being Pharisaical while there, and this is dangerous, because being Pharisaical is one step away from also being Gnostic. For example, I know some at the TLM Community like to “rank” people according to their “Trady-ness” and while I know they mean well, it sounds too conceited for me as well, probably also why I ranked maybe a degree or 2 relatively higher than the lowest person “ranked” in the group.

    However, the TLM should not be a place for mere reactionary tendencies, the TLM is what the greatest (i.e. Humblest) Saints gave witness to, and so to check the Pharisaical mentality that often visits the TLM, I still encourage everyone to go and visit it, despite the conceit and eccentricities you may get from the parishioners, because its still about Jesus and the Mass. I go there not to be conceited, but because I know that I want Liturgical Richness (Beauty and Platonic Transcendentals) and not Liturgical Minimalism in the Mass, which is often associated with the Novous Ordo.

    Going back to what Dr. Marshall’s point then, since I rank relatively “lower” on the Traddy scale, since I live on Long Island, and since I frequent the TLM on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and visit when time allows during the week the NOM, and as someone who is soon-to-be entering the Novitiate Stage of being a Lay Dominican, I am just going to consider myself a Catholic.

    If your not happy with the above then I guess for some I guess you can consider me a Long Island Traditionalist Catholic which from what I understand is a different breed from other types of Trads, because its difficult to go solely to a TLM everyday, unless your willing to hop on to a train to NYC with the LIRR its mighty expensive to be doing that. I actually like this set up, it gives good Cross Pollination between the identities within the Church and prevents Stagnation and Complacency.

  • Allison Grace

    It’s probably because to call oneself “Catholic” doesn’t necessarily mean anything but “I attend Mass.” I’ve learned in just 9 years since converting that people I sit with in the pews publicly defend gay marriage, abortion, contraception, socialism; they may not believe in the Real Presence or Mary’s virginity or the Church being The Church that Jesus Founded. I cannot be assured of any shared beliefs. Mercy, yes, but I’m not bringing my kids to their Sunday school classes. I need to know what kind of Catholic. Those that are public in their dissidence and distribute the Body of Christ? So, so hard for the rest of us that accept Her teachings. Prayers for mercy…

  • Sheelagh Hanly

    The problem as far as I see is that there are Catholics who want the rules etc. relaxed regarding women priests etc. People have different views on this. Personally, I don’t support that notion. Most women wanting to push for priesthood for women don’t do readings, minister of Eucharist and many even don’t go to church. The media people are not church goers who are pushing this. A survey on this would be interesting! There are degrees of acceptance of the teachings and a lot of ignorance on what a teaching of Christ is and what a teaching of the Church is. The result is people think the Church is a democratic institution. Personally, I see myself as a Catholic who needs to be more informed about scripture and why the Church teaches what it does teach so I am studying the Catechism of the CC. I I see people who don’t accept the teaching of the Catholic Church in two different categories: one, those who are trying to damage the Church or don’t believe and two, those who just don’t know the truth and are following the crowd!

  • JR DePrisco

    I can imagine what it was like during the Arian Crisis. I imagine there were labels back then too. Not that it is a good thing, but you could understand it if the few orthodox Catholics left in the world had a bit of a “circle the wagons” mentality and used labels almost as a necessary means of vigilance. Even Pope Benedict saw it fit to use labels to describe the very confusing Vatican II: “there
    was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the
    Council of the media.” (Address to priests, 2/14/13). So, are we followers of the “real Council” or the “virtual council” as he calls it later in the same address? Interestingly, he goes on to say that the virtual council spawned the new liturgy: “So too with the liturgy: there was no interest
    in liturgy as an act of faith, but as something where comprehensible things are
    done, a matter of community activity, something profane. And we know that there
    was a tendency, … to say, ‘sacrality is a
    pagan thing,’ perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament… Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads
    to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal
    participation: participation understood as activity. These translations,
    trivializations of the idea of the Council, were virulent in the process of
    putting the liturgical reform into practice; they were born from a vision of the
    Council detached from its proper key, that of faith… Therefore, this [virtual Council] was the dominant one, the more effective
    one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering:
    seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had
    difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was
    stronger than the real Council (ibid).” So, keep in mind when the TLM folks are disdainful of the NO, it is this mass of the “virtual Council” they are referring to. And we should be disdainful of it, at least if you follow the points of Pope Benedict made above. May God bless you.

  • Micah Murphy

    I see being an introvert as a positive, but I see your point on the others!

  • Pat

    I agree that most of these labels are destructive and pride-based. However, the one label that is important for a variety of reasons is nominal Catholic versus faithful Catholic. That’s only because people use the term Catholic these days to say that they were born into the faith, even if they don’t believe in the Church or the faith. That’s not to say that we don’t love these people and want them to come back to the faith, it’s just that so many non-Catholics and fallen away Catholics are confused by and turned off by nominal Catholics. They think, “well, if this guy is Catholic and he doesn’t do anything to practice his faith, then why would I look into the Catholic Church.” Then I have to explain, “well, he says he’s Catholic because he grew up that way, but he isn’t a practicing or active Catholic.” It’s not about judging his soul or condemning him as a person, but about understanding that there is a difference between a cultural/historical/nominal Catholic and a faithful/practicing one. I think that’s prudent. What do others think?

    • fredx2

      I think you are correct. Right now, there is a definite split. However, we should realize that we cannot look down on one another. Those who believe differently may just be misinformed. They usually have reasons for what they believe. Sometimes, it’s just that everyone around them says the same things. Othertimes, it’s just that they have not considered all the ramifications of a stance. We will have to work hard to heal this wound, but normal Catholics of good will are abundant, and willing to compromise when it does not affect basic ideals.

  • The Ubiquitous

    Traditional Catholic means little more than having fondness of, kind regard for, and devotion to all the little accretions attenuated to Catholic culture, everything from scapulars to Latin in the liturgy, (if you’re of the Roman Rite, at least.)

    Therefore, traditional Catholic is normal Catholic, by definition, or — according to the language of the Catechism — ought to be.

  • jm

    With the Church being “Universal”, is there such a thing a “normal”? I think the Church needs all of her children….evangelical, traditional, parochial, etc. We all have our preferences (I LOVE Opus Dei and wish they were where I live), but that doesn’t make my preferred style of worship any more grace-filled than anyone else’s. The most important elements are that our pastors and our people are in line with the Church and her teachings, and our actions are infused with charity. Just as the children from one family are all very different, they are still part of the same family and equally loved by their parents – So we, the children of God, are all different and yet equally loved by our Father in heaven. Yes? That being said, upon further reading of these posts, I think that the distinction of nominal Catholic vs. faithful Catholic might be quite relevent in our day. Which brings me to, what I believe, is the major impediment to true and faithful worship within the Church – poor catechesis. How do we remedy this?

    • Art

      Do you remember St. Paul he said in his jouney of becoming more like Christ. That is the ultimate desire of the Father. Listen to Jesus his beloved son. You can have all the devotions in the world if you do not know and love Jesus, the journey is incomplete.

  • D.A. Howard

    Francis does not hold a candle to Supernova of John Paul II. I doubt he will be canonized.

    • fredx2

      Nobody holds a candle to JP II. However, Francis is just in his first year. Hold on, a lot more good things are coming. I see him as the natural continuation of the last few papacies. First, JP II laid the deep philosophical bases for the work of Vatican II. Then, Benedict translated that deep philosophy into readily teachable Theology. Now Francis the Evangelizer is going to translate that theology into popularly understood themes.

      • Luke Togni

        The “Supernova” of JP2? Nobody holds a candle to JP2? These sorts of attitudes, and narratives provoke the title of “JP2” Catholic from Traditionalists and Progressives alike, as it suggests an ignorance of history in both directions, but more dangerously, the theologization of a human figure (I mean making theological claims based upon a human). It happens occasionally with, St. Francis of Assisi, for example (Lefebrve can be another in some circles) but is, generally, a dubious act of theology.

        Alas that we label each other; it is to our shame, but, at the same time, it is symptomatic of the fissures that exist in the church. Part of the problem does seem to be the very act of self-identification which strengthens these fissures (Oh, I’m not a this), sometimes to the exclusion of the catholicity of another. Nevertheless, they do represent important insights, but perhaps some more important than others. In the case of the Progressives, is it not true that in many ways community has been undermined, social work isolated from the integrity of liturgy, a proper environmentalism eschewed. And the Traditionalists are a sore to so many because they are a reminder that, perhaps, there is a ancient standard of Catholicity that is not merely a preference. Proportionate remarks could be made of other labels. The point being, yes we must see our confreres in Christ, but we ought not level the questions they reveal by their existence. We can let the labels lead us to discuss difficult topics, but we must not let them lead to judgment, and hate.

        • Tiredofheresy

          “And the Traditionalists are a sore to so many because they are a
          reminder that, perhaps, there is a ancient standard of Catholicity that
          is not merely a preference”
          Very inspiring.

  • Bad Catholic

    As the famous humorist Robert Benchley said: “There are only two kinds of people int he world, those who put people into two categories, and those who don’t!”

  • Katalina

    I agree with you Taylor. Almost a hundred years ago Pope Benedict the Fourteenth addressed this very issue concerning Modernist Catholics and Integral Catholics. He said Catholic is my name Christian is my surname. Wise words than and now. We don’t need all of these labels and name calling including Reactionary. We are either Catholics or not period. End of the Story.

  • I am a convert from a conservative charismatic protestant faith, International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Just by that opening statement I labeled myself as a Conservative Charismatic-Catholic. That label is not to be negative, but in a nutshell to share my personal emphasis of the doctrine. The many beautiful Religious Orders all have different emphasis, but all harmoniously work together in the Roman Catholic Church. I do agree for the most part with this article. However, as I just indicated there is a positive side to “good” labels. Let us never become cliquish. King Jesus commanded us to “Love One Another.”

  • Ashley

    This is a very helpful post. In becoming Catholic, I have left behind my separatist, puritanical past of looking for the most holy, conservative, “doctrinally sound,” church with the most “likeminded” believers who placed the same level of importance on the same things as I did. I began to see this separatist spirit as a great sin against charity and a grave danger to the unity of the Church. The last thing I want to do as a convert is to repeat my past sins and engage in the same type of separation from the rest. “Catholic Christian” is good enough for me.

  • Richard

    I believe most of the problem involves Catholics who only go to TLM. These are the ones who describe others (like myself) as heretics, protestants, or worse. I attended the Latin mass for my first 20 years and I remember how the priest muttered the mass, often no one came to communion, many of the women ignored the mass and simply prayed the rosary, etc. I am thankful and blessed that VatIcan II changed this and allowed participation and involvement. I go to mass often but to TLM crowd, I am not really a Catholic. This is becoming a real problem and I suspect it will get worse. I have never heard anyone at the masses I attend call Catholics anything but Catholics. I hope some TLM priests might consider doing something about the tendency of their flocks labeling everyone else as something other than “Catholic.” But I am not confident of this.

  • Interestingly, there seems to be two extremes here. On one side we have the “over labelers” who seek to create an almost Donatist “Church of the pure” through labeling other Catholics. On the other side, we have the “no labels” crowd who fall immediately into the abyss of nominalism (a heresy alive and well in the west). This second group would even reject the “Donatist” label I used above as another bad “label.” Ultimately, even calling oneself a “Catholic” is a label.

  • Cecilia

    Unfortunately, in my experience a “normal” Catholic today is more often than not a “cafeteria Catholic.” I just want to be a devout or faithful Catholic. I wonder if those who pick and choose which dogmas and moral issues coincide with their “consciences” would call themselves either devout or faithful. However, they might easily claim the label “normal.” I don’t want to be normal; I want to be holy. I realize they are supposed to be synonyms, but sadly today it is not so, at least in my experience. I don’t know any TLM Catholics as the Latin Mass is not available anywhere near me, but I know a great many “normal Catholics who accept birth control, divorce, and gay marriage.” No, I don’t want to be normal because normal is not what it should be: just plain Catholic.

  • Celia Nabas

    Could it be I may be accused of labelling when I mention converted Catholics ? I made the active step through RCIA in 1997. However I still think it important to mention in the following context. Before during and after my admittance into the Roman Catholic church I never recognised hyphernated Catholicism. I simply never saw the point in it and never will. A Catholic is just that ..Universal. The nearest I ever got to hyphernated Catholicism was European. I do not understand the notion behind Irish Catholic..Polish Catholic..Anglo Catholic etc. If we live by the Catechism of the Catholic church we are simply Catholic. I find labelling anathema in terms of Catholicism. If we do this it will give those in the future an excuse all the more …to create catchy hyphernated add ons..and the whole doctrine becomes over complicated and internal bickering shows through when basically we would do well to practice one thing…being Catholic 🙂

  • Jim M

    To some degree I can sympathize with this idea. But, I do identify myself as a Traditional Catholic. I go out of my way, often to point of serious inconvenience and expense, to attend the Extraordinary Form of Mass and Sacraments. And I do that because I really think things like female altar servers, ubiquitous Extraordinary Ministers, Mass celebrated ad populum, Communion in the Hand, etc. , etc. militate against doctrines of our Catholic Faith and/or against development and growth in Christian piety. HOWEVER, I will not claim any corner on Christian virtue and I will not spend all my time telling you about the Extraordinary Form of Mass and sacraments. And I WILL go door to door with you talking to people about the Catholic Faith, handing out crucifixes and utilizing tracts from Catholic Answers. And I WILL give my charismatic Catholic friend a hug next time I see him. While I do identify myself as a “Traditionalist”, I know that we’re called by Christ to charity for all. That certainly ought to apply to those generally living the Catholic Faith and identifying themselves as such. I know lots of Catholics whom I respect and who have nothing to do with “Traditional” Catholicism and I value my aquaintance and friendship with them. I suppose that doesn’t make me “Traditional” by the standards of some; I’d recommend they immediately go find 1 Cor. 13. and spend some time working on it with the Holy Spirit. After that, perhaps re-read the Sermon on the Mount; and then read. . .well there’s plenty. Just have true Charity. . .and remind me of that next time I get really sour about something or someone.

    And considering Taylor and others are converts, I can see why they’re upset by this. If we all accept and believe in the Catholic Faith we must not be so harsh in our differences. That is for sure.

    Pax Christi Vobiscum!

  • A Nonny Mouse

    Taylor, my first thought was a quote I have hanging in my family room: “NORMAL is just a setting on the washing machine.”
    As a recent Tiber-crosser, fleeing Campbellites, I see the “labeling” in a different light. My newbie status makes me a target for the most vocal labelers, wishing to bring me into their camps. I have been gifted with a blizzard of pamphlets, web links, and ephemera of at least all of those 10 groups. My attempt at polite refusal has led several to warn me I may not have truly joined the “Real” Catholic church, as I thought I had.
    I thought I had left this mindset behind when I joined the “One, Holy, and Apostolic” church, but I guess not. I’m not sure who said it, but I see it as a result of being HUMAN — “here comes everyone”.
    You are quite correct that the negative self-talk is diabolical. I am thrilled to see your list of counter messages to use for conscious re-calibration. This list, used regularly should help me defeat those voices, which we all have.

    Thank you for your thoughtful writing.

  • Timothy Reid

    Labels do tend to foster division and childish name calling in the Church.
    We do it on all sides.
    This post I feel has the proper attitude. We’re all Catholics and we need to accept that neither one is more Catholic than the other. Jesus welcomed tax collectors, fishermen, prostitutes, those possessed by demons, traitors, the poor, the pagans, zealots, Pharisees, scholars of the law………
    Ought we (His Body) not to follow His example?

  • Andrew

    I use the label in terms of influence, almost like I’m a “Bush Republican” as opposed to a “Reagan Conservative” etc…I would say I’m a “Benedict Catholic” because it under his guidance and a couple of his reflections that made me realize “Holy Cow, there’s beauty and love in this religion, when did they put that in?” He made me look deeper into the faith. I don’t care about labels so long as they don’t take away from loving the person. When someone uses it, it gives me a frame of reference, like say when I hear someone is Jesuit or a Benedictine, etc.

  • TeaPot562

    I find that I use the labels “Easter & Christmas” or “Cafeteria (Pick and choose among Church teachings) Catholic”.
    Must consider to what extent my labeling in this manner is sinful. (And change habit as appropriate.)

  • Joe

    Oh please. Labels can be positive as well as negative, as well as neutral, and wailing about their horrors or being “evil” I find short-sighted, if not downright silly. If I “label” someone as a different kind of Catholic than me (and frankly what ARE these? I’ve never even heard of most), I’m just identifying them, not putting them down. Sorry I find this article ridiculous.

  • vincentkemme

    It has been a struggle form e but it isn’t anymore.. I owe my faith to the ‘catholic charismatic renewal’ (I’m a ‘revert’ to the faith, by means of this movement) and the Emmanuel Community (originally from Paris but today in all continents, officially approved by the Vatican) of which I am a ‘founding member’ in the Dutch speaking world (in The Netherlands and in Flanders, Belgium) but I want to get along with every catholic, whatever his of her preferences, as long as it is within the limits of Church teachings. (And with other christians, non-christian believers, agnostics and atheists in a open dialogue with mutual respect). A ‘normal’ catholic for me is … a saint! ‘Be holy’ is our norm, according to Jesus, his Church and Scriptures. So let’s move on and try – with the grace of God – to get there and become ‘normal christians, in love, truth and joy!

  • TBTG

    I am finding more and more laxity at the Novus Ordo Masses I attend – I can see why 1,000 parishes are being closed in Holland. I look around at Mass and see more empty pews. If I could get to a TLM I would go.

  • TBTG

    Dr Marshall seems rather mixed up because all over his blog he labels other Catholics one being Latin Mass PEOPLE, ultra traditionalists, come on, you can’t write a blog like this when you yourself are as guilty or more guilty than most????