Being Truly Catholic


Perhaps those of you from a Reformed background are familiar with the phrase “Truly Reformed” - used by some to distinguish Christians who actually have embraced the “true Gospel” as opposed to those who haven’t. That’s not what this thread is about; this is only to explain the source of the title.

At times, like yesterday in Mass and today in my church service, I think I am more Catholic than Presbyterian, but I am not Catholic in faith or practice (I’m working through a rather long list, and I still freak out at things, like the St.Joseph Table yesterday or the Stations of the Cross mess I dealt with last weekend). I am not “truly Catholic” because to me that means one who goes to Confession at least once a year, receives the Eucharist at least once a year, believes all the teachings of the Church, observes fast days and days of obligation, goes to Mass every Sunday and supports the Church with resources of time, talent and treasure. But I’m wondering. Suppose I did all these things. Would I be “truly Catholic”, or would I see those as “truly Catholic” who do the above but also go to Confession weekly, receive the Eucharist daily, go on retreats, fast twice a week, and, well, you get the idea. Do those in the religious orders consider themselves more Catholic, somehow, than those outside? Do those who adhere to all the teachings of the Church look down on those who don’t as “not truly Catholic”? At what point does one consider oneself Catholic? At what point does one consider others who claim to be Catholic not Catholic?

Isn’t there occaision for spiritual pride here? And where does it stop? When are you “truly Catholic” Is there an innermost ring to this onion, or are there rings at all?

To be perfectly frank, joining the Catholic Church is tempting to me in the sense that I could bring all my Protestant zeal and Bible knowledge, and feel superior to the other Catholics in doing so, and feel superior to all the Protestants because now I have the full truth. In short, I could look down on everybody, and that has a certain appeal. It is partly to avoid this that I ask the question - and part of why I hesitate to get my snorkel and cross the Tiber. I could compile a list of the world’s worst reasons to join the Catholic Church. This is one of them.


If you don’t mind my saying so, I think you are going about this all wrong. Becoming a Catholic is more like getting married than performing a list of obligations or believing teachings that you must ascertain are true before taking the “plunge.”

Our relationship with Christ and his Church is a familial one, not a test we must pass in order to be one of the “inside” people. It’s why there can be such a thing as a good Catholic or a bad Catholic just as there can be good and bad sons/daughters or wives/husbands, etc. Becoming Catholic means embracing Christ in his Church, which is a messy business dealing with people and practices stemming from human nature, etc, and not at all like taking a final exam. :wink:


There certainly is such a thing as spiritual pride - especially in regard to one’s own religious practice. And you do have to guard against ‘lording it over’ those who practice differently.

It helps, for example, to read the lives of the saints and see how different they were from each other in the practice of the faith - not all of them received the Eucharist daily or even monthly, for example!

The attitude to cultivate, I think, is that of Mary, who certainly was thankful and joyful about being chosen to be the Mother of God, but always acknowledged that it was the Lord who worked these things upon her and through her rather than any merit of her own. And certainly it is fine to be thankful that one has found the rich treasures that Catholic faith and practice offers.

Same with being proud of being Catholic. It’s fine if you don’t think in terms of self love or self approval, and are instead proud of the achievements of the Church, and thankful for the fact that the Holy Spirit has protected and guided it for so long. I’m sure God is proud of his children when we do well, so are we allowed to be proud of each other.


Strange that i should read this…i was just thinking about this the other day ; i noted that the folk in our parish who know the most about catholicism and who are very active are…the converts ! By all accounts they seem to really enjoy what they get involved with in the parish.:thumbsup:


[pidgin engleesh]

ancient jews compelled to obey law or else…duress…
go to mass or else…:hypno:… :dts:
love is compulsion now … no-one overqualified …:coffeeread:
Gods love for us and our love for Him…no-one on big high horse either…everyone is big fool equally… :ouch:

[/pidgin engleesh]:tissues: :crying:


Truthstakler, you’ll become “Truly Catholic” when you come home and are welcomed into and are united to the universal Church established by Jesus, which the Holy Spirit protects until the end of time. You don’t become Catholic by knowing all the answers, or never having questions about anything. As the well known hymn says, “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way”.

There is certainly “Pride” everywhere one finds humans, especially in Church. Even Jesus Himself had to deal with His apostles James and John, and even their mom too, all jockying for their positions of honor. That kind of pride easily becomes sinful in any church and is disruptive to the Body of Christ. So in answer to your retorical, (hopefully), question, no true follower of Jesus should look down his or her nose at anyone, no matter how pious they become in their observance of their faith, nor are they to judge anyone. I am sad to say that there are people with that level of spiritual pride in the Catholic Church, and even as members of these forums too, and we should all pray they realize how much harm that disruptive, disrespectful sentiment does to His Body. That pride is not a result of their faith, but of their humanity overcoming their faith.

Trust the urging of the Holy Spirit, and take the plunge. We are always enlivened by Non-catholic Christians coming home and becoming an energetic part of the family of God. It’s the way Jesus wanted His Church to be, One. It’s good for us all, and we’ll welcome you.



I understand exactly what you are saying. However, are you familiar with Stephen Ray’s analogy of the Ship and the rafts? If not, I can explain it.

Enter the Church because it is the true Church and because God wants you there. Seek Him first. Where he is, there is the church. If you take pride in being Catholic…well, I think this is the kind of pride God can work with. It;s better than the pride that causes someone not to enter! Trust me, he will find ways to humble you later. :stuck_out_tongue:

One other thought…consider how much God may want to use you…he has given you a lot of Bible knowledge as well as the gift to see the Catholic Church as your true home. Like Hahn, Ray, Akin, Howard, Newman, etc., there is a lot someone like you can accomplish…God is calling us Protestants home for a reason!

“You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” (Nehemiah 2:17)


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