Catholicism is...

What is Catholicism (outside of its doctrines)? Most people would associate Catholicism with a monomaniacal focus of promoting a socially conservative agenda and being confrontational in the “culture wars” while preaching to others on how their lifestyle is “sinful”. Some may see Catholicism as emblematic as organizations such as Opus Dei and Communion and Liberation.

I would if Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel (and Maura Clarke and Ita Ford) could seem seen as individuals who were representative of Catholicism and the Gospel. In contrast to other Catholics, I do not see many Catholics present them as a model.

While in El Salvador, I traveled to the exact site in La Libertad, El Salvador where Jean Donovan, an American lay missionary, was raped and murdered, alongside Sr. Dorothy Kazel, Sr. Ita Ford, and Sr. Maura Clarke, by a Salvadoran military death squad while volunteering during the Salvadoran Civil War. These women have my utmost respect and are great sources of inspiration as I, myself, attempt to make a small dent in the realm of seeking and implementing social justice in this vastly mistaken world. These women, four of my greatest inspirations, chose to live lives of discomfort as opposed to ones of material satisfaction and ease. My journey in El Salvador challenged me to question how I, in my faith and spirituality, can live a life of “discomfort”, restlessness, and goodness. How can I live a life that is selflessly and wholly dedicated to my brothers and sisters?

I admire Jean and Dorothy because they dedicated their lives to other human beings and loved in a way that reaffirms the importance and meaning of love and human connection. As human beings, we are programmed to love; we are programmed to be religious to love. It is in the examples of Jean and Dorothy that this HAS to be true.

Kazel’s five step process of worldly discernment was to:

  1. See-see the issues of society in relation to the effects it has on the poor and marginalized.
  1. Feel-feel the pains of the oppressed by being in solidarity and faith with them.
  1. Judge-discern these societal injustices.
  1. Act-after judging the issues, look inside yourself to personally bring about the greatest amount of change and goodness, PEACFULLY!!
  1. Celebrate-after taking action, return to the poor and oppressed, in solidarity, faith, justice, and goodness.

…the fullness of the means by which we show our relationship to Christ and membership in His Body, the Church.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The proper way to follow Jesus

Those suggestions are too abstract… Who’s to decide what is “the proper way of following Christ”.

I was more interested whether the model of the nuns would inspire a more positive image of Catholicism relative to the strain that focuses on conservative issues. Of course, the latter would turn people off and give the impression that Catholicism is rather myopic.

Part of Our Fathers’ simple plan for salvation.


OP, the Church is not a social or political movement. It was started by Jesus to lead men and women to God.

So do you think those woman who were murdered were political activists?

OP, I was referring to your first paragraph in this thread.


Only Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Nothing else.

Acts 22: 7
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.

Saul persecutes the church and Jesus equates it to Himself.


What exactly do you mean by “the model of nuns”? Cloistered? Some nuns are in contact with the outside world.

Sisters or whatever. The four were often referred to as nuns.

It was hard for me to understand your writing, but I think you were saying Catholics should move away from activism and more towards simply leading good lives. The reason I think demonstrations and movements are so popular is because it just feels great as a human to be part of a good cause. You feel like you belong, you’re part of a group, you have a family. I also understand that God calls very few Catholics to completely dedicate their life to one issue or cause. Most Catholics should live well-rounded lives, doing the most good according to the needs in their community and their own personal gifts from God. This doesn’t mean activism is bad. It is fine to get involved with a good cause as long as the Catholic does their best not to ignore other pressing needs when they appear.

Of course, there are often disagreements about what is most important. I’ve met many Catholics over the years with their own pet projects to serve others who are not satisfied unless everyone is as dedicated to it as they are. Then I have to explain how I consider another need to be more important or more suited to my gifts. Some Catholics accept this while others will look down on me. I assuage any doubts through regular discernment prayer.

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