Catholic Pride

Catholic Pride

I first encountered the term, Catholic Pride, in two articles on the Benedictine College graduation exercise presented by Harrison Butker, the placekicker on the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. When I finally got a chance to read his speech in its entirety, I could not find the phrase anywhere.

I believe the term came from the journalists, who were quite familiar with Gay Pride and all the other groups trying hard to become mainstream. The closest Butker came to using it was in his paragraph describing what he saw as the attempt of these journalists to rebuke and embarrass places and people like those here at Benedictine. He focused on their surprise at the lack of anger but instead were met with enthusiasm and pride.

From that point Butker focused on the deadly sin of (Gay) pride, which he contrasted with the true-God centered pride that is cooperating with the Holy Ghost to glorify Him. The Catholic Church and its theologians have often called Pride the Queen of Sin because it is the gateway to all other sins. This idea dates back to Genesis and the Garden of Eden where the serpent promised our first parents, and ye shall be like gods. To Butker Pride means the complete surrender of self and a turning towards Christ. It is only here he believes where one can find happiness and success.

Gay Pride is a new idea which has surpassed all of its hopes of achieving acceptance. Using colorful symbols, such as the misappropriation of the Hawaiian symbol of the rainbow, homosexuality has gained a broad acceptance among virtually all levels of society and American culture. They are now a member of society’s inner circle with as much power as the Church used to wield in this country until the sixties.

Despite the fact that Butker did not use the phrase, I started thinking about its application to our daily life. Is there such a thing as legitimate and moral pride in being a Catholic? I believe sinful pride is usually an individual act in feeling self-satisfied in what we have achieved without granting any help we had received from our families, teachers, close friends and especially God. 

Group pride can be sinful if the purpose or actions of the group have sinful and harmful purposes or activities. I believe in being proud of being a baptized Catholic and being aware of how our faith has enhanced our lives and those of others is a good thing. I take great pride in being part of an institution with a 2000 year history that is much greater than myself. I also have a warm feeling from attending Mass and other services with my fellow Catholics. 

For most of its history the Catholic Church has stressed that it is the only true Church where human beings cannot save themselves but must rely on the goodness and mercy of God to for salvation. This was a form of Catholic Pride that was not sinful because it followed the Biblical dictates where Jesus said in John 14:6 I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Catholics believe that our heavenly salvation is only possible through Jesus Christ and His Church. Since His Real Presence appears only in the Catholic Church and its sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist, Catholics have held for many centuries that it is the only true Church on earth. 

Since the advent of the Second Vatican Council over fifty years ago, the Church has tried to update its long-held teaching that we should call the Protestant denominations, who splintered away from the Catholic central Body, our separated brethren instead of Protestants. They based this on the dim hope that given time, they would eventually rejoin the faithful under the successors of Saint Peter.

To date this hope of ecumenism has failed since most of the Protestant denominations have drifted even further away from Catholic teachings with their acceptance and promotion of such evils as Gay Pride and abortion. Anytime the Church has tried to modernize or appeal to variant philosophies or religions, such as Modernism and Protestantism, it appears much less Catholic. To continue on the path of Modernism will eventually lead to the loss of faith and the ultimate sins of pride and Nihilism.

I refer to the Pope’s recent dismissal of Traditionalism (See my: An Old Fashioned Catholic) and Catholics, who hold fast to the Latin Mass, the way the Church used to be with clear moral distinctions and a respect for religious devotions. Many of these traditionalists feel as if the pope had emotionally excommunicated them from the Body of Christ for no reason, other than their devotion to the past and its sacred traditions. This is a step backwards in the Church’s history. Instead of attracting Protestants to our Catholic faith, to many, the Vatican appears more Protestant in some of its statements and policies. 

All of the above dictate that our Catholic Pride stay open to resolving many of our difficulties with other Christian denominations through prayer and charity. However, we should never forget that while the Catholic Church has a commonality with many of the denominations, they are not our equals in history and doctrine. The Catholic Church has much more to offer by way of its grace and sacraments, especially the Eucharist or Holy Bread, as an old friend from Japan told me many years ago. It was Holy Communion which fostered her conversion to the Church. A daily communicant, Karen is so devout that on Christmas and Easter she attends Mass in Vatican City.

I have tried to demonstrate my Catholic Pride in many ways. I evangelize in the only way I know how. When I raise the faith question to a new friend or acquaintance I often ask if they are Catholic. When the answer is negative, I say something to the effect, Well if you are interested, we have a few vacancies. I know some people who could get you in. I usually leave it at that.

This week I wore a New York University tee shirt, which I had purchased in Martha’s Vineyard on Cape Cod. When I wear it, I feel I am paying homage to my father, who graduated with his medical degree from NYU in 1925. When I wrote my first draft of this essay, I was wearing an incredibly old tee-shirt in purple and white, which just says Holy Cross. It is just one of the many school shirts I purchased from its bookstore over the years. 

When I wear it, I am expressing my love of God the Father whose providence directed me to attend and graduate from such a great school. As I did with my NYU tee, I feel I am paying homage to Jesus Christ. In my I Wear the Cross, on this site, I explored how important the Cross has been to my life and the meaning of its symbol. In many ways God spoke to me during my four years on campus and directed my life on a very certain course, once I understood what I think he wanted from me. The shirt also accentuates my sense of pride in my faith and this school, which has taught me so much.

My HC tee also identifies me as a Catholic. Sometimes it leads to a spirited conversation. I also want people to know that I am not afraid to expose myself to the many people who hate Catholics, primarily for our stance on some of the vital issues of the day, especially abortion and euthanasia. When I meet someone for the first time, I usually mention being a Catholic, not too long after uttering my name. It will always be part of my identity. I often wonder if other Catholics think the way I do on this issue.

When I was on talk radio many years ago, the listeners knew from the first moment I opened my mouth that I was a Catholic and proud of it. For the better part of 22 years, I faced all kinds of questions, comments and even attacks on my Catholic faith. I defended, explained and listened. This was the nineties and most of our callers had handles, such as CB radio aficionados had then. I had callers, named Diamond Lil, Black Jesus (I always called him BJ.) the Roosevelt Man, the Redman, Mr. 101, the Great Kabudha and many other colorful names and personalities. One caller ID that really stood out was the overly pretentious, Prisoner of Love.

He was obsessed with the priest scandal in the Church, even though it had not really been a topic of conversation then. His exact words were when you gonna talk about them priests and them little boys? I wrongly dismissed his inquiries as the words of a fanatic. Little did I know.

I confess that I really was not well versed in the subject. In retrospect, I am not sure what I could have said to him. The only way I could have answered him, had I understood the scandal, was with the truth. The reality is that the Church had inadvertently ordained a host of pederasts among our clergy. (The Prisoner had correctly labeled the culprits.) Their sins are an abomination of the worst kind. A strong component of Catholic Pride is always relying on the truth. No hyperboles, exaggerations, lies or euphemisms of any kind will be true to the Faith and more importantly to God.

The Prisoner’s story congers an encounter with our pastor at Annunziata I had a few years before his calls. I was the Respect Life Moderator and Monsignor was new to the parish then. I had some issue I needed his approval on and carried a file folder into the church just as he was leaving. He told me that he got nervous every time he saw a file folder. What is it, he asked. With God as my witness, I have no idea why I said it, but my words were, it is a paternity suit! Without missing a beat, Monsignor Krawinkel said, Well, that would be an improvement! 

One cannot have any Catholic Pride if the practice of the faith is lax. To exercise our pride in the faith, we have to practice it each and every day of our lives. Our failure to do that will expose us as hypocrites who are contributing to the Church’s ultimate decline. My late wife, a former nurse, used to say Use it or lose it. This same idea applies also to the Catholic faith. Practice it or lose it.

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Written by
William Borst