Rambling on Different Faiths and Thanksgiving

[author’s note: From our deployment to Iraq.]

October 10, 2010

I have a new theory I’ve been tossing around. The theory is, “everyone wants to be Catholic.” You may scoff and claim that I’ve been putting too much Tabasco sauce on my morning whipped cream again, but the theory is sound. Sure, many say that they don’t want to be Catholic (even some Catholics), but their actions speak louder than their denials. As mentioned last week, I supervise chaplains of all religious backgrounds and I try to find common ground for all of us to agree. You quickly discover when doing this that Baptists hate Baptists and Lutherans hate Lutherans. It’s not as if there was only one type of Baptist or Lutheran; there are MANY types. The different groups disagree to the point of claiming each other is destined for hell (my generous spirit would at least give them a shot at purgatory).
To put it simply, they have a hard time getting along with each other, let alone a Buddhist, Jew, Wiccan or Catholic. In the midst of all this I noticed how many times each group would say they believe this or that, did this or that “just like the Catholics.” The Mormons say that they celebrate seven ordinances or times of life “just like the Catholic sacraments.” The Wiccans (think of earth god and goddess worshippers, not Satan) declare “we make the sign of the pentagram like Catholics make the sign of the cross.” Baptists will tell you “we have the same morality as the Catholics.” Lutherans admit that “how we worship looks a lot like the Catholics.” Each and every chaplain had some belief, morality or ritual from his or her church that, “looked Catholic.” The conclusion? These people want to be Catholic.
I have shared this theory with my chaplains and the results were not encouraging. In fact, I would say silence was the universal response. There was the brief hope that these followers of other faiths would finally realize that the Catholic Church has the fullness of the faith (check your Catechism of the Catholic Church). I’m sure their glares and sneers at me reflected their inner turmoil in realizing what they had been saying. Wouldn’t you think that when you compared yourself to the best that your response would be to strive to be like the best? I’m going to continue to work on the theory, though some here intimate that working on my people skills would be a more worthwhile project.
Speaking of response, what is our response to God’s healing, God’s forgiveness and indeed all of God’s gifts? Is it thanksgiving? That is the only acceptable response for what God has given us. Recall that in Greek the word Eucharist means thanksgiving. So when we participate in the Mass, the Eucharist, we are giving the proper response to all that Jesus has done for us.

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