Tuesday, February 22

What I did this weekend.

Two Catholic prelates
This past weekend was a three-day holiday and I spent much of it thinking and, as is my wont as of late, I spent most of it thinking about matters religious.  So, these are MY thoughts and have neither nihil obstat nor explicit condemnation by any religious body (at least, nobody's called me on it yet).

1. What makes a Christian a catholic?

In the first, it's not about what you do.  Fish on Fridays and Hail Mary's doesn't make you a catholic any more than wearing a beret and drinking bitter coffee in little cups makes you french. It MAY define what some folks think of as Roman Catholic, but even then...what matters is what you believe and how that shapes how you act. So, speaking theologically and spiritually, what makes a person catholic (in the inclusive definition of the word)?

So...in a nutshell, I'd say...Transubstantiation, importance of Works (not sola fide), Hooker's stool (not sola scriptura), and the Communion of Saints. 

2. What makes a person 'catholic, not roman'?

Two more Catholic prelates
A lack of obeisance to Rome and belief in the Magisterial dictates.  I am sure that there is more specifics, but with a shortage of understanding on how the eastern and western catholic doctrines overlap and don't...I'm going to leave it there.

3. What makes a person ECC, not other catholics (RC or otherwise). 

In five bullet points, I would say...Primacy of Conscience, equality of humanity, recognition of sexual intimacy and relationships, the open table, and the importance of laity.  Before some folk get their hackles up and say "but we have that", I would like to outline what I mean by those bullet points and why, in general, I would forward the argument that you probably DON'T have all of these (at least not within the framework of a catholic church). 
 Primacy of Conscience covers most of the 'social evils' of 'modernism', be it euthenasia, abortion, divorce ....well, you know the list.  Fundamentally, it says that your spirit-filled conscience knows how to direct your behaviour better than any dictate from prelate or priest.  That puts the onus of 'good behaviour' back on the parishioner, but also removes the burden of dictating 'proper behaviour' from the priests shoulders and puts it into God's hands.

Equality of humanity means just that. There is nothing ontologically different or 'disordered' about any demographic. Conversely, there is nothing ontologically or inherently superior about straight, white men.

Recognition of sexual intimacy and relationships reflects the idea that we are human and humans are social creatures.  We form intimate bonds and use sex as a reflection of that intimacy.  Put differently, sex is not just about procreation, but is an expression of love.  As such, celibacy (though not an ignoble thing) is not nearly as important nor as desirable as 'some folks' would impress.  Additionally, intimate bonds can and do fluctuate over time.  For a variety of reasons, our relationships wax and wane and both marriage and divorce are parts of that.  Further, there is no reason that ordained members cannot be married, have children or divorce, for the ontological change which ordination has made does not prevent nor stop those men and women from being human.  As mentioned previously, it is with Spirit-filled conscience that such decisions are to be made by those who know the situation best.

The Open Table is a symbol for an universal invitation to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.  The celebration of the Eucharist is held at Christ's table, where priests and prostitutes were equally welcome.  If anyone wishes to partake of that Bread of Life and Saving Cup, wishes to be in communion with the Body of Christ, then no person has the right to stand in their way.  The same goes for the rites of Reconciliation and Extreme Unction.

Importance of Laity refocuses the church organization towards it's early roots of the Desert Fathers era.  The church is made up of the laity, who choose their pastor, who run their own books and who direct the tactical and strategic choices of the parish.  Writ large, this happens at the regional and at the top-level as well.

Note that there is still a LOT of maneuvering room within the ECC, thanks to a dependence on one's conscience and a 'bottom-up' leadership.


  1. Forgive my ignorance, but what is ECC?

  2. No worries...it is a smallish group and most folks aren't aware of it. Thank you for asking.

    The Ecumenical Catholic Communion, an independent catholic communion of 25 churches in the US having approximately 2,500 members. Here's the wikipedia link, though the information is slightly out of date.