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Life in the Universal Church

September 12, 2017 | (295 words)

Some Catholics find themselves drawn to a charismatic expression of their faith, while others are more naturally given to a quiet, contemplative pose. Some are what might be described as being of the touchy-feely persuasion, while others possess a more stoic nature. Some are verbose; others are inclined to be sparse with their words.

Some revel in selections from the majestic Methodist hymnal such as How Great Thou Art, while others would be happy listening to nothing but somber Gregorian chant for the rest of their lives. (The less said about our current Catholic hymnal, the better.) While some like to sing the whole day through, others do not allow a single note to pass their lips in the course of their chores.

As members of a universal Church, this is our fate: to find oneself in close proximity with fellow believers whose preferred mode of expression can be quite different than one’s own. These differences, however, need not rise to the level of dogmatic disputes. We are daily confronted with the realization there are many different gifts, just as the prophet instructed. And these various gifts translate into a variety of ways to be.

We do well to remind ourselves that “all good gifts come from above.” Discernment is a valuable attribute to possess, one that should always be applied, and continue to be developed. At the same time, we must try to resist the constant tendency to validate our own personal preferences, while rejecting the personal preferences of others as somehow being less valid. Setting up what we like in opposition to what we don’t like is not discernment, but rather what the Buddhists refer to as “a disease of the mind.”

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr.
September 12, 2017

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