Catholicism “Lite”: Less Fulfilling?

Fifteen years ago, while editing Lay Witness magazine, we were creating an ad for the (then) new Catechism of the Catholic Church, opposing it to a fictitious “Catechism ”Lite.”” You know what I”m talking about: only half the commandments of the regular Catechism, and one-third the doctrines.

Over the past couple decades we”ve seen countless variations of this humorous (and, to our sorrow, often accurate) description of an approach to Catholic faith and life that is watered down, minimalistic, and largely uninspiring. In fact, we might say “Catechism lite” or “Catholicism lite” and not have to complete the thought. [more]

At the same time, I”ve found that while most practicing Catholics would take the “Catechism” over “Catechism lite” in theory, the real-life situation is often quite different. Those who want to believe, celebrate, and live the Catholic faith in its fullness are labelled, sometimes pejoratively, as “conservatives.”

I realize this is a game played largely by dissident Catholics who are trying to legitimize their own brand of Catholicism or political agenda. Yet not only do political terms like “conservative” and ”liberal” not fit in Church discussions (really they”re only alienating stereotypes), but there’2012-04-24 18:35:51′s something else: Calling the full embrace of the Catholic faith “conservative” makes it seem as though it”s only one of a spectrum of equally acceptable ways of being Catholic.

In fact, it suggests that the goal would be somewhere between the extremes of “conservative” and “liberal.” Let”s split the difference and go with eight of the ten commandments (I think many would suggest the 6th and 9th for exclusion!) and three-fourths of the doctrines. For them, that may not be “Catholic lite,” but surely Catholic “enough.”  

Obviously this is a big challenge that I can”t fully address in one brief blog post. But I do want us to think about other ways we can express the progression from a nominal or dissident form of dabbling in the Catholic faith to a full commitment to all that the Church proposes for belief.

The models I”ve thought of most recently don”t quite “fit” for one reason or another–I guess that”s true of most analogies–but I thought I would offer them for your consideration.

When it comes to coffee, perhaps the proverbial “Catechism lite” would be decaf, and those who don”t want to be too ”extreme” might go for the caff-lite. Perhaps the “fullness” would be a triple-shot of espresso from the Mystic Monks!

Or, when it comes to milk, we have different watered down versions that we gradually get used to (skim, 1%, 2%, etc.), or perhaps we”ll add chocolate or even ice cream to make it all more palatable. While whole, unadulterated milk may not be goal when it comes to dairy-based beverages, we do want the whole, unadulterated faith if Christ is truly the Lord of our lives. 

With apologies to the milk intolerant, we might then say that soy milk would represent the false forms of faith and spirituality that pass themselves off as Catholic, but really aren”t, just as soy milk isn”t really “milk.” While there are good reasons for people to choose alternatives to dairy, there is no good reason to choose alternatives to Christ and the fullness of the Catholic faith proclaimed by the Church.

To take it a step further, we might say that the saints are the “cream” of the crop!

What images can you think of? Whatever they may be, the fullness of the faith, what St. Paul called the “full stature” of Christ (see Ephesians 4:13 and surrounding verses), must always be the goal for all.  

One Response to “Catholicism “Lite”: Less Fulfilling?”

  1. JohnE says:

    How about traveling with a boat through an alligator-infested swamp? Do you want to be swimming across, partially onboard the boat, mostly onboard with just a minor toe or pinky dangling over the edge, or all the way onboard?

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