Defining ‘Catholic’ — what’s it to you?

Chris Benguhe, seen here in this 2008 file photo, has been writing his “A Better View” column for The Catholic Sun since 2001. He is asking readers to respond to his question of whether his topics are “Catholic” enough. Let us know in the comment box.
Chris Benguhe, seen here in this 2008 file photo, has been writing his “A Better View” column for The Catholic Sun since 2001. He is asking readers to respond to his question of whether his topics are “Catholic” enough. Let us know in the comment box.

I am doing a lot of thinking lately about what it means to be Catholic.

Mostly because some have commented my columns were not “Catholic” enough; that I wrote about things you could read elsewhere.

Chris Benguhe is a columnist for The Catholic Sun. Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.
Chris Benguhe is a columnist for The Catholic Sun. Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

Well, I would like your opinion, as well as your consideration of what you believe it means to be Catholic.

To begin this thought experiment, I went through all my columns over the last few years to see what I have written about.

I have written about why it’s important to care for and respect our aging parents when it’s not easy to do so.

I have written about how we need to love and appreciate the mentally ill and do all we can to help them out of their nightmarish prisons of their minds.

One of my frequents odes has been to the value of aging, and how we can learn so much from our elders; in fact we should look forward to growing old. And even looking old. This, when society and media are obsessed with the vanity of youth and have an almost compulsive need to rid the world of any reminders of our mortality, as if we will never die.

I have written about the dangers of a fame-obsessed world and how we “everyday mortals” are lucky not to be famous. Because we know the importance of humility, the lifesaving value of accountability to others and we realize that the star in our lives should be the light of Christ, not some “American Idols.”

And in just about every column, I have in some way talked about how we need to appreciate our flaws, our vulnerabilities and our weaknesses as a constant reminder of our need to reach out to others and to God for help and love — not the “religion of success.”

I have not gone out of my way to remind readers of the very applicable biblical references for all the topics I write about because I feel shoving rules and commandments down someone’s throat can get in the way of the power of a simple story or anecdote. I was taking another very good storyteller’s lead on that, namely Jesus Christ.

Since the word “Catholic” itself actually means “universal,” I thought these everyday topics of people everywhere were important.

But what was most important for me was to discuss how we as Catholics had the responsibility and opportunity to solve problems in a Catholic way, as opposed to an insensitive and self-serving worldly way.

And I believed it was OK to veer out of the hallowed halls of my local church to do so.

But I am human. I can be wrong. Tell me if I am. Tell me what you believe it means to be “Catholic.” But also please tell me if I am right and if the topics I have been talking about have been “Catholic” enough for you.

I absolutely cannot write about these ideas anywhere else in the secular media. They flat out refuse to publish them.