The “I’m ‘More Catholic’ Than You Are…” Problem

I will be the first to admit that I love knowing (often useless) bits of information. Trivia games excite me, as I like to impress people with my knowledge. Who doesn’t enjoy looking intelligent? However, just as I can get prideful over the facts that I know, many of us Catholics can get prideful over the devotions we know about or follow. And just as I sometimes don’t comprehend how the facts I know fit into the grand scheme of things, sometimes Catholics don’t realize that their faith is so much more than they take it for.

Catholics who have been raised faithfully can occasionally become caught in pride. Many of us have had this pride at some time or another, to a greater or lesser degree; sometimes we don’t even realize that we have it. We can become proud of our faith, which is a good thing, but we can also become proud of it without fully understanding it, which is not a good thing. Then we sometimes start looking down on those whom we deem “less holy” than ourselves. “So, you haven’t memorized St. Gertrude’s prayer for the souls in Purgatory? Well,” I might say with a knowing smirk, “I have.” Whether I mean to or not, I’m hinting that I’m a better Catholic than you are, forgetting that I’m not the judge and that Catholicism is not something that is measured by degrees.

Just labeling yourself as “Catholic” is not going deep enough. Just being proud of the fact that you know the St. Gertrude’s prayer, or wear the brown scapular, or pray a daily novena, isn’t helping you if you don’t truly understand why you perform these actions. These devotions are to help us get to Heaven and grow closer to God, and if we don’t understand this then they are of small use to us. If we don’t carry out these devotions seriously and with all our hearts, we’re not accomplishing that for which they are meant.

Also, viewing the Catholic Faith simply as if it is some sort of “cool club” with cool stuff for cool people is not appreciating Catholicism’s inestimable value. It’s superficially treating something that is sacred and beautiful. It’s comparable to someone simply waving a hand and saying dismissively, “oh, that’s kind of cool,” when he hears a heart-wrenching movement of music or sees the ocean at sunset. Christ died for us, and we are His children. That is something to be proud of and something to be taken seriously.

So don’t just advertise yourself as Catholic. Don’t just say the words about how much you love being Catholic. Truly live your Catholic faith in your deeds as well as your words, so that people can see it and love you and God for it. We should not become too caught up in what we know and look down on those who might not have performed specific devotions or heard of specific saints. We should instead focus on deepening our faith and growing together in love of God.