How many of you have had this feeling?…You are far away from your city or in a foreign country where the local cuisine is very unlike your own, and then suddenly you see a large yellow golden ‘M’…Ahhhh, now this is something familiar! This food is a safe bet because I know it.
Walk into any McDonalds’ around the world, and you will find a similar setting and ambience, a familiar menu, and most importantly – you know what you are ordering. True, the menu changes slightly from place to place to include the local tastes. You will find a Beef Burger in London but in India you will find a Veg McTikka. But the form, side-orders of Fries and Coke, and the presentation is very much the same.
Isn’t this what being ‘Catholic’ is all about? If you do not happen to be in your city or country on a Sunday and want to go for Mass; you enter a Church you find (you can recognise a Church when you see one)…and you realise the Mass is in a foreign language! But still you find comfort and a sense of familiarity…you feel at home! You may not know the language, but you know exactly which prayer is going on at that point of time, which part of the Mass is going on. You pray the ‘Our Father’ in your own language, while the rest of the congregation prays it in theirs. This is because the Church is truly Universal. The word ‘Catholic ‘ means ‘universal’; it comes from the Greek word ‘katholikos‘ which means ‘pertaining to the whole’ or ‘Universal’.
This doesn’t mean uniformity. In every place, styles, expressions and some traditions change with the local language, custom and culture. But what remains constant is the content of our Faith, our One God, our Fellowship, our breaking of Bread, the contents of our Churches, the Tabernacle, and so many other things. Go to any Catholic Church in the world and you will feel at home.
Now, comparing the Catholic Church to McDonald’s is absolutely absurd and the Church is nothing like McDonald’s (though McDonald’s has opened its latest outlet just outside the Vatican!!), but hopefully now you know what it means to be ‘CATHOLIC’. Be Catholic, Be Proud.