A Catholic Identity Movement

Procession on Sunday, June 7th, A.D. 2015, Canada, Photo Credit: SSPX

There is a grave need in the Catholic Church today for a Catholic Identity Movement. By this I mean a necessity for Catholics, particularly young Catholics, to start identifying themselves as Catholic first, above everything else: race, ethnicity, nationality, culture, politics, peer-groups, etc. We need to begin identifying our very being, who we are, with our Catholic Christian faith. Catholicism should not "influence" us, but rather "define" us. Many people call themselves "Catholic" but few actually have a Catholic Identity...

Characteristics of Catholic Identity...

A person who has a Catholic Identity is one who submits to Jesus as King, and views the pope as his royal prime minister. Bishops are the King's local sheriffs, while priests and deacons are the sheriff's deputies. Catholic identity means submitting to this God-ordained government first. This is our primary government, and we only submit to local civil governments insofar as our primary government (the Church) allows. So naturally we obey the speed limits, traffic laws, tax code, state and city ordinances, etc. However, if any of these things ever violated the sacred law of our first government (the Church) we would have to disobey them. For example; suppose a civil government were to ban the celebration of mass within a certain city limits. Catholic identity would demand that we ignore this civil government since it secondary to the Church. Then we would celebrate the mass anyway, even in secret if necessary, because our primary government demands this. The same principle could be applied to many different things.

A person with Catholic Identity embraces life. Understanding that God is the God of life, and that his desire is to give us life in this world and beyond; Catholic Identity demands that we embrace human life in all its forms, rejecting anything that cheapens life, or destroys it, even if society considers this acceptable and/or legal. This means that while there is often little we can do to prevent people in society from killing themselves and each other, we who embrace Catholic Identity reject these things for ourselves, our families, and our communities/parishes: abortion, euthanasia, cloning, embryonic and foetal stem-cell research, artificial insemination, surrogate pregnancies, executions, riots, and unnecessary wars, etc. For all of these things involve the unnecessary death of human beings (both born and preborn). Therefore, it is vitally important that those of us who embrace Catholic Identity, and the communities we support, valiantly reach out to defend and protect members of our own communities/parishes who's lives are in danger.

As part of embracing life, a person with Catholic Identity absolutely rejects the relativist standards of sexual ethics that are now considered "normal" in Western civilisation. This means that Catholic Identity demands we obey the sexual laws of King Jesus and his Kingdom Church. Sexual activity is to be limited between one biological man, and one biological woman, in the bond of Holy Matrimony for life. Catholic Identity rejects both concurrent polygamy and serial polygamy -- the latter of which is prevalent in Western society in the form of divorce and remarriage. Catholic Identity likewise rejects fornication, cohabitation, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and gender fluidity. It also rejects artificial means of contraception and sterilisation. Catholic Identity understands that these views run counter to societal norms and legal standards. However, we don't care, because our primary society is the Catholic Church, and our primary government is the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, with Jesus Christ as our King. Matrimony is designed to give life because our God is a God of life. Catholic Identity understands sexual relations between a husband and wife as both unification and procreation. Sexual intercourse, under Catholic Identity, is designed solely to bring a man and a woman into complementary biological unity. That is it's primary function. Then, as a direct result of this primary function, procreation naturally occurs, and the unity of the man and woman create a new person (baby). Even in cases of natural infertility, when procreation is not possible, the unification process (sexual intercourse or spousal communion) must be open to the possibility of life (however remote). For with God, all things are possible. Catholic Identity demands we only embrace periods of natural infertility to regulate family size. Catholic Identity demands that we embrace all the marriage laws of the Catholic Church, and reject for ourselves anything outside those laws, regardless of what is considered permissible and legal according to civil law, because civil law is secondary to us.

Catholic Identity means that we marry within the Catholic community. We do not marry non-Catholics, nor do we marry non-practising Catholics. For statistics tell us that children of mixed marriages rarely remain Catholic, and mixed marriages are more likely to end in divorce anyway, which is illegal under Catholic law, hated by God, and leaves families broken. Recent statistics clearly show that when both spouses are practising Catholics, the chances of the marriage surviving are much higher. Furthermore, marriage within the Catholic community simplifies life and makes the relationship easier.

Catholic Identity means we do not trust anyone outside of the Catholic community to educate our children. Therefore, our primary means of education for our children consist of: homeschooling, cooperative schooling, Catholic distance schooling (online or correspondence learning), or sometimes parochial schooling when such schools actually teach Catholic Identity. Catholic communities/parishes should work together to insure that Catholic parents have some of these means at their disposal, and provide both financial and practical support when necessary.

Catholic Identity means that we support others within our Catholic community/parish. When faced with a choice to patron the business of a community/parish member, versus a non-community/parish member, Catholic Identity demands that we patron our fellow parishioners first. Catholic Identity means we always show favour to our own when it comes to business and finance. We only venture our business outside of our community/parish when we need to. This can only be realised by the intentional choice of each member, and a personal resolution to live by this standard. Ideally, Catholic bishops should start robust credit unions, with small offices near every community/parish, to aid in this process. This helps keep our money within the community as much as possible.

Catholic Identity means consciously tuning out of mass media culture. That doesn't mean "cutting the cable" or eliminating all forms of modern communication. What it does mean is carefully limiting what kind of information enters your home and/or media devices. Net Nanny is a service available to parents wishing to accomplish this. Elimination of modern communication devices might reasonably become a last resort, when limiting the content of information becomes too difficult.

Catholic Identity means thinking about the Catholic Church FIRST in all political matters. Translated practically, this means voting in accord with politicians and ballot issues that best protect the safety and freedom of the Catholic Church. Politicians and ballot issues that threaten the Catholic Church's integrity, or safety, or that limit the Catholic Church's freedom to act in accordance with the gospel, are an unacceptable threat to Catholic Identity and must be voted down. While other issues; like abortion, marriage, poverty and climate, are all very important, these come secondary to protecting the safety and freedom of the Catholic Church, regardless of what our Catholic bishops may valiantly say or write. Remember, Catholic Identity sees the Catholic Church as our primary government. Therefore it must be protected at all cost. We are subjects of King Jesus first, and the Church is his Kingdom on earth. It is not the full Kingdom of God, but it is a deposit of that which is to come, and is still very much real in the here and now. We are subjects of the King first, and citizens of our nations second. REMEMBER THAT. While protecting such things as church property and finances are important, they are secondary to protecting our bishops, priests and deacons, along with our fellow parishioners.

Catholic Identity means putting your local community/parish first in all things. This means that we don't just go to church for mass once a week. Catholic Identity means seeking ways to fellowship with communicants/parishioners outside of mass, and finding ways to volunteer at the community/parish in any way possible. It also means finding a Catholic parish that promotes Catholic Identity. This can be done by finding a traditional type of parish (see details here) that is hopefully nearby (within 15 minutes drive). If one is not, and cannot be reasonably found nearby, Catholic Identity means we do something radical. We move. That's right, we move to put ourselves as close to an authentically Catholic community/parish as possible.

Catholic identity means stepping up to the plate financially when it comes to supporting our community/parish. Dropping $5 in the collection plate just won't cut it in a world that is hostile to our Catholic Christian faith. Catholic Identity means we set up a giving method that is habitual, consistent and substantial. For some this means an automatic bank transfer. For others this means having your bank draft and send an automatic check. (This is what I do.) Many banks provide this service free of charge. The amount should be substantial and within the confines of your budget. For some it may mean $10/week. For others this may mean $25/week. For others $50/week. Still others may be able to give more. Financially supporting the work of the Church is one of the 5 Precepts taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. People adhering to Catholic Identity take this seriously.

Catholic Identity means loving traditional ways of Catholic worship -- see details here.

Catholic Identity means being stable. We may move around a bit when we are young, so as to get established with work, but as a general rule, we should always seek to become established near a Catholic community/parish that promotes Catholic Identity (traditional Catholic prayer and devotion -- see details here). Once established, we stay put! Stability is a sign of spiritual maturity, and a willingness to give back to the community/parish. It is necessary for the growth of the community/parish, and the further formation of one's own Catholic Identity. Adult children should try to live close to their parents, and parents' community/parish, whenever possible. When not possible, families should make every effort to remain close in other ways. In addition, Catholic Identity means embracing the community of the local parish as well. This means getting involved in things: prayer groups, Bible studies, charity work, even if it's just a social hour. We must learn to share each other's burdens and rejoice in each other's blessings. Coming closer in community means learning how to forgive. Because everyone has rough edges, and they only way they can be smoothed is to interact and forgive one another for being human.

A person with Catholic Identity will embrace the spiritual disciplines of the Church (fasting & abstinence) as well as organised daily prayer and devotion, both individually and with family. This is in addition to regular confession and mass attendance.

A person with Catholic Identity will embrace social ostracism, social non-conformity, public ridicule, and outright persecution for the Catholic Christian faith. In the West, his may mean losing some career opportunities and/or financial gain.

A woman with Catholic Identity will embrace Mary-like modesty, refusing to conform to the flesh-revealing "norms" of society, and covering the head during times of prayer. The following are some suggested online retailers of modesty clothing for women, but honestly, some of this stuff can be found at conventional retailers too. I'm not telling women to shop here, though you're certainly invited to, but I am saying to use these websites for ideas...

A man with Catholic Identity will likewise embrace modesty, neither showing off too much flesh nor wearing excessively tight clothing.

Both men and women with Catholic Identity will seek modesty in swim wear. One easy solution is the use of sun/swim shirts used primarily for protection from UV radiation from the sun. These can be worn easily by both men and women, boys and girls, not only providing modesty for the upper body, but also the added benefit of protection from sunburn. Boys and men should wear swim trunks as opposed to briefs. Women and girls should seek bathing suits that are one-piece with an attached skirt that hides the thighs and bottom. Some swimwear companies are now offering bathing suits with leggings that go midway down the thigh. Here is one example of this type, but it is certainly not the only retailer marketing to modest women. Catholic Identity means being different. It means being a called-out people from the rest of society. We are not to conform to social fashions and norms. Catholic Identity means we set our own fashions and norms.

Catholic Identity means we resolve ourselves toward learning some Latin. We need not be fluent speakers of Latin, but we should at least know some basics. Here is a short PDF you can download to get you started. Learn these two pages, and you'll already be more familiar with Latin than 90% of people in the Church today. Now, once you've got that down, and if you're ready to really dig into the language of the Church, pick up a copy of Reading Church Latin here. This will keep you busy for several months, but it will teach you a lot. Or if you prefer a total immersion method, and are willing to spend a little more: get First Form Latin, followed by Second Form Latin, followed by Third Form Latin, and Fourth Form Latin, etc. Finally, if Catholic Identity is something you really want to fully incorporate into your life, and you're willing to dedicate a couple years to the language, get Rosetta Stone Latin Software, Level 1-3. This will bring the language to life! Now the reason why I'm recommending it this way is because it's a logical progression. First you download the free PDF and learn the bare basics of Ecclesiastical Latin pronunciation. When you're done with that, you get the Church Latin book (or the Form Latin sets), and that primes you fully in Ecclesiastical Latin. Lastly, you get the Rosetta Stone software, and this teaches you how to actually speak Latin conversationally. The software teaches both Classical and Ecclesiastical Latin. There is just a subtle difference of pronunciation between them, Ecclesiastical Latin is simpler. By reading the Church Latin book (or the Form Latin sets) first, you'll be well aware of how to pronounce Latin with an Ecclesiastical accent. Once you've completed Rosetta Stone software, you'll be ready to literally speak Latin with anyone around the world -- FLUENTLY. The point here is to inculcate a fully integrated Catholic identity through language. This helps bring Catholics together, and sets us apart as a distinct people, unique from the world. It also provides a common auxiliary language for Catholics to use with other Catholics who have fully adopted the Catholic Identity around the world. Learning a language takes time and practise. Embracing the Catholic Identity means being patient with yourself, and being realistic about learning another language. Don't set yourself up to fail by expecting too much too fast. Relax and take your time with this. Try to enjoy it. You will be shocked how much learning Latin can actually help your English skills as well as provide an easy bridge to learning other Latino languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, etc.).

Catholic Identity means we reach out to others in love. We don't want to come across as the "uptight traditionalist" who judges others for being less Catholic than himself. We must have compassion for others, and be patient with them. We do not beat people over the head with our beliefs and traditions. Rather, we simply attract them with the demonstration that we are different. Catholic Identity means we reach out to our local communities with charity and kindness, all the while never compromising our beliefs or standards. We should volunteer, and socialise with others, so we don't become "weird" in isolation. Catholic Identity means being counter-cultural, and part of being counter-cultural means showing true Christian charity (real love not sentimentality) to our neighbours (see details here). Remember, the message of the Scriptures is to tell us we are IN the world but not OF the world. We interact with humanity, but we don't imitate it. Above all, we must focus on our Lord and King at all times, for only that will make us joyous.

We are never going to recover our Catholic Identity until we choose to become our Catholic Identity. This needs to be a real movement, with no central head or organisation, but rather an organic grassroots movement starting with individual young people willing to make a commitment. The general rules of this movement, which I've outlined here, are basic guidelines. They are by no means concrete, but should be considered directions. Let the Church be our guide and our organisation. It's time for Catholics to start getting radical again. It's time for Catholic youth to start getting real. This is about surviving as a distinct community within a hostile society and culture. The time is now. Tomorrow is much too late. It's time for a worldwide Catholic Identity Movement. 


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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Arminius said…
Excellent post. I agree with your thesis. It is time. What was once lost can be found again.