Fr. Paul D. Scalia: Catholic and “catholic”

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*Image: He Sent Them Out Two by Two (Il les envoya deux à deux) by James Tissot, c. 1890 [Brooklyn Museum]

By Fr. Paul D. Scalia, The Catholic Thing, July 26, 2020

Fr. Paul Scalia is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Va, where he serves as Episcopal Vicar for Clergy. His new book is That Nothing May Be Lost: Reflections on Catholic Doctrine and Devotion.

Fr. Paul D. ScaliaIn today’s Gospel, our Lord likens the Kingdom of heaven to “a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Mt 13:44-52) This net, which gathers not just one kind of fish but fish of every kind, serves as a good description of what we confess every Sunday: the Church is catholic.

Now, most people probably think of “Catholic” as the brand name of a particular Christian denomination. Yes, we speak colloquially of the Catholic Church as distinct from the Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist churches, etc. But that’s a fairly recent designation, only since the Reformation. Before the Church was “Catholic” she was already “catholic.” It’s a truth we find expressed in the Church’s earliest years. The word “catholic” means universal, embracing and bringing all things together into a unity (from the Greek kata holos, “according to the whole).  …