As of late, I have decided to embark upon a new venture, that being the formulation of a new Catholic spirituality and worldview. I am terming it, right now, as “Catholic Vitalism.” This is no small feat. However, I feel it necessary, at the very least, to express some thoughts that I have concerning the faith and spirituality. This is my attempt to bolster Catholicism and challenge the modern world as well as challenges from the Left and the Right.
So, what does Catholic Vitalism mean? In short, it is a life-affirming and joyous view of Catholicism and faith that will allow the believer to be liberated and climb to new heights as a person, in this life. It is not prosperity Gospel; suffering and hardship are basically promised by Christ. It is not an arrogant or foolish faith which ignores reality or cares nothing for talk of sin and imperfection. Instead, it is a Catholicism which sees the value and goodness in our temporal and physical existence. It values the body, the mind, and the spirit. It embraces the freedom, joy, and hope that is due to each believer as found in Scripture. It emphasizes our role as Spirit-filled sons and daughters of God. It is a Catholicism that understands the implications of our bodies as being temples of God. It is a Catholicism that sees the natural, physical world as God’s gift to us, and our life in it as something predestined for purpose and greatness. It is a Catholicism that looks upward towards the Heavens, and not downward in shame. It is a Catholicism that understands that while in modern society “God is dead,” He lives within us, the baptized. It is a Catholicism that rejects life-hating and life-denying spiritualities. It is a Catholicism that seeks to clearly distinguish between the sacred and profane. It is a Catholicism that understands loving God also means loving oneself. Finally, it is a Catholicism that places special emphasis on Man’s creation in the image and likeness of God, and then our transformation after Baptism into beings which share in God’s Divinity and become a more perfect image of Him at the End of the Age. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 17-18, RSVCE).
This is a Catholicism of affirmation. Thus far, I have drafted this following “Creed” or list of affirmations that a person is meant to say to themselves:
“My life was ordained by God before time itself. I was created in the image and likeness of God. My earthly life is not insignificant. I have a definite purpose. I am as much a part of the Church as every other believer. I have been born anew through the waters of Baptism. Sin has no power over me. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I love my body because it is God’s temple and His creation. I will not profane a temple of God, but glorify it, both in my thoughts and in my actions. My body is more sacred than any church or holy site. Self-control is Power and victory of the transformed Will. I will not succumb to a life of fear. A life of hope and joy is my right as a Christian. Suffering serves only to glorify God and make me stronger and holier. Earthly suffering is insignificant compared to the glories that await me. Christ has conquered sin and death. I hate what is evil and love what is good. I will be exalted through my humility. I am a judge of all things, and only God is my judge. As I grow in holiness, I become more like God. I am a son of God. The world is mine by inheritance. I am immortal. The Spirit dwells within me, and I within the Spirit. The Spirit has given me gifts which no other person has. I share in God’s Divinity now, in this life, and even more perfectly in the life to come.”
If much of this seems familiar to you, that’s because it is all found within Scripture and Tradition. Is it the fullness of either? No. But it is what I wish to emphasize, and it what I believe the Church must emphasize in the current age. I call this “vital” or “vitalist” because it is supposed to emphasize the importance and the goodness of life, especially our new and transformed life in Christ, as something that was given to us by God. We were not born for nothing, and our earthly existence is not meaningless. Though it is short, it can be full and it can be great. More than anything it must be holy, though the life of holiness is the greatest life of all.
None of this is meant to negate anything the Church has historically taught, nor is it meant to diminish the importance of other Church practices. In fact, it very much embraces the sacraments and devotions, because they are real and sacred encounters with God that further transform us and fill us with grace. This is also incomplete.
My view is that Catholicism must differentiate itself from the world by being the happy religion. In a sense, it must laugh and dance for joy in the face of modernity. It must re-sacralize the world and address the Death of God in society, as well as the paradox that Evola says is the Church’s greatest challenge, that is, that by making the profane sacred, we make the sacred profane. We must live in the world, apart from the world. We must not grovel or see this life as being worth nothing. We must not be weak. Now is a time for strength. Now is a time for courage. Now is a time for action. Now is a time for life-affirmation in a culture of death and despair.
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