Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday's Word - March 20: Katholikos

katholikos adjective (Greek)
catholicus adjective (Latin)
catholic adjective (English)
cath·​o·​lic | \ ╦łkath-lik \

Definition of catholic from Merriam-Webster:

1a often capitalized: of, relating to, or forming the church universal
 b often capitalized: of, relating to, or forming the ancient undivided Christian church

"Catholic" derives from Latin catholicus and from Greek katholikos both of which mean universal.

From etymonline:
mid-14c., "of the doctrines of the ancient Church" (before the East/West schism in 1054), literally "universally accepted," from French catholique, from Latin catholicus "universal, general," from Greek katholikos, from phrase kath' holou "on the whole, in general," from kata "about" + genitive of holos "whole".

Medieval Latin catholicus was practically synonymous with "Christian" and meant "constituting or conforming to the church, its faith and organization". With capital C-, applied by Protestants to the Church in Rome c. 1554, after the Reformation began. General sense of "embracing all, universal" in English is from 1550s. 

The unity for which Jesus prayed (John 17) existed for over 1000 years. The church, comprised of sinners, wasn't utopian by any means. There were heresies and challenges, but they were dealt with and mostly resolved through authoritative magisterial teaching and various Councils. There have been 21 ecumenical councils, following the example we find in scripture (Acts 15). The most recent council occurred in 1962-1965.

The first major blow to the universality of the church occurred in 1054. The Great Schism led to the Orthodox churches falling out of communion with the universal church. However, the "two lungs" of the church (as the Catholic and Orthodox churches are known today) continue to work toward reconciliation and reunification. Each retains valid, apostolic succession, and a shared understanding of the sacraments, including the Eucharist.

Sources: Wikipedia, Pewforum
The schisms which began in the 1500s (starting with Lutheranism) led to the development of the modern "denomination" system with which we're familiar - a system that has done the most damage to the universality of Christianity. Something to consider: denominations have existed only for a third of the time (500 years) that they didn't exist (1500 years). Stated another way, only one quarter of Christianity's history involves different denominations. "Catholicism" was not, and is not a Christian denomination. Rather, it is the original universal (catholicus) Christian church. Yet, the seeds of discord were planted deep and the roots of heresy have fed fruits of relativism leading to a cornucopia of Christianities, something far removed from the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

All is not lost, however. We have certainty that the universal church will remain (Matthew 16:18). Full unity can occur again, and is prayed for at every mass, but it will take a willingness among Christians to shred over 500 years of indoctrination, propaganda and socialization. It is a difficult journey and one which I am still on, still endeavoring to expand my understanding and still trying to grow in faith. It took me 35+ years before I took my first baby steps which eventually led me on a journey "home" to the universal church. I'll write more about my journey at another time, but the point here is this: it was my own self-centered ignorance, subjected to anti-Catholic indoctrination, fueled by pride and ego that prevented me from even considering Catholicism as an option. 

Next Wednesday, we'll explore a word that thrives on self-centered ignorance, loves to indoctrinate and seeks to boost pride and ego; a word that loves to cause division (denominations); a word that twists definitions (like "catholic") to subvert truth: Satan (John 17:15)