Reason # 15: E Pluribus Unum (from the many there is one). I was at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last Sunday afternoon as the Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, greeted men and women preparing to enter the Catholic faith this Easter. The Basilica is one of the 15 largest churches in the world, and is surely the largest Catholic Church in this fair city. It seats well over 3000 and was filled. What was amazing, though, was the diversity manifested in those who were gathered. Quite literally, there were people from all over the world: Central and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, the Philippines, Japan, China, and of course, from right here in the USA.
The word “catholic” is actually an adjective that means “universal.” Christ had told the apostles to make disciples from all nations. That is what I saw last Sunday afternoon. All of humanity was represented. I saw that day young and old, rich and poor, famous and not so famous, clergy and laity, and religious brothers and sisters. It is clear that all are invited; no one is excluded who will accept Jesus and his teachings.
All of this diversity makes for a rich experience in Church life. We all celebrate the one true faith and are united in the celebration of one liturgy, but there is a great diversity as to things such as music, language, preaching style, etc. Some people say they have left the Catholic Church because of boredom. But my challenge to you is that if you don’t find a parish you like in your own immediate neighborhood, look around! You’ll be surprised at what you see. Some of our downtown city parishes feature very formal liturgies, wonderful choirs, and traditional music. Our African-American Catholic parishes feature dynamic gospel choirs and exuberant preaching. One of our largest and most diverse parishes is St. Camillus in Silver Spring which features, among other things, a large multicultural choir. We have Korean parishes and Hispanic and Latino parishes. Several of our parishes also have a large Filipino communities. Mass is celebrated in over a dozen languages in the Archdiocese every Sunday. Some of our parishes also celebrate the ancient form of the Latin liturgy.
If you think every parish is the same, look again! E pluribus (and there’s a lot of pluribus) unum: “among the many there is one.” There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; but all of it is manifest in the rich tapestry that is the Roman Catholic Church. Come on home—you might be surprised what you find if you’ve been away for a while!
I’ve featured this video before, but it makes sense to do so again in this post.