Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Theoretical Catholic Tribes of America

I went to a lecture on African Art last night at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Very interesting stuff. It made me wonder though, what would the Catholic tribes of America be today if we were to name them?

Each tribe had its own customs, and there were hundreds and hundreds of tribes across the continent of Africa. If we counted the customs of a faithful people what would be the corner stone that might bond us? The scripture perhaps. Enter in traditions of our faith. Might the true peoples of the Catholic faith be labeled so easily? I would like to hope my state would be far up on the faihtful list. I didn't even realize Latin mass was not practiced in so many places until it was 'allowed' again.

One way we could determine some tribes, would be by which sacraments and devotions they practice. But I know there would be some definitely labeled as extinct. Our Catholic America seems to want to pick and choose which traditions it practices. I know this is not all Catholics, there are smatterings of solid hearts throughout some crazy places. It is almost as if, similar to the tribal nations allowing the slavery of other tribes, our fellow Catholics have let themselves become slaves.

Which brings me to another option of theorectical tribal derivement, individual faith. A Catholic, that practices the teaching of Christ, recognizes the differences that are so vast between each man. Would it be valid to place any man in one tribe? Or to call our one tribe Catholic, Universal. We call our one nation, United. We call our one planet, Earth. Is it so hard for Catholics to all practice the teachings of our chief? Or should we cut the dissenters heads off and place them on a pike?

Well, there will be no chopping of heads. Christ has taught us differently. But there are distinctive masks that have been put in to place in the same manner as the ancient and not so ancient tribal Africans. In contrast though, American masks are in two colors only: black and white. Christ leaves no gray area when he speaks to our Catholic tribe in scripture.

Luckily, our universal tribe is being led back to the uniform traditions in the vessage of Pope Benedict XVI. In no way can we possibly see him as only a peace keeper as the name implies. Like St. Bernardine of Siena, Benedict speaks as if he is shining a light on the most compelling catalyst that ever walked this Earth. The unchanging logos commands as a chief and loves as a father should.

One thing about the tribes the lecturer discussed, there is a very real sense of the spiritual realm in all places and things for tribal peoples. African tribes were divided by animistic rituals practiced away from eyes of other tribes or tourists. Catholic traditions are practiced for all to see. There is no deception, only transparency. Transparent walls are easily attacked, especially when what is on the inside is so infinitly the most precious treasure in existence.

What would the Catholic tribes of America be today if we were to name them? I really don't know. I could call California the Pelosi peoples and make some funny little piece of art depicting posadas in Texas, but really we are all One Body. That is the richness of our tribe. It's just a matter of time, because there is no place like home.