Catholicism is creeds: from St. Paul’s profession that “Jesus is Lord” to the Nicene Creed, professed at Mass every Mass.
Catholicism is ideas: from Catholic Social Thought to Original Sin and Sanctifying Grace.
Catholicism is cultures: from pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City to Simbang Gabi, nine-days of singing and praying in the Philippines in anticipation of Christmas.
Catholicism is demographics: from its burgeoning in Sub-Saharan Africa (from 1% to 20% of the population in the last century) to its graying US clergy (from an average age of 35 in 1970 to 63 in 2009).
Catholicism is institutions: from the papacy to one in four of the world’s health care facilities (making it the largest non-governmental provider of health care in the world) … to say nothing of grammar schools, trade schools, and universities; parishes, monasteries, and Christian Life Communities; Catholic Charities and the Jesuit Refugee Service; and myriad pregnancy centers, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, newspapers, radio stations, internet websites …
Catholicism is aesthetics: both time-tested – Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Saint Teresa,” Giotto’s “Joachim and Anne at the Golden Gate,” the beehive huts of Skellig Michael in Ireland, Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo virtutum – and the oh, so modern – Martin Scorsese’s filming of Shusako Endo’s Silence, Anselm Kiefer’s Emanation, Oscar Niemeyer’s Cathedral of Brasília, Henryk Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way,” and Christina Aguilera’s “Have Mercy on Me.”