Over at Called to Confusion, Sean Patrick comes up with this gem:
Where is the Catholic Church?
If you are curious then I might first suggest that you try this exercise:
If you live in a small town, go to the corner store on the main street and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in a big city, go downtown and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in Singapore, go to the nearest market and ask the first people you meet, ‘Where is the Catholic Church?’
If you live in Nigeria, go to town and ask the first people you meet, “Where is the Catholic Church?’
In each scenario I am willing to wager that the vast majority of the people asked this question will give you directions to the nearest church. But not just any church. You will be given directions to a church which is pastored by a priest who has been entrusted by a bishop to celebrate the sacraments. And this bishop will be in communion with the bishop of Rome, Benedict the 16th.
I recently tested this theory. I work in Houston, TX in an office complex that is 40 stories high. I stood in the lobby for a few minutes and asked several passers-by if they knew where the Catholic Church is located. I asked ten people in the span of ten minutes. Two people said, ‘I do not know, sorry.’ The rest of them gave me rough directions to either St. Anne’s Catholic Church or St. Michael’s Catholic Church. Both parishes are about equidistant from the office. Both St. Anne’s and St. Michael’s are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. If I were to leave the office and follow the directions I was given I would pass at least a half dozen other churches but those churches were not identified as the ‘Catholic Church’ by any person that I asked. If I stood there all day and asked one hundred people the same question, I would be shocked if anybody pointed me to a church that is not in communion with the bishop of Rome.
You can also examine the question this way:
Go outside and go to your neighbor’s house. Knock on the door. Ask your neighbor what church they attend. If they attend a church then ask, ‘Which one?’ After they tell you which one ask, “Is that a Catholic Church?” If they answer in the affirmative then I would be willing to wager that the church in question will be a church pastored by a priest who is in communion with the bishop of Rome. If they say, ‘No, it is not a Catholic Church’ then I am willing to bet that their church will not be pastored by a priest who is in communion with the bishop of Rome.
What is my point? My point is that when it comes to the question, Where is the Catholic Church?: “Securus judicat orbis terrarum” or “The verdict of the world is conclusive.” – St. Augustine (Contra Epist. Parmen. III.24)
Even for Sean, this scales new heights of dizzy brilliance.
Or not. In popular parlance, “the Catholic church” is a name-brand for a particular denomination. As such, if you ask somebody in a small town “Where’s the Catholic church?” they will point you to a church that belongs to that denomination (assuming it has a Catholic church).
(Keep in mind that there are no capital letters in speech.)
It’s no different than if you asked, “Where’s the Baptist church?” I’d “wager” that they’ll direct you, not to just any ol’ church, but to a (gasp!) Baptist church! That’s right–a church pastured by a (gasp!) Baptist minister!
Is that dumb luck? No. Not if you repeat the “test.” Happens every time! Clearly there’s something uncanny afoot.
Same thing in a big city. If you flew into Houston, got off the plane, and asked somebody in the terminal, “Where’s the Catholic Church?” they’d say, “Which one?”
Likewise, if you asked them, “Where’s the Baptist church?” they’d say, “Which one?”
Will miracles never cease!
How does a post like that even get past their “Editor in Chief” or their “Academic Editor(s)”?
I often wonder what Sean’s contribution is to CTC is supposed to be. It can’t be the intellectual gravitas.
Does he provide a human shield to cover their retreat? Is that it? When Bryan senses that the argument is going badly for him over at Green Baggins, does he whistle; Sean comes bounding up, all frisky and eager-to-please, Bryan points him to the pesky Prots; says, "Go get 'em, boy!" then–as the fur flies–Bryan makes his escape with his reputation roughly intact? That’s how things seem to time.