Universal means Catholic, an example is Universalism, the teaching that all mankind will be saved. But first let’s look at the use of the word ‘liberal’ in the group of churches known as Liberal Catholic Movement. Liberal means free, as in liberty. Sometimes it means generous, as in using ketchup liberally on French-fries. We sometimes think the latter only relates to politics, but that is not the way we use it in the Universal Catholic Church. You can “lean to the right” in politics and still be a Universal Catholic. Liberal means free. We receive grace freely. When Jesus healed a man with palsy, He said: “Rise, your sins are forgiven.” There was no quizzing about the man’s past. What he had done in the past didn’t matter. There were no promises about doing prayers or penance in the future. The man was probably just an ordinary man: the Bible would have mentioned it otherwise.
Universal Catholics are married and divorced and single parents, gay and straight, rich and poor, alcoholics in recovery or otherwise, and all other shades in the tapestry of mankind. As we were welcomed at God’s table, we try to make space for all. When our Master Jesus was scolded in the Gospels, it was usually because he spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes and others shunned by society. He was once scolded because he whipped up a batch of wine so a party could continue. In short, the Bible is full of stories about Jesus hanging out with people involved in rough or “un-Christian” behavior.
Universal Catholics go to Confession, and it is good for the soul to do that. However, Absolution is not tied to penance or prayers. It is freely given: “Rise, your sins are forgiven.” Every Mass begins with a Confession said by all, followed by Absolution that is freely given. Our marching orders are to love God, to love ourselves, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Those three things are at the top of our To Do lists. Be free, and don’t sweat the small stuff. After love, it is all small stuff. All those orthodox rules and laws are the fine print.
Nothing comes close to being as important as love. We are to love three things: God, ourselves, and our neighbor. The Master Jesus taught us relationships, not laws. It isn’t who you are: it is what you do. We have never had to clear a directive from so informed a source.
How are we supposed to go about loving God, loving ourselves, and loving our neighbor? That is up to you. That’s right: you need to decide how you will be expressing love.
We can all do something. We all have talents: comforting those in grief, healing those in sickness. Some can reach out to others in writing and on the internet. Others help by cleaning the church building.
All of us chip in and support our church with money, which is a representation of our personal energy spent at work.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you can do, but we all need to do something. Someone once taunted Mother Teresa of Calcutta, saying “You think you’re going to wipe out poverty? You’re old and sick yourself.” Mother Teresa replied, “I wasn’t called to be successful. I was called to be faithful.” But think of the thousands of people she is said to have helped. She was successful, and she touched so many lives, but success was a by-product, not the goal of her life. Mother Teresa said, “Each one of us has something beautiful to do for God