Radical Catholics

September 7, 2015

Do you want to be a radical Catholic?

Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. After all, the word radical can be a good or bad depending on the context. Sometimes it carries connotations of passionate commitment or admirable zeal. Other times, it can mean fanatical, freakish, or even dangerous devotion to a cause.

But I would argue we should all be radical Catholics. That’s because radical, in its strictest and truest sense, simply means rooted. The word radical comes from the Latin word radix. Radix means the root or foundation of something.

Men understand rootedness. We desire and appreciate things of quality, things with a venerable history, things that are tested and established. We like old cars made of steel and not plastic, gifts passed down from father to son for generations, ancient ceremonies, weathered buildings. Things that have proven themselves strong and true.

As Catholics, we should be radical because we should be rooted. But rooted in what? The traditions of the Church. Not just the infallible Sacred Traditions, but also the small-t devotional traditions that sanctified our forefathers for generations.

We live in an age that glorifies, even worships autonomy and personal choice. “What do you want? Which do you prefer? What makes you happy?” These are the questions everyone wants to be asked. Yet, the Catholic and Apostolic Faith is not something we modify to suit our preferences. It is not a Faith made in our own image. The Catholic Faith is something we receive. We no more choose or make it than we choose our birthday or family lineage.

Tradition has become somewhat of a dirty word in some Catholic circles. It is used dismissively or even derisively. Yet, a Catholic without tradition makes no sense—like a man waking from a coma only to realize he has no memory of who he is. Tradition is the memory of the Church. Without it, we are lost. We have no identity. We are quite literally rootless, tossed about by every passing fad and whim of our fickle age.

The Catholic Faith is not a menu of options, a smorgasbord of choice. Nor is something merely modern that began yesterday, 50 years ago, or even 500 years ago. It is the Faith once delivered to the saints. “Stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you received,” says St. Paul—and so we should.

If we Catholics would be strong, if we would withstand the assaults of the enemy, if we would prove ourselves faithful and true, we have no other choice but to steep ourselves in the traditions of our Faith. We must humbly receive the Faith, absorb it, let it seep into our bones. We must let our roots grow deep—for only then will we know who we really are.

Sam Guzman


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Reader Interactions


  1. Andrew says

    So true, my mom and I are working and growing in being rooted in the Traditions of the Church and trying to help other Catholics to turn from this quote in the article, “We live in an age that glorifies, even worships autonomy and personal choice. “What do you want? Which do you prefer? What makes you happy?” These are the questions everyone wants to be asked.” and we’ve been kicked out of two parishes, not liked by many. It has been a challenge, but I know it will be a rewarding challenge at the end, we must stick with it and remain faithful to the end.

    • Bruce says

      You’ve been kicked out of two parishes? For what??

      This article is a fantastic read. So many people let their “feelings” guide them and like Deacon Harokd Burke Sivers says “Hiw do you know those feelings are not indigestion?”

  2. Joel says

    This article was a great start to the week! I was feeling lethargic but I know I can always inspiration from RADICAL members of the Church like yourself! Fight the good fight!


  3. John Sposato says

    Interesting. It raises this question in my mind: What were the radicals of the sixties rooted in? Certainly not authority or tradition. In overturning those two pilars of culture and civilization, the radical baby boomers of that time fashioned a rootless society built on personal preferences, individual notions of truth, and a shifting sense of what is right and what is wrong. It has resulted in the chaos of the present age. Traditions and sources of authority committed to Truth keep us grounded in the bedrock of Reality and the ultimate Source of all things. What is our modern society rooted in? The sands of the shifting preferences of human societies? When the first wave of the coming big storm hits, many of our “houses” will be left in shambles.

  4. Captain Conundrum says

    I converted from atheism as an adult, so I would love to know what these “small-t devotional traditions that sanctified our forefathers for generations” are. How would I implement this in my life? I’m sure there are other readers who will have the same question.


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