What is more important, faith or culture?

by Marlon De La Torre

North Texas Catholic

9/18/2018

Photo by Geovanny Velasquez on Unsplash

Culture can be a unique obstacle when associated with the process of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More often than not, the culture becomes the creed rather than the actual Creed itself. It is not uncommon to see loyalty to one’s culture or personal “ism” over one’s faith and religious identity. Our approach toward proclaiming Jesus Christ should be a genuine desire to bring Christ into the daily lives of those we are trying to guide and teach.

Family First

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his inaugural address to the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Aparecida (May 13, 2007), emphasized the “role of the family as the school of faith, the training ground for human and civil values, the hearth in which human life is born and is generously and responsibly welcomed . . . The family is irreplaceable for the personal serenity it provides and for the upbringing of children.”

There is sound reasoning in Pope Benedict’s words on the importance of the family. Families serve as the galvanizing force behind the relationship between faith and culture. The father and mother bring the Good News to the family, laying a healthy creedal and cultural foundation for their offspring.

The family serves as the catalyst for all aspects of Catholic life and its integration within society, both religious and secular. Family naturally introduces an opportunity for children to learn from their parents on how to profess their faith, engage their world in the faith, and thrive. Included in this human equation is the recognition that we are all part of God’s kingdom. The love of God for His children reflects His desire to share His Divine love to everyone as Christ did (Jn 13:1; 15:9).

Hispanic Ministry and the Role of the Family

The first command given by God to our first parents was to go forth, bear fruit, multiply and subdue in His name (Gen 1:27-28). God directed us to bear children and educate them for the sake of the Kingdom and its growth. From the very beginning we see that the family serves as the first instance where a person discovers their identity with God and the reason to echo God.

Though the understanding of the family is typically understood to be applied universally among most cultures, it is particularly echoed within Hispanic culture. It is not uncommon to see multiple generations dwell within the same physical household setting or live within short distances from one another. This family dynamic values the family, especially the raising of children.

Faith or Culture?

Faith and culture work as one unique and visible expression of belief. They are not a contradiction when exercised side-by-side. If faith is at odds with culture or vice versa, the integrity of both may diminish. The same can be said about the relationship between faith and reason. One cannot completely exist without the other.

Christ is the source for all humanity. He is not bound by culture as He is the par excellence of how one should live. As the Word made flesh, the Incarnation serves as our distinctive identity because it is Christ revealed in human form. If a culture is to serve as a catalyst of evangelization, then it should identify with Christ first and foremost and the aim should always resound with Jesus Christ Crucified.

The Diocese of Fort Worth is preparing to host the National V Encuentro Conference on ministry to Hispanic Catholics. Let’s not forget that the foundation of any community, culture, or civilization is the Blessed Trinity intimately revealed by God through His Son Jesus Christ and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. The Trinity sets the stage on how to incorporate our faith within our cultural heritage. It serves as our distinctive identity as Catholics, where culture is at the service of Christ and thus at the service to all. 

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Marlon De La Torre, is the Director of Catechesis for the Diocese of Fort Worth and writes articles on catechesis, evangelization, and Christian spirtuality at KnowingIsDoing.org.

Culture can be a unique obstacle when associated with the process of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More often than not, the culture becomes the creed rather than the actual Creed itself. It is not uncommon to see loyalty to one’s culture or personal “ism” over one’s faith and religious identity. 

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