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The Roman Catholic Culture

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Introduction

The term culture was first used by Edward Tylor. He defined culture as a “belief, custom, knowledge, law, or morals” acquired by people (O’Neil, 2006).  It is regarded as a set of assumptions created by members of a group and is taught to new members. Anything perceived, known, thought, felt, and valued is as a result of culture. All things made by man such as roads, laws, and languages are the outcomes of practicing culture. Members of a given culture normally share cultural traits such as language, identity, food, or laws.

All cultures share common characteristics; they are as a results of the behaviors we learn, they are continuously learnt through enculturation, and are expressed by use of language and symbols. They share the following characteristics: Involve communication through language, classify people in terms of gender, age, and marital status, divide work in terms of gender i.e. women’s and men’s job, and regulate sex among individuals.

Culture is normally adaptive. It continually guides people on how to live in the world. It however contain information that may ruin lives e.g. the culture of excessive drinking of alcohol or culture of promiscuity. It normally exists in the mind. It can therefore fade or change with time.

Organizations have developed different cultures that determine the behavior and actions of their followers. Cultures help them solve both internal and external problems they face. They bring both stability and comfort in organizations. This document analyzes the culture of the Roman Catholic Church and its impact on actions and behavior of followers.

Core Values of the Roman Catholic

Whereas the core values of the Roman Catholic may differ from parish to parish, they converge to a point; respect for human life and God. The Roman Catholic believes in preciousness of human life and centers in respect and service to God as its culture and tradition stipulates. Moreover, the church’s main focus is to develop love with one another. It emphasizes on brotherhood and the importance of being a brother’s keeper.

Analysis of the Roman Catholic Culture

The Roman Catholic culture is a vehicle that drives them to their destiny. In analyzing the culture, it is prudent to base our discussion on the artifacts that can be seen, the values followed, and the assumptions made. The artifacts involve both what is seen and felt including the mode of dressing, the church’s layout including the buildings, chairs, and alter, the mode of addressing among followers, the emotions, and the manner in which its mass is conducted (Schein, 1990).

The Roman Catholic trains its padres and sisters in the seminary for quit a long duration before ordaining and posting them to churches. They are trained on management principles, theology, social orientation, and Catholic norms and practices In addition, they are attached to parishes where they are monitored and trained by ordained padres before graduation. This helps in delivering highly competent and skilled men of God who help their followers both spiritually, emotionally, and physically. This culture makes people believe and trust in the men of God to an extent that they explain to them even their highest secrets.

The practice of celibacy among padres, bishops, and nuns in the Roman Catholic is a culture that has been practiced since its inception. This makes them not be distracted with family issues and concentrate on serving God effectively. It has made followers have more time to be served and increased their trust since the men of God have self-control. The weakness of the culture is that it may lead to prostitution among men of God as it deprives them of their conjugal rites. This is evident by the split of the Catholic Church, with the one side advocating for celibacy and the other encouraging padres, bishops, and nuns to marry.

The Roman Catholic uses the sign of the cross before and after every prayer they make. This is a sign of unity and acts as an identification mark whenever they go. In addition, the catholic encourages believers to wear the sign of the cross and the rosary on their necks as they protect them from atrocities. The culture plays a very crucial role in the lives of the believers. It identifies them from others and helps at times of danger. When there is a police search, for example, it would be easy for police to leave a person wearing the sign of the cross as it shows holiness. This culture has made the faithful practice it by hanging the sign of the cross in their houses, vehicles, necks, and business premises.

Even though the Roman Catholic does not stress much on the mode of dressing on their followers, it requires all padres, bishops, missionaries, cardinals, and nuns to wear robes while celebrating the Mass. This is a symbol of purity, leadership, power, and cleanliness. This is seen when padres and bishops wear different kinds of robes for different occasions such as confession periods, mass, and payer times. Bishops also wears different kinds of robes when officiating different sacraments such as Confirmation, Eucharist, and Matrimony. The culture has made people identify occasions with the robes won. It assumes there is power only when the required robe is won.

To be a full member of the Catholic community, it requires training on both Catholic beliefs and the Word of God. The training is normally followed by celebrations and trainees given privileges such as receiving of the Eucharist and confessing of sins to the padre. This greatly changes the acts and behaviors of the faithful. It makes them practice the required prayers, share their belongings with the poor, meet in community groups on a regular basis, and behave in a Godly manner. It also makes them trusted and given responsibilities in the church.

The Catholic Church believes in showing mercy by performing the following activities: Giving food to those who are hungry, providing water to those who are thirsty, giving cloths to those who do not have, proviiding shelter to those without homes, visiting and encouraging those who are sick, and burying those who are dead. According to Knuttila (n.d.), when an individual is troubled, every other person in the church goes through the same. The liturgy visits and helps such individual to have peace of mind and feel God’s love.

Spiritually, they convert sinners, guide and counsel the down hearted, forgive those who sin against them, and pray for both the living and the dead. The practices encourage, bind, and make followers know the value of humanity. The culture of praying to the dead assumes that there is a connection between the living and the dead and prayers done by the living make God forgive sins that were committed by the dead. If given a chance to change anything on this culture, I could only encourage people to pray for the living, not the dead. God can only forgive sinners and act on prayers directed towards the living.

The Catholic culture encourages those with zeal to achieve by their own. It encourages members to pray for each other and ask the saints to pray for them. Since the culture believes in unity, it encourages love and support for one another. This encourages members to be positive about the success of others and support them.

Though the culture of love differs from one denomination to another, the Roman Catholic encourages members to practice unconditional love (Knuttila, n.d.). It welcomes everybody in its worship and guides newcomers on their cultural practices. The culture encourages togetherness and through using “we” in most of its prayers, the Roman Catholic prays even for those who may not be able to pray. As a result of this, the faithful practice love not only to the catholic believers, but also to nonbelievers.

Whereas Roman Catholic leadership at the parish level utilizes participatory leadership style, all its major decisions are made at the Vatican by the Pope and his council. Padres at the parishes interact well by the faithful and involve them in many decision making processes.

The Catholic culture has delved so deep in the faithful that they accept to die for the sake of God and the church. In this regard, Charles Lwanga and other Uganda Martyrs accepted to die for the sake of the church and God. They stood on their beliefs irrespective of the threats which came from the political rule. They are role model and make believers have confidence of forging forward with their belief regardless of obstacles they encounter.

Conclusion

Culture is a set of beliefs and norms that guide a group of people. There can either be good or bad depending on an individual’s interpretation. The Roman Catholic culture involves artifacts, values, and assumptions. It assists the faithful on their way of living and encourages them to be strong in their faith. Whether one is in the culture on not, there are strengths and challenges that can be seen when practicing some of them. It is therefore upon an individual to decide whether or not to practice a culture or not.  

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