He says, "Scholars of religion–all religions, not just Catholic–tell us that an essential of a vibrant, sustained, attractive, meaningful life of faith in a given creed is external markers."
For some religions, it might be dress; others are noted for feastdays, seasons, calendars, music, ritual, customs, special devotions, and binding moral obligations.Then he asks, "What about us Catholics? For God’s sake, I trust we are recognized for our faith, worship, charity, and lives of virtue." I am sure he is right that these of real importance but I am convinced Judaism has survived precisely because of its strong identity, most especially in its dietary demands.
Islam, for example, is renowned for Ramadan, the holy season now upon them; dress; required prayer three times daily; and obligatory pilgrimage.
Orthodox Jews are obvious, for instance, for their skull caps, for the seriousness of the Sabbath, and for feastdays.
But, "What about us Catholics?"
Catholicism was so rich in external signs, and yet we have stripped ourselves or been stripped of so many of them.
Here is my attempt at a list:
Fasting, Feasting, Holydays during the weekIt is not an exhaustive list, I am sure you can add to it.
Crucifixes, Holy Pictures, statues, holy water marking homes
Family prayers, Family Rosary, Grace before meals
Medals, scapulars, Rosary beads, holy pictures in a wallet or handbag
Novenas, special prayer, Litanies, devotions to Our Lady and the Saints, Angelus
Knowledge of the/a Catechism
Corpus Christi & Marian Processions
Specific Feasts or occasions for celebration First Communion/ Confirmation etc
A specific Catholic way of dying, preparing for death, and remembering the dead
Signs of the Cross, kneeling for prayer, blessing yourself passing a Church
Open Churches with people praying in them
Distinctive dress of priests and religious
Groups, solidalities like the the Knights or the Legion
Having a relative who is a priest or nun
Distinctive architecture marked by Catholic iconography
A particular style of worship, with a distinctive music and as Fr Z points out a distinctive language: Latin
A Catholic way of reading scripture
Retreats, pilgrimages and missions
Lay people concious of Catholic moral and social teaching: hence Catholic doctors, pharmcists, trade unionists
Lay Catholics able to teach or talk about the faith in the public forum
A sense of internationalism, of being Catholicism transcending nationalism, sexuality etc
Loyalty to the successor of Peter