What does it mean to be a “Normal Catholic?”


What is that? What’s normal for us?

Are we normal Catholics if we manage somehow to check the box and go to Mass every Sunday? If we brave the extremely long lines and get to confession every few months? If we generally try to be a virtuous human being? A basically good person?

Is that all it means to be a normal Catholic?

Or, are we normal Catholics if we start every day off with a few Our Fathers, maybe a Hail Mary? If we remember to say the “Bless us O Lord” prayer before every meal we eat?

Can we say we’re normal Catholics if we have a rosary hanging from our rear-view mirror? If we have a statue of Our Lady in the front yard? If we pray to St. Anthony whenever we lose our car keys?

That’s all good stuff, of course. But I would like to propose to you all today what the Scriptures and what our own Catholic Tradition actually claim the “Normal Catholic” really truly is.


Jesus is the “Normal Catholic.”

He is the standard.

Everything he does… the way he thinks. The way he loves. The way he prays. The way he engages evil. The way he serves his disciples. The way he speaks. The way he suffers. The way he has the most profound intimacy with God the Father… And yes, the way he lets the supernatural break into the natural world through signs and wonders. The way he performs miracles!

Believe it or not, that’s all supposed to be normal for us.

That sort of raises the bar for us, doesn’t it? 

Jesus is the normal Catholic.

In our Gospel today, our Lord put it this way:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.”

That’s astonishing! We will do the works of Jesus??? The same exact works???… Are you sure, Jesus? I mean, you raised Lazarus from the dead! You multiplied bread for over 5,000 people. You walked on water! Am I allowed to do THAT stuff Jesus? I mean, you’re God. I’m not…

Yes, you’re not God. But here’s the incredible news:

Every single Christian by their baptism and confirmation is an “alter Christus” — which is Latin for “another Christ.” 

What does “Christ” mean?

“Anointed one.”

In the Incarnation, the eternal Son of God submitted to the limitations of a true human nature (while retaining His full Divinity). Jesus is true God AND true man — he has the same exact human nature as we do!

But then… he was ANOINTED at his Baptism in the Jordan with the Holy Spirit! The heavens opened up, the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a dove, and from that moment on, Jesus’ mission was set. His public ministry had begun. Remember how he inaugurated this ministry by going to the synagogue and reading from the prophet Isaiah:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

That’s what Jesus was anointed to go out and do — to announce the Kingdom and make it present for us!

Think about it.

If each one of us by our baptism is an “alter Christus” — other Christs… other “Anointed Ones” — then here’s the reality: 

We have been anointed with that same exact Holy Spirit that fell upon Jesus at His baptism! 

This is what St Peter is getting at in that beautiful second reading today: 

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light!”

You have been anointed Priest, Prophet and King at your baptism! You’ve been anointed with the same Holy Spirit that anointed Him! And so, believe it or not — Christians are actually now empowered to go out, and do what Jesus did! 

In fact, it’s Jesus who does it through us! 

We read at the end of Mark’s Gospel that after the Resurrection of Jesus: “They went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.

The Lord worked signs through them! 

What signs are those? 

Thankfully Jesus Himself gives us clarification:

“These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Another way we could say this is:

You will know that they are normal Catholics… normal Christians… because they’ll be like Jesus. They’ll be doing the same sorts of things he did.

This isn’t a thing of the past! Jesus is still working just as He always has!

Pope St. Leo the Great once put it very nicely back in the 400’s AD:

“And so all that the Son of God did and taught for the world’s reconciliation is not for us simply a matter of past history. Here and now we experience His power at work among us.

Ok, let’s take a deep breath. 

How are we all doing right now?

Jesus is the Normal Catholic.

That’s challenging stuff for us, right?

Especially today — when the supernatural is NOT normal. When we all tend towards a more rationalistic version of the Catholic faith — a faith that’s not very scary because we like to keep it all very presentable to the unbelieving, secular world. We like to keep our beliefs all very spiritual, all very invisible, all very safe, all very private…

But the Christian faith is not a private faith. 

It’s visible for a reason.

The Son of God entered into this world and became visible for us — the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us visibly — for a very important purpose:

To make the Father known and accessible to everyone. The face of Jesus reveals the face of the Father to us. He is the “image of the invisible God!”

So, when St. Philip says to Jesus: “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” — He is getting right to the heart of everything! He’s reaching for the whole meaning of the Incarnation! The meaning of life!!!! 

Show us the Father’s face!!!!

How much joy Jesus must have had in His heart at Philip’s sincere desire to see the Father. And so, Jesus’ reply is all the more crucial for us to meditate on:

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”


So, given what we were just saying, let’s flesh that out.

The Son of God entered our fallen world in order to reveal the Father to us — “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” 

We have been baptized into Jesus’ life — He now lives in us! We’ve been anointed “alter Christus” — “other Christs” — and so… we are empowered to do the same works of Jesus today!

What that means, therefore, is this: 

Whoever has seen Christians — whoever has seen normal Catholics doing normal Catholic things — has seen Jesus, and by extension, has seen the Father.

This is huge. This is what the Church is supposed to be all about:

Announcing the presence of Jesus! 

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

If you ask me, if we want the whole world to be able to see that our faith is true, then we need to make the supernatural NORMAL again for us Catholics.

Miraculous healings need to be normal again for us! 

Prophecy needs to be normal for us. 

Spiritual warfare and deliverance needs to be normal for us. 

The real, supernatural, life-transforming graces of the Sacraments need to be normal for us.

Because people are starving for this. Our secular world is so suffocating. It has led us to expect so little… to ask so little of God. 

But we were made for the supernatural! We were made to encounter the supernatural Lord of the Universe, to love Him and to rest in Him alone.

I really like what Fr Mathias Thelen says on this point: “Miracles, signs and wonders are not the whole Gospel, but the Gospel isn’t whole without them.”

I think that strikes the right balance. 

Signs and wonders — obviously miraculous things — when the sick person leaps up out of their wheelchair, when the cancer disappears, when a devil is driven out — those sorts of more obviously supernatural things are clearly not the whole message of the Gospel… they aren’t even the heart of what we preach, which is ultimately to know and love God.

But still we need to be clear: 

Our proclamation of the Gospel isn’t whole without those supernatural works. Because Our God is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and this supernatural stuff is no sweat for Him. 

He loves us so much and wants to do great thingsGREATER THINGS than even what Jesus did in His earthly ministry — through us to declare and demonstrate His love!

So, go and be normal Catholics! Go do what Jesus did! He’s still alive.