Catholic means whole; the entirety. To be catholic is to be part of the ever flowing fulness of creation and to embody all in one reality.
The word catholic attached to the church seeks to express its fulness, its finality, the embodiment of Christ in creation being all that there is. A catholic church is a church that encompasses mind, body and spirit and brings meaning to everything.
In history this wholeness became centred around the bishop, the embodiment of apostolic succession around whom the people gathered. Soon the heavenly hierarchy of angels and archangels achieved its earthly equivalent in the order of bishops, priests, monks and the layity, each afforded its place, each expressing a misunderstood truth, once again obscuring the mystery of the incarnation.
Sadly this system became sanctified and an unholy order was established. The gifts given for the upbuilding of the church became a structure upholding the state and the status quo, so that slaves remained slaves and tribes were separated, patriarchy established. Culture took over and the message of catholicity was lost, a shadow of its original meaning becoming simply another word for universal; permission for men to engage in power struggles; an excuse for men to engage in conquest and colonisation.
Catholic goes beyond the universal and expresses the all that is in all, the fulness of God present in space and time, the body of Christ.
We are so wedded to the visible church, its hierarchy and forms, we miss the coming of Jesus. He is to come and he is here.
Would that we would open our eyes and see Christ not in the picture and the frame but in the reality, the truth and the life, the way we are being invited to live. God is love and in the catholic church heaven is found on earth.