Living Catholic

There was an interesting article on ETWN discussing the results of a Gallup poll of Catholics on various moral issues. The article breaks down the opinions between churchgoing and non-churchgoing Catholics. The results are as you would expect — churchgoing Catholics agree more with Catholic dogma than their non-churchgoing counterparts. However, I wasn’t so much interested in the results as I was in the notion of a non-churchgoing Catholic.

Church

There was an interesting article on ETWN discussing the results of a Gallup poll of Catholics on various moral issues.  The article breaks down the opinions between churchgoing and non-churchgoing Catholics.  The results are as you would expect — churchgoing Catholics agree more with Catholic teaching than their non-churchgoing counterparts.  However, I wasn’t so much interested in the results as I was in the notion of a non-churchgoing Catholic.

To me, a non-churchgoing Catholic is a contradiction in terms.  It is like saying you are a non-cooking chef.  Would you want to go to a doctor who was self-taught because he or she did not feel that medical school was necessary for his or her profession?  Do you think an athlete who never takes time to practice will make it into the Olympics?

Like sports, hobbies, or a vocation, one’s faith requires time and dedication to have a greater meaning.  To get the most from your Catholic faith, you have to listen to what the Church teaches either by reading Her official documents, listening to your parish priest, or listening to the Holy Spirit in prayer.  In all cases, being a member of the Church requires active participation.  Participation is so important that Mass attendance is a precept of the Catholic faith.  A precept means that it is one of the minimum requirements of being Catholic.  Other precepts can be found here.  Note that a precept is something that is actionable, not a belief.  The reason why actions and participation are so important to the Catholic faith is because they allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ whose life’s work was publicly spreading the Word of God.  Thinking of it another way, no one ever became a saint by hiding their faith.  Being Catholic means living it publicly in our words, thoughts, and actions.

Our faith is rooted in celebrating Mass dating back to the secret meetings of early Christians during the rule of the Roman Empire.  The Catholic faith was always meant to be something lived instead of a mere thought exercise.  This is evidenced by people who have risked their lives throughout history by actively displaying their Catholic faith.  While I’m not saying we should all become martyrs, the fact that so many people have risked their freedom and lives should put in perspective our flimsy excuses for not praying, fasting, or attending Mass.

Ask yourself, what do you DO that makes you a Catholic as opposed to someone of another faith or no faith at all?  To me, that is a very difficult question to answer because 99.9% of my life is spent no differently than anyone else.  While I believe in the major truths of the Catholic Church, do I live out these beliefs daily or are they merely phrases I recite mindlessly in prayers?  Do my actions reflect my Catholic faith or defy them?

As we enter Holy Week, all Catholics, churchgoing and non-churchgoing, should take inventory of their faith.  I know that I mentioned this in earlier posts about making room for God in our hearts and learning about the Catholic faith.  Sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and reflect on whether we are doing all we can to imitate Jesus.  What positions of the Catholic Church do you agree with and which ones do you not?  Regardless of what side you fall on, do you understand the reasoning and logic behind the Church’s position on many moral issues?  After all, we don’t want to be blind followers of Church doctrine nor mindless detractors of issues we have not approached from all sides.  On the issues where you and the Church disagree, do you stick to your beliefs because you have a fully-informed conscience or is it because it makes your life easier or you more popular?

It is no wonder why that Gallup poll shows that churchgoing Catholics are more in tune with the Church’s teachings.  To look at it from the other end, it is not surprising that people who do not dedicate time to practice their faith stray from the Church’s teachings.  It’s not that one side is brainwashed or the other side is more “progressive” and open to new ideas.  It’s not that one group is good and the other is bad.  We all have our shortcomings and sins that we need to correct.  Looking at the precepts, I’m sure all of us have occasionally failed to live up to them.  This is why we need the Mass so we can orient our “moral compass” and imitate the path of Jesus Christ.  In addition to the graces given in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Mass provides us an opportunity to reflect on our Catholic faith.  While technically we can reflect on our faith anywhere, the Mass sets aside time in our chaotic lives to really focus and listen to how God calls us to live.

Let us pray that we make time in our lives for God.  We should pray for those who have rejected God’s Word either outright through their actions or have just lost hope because practicing their faith didn’t produce the results they hoped it would.  Let us pray that we all have the courage and endurance to follow God’s truths even when they seem counter to our lifestyle or more difficult than we would like.  Let us pray that in the holiest week of the year, as we accept many new people to the Catholic faith, that we remember just what a gift it is to have Jesus Christ in our lives.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

Jesus Does Not Need Straw Polls!

I discuss my thoughts on an article I read regarding how many Catholic in France disagree with the Church’s teachings and feel that Pope Benedict should step down.

Notre Dame Cathedral

While I usually stay away from commenting on news and current events, I came across this article and felt that I should provide my thoughts.  After all, we pray and meditate on a much deeper and more meaningful level when we tie them into the struggles and concerns of everyday life.  We never pray in a vacuum, but instead thank God for His wondrous deeds and ask Him for guidance.  Remember, prayer is a dialog with God.  And like any conversation, we want to make sure we have something interesting to talk about.  Hopefully this post will give you a little something to think about.

I read this article today on the Catholic Exchange reporting how many Catholics in France are displeased with the Church’s position on many social issues as embodied in many recent statements of Pope Benedict.  The article read:

More than 80 percent of those polled said they want the Church to “modify its position” on contraception and abortion. Le Journal du Dimanche reported that “significant majorities” want the Church to change the teaching on remarriage after divorce as well as homosexuality.

The article goes on to discuss protests in front of Notre Dame cathedral and calls for Pope Benedict to “step down” as pontiff.  I think what a lot of people miss is that the Catholic Church does not arrive at Her stances on various social issues based on popularity polls.  Just because a large group of Catholics disagree with the Church does not make the Church’s views wrong or evil.  The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s natural law that does not depend on the momentary whims of society.  The Church cannot take something that is a sin and rationalize it as a good just because a large population of society wants it that way.  That is like saying 2+2=5 because that is what many people believe.  No matter how many polls you take or how vocal that “2+2=5” crowd may be, the math will never add up.  Similarly, many brilliant saints and Doctors of the Church have crafted the Church’s doctrine after years of study, debate, and prayer.  You cannot throw their work out the window simply because you do not like their results.

Let’s look at this from a Biblical perspective.  Jesus never asked his apostles for a vote on what He should do.  Jesus did not change his messages and teachings in order to gain favor amongst the Roman and Jewish authorities.  Jesus did not take a poll on whether the adulterous woman should be stoned or not.  In His agony in the garden, Jesus never told God that he discussed the issue over with the apostles and they voted, 10-2 (Judas was absent for the vote), that Jesus should not be arrested.  Instead, Jesus said that He would do God’s will.  I am sure many people would argue that Jesus could have reached many more people if He had just “lightened up” a little and compromised.  But Jesus knew that the truth was something to be boldly proclaimed, not compromised in order to gain popularity.

Many of today’s Catholics lack that humility to put their faith in God and His Church and follow Her laws.  No doubt, the Church puts forth a mighty challenge.  And many of us would rather see the Church bend and preach an easier path than for us to step up and accept that challenge.  It is human nature to hate being wrong and we often like to blame the person who points out our weaknesses.  But we also must keep in mind that the Pope is merely a messenger of the Holy Spirit.  He does not arbitrarily make up rules and replacing him would not somehow reverse universal truths.  In the article, Damian Thompson, the editor of Britain’s Catholic Herald, had this to say about the Pope which I think sums up the Church’s position nicely:

In the spirit of martyrdom, the successor of St Peter chose not to take the easy path but to speak the truth boldly. At a time when he has been recently subjected to sustained assaults in the world’s media, his courage and determination are an inspiring example of genuine love for the suffering.

So let us pray this week to listen to God’s truth.  Instead of wishing that God’s ways were different, easier, and fit inside society’s current trends, let us strive to be the people God asks us to be.  It is not easy to live as Jesus calls us to live and the first step is usually admitting our failings through the Sacrament of Confession.  And let’s face it, when caught between God’s truth and society’s whims, who is going to win in the end?  I don’t see God or His Church bending because of the results of a straw poll.  So let us pray to imitate Jesus, God’s always-faithful servant, and accept His truth.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.