Loving God is an Obligation, Not Optional

The Thing about Volunteers

I volunteer for my local AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) chapter as the coach administrator. I’m already ramping up for the upcoming fall season. As usual, we have way more kids and teams than we have coach volunteers. That means we have to plead with people to coach a team. Thankfully, we can usually guilt trip enough people into coaching.

All AYSO coaches need to undergo training. They need to obtain a coach’s license, pass background checks, and take all sorts of training to ensure the children’s safety. I often get some pushback from those people we ask to volunteer late in the registration process. Their thinking goes, “you asked me to volunteer and now you’re pestering me about completing training? You should be grateful that I stepped in when no one else would. Now leave me alone to coach my team how I see fit.”

“I’m here aren’t I? What more do you want from a volunteer?”

I understand the frustration. After all, coaching any youth sport is a big commitment. And some people didn’t expect that commitment when they signed up their child to play. They were expecting to show up on Saturdays with their cup of coffee, chat with other parents, and cheer their child. Because they feel coerced into coaching, they think their certification process should be easier than the coaches that really wanted to volunteer.

The Thing about Catholics

I see something similar to the reluctant coach with how we often approach practicing our faith. We can feel like we are doing God a favor by going to Mass, a parish event, or even saying some prayers. Because we give God some of our precious time, He in turn shouldn’t bother us with difficult Church teachings on sin and Hell. We want the pastor to just tell us how Jesus loves us no matter what we do so we can go on acting however we like.

“I’m here, aren’t I? What more do you want God?”

Many people no longer see their faith as an important piece of their lives. Instead, faith is something optional like a gym membership. Your parish is something you can utilize as much or as little as you like. If it’s considered optional, there’s no commitment or challenge. When we encounter a teaching we disagree with, we pack up and take our business elsewhere. We love our parish and our faith when it confirms our ways. But when our faith requires change and even some sacrifice, we complain about how the Church isn’t “inclusive” and is being mean.

Pride and the Rosary’s Solution to it

We commit the sin of pride when we feel that God should change to conform to our worldview instead of us changing our worldview to confirm to His truth. Instead of us honoring God, we want God to honor us whenever we grace Him with our attention. Many times, we want God to give us a heavenly discount because we did something the Church instructs us to do. The age of participation trophies seems to have spread to how we interact with God.

Now, it’s okay to have doubts and questions about our faith. But we need to show the maturity to seek answers when we have doubts instead of dismissing God and His Church when He challenges us to live as the people He designed us to be. When we realize that our faith is an obligation, not optional, we’ll be more inclined to look for those answers.

When it comes to our obligation to practice our faith, we can meditate on the Second Joyful Mystery — The Visitation. The fruit of this mystery is love of neighbor. It’s a good mystery for breaking out of a self-centered worldview by acknowledging that we are connected to others. We are ultimately connected to God, our supreme neighbor if you will. We have an obligation to love and follow Him even when it’s difficult. That’s where Mary and the Rosary come in. When we meditate on the Rosary mysteries, we ask her for the strength to honor God by faithfully following Him.