You know, you are either Catholic are you are not. There really is no middle group or compromises on this notion. Being a Catholic means that you adhere to the precepts of the Church, all of them. It also means that you follow the teachings of the Church, all of those too. Not just the ones that are easy and popular; or that you agree with. You follow all of them. If you don’t, you are really not Catholic.
I would imagine that most of us really aren’t Catholic. Most of us don’t realize that we really aren’t Catholic either. Many of us, once we figure out what it takes to be a Catholic acknowledge our errors in humility and seek repentance. We then strive to do better, learn the reasons behind the teachings we follow, and are able to then lead a holier life in communion with the Church. We are at least trying our best, we will fail and fail, but that is okay. Trying is the biggest asset to someone who is truly Catholic. This effort leads us into deeper relationship with God, and with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and ultimately will lead us to sainthood in Heaven.
There are others of us that defy those Church teaching that we don’t agree with. We pick and choose what we like and don’t like about the Faith, and then live accordingly. We do not take the time to learn the meanings and roots of Church teaching. We decide for ourselves what is right and wrong, and essentially set up our own sort of Faith based on our own wills, desires, and preferences. This is not an act of humility but of pride and arrogance, and does not lead to a fuller and deeper relationship with God and his people. This existence is very deceiving, to both self and others. We may seem very pious and devout, and most believe that we are. When we do this we are being disobedient to God through his Church and though we may seem in closer relationship with Christ, we aren’t really where we need to be. If we know what the Church is teaching and are openly rebelling and defying that teaching and guidance we are actually doing great damage to our souls. Even if we still go to Mass every Sunday and abstain from meat no the Fridays during Lent. This damage typically will manifest itself in spiritual sickness, a spiritual sickness that is rooted in the sinful pride that disobedience and severed relationships create. We are typically blinded to this spiritual sickness though. It is a very complicated state, and needs the healing of repentance and humility to defeat.
There is a reason why Jesus constantly healed the blind, and the sick. These healings weren’t as much about the physical as they were about the spiritual health of the individuals that he ministered to. He showed us by example what humility and obedience is. They are not easy virtues to exercise and exude. They can be obtained with the Grace that comes through the Church, and that is why she has precepts to guide us to this process of sanctification.
These precepts are:
- Attend Mass on Sundays and every holy day of obligation
- You must confess your sins once a year through the Sacrament of Confession
- You must receive the Eucharist at least once during the Easter Season
- You must fast and abstain from meat during the mandated days of Lent
- You must help to provide for the needs of the Church
I know many “Catholics” that do not attend Mass on Sundays, and don’t really seem to think that it is a big deal, they will then turn around and abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. They also neglect Confession for years, yet when they do finally get to Mass (usually on Easter or Christmas) they receive the Eucharist. Missing Mass on Sunday without good reason is a mortal sin. Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is another mortal sin. So, unfortunately many of these “Catholics” are becoming laden with mortal sin, because of their arrogance and disobedience to the Church. This leads to the very opposite of what the Church is striving to lead us towards. These are just sins against the five precepts, there are many other sins being committed against non-negotiable church teaching every day. There are many “Catholics” that lobby and publicly support these sins that no true Catholic can ever support in any way.
- Embryonic Stem Cell Research
- Human Cloning
- Same Sex Marriage
These five are just he big ones, there are many others that the Church and Scripture preach and teach against. Many of us view these teachings as outdated and have deduced that they are now acceptable and realistic behaviors for today’s society, examples would be fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, masturbation, lying, blasphemy, and the list goes on and on.
But they are not. Church Dogma does not change, neither does Christ. Christ is the same, today, yesterday and tomorrow.
We must recognize and accept that God makes the rules, not us. The Church is Christ’s representative here on Earth and her teaching is infallible. When she speaks it is the same type of command that God gave Moses in the Ten Commandments. His rules are binding if we want our share of his inheritance. If we reject his Church and his teaching we are rejecting Christ himself. Christ condemns nobody to Hell, we choose Hell for ourselves. God’s way and will leads to Heaven, our own way and will leads to Hell. It says so right in the Lord’s Prayer. God’s will is Heaven. “They kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”.
The next time you say the “Our Father”, meditate on what the meaning of the words really relate, and then how you relate to those words and God’s will. Then try to strive to be truly Catholic. Most of us will be surprised at the happiness and peace that truly living the Faith will bring. Once you submit to God’s will for us, which is Holiness, happiness and peace are inseparable from it; no matter the earthly battles, traumas and difficulties we face. So just let go, find the peace and happiness that God wants for us, a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace found in truly being Catholic.