Category Archives: Philosophy
Sometimes, I believe that people are actually choosing to be ignorant (Catholics included), though many people would rather not admit to it. Ignorance can simply make life easier to deal with when you choose to not know the truth.
Knowing the truth can be painful. It can make us question ourselves, especially about sensitive moral issues. Truth can change us, and often we can find ourselves afraid of what those changes can bring. However, it is only if we embrace the truth and the change that it brings that we can enter into fruitful dialogue with each other. I truly believe that it is a chosen ignorance that is preventing us all from effectively communicating and understanding each other.
There are many people out there that think they know Catholicism, but in reality they know only a shadow of it. The world offers often a watered down spirituality instead of actual Catholic truth. Its an unfortunate situation that so many people flock to imitations of truth and few actually go to the source of truth, who is Christ and his 2000 year old church.
When uninformed Catholics or Catholics who choose to be ignorant of church teaching try to communicate what they believe to be Catholic doctrine, there are going to be issues. Often, the dialogue falls flat without real issues ever being addressed. To put it simply, you can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t defend or share what you don’t know. That’s why effective catechesis as well as prayer and an active relationship with Christ are so crucially important for dialogue from Catholics.
On the other hand, when we seek to know the truth and to better understand our neighbour rather than to win an argument, we can find that it is much easier to communicate. It’s not just non-Catholics who need to better understand others and be more open to the truth. It is important that we as Catholics make the effort to understand where other people are coming from and to be respectful towards them.
My plea to Catholics is this: be in love with Christ, who is the Truth. Be in love with His sacred heart, especially in the most Blessed Sacrament. Go directly to the Church for answers, not to those who only think or claim to know the faith when they in fact believe in a self-constructed faith. For those that are not Catholic, know what the church teaches rather than assume. We should all seek to embrace truth and not relativism. If we want to have understanding and peace we must seek charity, truth, and seek to have respectful and logical dialogue. This does not mean that we must agree with one another, but we must all have the ability to communicate so we may love and understand one another better.
Check out the resources below for stories of conversion, Book lists, and more.
Well? Are you hardcore? How can we define a hardcore Catholic? Is there even such a thing? The term ‘Devout Catholic’ is defined differently for many people. For some, it is just the Catholic that always goes to Sunday Mass. For others, it is the Catholic that seems to have a deep spiritual life, but perhaps doesn’t really follow every little thing that the Church teaches.
Fulfilling our Sunday obligation is only part of being Catholic. We must also frequent the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist, pray daily, and assent to the teachings of Holy Mother Church. It is not enough to say “I am a devout Catholic” and think this is a synonym for being a Catholic that attends every Sunday mass. Attending Sunday Mass is an obligation that every Catholic has. Even the Pope has to attend Sunday Mass. Christmas and Easter are not the bare minimum requirements for being Catholic either.
When we look at the lives of the Saints, we see that their biographies do not only consist in attending Sunday mass. The Saints lived lives of heroic virtue, at the service of God and others. We can look at the lives of the desert fathers who committed their lives to prayer. We can look at the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and see how she devoted her life to charity and love towards those that were in most need of physical and (most importantly) spiritual nourishment. The lives of the Saints demonstrate an interior martyrdom which is a death to self and a desire to know and love Christ above all. To truly love Christ is to show the “least of these” the love of Christ in action.
Being a real Catholic is not about having a “holier than thou” disposition. Many times, the phrase “holier than thou” is said by those who feel intimidated or are offended when someone tries to help someone out of sin, even when done in charity. Sometimes they are right when they say we are being “holier than thou”. Oftentimes, when people of the world say this to us, it can make us feel like we have failed in evangelizing. If we are doing our best to love Christ and doing all that we possibly can to lead others closer to Him, then why is it received with such distaste among our family and friends? For many people, there is an internal moral crisis that prevents them from seeing things objectively. For others, however, I believe that they see a disconnect between our words and deeds. For some who do seek to live a life of virtue, they may still be shut down. Although it may not be easy for people to hear the truth, I believe that if our words are formed through prayer and said with humility and charity, our Blessed Lord will bless them in some way. The question is, how do we get through to those who do not wish to listen?
I think what it all comes down to is not to ask ourselves whether or not we are hardcore because this may create some kind of pride within ourselves. I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I truly faithful to Christ, the Church He established, and do I live a life of service to others? Being Catholic is about loving Christ and devoted to the building of His Kingdom. It is about living life in truth and charity. It means trusting God enough to believe that His Holy Spirit is guiding His One True Church. Adherence to the teachings of the Church (and that means all of them), even if they challenge us, is key if we want to really enter into the fullness of a relationship with God. Being Catholic really comes down to making Christ the center of our lives, and encountering Him on a daily basis by making our entire life a sacrifice for Him and others. Along the way, frequenting the Sacrament of Confession and Holy Communion will keep us on the path when we stray and give us the strength we need the life the Christian life.
When we look at Mary, we can see the ultimate example of reverence and obedience. From her ‘Fiat’ to being with Christ in the last moments of His life on the Cross, she exemplifies what it means to be faithful. We must be obedient, just like Mary encouraged the servant at the Wedding at Cana and “Do whatever He tells you”. We must take up our crosses and follow Him daily. This Easter, we recognize in a particular way that Christ gave His very life for us. If we truly love Him, we will do the same, by laying down our lives for others.
“Each of you knows that the foundation of our faith is charity. Without it, our religion would crumble. We will never be truly Catholic unless we conform our entire lives to the two commandments that are the essence of the Catholic faith: to love the Lord, our God, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves… With charity, we sow the seeds of that true peace which only our faith in Jesus Christ can give us by making us all brothers and sisters. I know that this way is steep, and difficult, and strewn with thorns, while at first glance the other path seems easier, more pleasant, and more satisfying. But the fact is, if we could look into the hearts of those who follow the perverse paths of this world, we would see that they lack the serenity that comes to those who have faced a thousand difficulties and who have renounced material pleasure to follow God’s law.” – Blessed Pierre Giorgio Frassati
I am a hypocrite.
This is true. I cannot get around it. I fall countless times a day. I fail at my commitments constantly. My need for God’s forgiveness increases with every moment. I have not earned Heaven, nor am I guaranteed it if I remain in sin. I am a sinner and I need God’s mercy more than my next breath!
Why do I say this? It is because it is something that I have to remind myself of constantly. I wish to echo St. Paul who says that “if I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness (2 Cor. 11:30). Though I recognize that I am a sinner, ever since this past Divine Mercy Sunday, I have been drawn back to the question, “Am I presumptuous of God’s gracious mercy for me?” The answer for me is oftentimes “yes”.
This attitude toward’s God’s mercy is known as the sin of presumption. It is where we presume to believe that God’s mercy is ours for the taking. It is, in essence, connected with the sin of our first parents; believing that we can sit on the judgment seat over our lives, and usurp the throne of God.
“There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2092)
This mindset can happen very easily for us. We can tell ourselves that, “God will totally forgive me if I _________, therefore I’ll just do it because He is merciful.” This attitude can be very subtle, yet it has the ability, if left unconquered, to lead us into eternal perdition.
The journey to Hell begins with one step…
In St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s “Preparation for Death”, he speaks of the delusions which the Devil suggests to the minds of sinners. One of them is the presumption that even if we sin, we can just hop over to confessional and God’s hand will be forced to forgive us. St. Alphonsus lays the hammer to this mindset saying:
Tell me, if you had a jewel worth a thousand crowns, would you throw it into a river, saying I will make a diligent search for it, and hope to find it? You hold in your hand the precious jewel of your soul, which Jesus Christ has purchased with his blood, and you voluntarily cast it into hell (for in punishment of every mortal sin, you are condemned to eternal fire), and say; I hope to recover it by a good confession. But should you not recover it, what will be the consequence? To recover the divine grace, true repentance, which is the gift of God, is necessary. Should God not give you the grace of repentance; should death overtake you, and not allow you time to go to confession, what will become of you?
Presumption of God’s mercy is known traditionally as a “sin (or blasphemy) against the Holy Spirit”. In all three of the synoptic Gospels we read that, “‘whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mk. 3:29; Mt. 12:32; Lk. 12:10). Why is presumption unforgivable? St. Alphonsus again explains:
God pardons sin; but he cannot pardon the will or the determination to sin. St Augustine says, that he who sins with the intention of afterward repenting, is not a penitent, but a mocker of God’s majesty. But the Apostle tells as that God does not allow himself to be mocked. Be not deceived. God is not mocked (Gal. 5:7). It would be a mockery of God to insult him as often and as much as you please, and afterward to expect heaven.
The Catechism tells us that, “there are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss” (CCC 1864). The more we try to manipulate God’s mercy to our own whims, the more we become desensitized to those things that hurt the heart of God and that damage our souls. It is kind of like drinking coffee. At first when we take a sip, it is bitter. When those with well formed consciences first fall into a sin, they tend to feel within themselves a tug or grab at their heart. There is, in that moment, the invitation to repentance and never to do that action again. They are confronted with a choice. Similar to regularly drinking coffee, the more we do it, the easier it is to do. Once we get used to coffee, we can drink it all the time. We love it. When we begin to fall into a sin frequently, we in essence, put tape over the mouths of our consciences, and feel no regret for our actions any longer. We love our selves instead of God. By our presumption, we redefine “what is true for us”, instead of submitting to God and His Church.
“What is true for me matters most” is the battle cry of this generation against moral absolutism. This type of moral presumption is actually moral relativism, which is running rampant in our current culture. Relativism has found its way into the minds and hearts of so many people, including many Catholics. This is a deadly virus for any human being, but for the catholic, it can be quite catastrophic.
I believe that relativism is closely connected to the sin of presumption, which has incredibly dire consequences. One of the greatest catholic philosophers and apologists of our time, Peter Kreeft states that, “you can’t repent if you don’t believe in sin to repent of, and you can’t believe in sin if you don’t believe in a real moral law, because sin means disobeying that. Moral relativism eliminates that law, thus sin, thus repentance, thus salvation.” Presumption, like relativism hardens our hearts to the reality of sin. This, as stated previously, leads to final impenitence (final rejection of God), and will separate us from the loving and merciful heart of the Father.
The journey to Heaven begins with one step…
1. Daily Examination of Conscience
It does not take long. Most people will do it an the end of their day. Pray to the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother to shine the light upon your heart and mind to see in what ways you fell that day. Pray an act of contrition after you see how you fell that day.
2. Regularly attend the Sacrament of Confession.
You can’t cure the sickness without going to the Doctor. Jesus waits for us in the person of the priest in the Confessional. Prepare your heart properly and excite within your heart a true sorrow for sin then go and be cleansed of the dirt that clings to your soul.
3. Remember your death
Take time to meditate upon your impending death. Check out St. Alphonsus Ligouri’s Preparation for Death. Seek to remember consistently that what you do here affects what happens in eternity.
We are sinners. We must be willing to acknowledge that but also recognize that Jesus wishes to pour out His Divine Mercy on us, if only we would come with repentant hearts. The “Jesus Prayer”, which is held in high regard by our Eastern Rite and separated orthodox brethren is a great prayer to say regularly to remind us of this fact: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I pray that we can be vigilant against the sin of presumption, and that we will truly cherish the gracious gift of Divine Mercy given to us by Christ through the Sacraments. May we never grow tired of begging our Lord for mercy.
Click on the following link for a Prayer Against the Sin of Presumption.
You are given the opportunity to have an all expense paid dinner. The venue is a gorgeous 5 Star restaurant. It is the best restaurant in the world. The catch is that it serves only one dish. This dish, however, is cooking at its finest. It has the perfect blend of flavours. It has developed into a recipe that trumps all others. It may be quite a change for those not accustomed to it’s flavour or its presentation, but it always satisfies and delivers the promise of good tastes. It would only ever leave you hungry for more of its goodness. It could lead a person to sadness to know they may never get the chance to have this meal again. It is just that good.
Now imagine, you decide to not go to this dinner. You don’t like the idea of accepting that beautiful meal out of a fear that you might not like it, it might be a waste of time, or you don’t like the crowd that dines there. It has been known that the waiters in the past have made some mistakes. So because of this, instead, you choose to go across the street to the family dinner buffet. Right away, you can tell that there is no real food there. The potatoes are just some powder mixed with water and left to sit under a lamp for hours. ‘Fresh Corn’ comes from a can and sits soaking in water until the kernels are just wrinkled and soggy. The roast is dry. The roasted potatoes were microwaved. Overall, it’s not going to be a meal that satisfies, but hey, at least you get to pick and choose what you want, even though it’s going to be weak and leave you hungry for something with actual substance later on in the day.
Let’s look at this another way. If a person from a religion claims to be devout, but doesn’t follow the teachings, doesn’t believe in its practices, doesn’t care to actually participate in the fullness of their faith, does that make them a true follower? The obvious answer is no. What it makes them is a follower of themselves. They use their faith as a guideline, and from there create their own belief system that best suits them.
It is like choosing the scuzzy buffet. You pick and choose what you want and opt to avoid what you don’t want. You would rather do this than accept the full, perfect meal that promises to satisfy. What I’m talking about here is Cafeteria Catholicism. Cafeteria Catholicism, my brothers and sisters, is picking and choosing ideas or morals according to your liking, lifestyle, or preferences. What this does is obscure the faith, and in the end becomes contradiction and heresy. Ultimately, you end up with something that isn’t Catholic at all, but rather a relativist belief or some form of Protestantism.
When we say the creed at mass, we openly say:
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.
This means that we profess that we believe in the Catholic Church and her teachings. So why do so many ” Catholics” say they are Catholic, and yet choose to disregard or openly go against the Church’s teachings? A lot of people, even those that call themselves Catholic, believe that it is a right to be able to pick and choose what you want to believe. This could be anything from believing that missing Sunday Mass because you are too tired is a legitimate reason to just stay home, or that going to Mass isn’t necessary to have a relationship with God. It could be thinking cohabitation, sex before marriage, masturbation, the use of drugs for pleasure, and contraception are not immoral things to do, and that God is totally okay with your choices no matter what they are. These things, however, go against the Church and, in turn, go against Christ and His teachings.
It is a terrifying reality that in the world this mentality seems to be a norm for so many people. They will say: Yes, I am a Catholic, but I do not believe in certain teachings of the Church and I will form for myself my own ‘truths’ that are more ‘acceptable’. It is relativism to think that there is no absolute truth, that you can choose what you want to because the times are different, or perhaps you don’t want to let faith be a lifestyle that dominates you. Tradition means little once you start thinking like a relativist. The Commandments laid out by God become just suggestions or guidelines which you don’t have to follow if you don’t want to. So then what is the point of calling yourself Catholic when you don’t want to live up to what it means to be Catholic?
Being Catholic in its fullest is accepting all of the Churches teachings, traditions, and Christ’s commandments. This is the perfect meal. It is the banquet that Christ presents us with. To turn away from this is turning away from Christ and the Church he established for us. He instituted the Sacraments. He chose the Apostles so He could entrust them to care for His Church, leaving Peter with the keys of Heaven and making him the first Pope. The Holy Spirit guided them, and they proclaimed the Good News who is Christ. We are called to believe whole-heartedly. We must love with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our strength.
It takes work to learn about the Faith. Some things are hard to understand. Why does the Church teach what it teaches? Where did those teachings come from? These questions can be answered in a variety of ways:
The Catechism: The Catechism is an amazing resource. It is there that we can read what the Church teaches and why. It is simple to read and presents us with all the resources we need to understand what the Faith means through explanations from Saints, scripture, and encyclicals.
Encyclicals: These are papal letters sent out to all the Bishops.
Writings by Saints: There are countless writings from Saints that discuss Church Teachings. St. Louis de Montfort, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Boniface, and St.Catherine of Sienna are just examples.
Scripture: Yup. Pure and simple. Christs teachings are written out for us in the Gospels, and what He taught is carried on by the Disciples through Acts. Read the Bible. It’s good for the soul.
Saying all this, it is true that there are those who simply do not truly know the teachings of the Church. It could be for many reasons, such as negligence or being raised in a different environment. Lumen Gentium discusses this issue:
“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” ( Section 16)
We must pray that all may come to know the teachings, but more importantly that they may come to know the fullness Christ.
Our discipleship to Christ must be a radical one. It must be rooted, strong, and true. We must aim to be true followers. To do this, we must know who He is not only on a surface level, but in His heart. This leads me to my next point which is orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is adherence to right teaching. In the case of Catholics, it is obedience to Christs Teachings, which in turn lead to adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church. How do we know that this is what He wants? We know this because He established the Church in the first place.
We should be like ducklings following their mother through the rivers and sometimes on the unsafe shores. We should keep under the wing and close by, always calling out to them. The other option is being a rubber ducky, that just bobs along, spinning on its lonesome. It is carried by every current and the slightest breeze is enough to send it into deadly rapids. Eventually, it may be pushed to shore where it will be left alone and probably get chewed on by a dog, like a Saint Bernard or a mastiff or a mexican hairless.
Skip the buffet. Accept the delicacy and richness of Christ’s banquet. Pray for conversion of all souls. Pray for clarity and wisdom for those that claim to be followers, but are actually lying to themselves. Pray for yourself that you will not give in to the temptation to believe what is convenient, rather than what is true. Sometimes it’s hard to accept everything because of how it will make us feel, and sometimes it may even make others uncomfortable or angry to know what we believe to be Truth. Ultimately, though, what others think doesn’t matter. Christ matters. He told us to follow Him, not to watch from afar, walk the other direction, and claim to follow Him. In the end, He will be our judge.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell- and great was its fall!”
Catholic Chris Talks about Smorgasbord Catholicism! It’s an older video, but it is still good.