The essential ingredient to living life as a devout Catholic can be contained in only one word and that word is, obedience. In order to understand our Faith one has to study what Catholics believe and why. This is done by studying the Bible alongside the Catholic Catechism it is also crucial to read and believe Church Doctrine and all the Tenets of our Faith.
There are also matters that are considered Dogma, this means that all Catholics must hold true any specific Dogma declared by the Pontiff and the Magisterium. For an example it is necessary to believe and hold as Sacred Truth the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which became in affect in the year 1854 under the reign of Pope Pius IX. Though this belief was articulated from the earliest Catholic writers such as St. Ephrem c. 306-73 when he wrote,"You and Your mother are the only ones who are totally beautiful in every way. For in You, O Lord, there is no stain, and in Your mother no stain....Mary and Eve [were] two people without guilt. Later one became the cause of our death, the other cause of our life." Also in the writings of St. Augustine we read, "That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself—of whom all, even she herself, are rightly called children of the bridegroom—but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the Mother of that very head". It is here from the earliest beginnings of the Catholic Church that belief in the Immaculate Conception of Mary took shape what God has planned from the beginning. It is incumbent upon us to also hold True all the Teachings of the Catholic Church through the ages.
There is also the understanding that as Catholics we cannot pick and choose what we wish to believe, this is where obedience must come in for we are to embrace, believe, and explain what the Catholic Church Teaches and not what we think they should teach. This is a crucial point in that many Catholics choose to speak a different gospel than what was given us by Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Irrespective of our own personal views or differences we must when explaining the Teachings and Traditions of the Catholic Church do so in a spirit of filial obedience to the Doctrines of the Church. As St. Augustine put it quite succinctly, "If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself." In order for us to understand what we believe it is imperative for all Catholics to study the Word of God within the guidance of the Catholic Church.
To live one's life as a devout Catholic also means we must not embrace every new fad or novel experience for the sake of it. As Pope Benedict XVI has spoken with these words, "An Adult faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelties." The Catholic Church is beyond the latest fads and trends, it does not change it's Truth to suit the contrariness of societal values. Where one day what has been outlawed by man may become legal through due process, even though the man made law brings with it God's condemnation such as the case with Roe VS Wade. When society embraces the culture of death which is outside God's Holy Ordinances it is inherent upon the Catholic Church to rebuke and correct such a deceitful and sinful law. As devout Catholics it is also incumbent upon all Catholics to support the Church in its stance against the legalized death of unborn babies by peaceful protests, and by protesting against this law of death through the ballet box. A true Catholic must never support abortion in any way shape or form this also means that as responsible Catholics we must choose not to vote for politicians who support the PRO-choice pro-DEATH abortion bill. As the late Great Pope John Paul II said, "The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn." Do we as Catholics ignore such words as if they were of no account because individual politicians advocate and support a law that murders the nations unborn? Some may use the excuse that they wish to utilize their right to vote so they vote in a politician who has taken a PRO-DEATH platform with full knowledge of this, can a Catholic oppose and yet support abortion? Is this not contrary to God's Law which overrides any law which sets itself apart from God's Commandments? All Catholics need to examine the repercussions of their actions in accordance with the Churches stand against various issues before they utilize their right to vote.
Faith is not only believing in God's existance for does not Satan also believe in God's existance? What then is faith? Once again St. Augustine explains it with these wise words, "Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe." To have faith essentially means we trust in the Promise of God's Will revealed to us through Sacred Scripture and Catholic Doctrine without the need to 'see so as to believe', to think this is to distrust God's Holy Word and rely on your own misshapen ideas. Once again Pope Benedict XVI elucidates most eloquently his thoughts on what faith is and what it is not, "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church is often labeled today as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, look like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards."
It also takes more than showing up at Mass regularly to understand what living as a Catholic truly means. If we attend Mass from a sense of duty or out of habit are we giving to God our love and reverence or only our physical presence minus the love? It is the Pharisee's who chained their people with the law, so it stands to reason that if in your own heart you attend Mass only for the above reasons, have you not fallen prey to lawfulness rather than sincere Worship of the Triune God? Is it not the case that when reciting the Credo for those who do not wish to accept, follow or remain obedient to God through His Church and its Teachings what then when we pray this particular verse, "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church." An understanding needs to be explained for when you choose to renounce even one Teaching of the One Holy and Apostolic Church you then renounce all the Teachings of the Church. The Catholic Church is not a lollie shop where one can pick and choose what they wish to believe, on any given day. Therefore if one rejects certain Teachings of the Catholic Church they then have rejected ALL the Teachings of the Catholic Church. By reciting the Credo without truly accepting nor believing all it contains makes of the person a liar which brings into question the state of their soul upon receiving the Holy Eucharist when the person has lied by recitation of the Credo while denying its Truth in their inner most heart and soul.
The Catholic individual must understand that by denying one part of the Credo they are essence calling the Church false and faulty therefore it goes to say that they also believe the Catholic Church to be full of lies and false in its presentation of Divine Truth. One cannot reject one aspect of the Churches Teachings because it does not align itself with the social issues of the day while accepting only what suits the particular individual. This is not belief in God or the Catholic Church this shows a belief in oneself over and above both God and the Catholic Church. One cannot proclaim that part of the Catholic Church is heresy while also proclaiming themselves as 'good catholics', for when one rejects even part of Divine Truth they have made themselves heretics and not the Catholic Church!
In order to remain a devout and believing Catholic we must not allow ourselves to be held hostage by the willingness of others to live sinful lives which goes against God's Holy Word and the Teachings of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we were not created to accommodate the world or the worldly we are here to speak the Truth and that is the Truth of the Catholic Church and not mistake our own 'ideas' as 'truth', in replacement of the Churches Teachings for fear of being ashamed to proclaim it. When we become embarrassed by the Catholic Churches Teaching and too ashamed to proclaim it as it is, then whom do you serve, God or man? In being embarrassed where are you different from Martin Luther who also rejected the Doctrines of the Catholic Church in preference for his own 'idea's'? As it says in Galatians, "I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by (the) grace (of Christ) for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! As St. Jerome also said, "Why do you not practice what you preach." If because of peer pressure a 'catholic' feels unable to speak the Truths of the Catholic Church, then what are you speaking and from where do you gain your knowledge which is outside of the Churches Teachings.
If it is a case that all 'truths' are the same 'truths' if so then why has the Church not proclaimed that Buddhism is 'catholic' or that Lutherans, Anglicans, Hindu's are also 'catholic'? Why not? Because all 'truths' are NOT Divine Truth, for Divine Truth can only be found IN the Catholic Church and not outside of it.
If you find that you cannot speak the Truths of the Catholic Church for fear of the opinion of others. If you find yourself in disagreement over many of its Tenets for it does not 'fit into society', then how can you pray the Credo with a lie in your heart?
A good Catholic is not one who embraces every new fad and every novel idea, a good Catholic is one who speaks the Truths of the Church with fierce courage irrespective of one's own safety and of one's popularity with others. This is why obedience to the Churches Teachings is integral for those who call themselves Catholic, for to be a Catholic requires more than just saying the word, it means believing in what you hold Sacred which is ALL the Doctrines of the Catholic Church. As the Catholic Catechism instructs us when it comes to the Traditions of our Faith, "78 This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, "the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer."... 79 The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: "God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church - and through her in the world - leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness." It is when many speak their own 'perceived truths' that they corrupt the Word entire for they speak from their own faulty knowledge which has nothing of the Divine within in it. Therefore they may be in danger of being a stumbling block to those who are seeking the Truth for the Truth they seek can only be found within the Catholic Church.
For when one cannot speak the Truths of the Church what then is holding your tongue...cowardice?
Peace of Christ to you ALL
Copyright © 2006 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.