For Every Distressed Catholic, the Question is: Will I Pursue Holiness, or Not?
The shepherds of the Catholic Church are the center of attention for unholy, despicable reasons right now. The Church is truly being shaken to the core. The faithful are rightly alarmed, appalled and furious.
Guess what? It would be foolish of us, the laity, to think this shaking and cleansing doesn’t involve us as well.
You see, even as we justifiably rail against the corruption within all ranks of clergy in the Church, we are still accountable before God for our own lives and our own souls.
This is not an attempt to deflect attention away from scandalous priests or minimize their crimes.
I’m asking, do you — do I — really want to be a saint?
That’s the bottom line here. You and I are not called to mere decency or tolerance or benignity. We are called to holiness. Every bit as much as our shepherds are, we are called to be about the business of becoming a saint.
A Ruthless Self-Examination
Be brutally honest with yourself for a moment. Start here:
“I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
Jesus called this the First and Greatest Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
It’s a commandment, not a suggestion or one of many options.
Is that how you love the Lord your God? To have no other gods before Him leaves no wiggle room at all. Do you choose other things, other loves, ahead of the Lord your God?
Do the commandments of God sometimes take a backseat to the laws of this world or the dictates of our culture? Do you ever forsake the law of God in order to serve another law?
When the commandments of God conflict with the commands of the culture, whom do you obey?
The Spiritual Rot Within
Do you expect a regular Sunday diet of platitudes and milquetoast sermons that make you feel good and confirm you in your personal views?
Are you the sort of pew-sitter who would grumble if the good reverend had the nerve to preach the actual Word of God? Including the parts that mention some very specific sins, the very sins you want to dismiss or ignore altogether? Aren’t we all susceptible to some favorite pet sins, habits or indulgences in our lives we don’t want to give up?
If your pastor stood up on Sunday and delivered a rousing call to abandon whatever entangles you, no matter what it is, so that you are free to run after the Lord, how would you respond?
What’s your take, for instance, on Humanae Vitae? Ever read it? If Father got up and reminded everyone that contraception is immoral, would you have him run out of town?
If your priest had the nerve to say out loud that the many sexual sins we embrace as positive goods in our culture will take a lot of souls to hell in a handbasket, would you get defensive and call him judgmental and intolerant? I mean, you’re not molesting anyone, right?
And c’mon, it shouldn’t be a sin to have sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiancé anyway. And at least looking at pornography doesn’t get some girl pregnant. Never mind what Paul said way back then. His times were different, and we know better now — there’s nothing sinful about homosexual sex. Stop judging.
Any of that ring true for you?
If your pastor looked everyone in the eyes and said without apology that those who wish to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must love purity, chastity, humility, obedience, generosity, sacrifice, and suffering, would you thank him or scold him? Do you hunger to hear more of that, or would you want his head on a platter?
In other words, do you really want your priest to be a holy man who then stands up and calls you to be holy?
What’s It Gonna Be?
“Choose ye this day,” Catholics recently heard at Mass. Joshua put it to the Israelites directly. The choice is yours and mine, just as it was theirs. “Choose ye this day whom you will serve.”
Are we content to conform to what secular society says is just and right, even regarding our sexual behavior? Or will we actually live what our Church teaches? Father Fabulous or Father B-flat or Father Monstrous cannot choose for you.
Fr. Mike Schmitz said it simply and beautifully: Don’t leave the Church in the midst of scandal. Lead the Church. How do you and I lead? By becoming a saint. By getting serious about holiness in our own lives.
We need to hear the call to repentance, conversion, and embracing the Cross. If you despise that message, then why are you Catholic?
Each of us must choose. Be a saint or not. Holiness or not. There is nothing in between.