Just what does it take to be a good Catholic?
Some would say to me that they need to go to Mass every week and to confession monthly. Spending time in Eucharistic Adoration might be what some see as an essential part of being Catholic. Others might point to the fact that they should teach or be involved with the religious education program or support the local Catholic school. Then there are those who might suggest that they have to give generously in the collection basket or to the South Jersey Catholic Ministries Appeal (formerly the House of Charity). Still others might think that it is important to volunteer in various parish activities or be part of a Small Christian Community reflection group.
What makes a good Catholic?
My answer might include many of the above considerations but above all it needs to focus on this: a good Catholic is called to imitate Christ in all that he or she thinks, says and does. It involves a continual conversion—a turning away from sin and a turning to Christ. It involves loving God above everything else and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Unfortunately, a person can go to Mass each week and then go home and be mean to her husband or his wife and their children. A person can spend hours in Eucharistic Adoration and then subsequently gossip about others on the phone or online. A person can teach religious education while secretly living a dual life not in union with the Church’s moral teachings. A person can give generously because of being financially well-to-do but entirely miss the point about Christian forgiveness and the need to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. A person can receive Our Lord in Holy Communion and yet continually support the killing of innocent human life in the womb. A person can volunteer for various parish activities but sadly never develop a personal relationship with the Lord.
What do you think makes a good Catholic?
I once heard a bishop say that Christians need to be “leaven for the world.” Everything that we do as a Christian must somehow have an effect on the world in which we live. We cannot compartmentalize our lives in such a way that we live out our faith only within the Church building or during Church functions and then leave it there. Our faith needs to be taken home, brought to work and to school. Our faith needs to be present in our everyday words and actions. Our faith needs to be a light for others to see!
During this Lent I invite you to ask yourself the question: Am I a good Catholic? I challenge you to purify your motives. What really matters, in the end, is not what we think of ourselves (because we may give ourselves the benefit of the doubt too often or may be too harsh on ourselves) but rather what Christ sees in us.
God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart. (1 Samuel 16: 7b)
Fr. Ed Namiotka