I find that one of the most difficult attitudes that I have to face as a priest (and as a pastor) is either apathy or indifference. Our Catholic faith is so important to me. I believe it and try to live it to the best of my ability. This does not exempt me from sinning or falling short of the goal. However, I know that consent of my will (a decision) is necessary—to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love my neighbor as myself (see Mk. 12: 30-31)—followed by the daily attempt to put this into practice.
If nothing else, I keep trying. Every day is a new day. I can begin again and again.
This leads me to a quote that I read quite a while ago by the late Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
Since the basic cause of man’s anxiety is the possibility of being either a saint or a sinner, it follows that there are only two alternatives for him. Man can either mount upward to the peak of eternity or else slip backwards to the chasms of despair and frustration. Yet there are many who think there is yet another alternative, namely, that of indifference. They think that, just as bears hibernate for a season in a state of suspended animation, so they, too, can sleep through life without choosing to live for God or against Him. But hibernation is no escape; winter ends, and one is then forced to make a decision—indeed, the very choice of indifference is itself a decision. White fences do not remain white fences by having nothing done to them; they soon become black fences. Since there is a tendency in us that pulls us back to the animal, the mere fact that we do not resist it operates to our own destruction. Just as life is the sum of forces that resist death, so, too, man’s will must be the sum of the forces that resist frustration. A man who has taken poison into his system can ignore the antidote, or he can throw it out the window; it makes no difference which he does, for death is already on the march. St. Paul warns us, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Heb 2:3). By the mere fact that we do not go forward, we go backward. There are no plains in the spiritual life, we are either going uphill or coming down. Furthermore the pose of indifference is only intellectual. The will must choose. And even though an “indifferent” soul does not positively reject the infinite, the infinite rejects it. The talents that are unused are taken away, and the Scriptures tell us that, “But because though art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:16).” --Peace of Soul: Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy by the Century’s Acclaimed Catholic Bishop
By choosing to be Catholic, it is essential to live out that faith. What are some practical suggestions for doing this?
· Every day attempt to pray. Don’t just recite prayers. Pray from the heart. Talk and listen to God.
· Be faithful in weekly Mass attendance. Hear the Word of God proclaimed and preached. Receive the Holy Eucharist. Respond to Jesus telling us: “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk. 22:19)
· Get into the habit of monthly confession. After a month (if not sooner), I need a sacramental confession to help me stay on the right path. Confession is my moral compass.
· Be Christ-like and show charity to those in my family, where I work, or where I go to school.
· Avoid bad habits (vices) and cultivate good ones (virtues). Do I spend too much time watching TV or on the computer? Do I drink or gamble excessively, or use drugs as an escape? Bad habits will ultimately become destructive and will deteriorate, if not destroy, the spiritual life.
· Pray for the grace of conversion. Conversion is a life-long process of turning away from sin and turning toward God.
· Trust in the Lord. Jesus loves you more than you probably can ever imagine. He died for you and me.
Look at the crucifix. How can I be apathetic or indifferent to that?
Fr. Ed Namiotka