What is the hardest part about being Catholic? Well, I’d have to say easily the hardest part of being Catholic is, well, being Catholic.
Wait, I’m confused, did you just answer that question with the question?
Yep. I did indeed. I’ve been pondering this for awhile now, and I’ve found the answer to the question. The hardest part of being Catholic is being Catholic. Why is this so?
First, let’s pose the question ‘What does it mean to be Catholic?’ This is an important question for us to ask ourselves, let alone come up with an answer for. But, the correct answer is to live out our faith in all aspects of our lives. When we live out our faith, and those around us can tell that something is different in us, that is to say, they can see Christ radiating through our selves, then we know we are being Catholic.
But I find that there are far too many times when the daily temptations to not uphold to this principle occurs, and I fall short…constantly. Too often I’d rather spend time browsing the internet as opposed to getting stuff done around the house. Too often I’d rather watch YouTube or browse Facebook as opposed to getting my prayer time in. Too often I’d rather lose my cool and get angry at the slow poke in front of me on my drive to work instead of praying for them or just offering up the slowness.
Every single example I’ve given above doesn’t allow Jesus to radiate through my core, nor does it allow His will to be done. If anything, I harden my heart and allow myself to become impenetrable. God can’t work on you when you don’t open up your heart. He can do wonders to you if you just open up a little bit, but how often do we fail to open up our hearts?
We believe in a God that is all powerful, all knowing and all mighty, yet we are always afraid to give ourselves totally to Him, so that He can transform us into the person that He created us to be. How often do we go up for Communion, to receive Christ’s Body and Blood, and go up there nonchalantly? We believe that the Eucharist is God, yet we go up there as if its only bread and wine. Something is wrong here. We need to be more open, especially when going up for Communion.
Jesus gave us very specific instruction on how we are to shine for the world. We are different. We are to bring Christ to those that don’t have Him. Jesus says “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father”. Matthew 5:14-16.
This is how we are to live. Constantly in communion with God, to the point that the love and joy that we are experiencing, over flows from our cup and immerses those around us. But far too often we do not do this. Temptations are around us everywhere we go. Sadly, they will not disappear. We must overcome whatever temptations face us today, as well as tomorrow, and so on, until the day that we die.
I don’t know about you, but there are a number of times when people assume that because I’m a Catholic, that I must somehow be above the level of fault and that all desires and temptations have suddenly gone *poof*. They are sometime surprised when I say “no, actually sometimes its even worse being a Catholic, because I have that desire and I know I can not act upon it.” If only saying “yeah, I’m Catholic” also took away all temptations, but we have to remember, even Jesus had temptations, so, guess what? You won’t ever get rid of your temptations, they will come and go, just don’t act on them.
There are many ways we can improve ourselves. Frequent the Sacraments. The Sacraments are what will help you improve yourself. Go to confession often, go to Mass at least weekly and on all Holy Days. Spend time every week in from of the Blessed Sacrament. Spend time daily in prayer. Be Christ for others. These are just a few things we can do, but I know I’d be amiss if I didn’t at least touch on the Sacraments.
So, you’ve got your homework cut out for you. I do too. Its always important to take the time to look over how we are doing. Its always easy to write people off or to avoid people. But we are to rise up to a higher calling. How can you be a better Catholic this week?
I’ll give you a couple of minutes…
Okay, you figured it out? Awesome! Now, go out and do that!