Our Catholic Identity is extremely important. In an age where modern relativism is running rampant, it is incredibly important that we as Catholics remain close to the Church in identifying ourselves with her. However, many Catholics have forgotten (or never were taught) what it means to be Catholic. It is quite possibly one of the greatest tragedies to fall upon the Church when it comes to the matter of our faith.
Fortunately for us, this year in the Church marks the Year of Faith. It is a time for us as Catholics to reconcile ourselves with our faith and to find out more about it. It is time for Catholics to stop hiding from themselves, and to KNOW their faith. It is time to get properly catechized, as many Catholics don’t know the who, what, where, when, why and how of their faith.
This is an important part of being Catholic. As Catholics, we should be spending more time learning about our faith. Most Catholics are under the impression that “hey, I went through Catholic School/Religious Education, etc… when I was a kid, why do I need to keep going?” Frankly, you need to keep up on your faith because you forget things. When you aren’t thinking or using a particular skill set of yours, over time, the skill degenerates. Unlike riding a bike, when you don’t practice your faith, similarly to taking calculus, when you stop doing it, you forget it. (Yes, I did just draw a comparison of the faith to calculus, and yes, I think the faith is DEEPER than calculus, if you don’t believe me, try reading some St. Thomas-Aquinas, Pope John Paul II, or Pope Benedict XVI).
The other reason its important to know about your faith is simple. Our faith tells us that we are to put God first in our lives. The logic is simple, whoever, or whomever is first on your priority list, always gets your attention, regardless of how tired you are or how late it is. If you have a new girlfriend or boyfriend, and they are #1 on your priority list, you make sure that you give them a phone call, text or IM before you go to bed. But God deserves to be in that #1 spot, and spending time in prayer, with Scripture, with a book on the faith, is spending time with God, getting to know Him. And this is what the Year of Faith is all about.
Really, its rather simple on what needs to be done. God needs to be put number 1 in our lives, and then we need to spend time with Him. Being a Catholic is more than just throwing a label on yourselves and going about your merry way. Being Catholic is about living our your Catholic faith the way that Jesus is calling you to.
Each and every one of us is called to follow Jesus, and yet how often do we fall from that path? Often enough. Yet, we can get back on that path every time we stray to get back in line with Christ and His teachings. This does not mean that we can do whatever we want and say “I’m following Jesus, its okay! We’re homeboys!” but to actually follow Him. The best way to know if you are following Him or not, is to read the Gospels. Here you will find out about Him, by reading His own words.
You also need to know your faith. Why? Partly, so that you know why you believe, what you believe. But, secondly, and possibly more importantly, so that you can explain your faith to others. When someone asks you, “why are you a Catholic, when you can be anything else?” you’ll have a reason. On top of that, if someone ever does come up to you and asks you what Catholics believe, you can tell them. It is time that we as Catholics both know and live our Catholic faith and identity.
The Year of Faith has been underway now for a couple of weeks. So, what have you been doing to better understand the Catholic Church?
Read scripture. Read the Catechism. Read Papal Encyclicals. Read the Second Vatican Council Documents. Read good Catholic books. READ. As Catholics, we need to read more. Our Protestant brothers and sisters read on average of 6 books on the faith in a year. What is our excuse now? Its time to stop with the excuses, sit down, and know our faith. Once you know your faith, live it.