Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What if we really wanted to be saints?

Many Catholics I know unwittingly hold to the Protestant notion of once-saved-always-saved. They don't really do confession, and they're indifferent about going to Mass. Eventually you realize it's because they believe they're going to heaven by virtue of being baptized as a baby, with maybe a short stop in Purgatory. I mean they haven't killed anyone. They don't tell colossal lies or steal anything super valuable. They sleep around if they're single or use contraception if they're married, but who doesn't?

The blame for this mentality rests in large part upon the Church itself. I've known people who made it through 18 years of Catholic education without ever learning the most basic demands of the faith such as being bound under pain of sin to attend Mass every Sunday. Each of us is ultimately responsible for our own soul, but I have a feeling the average lay Catholic won't be as severely judged as those whose responsibility it was to teach him. There's a big difference between knowing the standard and trying and failing to live by it from time to time. There's a big difference between falling down 10% of the time vs. deciding beforehand to flout 10% of the Church's teachings or whatever.

One of the best homilies I ever heard touched on Sunday's readings only a little while focusing on the subject of indulgences. Every Catholic can earn one plenary indulgence and as many partial indulgences as he wants per day. What if we prayed the rosary inside a church every day? Or read Scripture for thirty minutes every night? Or made a good confession, received communion, and prayed for the intentions of the Holy Father every week? We'd establish the good habits that would put us on the road to salvation.

That's one of the reasons why progressive Catholicism gets under my skin: whenever I look around a liberal parish, I see a lot of untapped potential.

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