This fantastic homily by Fr. John Ehrich this past weekend is a call to arms for Catholics who have been living outside the Faith or ashamed of living it fully. Fr. Ehrich discusses St. John’s admonition that we are liers if we say that we know Christ–if we say we are Catholic–and we do not follow His–or the Church’s–commandments.
Listen here (especially after the eight-minute mark).
I meet people all the time who are “Catholic, but.” That is, they are “Catholic,” but they think abortion is okay. They are “Catholic,” but they think the Holy Father is out-of-date and out-of-touch. They are “Catholic,” but they do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I suspect that these people do more damage to the Church than anyone from outside. And what will be the result? Cardinal Ratzinger hypothesized in his Salt of the Earth that we would see a decline in the overall members of the Church (at least in the West), but that where people remained in the Church, they would be a strong and vibrant example of what it is to live as a Catholic.
I’m not sure that is such a bad thing. A smaller, more devoted, more “authentic,” a group more representative of the Church’s teachings would be a very attractive thing. It would allow those of us who try to live out our faith to have some community with other like-minded Catholics, and it would be immensely attractive to others outside the Church as it once was in the past. Many churches today have RCIA programs that do not attract individuals. The institutional weight has changed to individual encounters with Christ and the Church that lead to a process of conversion. But how wonderful it would be to see the Church in all its fullness, welcoming new members each year who believe what the Church does, and who are welcomed into a community that believes the same things.
Let us rededicate ourselves this day to living out the fullness of our Faith. Let us walk without fear into a culture that is against us, and let us proclaim openly to those who have fallen away that they may return and experience the beauty of the Church’s teachings.