Father John CATOIR
SPIRITUALITY FOR TODAY
What are you looking to accomplish with your life? For you, what is the bottom line of your existence? The Catholic perspective on this question is that the supreme purpose of every human being is to save his or her soul. We do this by accepting Jesus as Lord, and by helping others to save their souls.
Becoming a holy Christian takes time, so be patient with yourself. If you think you may need a little more maturing, you’re probably right. I’m 86, and I’m just beginning to get the hang of it. One either keeps on maturing or one falls by the wayside. I’m never surprised when people slip in the practice of their faith.
However, if the lapse causes them to forget their primary purpose – namely, saving their immortal soul – it sets off an alarm in my head. I recall how St. Paul was exceedingly upset when he found out that many of his Roman converts were falling back into paganism. He reasoned that it’s one thing to lapse into neglect, but quite another to lose your faith entirely. He wrote to them to shape them up.
Losing one’s faith happens slowly over an extended period. It’s hardly noticeable.
Here’s a check list to help you see how you’re doing. Ask yourself the following questions: Am I a good Catholic or merely a pagan with Catholic patches? Do I truly love Jesus Christ? Do I believe he is truly present in the Eucharist? Do I go to Mass on Sundays and receive Holy Communion? Do I read the Word of God often, seldom or never?
We’re all sinners, and we all need to check our progress from time to time. One sure sign of a true believer is that he or she prays. Prayer consists of adoration, repentance, thanksgiving and petition. How are you doing in the prayer department?
It pleases the Lord when we pray for ourselves and others. He wants to be our best friend. From time to time, pray for the whole church. Pray for those who stumble and fall. Pray for the spirit of forgiveness. Pray for the ability to trust the Lord. Pray for the joy of the Holy Spirit. Pray for the virtues of faith, hope and charity, and pray to be open to God’s grace.
Openness means placing yourself in the hands of God and trusting his love. Surprisingly, your holiness depends more on God’s love for you, than it does on your love for God; nevertheless, you must try to make a reasonable effort to be holy.
So many people are afraid and lonely. They compound their problem by falling away from the community of faith. This is sad because it’s so much more difficult to “seek first the kingdom of God” when you try to do it on your own. You can show your love for the Lord by caring for those in need, especially if they are all alone.
God has asked us to offer him public worship. Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” A good Catholic attends Holy Mass on Sunday not only because it is a form of obedience to his will, but because it advances the very purpose of his or her life. Good Catholics want to be faithful to the bottom line and win eternal happiness in heaven.
May the Lord be your strength and your joy.
Father John Catoir is the former president of the Catholic Press Association.