The Test of Faith

Are You Catholic?



The Problem
The Test
The Results

The Problem:

    The Catholic Church promotes hundreds of hours of Catechesis for almost every adult Catholic (e.g., RCIA, CCD), but most (more than 95 percent?) confirmed Catholics don't meet the basic requirements. A lack of Faith is a part of it, but ignorance is the majority of it. At no point, are Catholics taught what is expected.

    It can be argued that God is a relationship (not a bunch of rules), so meeting the letter of the law doesn't matter. Let us not forget, though, that the rules lead us into the relationship, and besides that, the Church has an exact and simple set of basics, the precepts of the Church, which we need to learn.

    While it might be argued that only the precepts of the Church are required, that attitude leaves us with no guideline to sin or outline of Faith. As a matter of practicality, a lot falls between the cracks when they are not understood.

The Test:
1. Ten Commandments: Do you know the 10 commandments, and try your best to follow them?

2. Church Precepts: Do you follow the Precepts of the Church?

3. Apostles' Creed: Can you recite the Apostles' Creed, and do you believe what you are saying?

The Results:

    Let's start with the short answer. A "yes" to all three questions is the Catholic answer, because we would likely be in a state of grace. Only an unconfessed mortal sin would prevent us from being Catholic. From a legal perspective, the Church has made it impossible for us to determine whether we are in a state of grace or sin, because Jesus is the Judge. We would never try to be in a state of grace, unless we were motivated by the Holy Spirit. If we are making a sincere effort to be in a state of grace, then we are very likely a Catholic.

Apostles' Creed: Most of us would never stand on some point of heresy, unless we were led astray by the modern media. The Church has a good system for dealing with heresy. If we take a heretical stand, we will probably hear about it.

Church Precepts: The precepts of the Church are rather easy as well. For the most part, we need to do the following. We are required to do these things, but we are encouraged to do much better.

1. Show Up: We need to go to Church on Sundays and Holy Days. The Church only has a few Holy Days which are as follows (Ascension is not usually practiced on Thursday in the United States, and this list assumes Roman Rite which is largest rite by far).

What When
Mary Mother of God January 1st
Ascension Thurday 40 days after Easter
Assumption August 15th
All Saints Day November 1st
Immaculate Conception December 8th
Christmas December 25th

2. Don't Divorce: A legal divorce is okay, but remarriage is not allowed without an annulment which is difficult to get at this time.

3. Do Penance: Healthy adults have to abstain from meat on Friday or the equivalent. In addition, we have to abstain from meat on Friday during Lent (the 6 weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter), and on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we must fast (1 meal and maybe something else if needed) and abstain from meat.

4. Confess Sins: Any mortal sin (impossible to know for sure) must be confessed. When in doubt, be devout, and go to confession.

5. Celebrate Easter: We are required to receive the sacrament of Eucharist sometime between the week before Easter (Palm Sunday) and 8 weeks after Easter (Trinity Sunday).

6. Be Catholic: We can't be Catholic unless we consider it our Church. As we do for our bodies and families, we provide for her needs and participate in her vocation (spreading the news of Jesus).

Ten Commandments: The ten commandments introduce us to the concept of good and evil. Good things flourish, and bad things die. For example, life is created and nourished through love, but it is violated and destroyed through sin. Holiness is so simple, until we try to practice it (as we shall see in a moment).

    All good things work together. For example, the precepts of the Church help us to follow the ten commandments (and vice versa). All bad things take us away from God, because good is an attribute of God. For example, if we break one of the commandments, we usually break other commandments (if not all the commandments) with the same sin.

1. Order Priorities: We must put God first in our lives. We can't say that we are in compliance as long as we don't have a golden calf in our backyard. To say the least, we all struggle with this commandment.

    Let's just take one of many examples. Among people who consider themselves Catholic, about 97% of sexual acts ( Guttmacher Institute 4-13-11) are frustrated with contraception, but sex is a procreative (not recreative) act. It's one thing to succumb to temptation, but we make the offense much more serious when we systematically put our sexual appetites before God. We might think that we are getting away with something, but we are not fooling our appetites. If we don't get our appetites right before we meet God, we are not going to be attracted to God.

    We need to remember that sin is not good. In the first place, mutual masturbation is a poor simulation of charitable sex. On top of that, frustrated sex makes the partners more selfish (because the whole point of masturbation is to satisfy selfish sexual appetites), whereas real sex draws the lovers into the charity of their vocation (children change everything thing which includes our appetites).

2. Respect God: Imagine a married couple that doesn't respect each other. How long would that last? One "ugly witch" remark would damage the relationship. At the very least, an "I'm sorry" would be required. God is much more than marriage, and the respect is just as important. We need to watch our mouth.

3. Show Up: We can't have a relationship with God if we don't take time for the relationship with the Church. God manifests Himself through the Church, we can't be distant to the Church and close to God. Our relationship to the Church is our relationship with God.

4. Respect Parents:

5. Don't Kill: We can't kill other people.

6. Respect Families: We should help other families, and we definitely should not mess them up by committing adultery.

7. Don't Steal:

8. Don't Lie:

9. Avoid Lust: The sixth commandment tells us no, and this one tells us to not even think about it. As Jesus pointed out, if you are thinking about it, you are already exercising your appetites.

10. Avoid Envy: The seventh commandment tells us not to steal, and this commandment tells us to not even want something that is not ours.

    If all of this seems like a lot of rules that we are not inclined to follow, then our relationship with the Divine is certainly sagging and maybe missing. Very few of us are motivated by legality, but all of us respond to love. We can change everything by going to Church and making friends. If we are still doing poorly or we simply want to do better (we should!), we need to add a personal prayer time. As we progress through the spiritual journey, everything else will fall into place.

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