The Narrow, Rocky Path: Part One

We were having coffee, and I found out to my delight he was a fellow Catholic.  I started talked enthusiastically about my journey to Christ that began in job loss, my discovery of Scripture, my renewed devotion to Catholic devotions like the Rosary…  He listened, and his eyes narrowed a bit.  “I go to church Sundays, I’m a good father, and a pretty nice guy.  I think that’s enough.”  I couldn’t disagree that he was a pretty nice guy.  But is being nice enough?

The word “lukewarm” is used once in the Bible.  In Revelation 3:15-17, St. John in his first vision is told by Christ to write to the Church of Laodicea:

I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent, and have no need of anything,’ yet you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” 

This is a very graphic image of Christ’s attitude towards Christians of weak commitment that such individuals make him sick to his stomach!  Tying this in with parable of the stewards, those to whom much is given – e.g. the great gifts of faith and the sacraments – much is expected.  I wince at the shuffling horde queued up to take the Eucharist, many slack of posture, hands at their sides or in their pockets, vacant of expression, some even waving to friends and acquaintances as they approach the Presence.  We are all called to be saints.  So beginning with a sincere “Have mercy upon me Jesus, a sinner!” how do we get there from here?

BABY STEPS

As Dirty Harry might say, “The question you have to ask yourself is ‘Do I feel holy?’  Well, do ya….punk?”  I would ask you – without the sneer – is do you know and adhere to the five precepts of the Church?

  1. Attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  2. Confess your sins at least once a year.
  3. Receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  4. Observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  5. Help provide for the needs of the Church.

This is the minimum.  I’m confident that you would agree compliance to the five precepts hardly qualifies as fervor.  But if you aren’t willing to faithfully do the minimum, we have no foundation to build on: you might as well pop a cold one, settle in your La-Z-Boy, and turn on “The Kardashians” waiting in comfort for either the Apocalypse or your demise, whichever comes first.  For my fellow members of the Body of Christ who are Protestant, I would ask you what your denomination says is the minimum, and are you doing it?  As a Catholic I of course get into specifics that apply to Catholicism, but you also may profit from following along, as we have much common ground.  Jews and Muslims (except those for whom “Death or enslavement of infidels” is a minimum), you too may benefit.  Wiccans, Satanists, materialists, Druids, worshippers of Baal, Charlie Sheen – nothing to see here.  In my next post I’ll lay out some thoughts on moving towards genuine holiness…where in my own personal journey I’ve on my own 2 yard-line, it’s 3rd and 12, and Satan is sending Asmodeus on a blitz.

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