“A faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Have you ever asked yourself, or had a conversation with someone else, about your faith, and what it’s all about at its core? If you had to sum the Catholic Faith up into a Tweet, to get to the nuts and bolts about what all of the traditions and rituals and rules and practices are about, what their purpose is, and why we do what we do, and believe what we believe, what would you say?
During a discussion about what we need to teach kids preparing for Confirmation, someone recently summed up our faith by saying, “It’s about being kind, loving people, and serving others.” It’s a definition of religion that dovetails nicely with the idea the kids themselves seem to have that bullying is the unforgivable sin, and that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the express purpose of enabling us to withstand peer pressure and stop bullies.
Now, obviously, kindness, love, and service are important, and bullies are bad and must be stood up to, but to say that these things are the core of our religion, it seems to me, is to have mightily missed the point. Every religion tells us to be “good people”. Heck, even comic books do that (and, to be honest, much more compellingly than most homilies)!
The Catholic religion is about much more than simply a bunch of moralising. It’s about the fact that there is something broken within each of us, and that we are unable to fix it by ourselves; that our own efforts at being good will never be good enough; that peace and happiness are not to be found perfectly in the things around us. It’s about the God who made us, who loves us, entering into our broken lives, taking on our humanity in order to fix it, to redeem it, so that we can have friendship with Him, and in that friendship, receive His grace to become truly good, and ultimately know perfect happiness with Him.
“The essence of Christianity is not an idea, not a system of thought, not a plan of action. The essence of Christianity is a Person: Jesus Christ Himself. That which is essential is the One Who is essential. To become truly real means to come to know Jesus Christ and to learn from Him what it means to be human.”—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI)
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