Thursday, July 17, 2003

about maximal Catholic living

As you all know, I'm an old-fashioned person who still uses listserv groups. From one of them, I was asked what our Church, and us, ought to do about all of our varied and assorted lapsi. I gave it a try; now's your opportunuity to see where I've been and, please, add your tuppence in the comment box.

Here's what we do about our uncatechised and minimalist and cafeteria pickers and carried-ins, as written for my listserv acquaintance:

My answer begins:

We don't try to get out of our problem by defining "them" out of the Church. They may be ignorant Catholics or poorly-catechised Catholics or mistaken Catholics or Catholics who are bad examples, but they are still Catholics. They may be prodigals and problem children and pains in the posterior, but they are our prodigals and problems and pains.

Then, each one of us ourselves set out to live a maximal, not a minimal, Catholic life. I'm willing to define that if you need, but that'd be a whole letter by itself. We do that with a joyful heart and all our strength.

my listserv pal jumps in:

I think you'd better define this. What is a "maximal Catholic life". I suspect you and I don't mean the same thing by it.

I continue:

Then, our very life will draw others, whom we invite to join us in loving our Lord before all else. At that point, learning the ways of the One we love beyond all else, and living in a way worthy of one who is loved by Him, will come as certainly as sunrise follows night.

then I respond to listserv pal's question, "What is a "maximal Catholic life?":

Maximal Catholic Life

First of all, what is a minimal Catholic life? The Church tells us:

1) Baptised in the Church, or chrismated/confirmed and received into the Church after being baptised elsewhere.

2) Not publicly and obstinately clearly denying any of the truths stated in the Creed.

3) Not having left (gone to join Spiritus Christi or SSPV or Buddhist Temple or whatever) and not having been tossed out by the bishop.

This is very minimal, and comes awfully close to that piss-poor excuse of a question, "What is the bare minimum I must do to be saved?" but this is the minimum definition given by Mother Church. Either of us would scandalise ourselves if we even thought of our own Catholicity in such terms. Or even in terms of the "precepts of the Church," which might be called "minimum practical Catholic." (Assist at Mass on Sundays and obligatory solemnities, observe the fasts of the Church, receive communion once a year during the Paschal season, confess mortal sins within a year, etc.)

Minimal Catholicism might keep one from permanent separation from God in eternity, but it's at best dry crusts and thin gruel and rags for clothes, not going to satisfy anyone or attract anyone. And a pity, considering the treasures available to any child of God and child of Mother Church just for the asking.

We can, to the best of our ability, set out to live a maximal Catholic life --- one in which our Catholic faith and our wholehearted love of the God who never stops loving us affects every action of our lives.

Yes, we obey the precepts to the best of our ability. One has to have the minimum before seeking the maximum. But then:

Before anything else when we get up, we offer our day to God; traditionally called "the morning offering."

Before going to bed at night, we look over our day with God looking with us, what was good and what was not, what we need to repent about, where we need help and grace, and we pray a prayer of repentance; traditionally called "the night examen."

Throughout the day, whenever the opportunity is given us, we do those things Catholics do, otherwise known as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

We assist at Holy Mass as often as we can, maybe even daily, and we receive Communion frequently, always well prepared and having observed the pre-Communion disciplines of our own sui juris Church and those of the Church in which we are receiving. [no going to Latin Church just to get out of the full-weekend abstinence and the akathists! no receiving at Ukrainian Church with only an hour's fast!]

We make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis, making appointments to do so if that's what's needed, and we don't shop for the "easy" priest.

We make use of all the sacraments our Lord has given us, and the sacramentals Mother Church has given us, whenever it is appropriate. They are given to us because we need them, so we should use them.

We have a regular rule of prayer which we follow daily. Some of us may even pray the Liturgy of Hours. We have a spiritual director or soul friend or regular confessor to help us when we have troubles in our prayer.

We regularly pray with the holy Scriptures, in addition to what is proclaimed to us at Mass.

If we are given the opportunity, we spend time regularly in the Presence of our Lord in the Tabernacle, and we adore.

We pay attention when our pastor or our bishop attempts to teach us.

We treat our pastor and our bishop with honor and care and respect. And, we strive to be obedient.

We ask the saints to pray for us; we venerate their images; we imitate their good example.

Every action of our lives we seek to do in a way worthy of one who is loved by God. We know that God is all-good and deserving of all our love, and so we give it all to Him.

This is only a beginning; please would you continue, or speak of how your concept might be different........

Would all of you here at the Anchor Hold please continue also. in the comment box below.
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