Friday, March 6, 2009
Its Not Too Late!
To Those Who have Left The Catholic Faith
I felt compelled to write about a subject that is dear to my heart. There are many people that I know who have either left the Catholic Church for another deficient form of the Christianity or have quit going church altogether. This is a subject of grave importance. After-all, what is the old saying? What is the largest Christian population in the world? It is those Catholics who no longer practice their faith. The second largest body is the actual Catholic faithful. A very sad fact indeed. What are the implications of choosing not to participate in the life of the Church? That is what I want to write about today.
I am not writing this to be condescending to anyone. It is only by the grace of God that I am Catholic and continue to practice my faith. I have had help along the way by some great people as well. But there are many today who think they have an indefinite amount of time to reconcile with God and His Church. I know several people who are moving towards their 70s and think that someday they will get back to church, yet they seem in no great hurry to do it. It doesn't take a genius to conclude that they will be dead most probably within the next 10 to 15 years. Yet they have no sense of urgency to reconcile. The great Saint Thomas more once said, “In whatever way we live-whether we wake or sleep, we eat or drink, we mourn or sing- all the while we are dying.”
I cannot know the hearts of these individuals so I cannot judge them personally, only God can. But there are certain facts that I want to propose to anyone reading this who may be considering going back to practicing their Catholic faith, and even to those who may not have considered it. If you have knowledge that you are not fulfilling your loving obligation towards God then you are risking your soul to eternal damnation. This includes indifferentism. Too often in today's liberal, relativistic culture we have this notion that everyone is going to heaven. As long as your not Hitler, a serial killer, or a rapist, your as good as in right? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this type of thinking is going to lead you right into hell. If you choose not to acknowledge God and His Church here on earth by your own freewill, then why do you think you would acknowledge it after your dead?
Heaven is made for those who love God. Today most Americans that I talk to seem to view heaven as the Playboy mansion where they can lounge around and eat or do whatever you like to do here on earth. This type of thinking is pure nonsense. Heaven is created for those who love God and want to be with Him. It is made for those who love and praise God and partake of Him here on earth. If you are a Catholic and you choose week in and week out not to go to Mass where you can receive Him and be with Him, then why do you think that after you die you would choose anything different? The fact is, those who choose not to be with God in this life choose not to be with Him in eternity. That leaves only one other possibility, hell.
Please if you are a Catholic that is not going to Mass, not going to God to repent of your sins and not fulfilling your obligation to Almighty God, it is not too late. The next opportunity you get, go to confession, and start going back to Mass. Make it a priority. I find it amazing how people can always find time for household chores, or some form entertainment, yet neglect the life of their souls. If a person sincerely wants to reconcile with God, there will be open doors for you. There are a myriad of excuses that one can make on why they don't want to go to Church. Don't listen to the media who continually attacks the Catholic Church. This decision is a matter of life and death for you. It is up to you to choose what you are going to do, despite what others say. Just so that you don't think I am over exaggerating things here as to the seriousness of this situation, I want to quote a few documents or writings from the Church. Many Catholics today think the Church has changed her teachings on the seriousness of abandoning their faith.
Below are the basic precepts that one must follow in order to be reconciled with God, according to the Catholic Church. Remember, these are not just rules to follow. They require an interior moving of the heart towards God. Just performing acts as if they will buy your way into heaven is not what is being implied here. We must love God in doing these acts. Out interior disposition must be oriented towards God.
II. THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82
The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness.83
The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season") guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84
2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church") ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.85
The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.86
The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities.87
Below are more detailed excerpts from the Catechism.
Precepts of the Catholic Church from the Catechism on the Sunday Obligation
2180 On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Sacrament of Confession for the Catechism.
1422 "Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from God's mercy for the offense committed against him, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and which by charity, by example, and by prayer labors for their conversion."
1440 Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church, which are expressed and accomplished liturgically by the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
1484 "Individual, integral confession and absolution remain the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church, unless physical or moral impossibility excuses from this kind of confession." There are profound reasons for this. Christ is at work in each of the sacraments. He personally addresses every sinner: "My son, your sins are forgiven." He is the physician tending each one of the sick who need him to cure them. He raises them up and reintegrates them into fraternal communion. Personal confession is thus the form most expressive of reconciliation with God and with the Church.
1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
I hope that anyone who stops by my blog that is a Catholic and has fallen away from the Church will read this with an open heart. We do not live forever, and we don't know how much time is left for us. Lets make sure that our relationship with God is strong. Don't think you can wait till the last minute to reconcile yourself with Him. The Catholic Church offers you Christ in the Holy Mass. It is He whom you can receive at the Divine Liturgy. Saint Pio once said, “If we only knew how God regards this Sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” It is sad how many Catholics have lost their way and have no idea what kind of peril they are putting themselves in, nor the amount of heavenly grace they are throwing away by choosing to be absent from the Church. I will leave you with another quote from the great Saint Pio.
“Our present life is given only to gain the eternal one and if we don't think about it, we build our affections on what belongs to this world, where our life is transitory. When we have to leave it we are afraid and become agitated. Believe me, to live happily in this pilgrimage, we have to aim at the hope of arriving at our Homeland, where we will stay eternally. Meanwhile we have to believe firmly that God calls us to Himself and follows us along the path towards Him. He will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. He knows who we are and He will hold out His paternal hand to us during difficulties, so that nothing prevents us from running to Him swiftly. But to enjoy this grace we must have complete trust in Him.” (Saint Padre Pio)
Posted by James Bellisario at 6:57 PM