Diary of an Ordinary Catholic

CatholicJust as the sands of time continue relentlessly to pour from our individual hour glasses of life, so too are we coming closer to having to stand before our Creator and account for our actions.

Right now, throughout the whole world, there are an unprecedented number of people of varying ages and social standing who are claiming to be receiving messages from God that warn us of the need to wake up to ourselves before it’s too late. It’s easy to take a neutral stance and sit back and wait for the Catholic Church to thoroughly investigate each instance and attempt to determine its authenticity. However, we know these types of investigations can often seem to take forever. I believe we need to bite the bullet ourselves, use the gift of discernment given us by The Holy Spirit and sit up and take note of what God is trying to say to us all through so many different people.

Jesus was sent to us by God to show us the way to The Father. Apart from offering us a perfect example of how we should live, he gave us two simple instructions – we were to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbour as ourselves.

It seems the idea of having a loving relationship with a God they claim they can’t see isn’t favoured by many people in today’s society. Even those who consider themselves Christian often find themselves shying away from this issue because the idea of love in today’s world tends to be understood more as a sexual relationship or a means of satisfying personal needs. Some believe their actions in the past have been such that they would be considered hypocrites if they were to recognise that God exists in their lives, so they just go on living life as if God doesn’t exist for them.

As for loving our neighbour as ourselves – well, we’re very big on loving ourselves. We pamper ourselves with the good things of life and we protect ourselves from being criticised by others or being seen as someone who might ‘rock the boat’. Our neighbourly love can often take a very low priority in our day to day activities, unless of course there’s something in it for us.

So often we fail to see the devil in his boat simply named, “AU” nudging us as we gently float along in our little sea of complacency. Little do we realise, often not until it’s too late, that the devil in his not-so-good-ship “AU” (which, by the way, stands for “Apathetic Us”) is fishing for souls and we’re getting caught hook line and sinker.

There can be times when we come to Mass because it’s part of an ingrained ritual. Sometimes we can even leave the Church oblivious to what has been said during the Readings or at the Homily. It’s possible we can even file up to Communion because it’s our pews turn to move or start getting aggro because the mandatory hour has been exceeded.

When we leave the Church after a Eucharistic celebration it is to go out into our world taking the Jesus in us to others. This can often be forgotten as we go about the business of living, oblivious to the call God is giving us to be part of all our activities. Even our prayer life can take a hammering if we don’t have a regular pattern of speaking with God and allowing Him the time to converse with us. If we get around to it, sometimes we fit in the odd speedy prayer or two in between some of the busy activities of our day.

We can sit for hours watching television and then stagger into bed, often too tired to offer our God more than a passing mumble. We can become so engrossed in life itself that we don’t realise things could be handled so much easier if we invited The Holy Spirit to be a partner with us in everything we do, to help us in our deliberations and give us the wisdom to make correct decisions.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if The Holy Spirit really exists for us or is this one of those difficult to understand parts of our faith we find would be more comfortable for us if we left its understanding until we went to heaven when all will be revealed. As kids we learnt about our Guardian Angel, but nowadays the thought of being protected by an angel in everything we do can easily seem like a childhood myth. We need to be careful or the important aspects of our faith such as the sanctity of our Mass and The Eucharist could also get lost in our complacency.

Maybe as Catholics we won’t really appreciate the value of what we have until through some quirk of fate, or a deliberate act of God, we are placed in a position where we won’t enjoy such an easy access as we currently have to The Sacraments and the Eucharist. So we should be thankful we have been given so much.

It is easy to critise one’s church and those associated with it because we see and we hear of so many instances where children have been molested or people’s lives drastically affected by the wrongdoings of priests, brothers and nuns. Criminals will be brought to justice, if not in this life, certainly in the next.  Jesus didn’t come on earth to create the Roman Catholic Church, irrespective of what we might have been taught as youngsters. The church is a man-made organisation and as such suffers the effects of human weaknesses.

We should be thankful we have been given the gift of faith by a God who loves us and remember the simple messages by which Jesus gave us in order to live our life. Our church and the richness of the Sacramental life can then be used by us to maintain this wonderful gift we have been given.

Perhaps it’s time many of us pulled our heads out of the sand and realised why we were created. Scripture tells us we know not the day nor the hour when our individual time on this earth will come to an end. So it stands to reason, we need to be prepared with our lamps, that reflect our light of faith, trimmed and ready to help, not only ourselves, but others find their way to God. Just as important is the need to have our light shining so God will be able to find us when He is looking to determine who will be chosen to be with Him in Paradise. And just being a Catholic won’t necessarily gain us automatic entrance.

Peter Mack

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