I have noticed a trend in our culture to tell Catholics they must abandon the teachings of the Church if they cannot perfectly live all of it. This goes along with the trend to tell the Church that God’s laws must be changed because they are “too difficult”. I say to both of these trends–HOG WASH! We are called to strive toward the ideal of Sainthood. Church teaching is the guidebook for attaining Sainthood and Sainthood is required for entering heaven.
God helps us to strive toward becoming Saints. The sacrament of Confession is where God puts us back on the path when we have fallen off of it. Eucharist strengthens those in a State of Grace so they are better enabled to grow in virtue. Scripture records that the way is narrow, steep, and difficult. We are to be committed to following it. We are committed to seek virtue no matter how often we fall short.
That no Catholic follows Church teaching perfectly is not an issue because it isn’t humanly possible to do so–only by way of union with Jesus do we gain the grace to stay the course. St Paul wrote about the struggle, and how even he, who had taught so many how to follow the way Jesus set for us, could still lose heaven. He wrote this to urge all who love Jesus to struggle hard to grow more and more like Christ, to cooperate with God’s grace to become Saints, and so win the race for the glory of heaven.
So Catholic, when the world tries to tell you to give up, remember St. Paul and know you are in the company of the Saints as you limp your way along, repenting and going to Confession, seeking grace from God in all the sacraments and sacramentals, hoping to allow God’s grace to work in you.
Failture is human, we are inclined to an easier way, the way of the world, and must reach for the grace of God to overcome. Failure is not hypocrisy. We are not hypocrites to hold that Catholic teaching is true and right yet fail to meet the standard perfectly.
A Hypocrite says here is the standard but I am exempty–like the politician who does not pay his taxes, yet everyone else must pay theirs or receive punishments that could wreck their lives. NO, we hold that Catholicism is true. We will not say another standard is equally good. We will say, here is the standard to attain heaven if you want heaven. Every person must decide for themselves how they will respond to it, but only one path leads to heaven.
Dear Lord, thank You for the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. Thank You for Your help in learning and growing to live by those teachings. Thank You that every person has the gift of free will. Please help them to choose Your way over all others. +Amen.
A couple of quotes that I think are relevant:
“The moral genius of Catholicism is that we can fail over and over again to live up to the ideals of the gospel…and it never occurs to us to lower our standards so that our failures earn us cheap blue ribbons for good conduct. We repent, receive God’s mercy, and get on with doing what we promised to do.”
-Fr. Philip Powell, O.P.
“..the man who treats every human inconsistency as a hypocrisy is himself a hypocrite about his own inconsistencies.”
-G.K. Chesterton, “A Short History of England” (1917)