Living Catholic Lives in a Modern World
Every Catholic must make it a point to understand how Catholicism translates into daily life. The aspects that affect the translation have changed over the millennia. However although we are not being eaten by lions anymore, there are just as many, if not more, significant dangers to us now than to those in the early Church. The lions that we face now are even more dangerous than those of the martyrs. For the lions of this modern "world" do not destroy our mortal life, to the sanctification of the soul, which then proceeds to Heaven. They leave our mortal lives intact and devour our soul, which proceeds to Hell. These lions prowl unseen and ravage insidiously unless the soul is diligent and is guarded. How much more terrified we should be than those early saints. Their pain was brief and their reward was infinite, while our pleasures can last our brief lifetimes, but lead to our eternal suffering. A moment of that eternal torment is infinitely more horrible than the moment of being eaten alive.
God's expectations have not changed over these 2000 years. He is timeless and His expectations are the means by which He determines our love for Him and hence our merit to be with Him. He deserves our entire life, and if we were to give it to Him, it would be little payment for the reward He gives.
Giving everything to God, does not necessarily mean living on a mountain peak and eating berries while praying constantly. Some are called to this vocation and can be models of worldly disengagement. As are those who lead cloistered lives in convents, not speaking a word and also praying continuously. Some are called to engage the world and tend to the flock by teaching and offering the sacraments. The rest of us who lead "normal" lives are not exempted from offering all to God, but we, like the others, do so in different ways. Raising children, keeping a home and providing for a family are just as necessary vocations. For the souls that have the potential to fill Heaven come from all of these vocations. Our jobs are to save our souls and the souls of others, working within our stations in life.
As Catholic laity we should be the outward manifestation of those who are engaging the world with the assistance of God. How we live each moment of our routine lives will be the models for the rest of humanity. We Catholics are the "foot soldiers" doing battle against the enemy. We look to our "generals" (those with religious vocations) for guidance and the weaponry to repel the attacks and counter with our own.
So what are the weapons we must use? What tactical strategy do we have? Since this truly is a battle between Heaven and Hell we must look to who is served. This is always a very simple and effective guidance. In all things that we do, even to minutia, we evaluate in terms of who is pleased. For in everything one is and the other is not.
There are 3 ways to please God for the very brief time we have on Earth.
We can face our trials with humble and pious reservation.
We can offer prayer and sacrifice while recognizing Jesus' Sacrifice.
We can resist temptation.
We face many minor trials and annoyances throughout our days. How we face them determines who we serve and to whom we offer ourselves. There will always be two ways to react to every instance that trials us. From stubbing our toes, to getting cutoff in traffic, to belligerent people we meet, to what we watch, eat, read, speak and think. We can yell or curse or complain and serve Satan, or we can reservedly bear our trial and offer thanksgiving and glory to God. These are opportunities from God to acknowledge Him and prove our merit and we should be thankful for these opportunities to merit Heaven no matter how minor or severe our trials may be. Our Faith teaches that they will never be more severe than we can bear.
Sacrifice is a self-imposed trial or mortification. These have high value to God because they have an underlying admission of Faith. We can endure a trial because we have Faith or because we have Faith we can offer a sacrifice to God. It is the difference between saying "thank you" to God for the gift He gives you and offering God a gift.
Temptation on the other hand is more alluring and easy to experience. Again we always have two options. We can accept it and please Satan or we can resist it and please God. Deflecting temptation is a very effective weapon. At the moment it occurs, remove it from your sight or leave the location or turn it off. Experiencing temptation, no matter how persistent, is not a sin, if we relegate it to a vain attempt by Satan and refuse to entertain it. Praying to the Most Holy Virgin for assistance is always helpful.
Trials to endure - Opportunities from God to acknowledge Him and thank Him for what we have and what He offers us.
Worldliness to avoid - Things that the world values are almost exclusively anti-Christ. Almost always pleasurable, easy and an enticement to sin, and thereby serve Satan.
Power or drive to dominate
Wealth or material overindulgence
Guiltless or remorseless thought
Envying others and coveting the possessions
Immodest or lascivious behavior
Pride by exalting yourself rather than God
Idleness and slovenly behavior
Vanity or dwelling on your appearance, attire
Lying or attempting to deceive by omission
Selfishness or focusing on what's in it for you
Disobedience to persons or positions of authority
Offensive conversation and Mockery
Shirking Responsibilities for our own selfish desires
Most modern music
(Modern music attacks on a number of fronts. It is provocative. It arouses the senses. It predicates physical contact and intimate proximity. The lyrics are rarely pleasing to God. It generallyglamorizes non-Catholic thought and behavior. It usually encourages and is associated with sin).
Sacrifices to make - Sacrifices are little selfish pleasures that we abstain from in the name of God and for His Glory.
Fasting and abstinence
Working harder and avoiding Idleness
Offering our time to the service of others
Taking additional or exceptional measures to avoid sin
Avoiding comfort and ease on purpose, choosing the narrow road.
Let Discipline, Respect, Reverence and Piety rule your life and those you influence.
What God expects is not superhuman, it is supernatural. He gives us the many opportunities and occasions to glorify Him. He is pleased by the small and humble gifts that we offer to Him when properly intended. Just because we avoid worldly pleasures does not mean we cannot take pleasure in being Catholic while on earth. There are numerous joys that a proper practicing Catholic can experience. If fact these joys are more satisfying and longer lasting.
Watching children grow in the fullness of God to be good Catholic models. They are "perfect" children and people will compliment them.
The Peace of Christ that fills your heart when you are nice to others even if they don't deserve it. Think kindly towards others whether they realize it or not and while seeking nothing in return.
The stress-free feeling of being satisfied. When you are happy with moderation and thankful for the many gifts that you are blessed with. You start to dwell on the positive things in your life.
While not being presumptuous you realize that as a proper Catholic in the state of sanctifying grace that you are on the correct path that will one day lead you to Heaven and all of the rewards associated with it. This is a very pleasant feeling
By working harder you accomplish more and being Catholic, your accomplishments mean more, because you are not self-serving.
Through sacrifice, you begin to understand the sacrifice that Christ made for us. This recognition humbles a person and opens their hearts to receive God's graces. Everything makes you happy when viewed as God would have us be. Our enhanced perspective on the important things in life, clarifies our purpose and comforts our difficult times that we face.
It has been said that we cannot all be Saints. This thinking creates a false and despairing attitude. We must all recognize what it takes to be a Saint and that we are all capable of being Saints. We must all pray and strive to live saintly lives. By the grace of God and our firm determination to please God, we can all be Saints someday.
If you can, imagine all people acting as Faith-filled Catholics in the state of Sanctifying Grace. How much of a better and wonderful experience would we have here on Earth.
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