Have you ever seen those fancy Catholics? The ones that are just like… really good at being Catholic??
They and their 10 kids make it to Mass every week, they’re on time, dressed so modestly and beautifully, their kids are perfectly behaved (without bribes, snacks, coloring books…), they celebrate all the Saint feast days, attend daily masses, homeschool. They do morning prayers, mealtime prayers, evening prayers, say the rosary (the WHOLE ROSARY) as a family each day, they’ve got Catholic decor everywhere… they’re the Good Catholics… they’re so fancy and perfect.
And I can’t be that so why try.. right?
Well, luckily for us Catholics the Church helps us figure out the fluff from the real substance. And don’t get me wrong a lot of that “fluff” can/will bring you closer to Christ – but doing it just to do it and check a box does nadda for your faith.
A wise priest once told me “if something like that [mentioned above] brings you closer to Christ then do it! But if you’re only doing it to do it, you should be spending your time doing something that actually deepens your own personal relationship with Him.”
So here are the requirements the Church has defined for us to be “good” practicing Catholics…
1. Go to mass every Sunday (or the Saturday night vigil) and on Holy Days If Obligation (1/1, 8/15, 11/1, 12/8, and 12/25 – read about those dates here). It’s only an hour, you can totally do that!
2. Go to confession and receive Holy Communion at least once a year, during the season of Lent. (You don’t even have to receive communion at the masses you attend, just once a year. But once you learn about communion/the Eucharist – I doubt you’ll want to miss out on that miracle!)
4. Don’t support/ participate in abortions, contraceptives, redefining marriage. If you’re married, make sure your marriage is recognized by the Church. If you’re not married, don’t live with them until you’re married.
5. Adhere to the 10 commandments.
6. Don’t receive the Eucharist/communion when you’re not worthy (Aka if you’ve committed any mortal/major sins or if you’ve not done any of the things in this list).
Now for the 10 things you DON’T need to do to be a good catholic.
1. You don’t need to know everything about the Church and it’s teachings. But if you question something, find an answer or someone who can answer it for you! (Like me! firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. You don’t need to receive communion every mass. It’s a beautiful grace and it seals a covenant with God but it’s not required. Just like the Passover meal wasn’t eaten every sabbath in Jesus’s day.
3. You don’t need to have religious pictures and statues of Jesus and the saints plastered all around your home. If that’s your thing, by all means. But if not – no worries!
4. You don’t need to recite tons of formal prayers Morning noon and night or say the rosary daily. Just talk to God throughout the day. Thank Him, tell him how awesome He is, ask for things, say sorry for things you’ve done and most of all… listen. And these can be in small, 2 second quite chunks of your day.
5. You don’t need to wear your fanciest clothes and a veil on your head to mass. Just show up if that’s all you can muster. Jesus knows your heart.
6. You don’t need to love confession or be “good at it”. Nothing pleases God more than someone coming to him with a genuine “sorry”. That’s what makes the graces of confession so so awesome!
7. You don’t need to celebrate the saints, pray to them and do all the feast day things. Don’t get me wrong – it can be fun and interesting to dive into the lives of the saints. And they are a wealth of spiritual knowledge and their prayers for you and heaven can do wonders! I mean, they are saints because they’re supposed to be great examples for us to look up to. But, if celebrating and getting to know them doesn’t bring you closer to Jesus then, it’s a mute point.
8. You don’t have to agree with everything the Pope or the leaders say. They are human, they are imperfect, they are not God. Papal infallibility only applies to when the Pope makes a decree from the “chair of peter” (basically an official decree defining church belief that has come into question). So this means comments he makes about politics, wars, social issues – they’re not infallible. If you want to know the solid things we as Catholics should believe, pick up a Catechism of the Catholic Church book and open that baby up!
9. You do not need to have unwavering, perfect faith. I’m a firm believer that having downs in faith are what catapult us to Christ! I’ve been through my set backs but inevitably I find God through it all. It’s not an easy ride but it will pay off in heaven.
10. You do NOT, I repeat, do NOT have to be perfect. You should strive to follow all the 6 “rules” above but you WILL fail. Because like #8 – we are not God, we are not perfect, we will fail. A lot. But it’s the failing, coming back to Christ and trying to make it right by not doing it again that matters the most!
So there is your list. The few things we are required to do as members of the Universal Church that Jesus himself created and 10 of the silly, fancy things we don’t have to do to be *good* Catholics. Can you think of any more of those fancy things you always felt like you should do to be good at this whole Catholic thing but never managed? Leave me a comment and let me know!