To love our Lord is a beautiful thing and to seek to live out His will is something that each of us should strive for. To live in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church is to live in accordance with Christ. Potentially after reading such a statement many who disagree wholeheartedly with this may feel quite "puffed". And for this I will apologize, but not entirely. I apologize to you because if you disagree with this statement then it means that this Truth has not been properly shown and shared with you by those you have encountered. It is for this reason that many people today are misguided, misled, and overly critical of what the Catholic Church is all about. We do most disservice to one another and ultimately to our Lord when we begin looking at others and finding fault in them declare that there must be a greater fault in their religion. We also cause immense damage when we do not humble ourselves and live in accordance to what we are taught and have received through grace. When we preach principals that we do not practice without a humble spirit we cause damage.
I am full of fault and error, I sin and I fall short many times from reaching the bar that our beloved saints have set. I can not yet love in the fullness preached in the Gospel and I surely can not begin to look at another and criticize their shortcomings as if I am better than them. What I can do though is gently point them in the direction of He who can do and has done everything that I can not. I can lead them through my actions and my surrender toward He who through us can accomplish the impossible;He who provides love beyond our understanding and calls us toward Him with love and not in a spirit of condemnation. I can lead them to the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, allowing what can not be understood by words and intellect to be experienced.
There is nothing more ineffective than losing sight of the simple truth that we are human. The humility required to serve our Lord is immense. Our biblical ancestors and beloved saints, and even those living around us today with great fever and effectiveness for our Lord all possess an incredible amount of humility.
What makes us most great is not the many things that we accomplish or strive to achieve, rather, as Christians we acknowledge that to be "great" is to be nothing and to allow our Lord to accomplish amazing things through us. It is in this way that we can attain joy, peace, and experience the love of our Lord. It is troubling to me when I am faced with those around me within the Catholic Church family, who believe that for some reason a way of "catching souls" is through condemnation, anger, judgement, and by throwing out rules and "Can'ts" opposed to presenting the person of Jesus.
Surely there is a way ordained to live our lives in accordance with God that may first appear limiting to some, but this is a conclusion made out of ignorance and not out of the awareness of truth and love. It is love that places these seemingly demanding ways of life upon us. Love that cares more for our well-being than we often care for ourselves and even realize. In seeking to evangelize we must be aware that our first task is to live out the Gospel, live out the faith, live in a relationship with the Lord and strive for purity of heart. It is only in this way that we can ever engage with our brothers and sisters within and "without" the Church in proper spirit of God and in the way that we are truly called.
We must own our humanity and brokenness, we must see ourselves before God in humility. In seeing the truth of ourselves we become less critical of those around us. We can not parade around yelling at others saying "You can''t do this, and this is wrong", we must act in love. I am not suggesting that we tolerate what is evil, I am not saying that we dilute our faith by any means. I am saying that it is time to reclaim the old Latin saying "Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo" - Strong on the principals, soft on the approach. May we seek to first live out the principals we wish to uphold with a humble heart, turning time and time again to our Lord in faith and trust. (C.C)