Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Lent we’ve been examining our Catholic lives and looking at some defects in American Catholicism. We’ve compared cultural to universal Catholicism, cafeteria to catechized, comfortable to committed and complacent to compassionate. This week we’re looking at Coca Cola Catholicism.

What on earth is “Coca Cola Catholicism”? It’s a form of Catholicism that is like Coca Cola–it is sweet and bubbly and cheerful and it tastes good, but it has little nutritional value, the caffeine gives you a false high and too much of it makes you fat and rots your soul.

What I’m explaining is a form of religion which is completely sentimental and based only on our emotions. In worship, Coca Cola Catholicism includes fizzy, sweet songs and warm-hearted sermons that entertain and make us feel good about ourselves. This kind of religion can make us feel good, but like the caffeine in Coke, it’s a false high.

The antidote to Coca Cola Catholicism is Contemplative Catholicism. Contemplation is that deep form of prayer through which we establish real contact with God. Eucharistic Adoration is where contemplation takes place. Contemplation takes us deeply into silence where we examine our hearts and minds in the light of God’s love. A deep and abiding prayer life touches our hearts and minds in a way that superficially pleasant worship cannot.

Coca Cola Catholicism comes from our American lust for entertainment. We are so used to be entertained by the music, film, advertising and television industries that we have sometimes turned the Catholic church into another expectation for entertainment. Developing a life of contemplative prayer counters the superficial with real depth and power.

During Lent we have considered various defects of American Catholics along with their remedies. Remember that some or all of these defects can be present within our lives without our really taking notice of them.

As Holy Week approaches, let us all re-examine how well catechized we are, our compassion, our contemplation and our commitment to the fullness of our Catholic faith. If we do, Easter will be a richer and fuller experience of God’s love and presence with us.

Your pastor,

Fr. Longenecker