Dear Brothers and Sisters
During Lent we are examining some defects of modern American Catholicism that hinder our mission and ministry. Last week we compared “Cultural Catholicism” to being truly Catholic or universal in our understanding of our faith.
This week we are thinking about what I call “cafeteria Catholicism.” At a cafeteria you go through the line picking out what you want and leaving the rest. So it is with how many people approach their Catholic faith. There is nothing wrong with this when it comes to personal devotions, service or worship styles. It is okay if praying the rosary is not “your thing” for example. You are not required to go to Eucharistic Adoration or belong to the St. Vincent de Paul Society or go on pilgrimages to Fatima. Most of the way we practice our Catholic faith allows for personal choice.
However, when it comes to matters of doctrine, personal choice is not an option. You can’t be a good Catholic and choose not to believe in the Holy Trinity, for example. You can’t be a good Catholic and decide that you don’t really believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. You can’t be a good Catholic and decide that there is no such thing as hell or that The Virgin Mary is not the Mother of God. You can’t be a good Catholic and add to the Catholic faith a little smidgen of Methodism and an attractive belief from Buddhism.
Likewise, in the matters of morality you can’t make up your own mind. There is no such thing as a devout Catholic who is pro-abortion. It is not possible to be a good Catholic and favor a “homosexual marriage”. You can’t be a good Catholic and choose to live together with a partner outside marriage. It’s not up to you to choose to re-marry after divorce just because you want to. If you have made moral choices that go against church teachings, you need to get yourself to the confessional!
Cafeteria Catholicism weakens the faith for everyone. The answer is “Catechized Catholicism”. Most people make the wrong choices because they have not been properly catechized about their faith. It is up to us to take advantage of all the options available to us to be informed about our faith. There are many resources in the parish, through the diocese and in books and online to help us know faith better.
As we are better catechized, we will understand the reasons for the church’s doctrines and moral teachings, and we will strive to live them out more faithfully with willing and joyful hearts.