Rules dating your neighbor
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Todd was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia (Go Phils! He has been involved in the Church, serving youth & young adults, for over 15 years in the areas of ministry, athletics, education, and outreach. You can follow him on twitter (@4Real Catholic) for spiritual and inspiring quotes from our Saints.CATHOLIC STAND is an e-publication presenting essays and creative non-fiction, offering substantive resources with thoughtful insights into how to live the Truth that the Church teaches, owned by Little Vatican Media.
Come to think of it, how many of us actually expect to receive any spiritual joy on Christmas morning?
This might seem fun at first, but it will eventually get really old, really boring, and really frustrating! This is a good example that also includes compassion and love.
In John’s Gospel, the scribes and Pharisees present an adulterous woman to Jesus. (It is interesting that His compassion was counter-cultural. ) He frees her of this capital offense, but then tells her not commit sin ever again. Jesus freed her from a death sentence and instituted a rule to keep her safe from any and all forms of death; sin. We live in a society that promotes indulgence, and everyone feels entitled to their way.
(John 8:1-11 NAB) This crime was punishable by death (stoning). Her response is, “No one, sir”, to which Jesus exclaims, “Neither do I condemn you. “If you love me, you would let me live my life my way! Whenever I hear people talk about the lack of love in our world, I am quick to remind that love is indeed, everywhere, however it mostly exists in a misconstrued form.” When I was teaching moral theology, my students learned a definition for love, composed by Eric Fromm: “Love is the active concern for the life and growth of that which we love.” Active concern means you always care.
Jesus says the one without sin may throw the first stone, and as He begins to write on the ground, each man leaves the area. Life and growth entails all forms of life and growth of your beloved (intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual). Everything in our world needs to be regulated, especially our behavior (and for good reason). We need rules so our lives can correspond with God’s original plan for us.
Distance was to put up an unnecessary wall with others.
Duality was that double life where one wore masks and played the games.
Catholics are called, yes, to engage with the society around them, but not to adapt ourselves to the popular sentiments of our time. Many Catholic teenagers struggle today with this idea of going against the culture.
Instead, Catholics are called to live in radical service to our God. This also includes letting go of pleasure as the path to happiness (spoiler: it’s not). the Catholic Church is radical, but in a good way. They are constantly inundated with so much ‘pleasure’, they fear ridicule if they question any of it, or hesitate to participate. They do not want to betray the other (and many times, the other is a family member or close friend).
When I was teaching at previous high school, I would often run into this issue about rules (especially when it came to moral theology).
Our secular culture enjoys portraying Catholics as those radical ‘kill-joys’, who lie in wait, as you express your means to happiness and the pleasures of this world, so they can rebuke you with, “NO! Or that, or that, or even that, too…” (And of course they stand 10 feet tall, hold a ruler in one hand, and admonish you with the other; extending that incredibly long forefinger.) This caricature has long been the model of everything contrary to popular culture; and the Catholic Church seems to be its poster child.
She is indeed (and unapologetically) counter-cultural. Deacon Mike Talbot ( said it best in an article written in response to a piece that appeared in the Washington Post about Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s retirement: Our call to live counter-culturally is as old as the church itself.