For many Catholics, this blog might be an eye-opener. For many, this will be offending. And for many, this will be an answer to their question they have looking for quite some time. Being a good catholic is not just about going to church every Sunday. We must first realize that what are we called to be when we call ourselves to be a catholic. During one of the Holy Mass homily, the celebrant said something very intriguing and that has remained with me over the years. He said, ” Being a Catholic is a journey”. And that is two hundred percent accurate. We often take our duty as catholic to be momentary or limited to certain activities. However, being a catholic, in fact, a good catholic is a journey. It continues each day, each season, each decade, and each lifetime until death. Because being a Catholic means being a follower of Christ and thus, practicing his teaching throughout our lives until we die. Limiting ourselves to certain activities in the church and then spending the rest of the day in our ” not so very Catholic attitude” is not going to serve our purpose.
Who is a Good Catholic?
Well, to be honest, I am no one to comment on that. However, if I would have to look myself in the mirror and ask the same question to myself, the answer would certainly lead me to a confession box for not doing my duties as a catholic the way it should have been done. Moreover, there are over 100 canonized saints in the Catholic Church who show us how a good catholic is supposed to be.
Here are nine ways to be a good catholic, based on what the saints have taught us:
1. Do Not Run Away From Eucharistic Celebrations
Eucharistic Celebration is the very soul of the Catholic family. In the Eucharistic Celebration, we commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus and receive him truly in his complete divinity in the form of bread and wine. If you are ignoring or missing out on the Eucharistic celebration, I must tell you, you are missing out on a great deal. I request you if possible go to mass every day and be a part of the eucharistic celebration. If people knew what is the value of the Eucharist they would risk their lives going for it. The Eucharist is the source of all our strength and wisdom. It all comes from Jesus whom we do receive in the form of host.
2. Receive the sacraments as frequently as possible
Jesus had instituted seven sacraments: Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Order, and Matrimony. Out of these Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Order/Matrimony can be received only once in a lifetime. However, we can receive the eucharist daily, go for confession on a daily basis as well (if not daily at least once a week), and we can receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick as many times as we fall sick. The point that I am trying to make over here is, all our life has to be directed towards God and these sacraments always keep us near to God. The sacraments help us to be in a state of grace, just like our Blessed Mother is – full of grace. Because when we are in a state of grace, we are in the presence of God and always under his protection and love. A good catholic should always take all the sacraments very seriously.
3. Go for confession frequently
Now let’s talk about confession. There is a big fuss about confession everywhere I go, especially among the youth. People do not want to confess. A good catholic always takes confession very seriously. This is one of the beautiful and magnificent sacraments that Jesus has given us. The burdens that are there on our shoulders, the satins on our souls, the odor that stinks due to our sins- all gets washed away through confession, repentance, penance, and absolution of sins. You would not believe it, but saying your sins and receiving absolution from them can literally save you from rotting in hell. If you want to be a good catholic, you must care about your soul. Every day we all fall, and when we fall we are unable to get up unless we are picked up. We might think that we are fine, but we are not. Our soul gets dry and becomes lifeless until we are made free from our sins. The priest, through the authority vested on him by Jesus himself, forgives our sins and pick up our fallen souls. A good catholic would never want to miss out on confession. A confession is always a place of victory for Jesus because it is through this confession that he wins you back1
4. Be a Part of Good Catholic Groups
Do not get me wrong, but all catholic groups are not good! Period. Humans as we are, it is natural that we commit errors. When I speak of a good catholic group, I mean a group where catholic values are shared, discussed, and practiced- a group where there is a religious youth animator who insists on having mass being celebrated for and with the members, takes the group for eucharistic adoration, has praise and worship and fellowship with its members and also shares in all situations of every member of the group. That to me is a good catholic group. It does not necessarily have to be a payer group, but it can be a collection of everything. I have seen many catholic groups be simply games group or music group. I think the prime motive for any catholic group should be to bring the members closer to Christ. So, if you want to be a good catholic, be a part of a good catholic group.
5. Read about the life of saints
Many protestants and non-christians ask me that why do you have these statues of saints in the church and pictures of them on every wall of your house. Don’t question me saying that shouldn’t our attention be on Jesus only? My answer is very simple- Jesus is always the center of our lives and our focus never shifts from him. The church gives us the saints so that we may be able to be like them. The saints are not God, they are just like us- weak and sinful. Yet they are saints because they were good Catholics. All their lives they have kept just one goal in mind- Heaven. Saints inspire us. there are over 100 saints in the Catholic Church. When we read about the lives of saints we come even closer to Jesus and learn new ways to loving him and knowing what pleases him. A good Catholic must always look up to for inspiration in these saints.
6. Eucharistic Adoration
Oh, how wonderful is this time of spending before the Holy Sacrament and worshipping and adoring the Creator of all creation, present humbly in front of us in the form of bread! There is no moment on earth that truly fulfills my heart, than the time I spend in adoration before the sacrament. A good Catholic must visit Jesus in the sacrament at least once a week. If you are struggling to be a good catholic- this is the key. Every week just go and sit quietly before the sacrament at least for an hour. I assure you, within no time will you see a significant change in not just your catholic life, but also in your day-to-day activities. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, and when you adore him and silently in your heart speak to him, he listens and then he speaks to you in the silence of your heart. I must tell you, go for eucharistic adoration at least once a week and Jesus will change your life. This is the key to be a good catholic- to visit Jesus himself!
7. Recite the Rosary
The Rosary is a beautiful prayer! But, I will be honest with you- I still struggle with the rosary. The rosary is such a beautiful prayer, but it also demands few things from us: love, focus, and patience. When we recite the rosary we must do it out of love for our Lord Jesus and his blessed mother. We must stay focussed as the rosary is a bit time taking and thus the devil will try its best to divert our attention to many worldly things as we recite the rosary. Patience is demanded of us. Sometimes, it becomes too difficult to say the rosary with focus and attention on the life of our Lord, but we need to stay patient. Jesus knows your heart- he can see that you are trying your best to stay put. A good catholic never misses out on the rosary. If I have to sum up the benefits of saying the rosary it would be these two: our love for Jesus increases manifold times as we meditate upon his life with the mysteries, and our blessed mother fetches for us heavenly graces and fights our own battles on our behalf. Recite the rosary if you want to be a good catholic.
8. Attend Annunal Retreats
Retreats are necessary. I would suggest going for retreats at least once a year. Retreats are necessary for our soul, but also for our mental health. You see, when we go for retreats we are cut off from the world and our focus is shifted from the material things to spiritual matters. We get to know the root cause of our problems, receive counseling from priests, get to know a lot about our faith, but most importantly receive mental, spiritual, and physical healing. Retreats really convert you into a good catholic.
9. Word of God
Scripture reading is a must. Without the scripture etched in our hearts, we will gradually move away from the church and our faith. We must remember what Jesus said while he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness ” Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from God”. and this is true. We need to know the word of God. You cannot be a good catholic if the word of God is not a part of your day. Read the Word of God and memorize it as much as you can. Even a verse a day is enough. But READ.
Thus, being a good catholic is just a matter of nine practices. However, the most important factor to being a good catholic is to love Jesus. That is the key. If you love Jesus you will love his teachings, if you love his teachings you will love his church, if you love the church you will love its people, and thus love will make everything possible!