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PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY


Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

My dear encountered couples:

When some of the rules of the Catholic Church were changed, it can be assumed there were those who breathed a sigh of relief. “Now I don’t have to fast on all the weekdays of Lent, only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I don’t have to abstain from meat every Friday, only on the Fridays of Lent; I can go to Mass on Saturday night and sleep in Sunday morning. As a woman, I no longer have to wear a hat in church, not even a Kleenex.” And if I may add, though nothing from Rome supports the modern dress style, jeans and shorts have become Sunday Mass attire for many people.

When I come to think of it, outside of English at Mass, communion in the hand, and a few guitars, there really haven’t been all that many changes in Church rules and traditions. But in the minds of many Catholics seems to lurk the idea that all the hard laws have been dumped and Christian life made easy. Nothing could be less true. If anything, being Catholic is much harder now.

We must still fast and abstain, Jesus said so. We are still to keep the Sabbath holy, God said so. But the decision of what to fast from, what to abstain from, and when, is a decision we must now make on our own. Do we do that? And at Mass, however we dress, we are not only still to be respectful and alert, we are to participate much more personally and fully than ever before. No longer are we to just sit and watch, pray our rosaries, or day-dream, we are to actively do our parts in offering the Mass.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets,” Jesus said, “but to fulfill them.” Carrying out the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, as hard as that was, was much easier than living as Jesus taught. Personal responsibility has replaced blind obedience. I wonder how well we are doing with it.

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