One of the challenges each and every one of us faces is that of being true to our words. Hypocrisy is something that no one likes and is ultimately one of the most destructive forces at work against the witness of the Gospel life. When a person claims to be Christian and then obviously fails to live a Christian way of life without any remorse or attempt to change, the Church is faced with a difficult situation. It cannot afford for the situation to continue as such and thus must, out of faithfulness to God’s will for it, seek to challenge the person who is failing in their Christian responsibility to repent and undergo conversion. However, what follows is often a tirade against the Church along the lines that it is not allowing proper freedom of expression to the individual. Let us try to expand on this a little.

The Church is a community that lives according to a certain creed and rules. The Church reserves the right, and correctly so, to regulate itself according to these rules and lifestyle. As such it has the power to both include and exclude persons according to their willingness to submit their lives to the lifestyle professed by the Church. This is the right of any organization and group as long as it applies its rules fairly and without bias. Therefore if we want to belong to the Church we make a choice to set aside a certain amount of our own freewill insofar as we commit ourselves to abide by the rules and teachings of the Church. This submission of our lives to the Church and, ultimately the will of God, is a necessary if we are going to take on a life of Christian discipleship.

It is completely meaningless to call oneself a Christian and then refuse to live according to Christian beliefs! The teachings of the Catholic Church have nothing to do with limiting the freedom of an individual and everything to do with outlining what it means to call oneself a Catholic. The choice to be Catholic is the choice to submit oneself to all the Catholic Church teaches and believes. We cannot pick and choose what we like or take on the name and not the teachings.

How can I grow in my understanding of the teachings of the Church so that I can live them more fully in my life?

Lord, grant me the grace I need to understand your will for my life and help me to follow it every day.