Society desperately needs passionate Catholics – those who put Church teachings above secular ideologies, who strive daily to grow in the knowledge of God, who base their decisions around the Church, and who maintain joy through life’s trials.
Living a fanatical Catholic life is what we are all called to do. When we apply the truths of the Church to our lives and strive to understand the faith more every day we put ourselves in the class of the saints and martyrs in heaven who lived out their beliefs to the best of their abilities. And since the Church proclaims “hard teachings” that are odds with modern social norms, the inevitable truth is that when we fully immerse ourselves in the wealth of spirituality the Church provides and receive the joy of Christ, we should not be surprised to face opposition, persecution, and even martyrdom.
As we live out our faith boldly and embrace the truths that make the Catholic faith unique we shine a light in the darkness of mediocrity and moderation proclaiming to everyone that we are all called to live the fanatical life.
What We All Strive For
And isn’t this what we should all strive for? Not many people set out to do something with the goal of mediocrity. Most of us inherently strive to be great at whatever we do. Why would we take on a new hobby, task, or endeavor if we weren’t willing to give it our all?
So it goes for Catholics as well. Perhaps in fear of being outcasts or to blend in with society more effortlessly, some Catholics have a tendency to privatize or soften their faith. But this not only hurts society, it prevents us from truly experiencing the depth God has provided for us in the Church.
There is a huge need for on-fire Catholics in modern society. With confusing messages of atheism, individualism, and relativism destroying the minds and hearts of our culture, now is the time to step up and lead the way to Christ through fanatical devotion to His Church. Every Catholic bears the burden of representing Jesus’ love to the world, even if we face opposition.
“Our life in Christ is the only life worth dying for. In and for Christ it is our privilege to be attacked, stripped, flogged, whipped, jailed, and martyred (see Acts 16:22ff). In the Christian life, the earth quakes, prisons are rocked, doors fly open, and chains are snapped (Acts 16:26ff). Life without Christ is so boring that only those blinded by sin and dead in sin could stand it. What are you waiting for? Choose life (see Dt 30:19), excitement, and love.” – The Only Life Worth Dying For– Presentation Ministries
By Jesus’ own words we should be expecting opposition if we take up our crosses and follow Christ in this life the way we ought to. Jesus himself was put to death for declaring the kingdom of God and Paul wrote that “all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” [2 Tim 3:12]. So it should come as no surprise when we face trials, temptations, hard times, and opposition.
By no means should persecution dampen our enthusiasm to live and spread the truth. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” [John 16:33]. In fact, persecution for living the fanatical Catholic life should act as an igniter for our faith because of the example set by our Lord on the cross. By uniting our sufferings with Jesus on the cross we receive the power to overcome our own trials and gain a deeper understanding of the nature of God’s love.
Anything But “Normal”
Just as many sports fans are laughingly referred to by the moniker “fanatic,” so too, do Catholics appear to the world when we fully embrace and live out our Catholic faith.
Our beliefs are anything but “normal” when compared with the ideologies of a secular society. A cursory glance at basic Catholic beliefs reveals just how radical we appear to be when compared with modern secular beliefs. As a Church that is built on the reality of the transcendent, we believe in the virgin birth, the Incarnation, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Trinity, the presence of Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist, the dignity of every human person, the indissolubility of marriage, the reality of good and evil, and in heaven and hell.
While Catholic Doctrine has been around for 2,000 years, many Church teachings are completely foreign to today’s secular worldview. This is why ardent Catholics are so important in the culture. If we don’t boldly stand up for truth and morality as dictated by the Church, who will?
Living the Fanatical Life
“In our refusal to abandon ourselves totally to the Lord, we make Christianity a club, game, organization, or private avocation. However, life in Christ is not merely one option as a possible way of life. It is the only Way that is true, life-giving, loving, freeing, and victorious over death. To be a Christian is the most radical and exciting adventure that a human being can ever decide to go on.” – The Only Life Worth Dying For– Presentation Ministries
So what does it look like to live the “radical” Catholic life? How can we truly experience the depth of the Church and lead others to do the same? Here are some ideas.
Attend daily mass, recite the divine office, read the Magnificat. The Church and its supportive organizations provide a wealth of resources for believers to immerse themselves in the faith. These tools have been designed to help humanity more fully enter into the mystery of God in our everyday lives. With the abundance of spiritual material, the Church offers along with modern technology, shaping our lives around the Church’s daily movements and becoming a radical Catholic is possible for everyone.
Strive to understand and live out the faith better every day. Since the Church is the ultimate treasure chest of spirituality, its resources are almost too vast to be fully taken in. As such, there is always more for us to learn. Many of us can recite our favorite song by heart or rattle off the stats of our favorite athlete, but are we immersing ourselves in the Church enough to be “experts”? It is generally considered OK to be a fanatic for a certain sports team or hobby but it’s not acceptable to be a Catholic fanatic because fanatics are automatically viewed as nut cases or even “extremists.” But in order to fully experience the faith of the Church, constantly feeding our souls and growing in the knowledge of Church teachings must become our lifestyle.
Base all political, moral, spiritual, and personal decisions around teachings of the Church. This one is difficult for some of us because, as the unchanging pillar of truth, the Church consistently stands for what is best for us and our eternity, not what is necessarily popular at the time. Often times this differs from modern beliefs. But if we truly believe that Jesus founded the Church and that the Holy Spirit continues to guide the Church throughout history, how can we possibly justify deviating from its teachings on political and moral issues? Far too often “cafeteria Catholics” pick and choose which Church teachings they will abide by and discard the rest (the recent Senate vote on abortion comes to mind). If we truly desire to live the devout Catholic life, Church teachings must influence each and every choice we make throughout our lives, no matter how controversial.
The Strangest Way
God promises a full life to those who fully embrace his path, cross and all. And with eternity hanging in the balance, why would we want to diminish the revolutionary teachings of the Catholic Church, “the strangest, most exotic, surprising, and uncanny of all of the religious paths?” [The Strangest Way, Bishop Barron, p. 11].
Living the devout Catholic life is what we are called to do. When we embrace the steadfast teachings of the Church we experience the fullness of this life so that our “joy may be complete” [John 15:11] and we subsequently become a light to others, leading them to hope in Christ.
How Devout Are We?
“Do not be afraid on this journey to entrust yourselves to Christ. You love the world of course, and that is good, because the world was made for human beings. However, at a certain point in life, it is necessary to make a radical choice. Without denying anything that is an expression of God’s beauty or of the talents received from him, we must be able to side with Christ to witness before all to God’s love.” Pope Saint John Paul II
We can undertake our endeavors with moderation and non-commitment or we can be ‘all in’ for whatever we believe. Belonging to an organization or subscribing to a particular set of beliefs should affect us to the very core. It shouldn’t be just be an affiliation or a checked box in a survey.
As Catholics we place our trust in a Spirit-led church instead of modern ideas, so we should be ready and willing to accept opposition. As Jesus said, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” [John 15: 18-19].
By making the “radical choice” every day to immerse ourselves in the teachings of the Church and constantly strive upward towards heaven we follow in the footsteps of the saints in becoming radical Catholics.
“To live without a Faith, without a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle for the Truth, is not living but existing. We must never exist but live.” Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati