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Why did God make me?
God made me to know, love, and serve him in this life, in order to be happy with him in the next life.
The most important thing in our life is our faith in God. The further we stray from our purpose in life, the less we will find happiness, joy, and fulfillment.
God created us for him.
We find ourselves in responding to him.
The First Commandment tells us: “I am the Lord your God… you shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)
We must keep God first in our lives.
For the Catholic, that means the practice of our Catholic faith is our primary responsibility. We must practice good stewardship of the gift Christ has given us of the Church and the fullness of the Truth.
In this challenge, we’ll explore ways to do that.
Know What the Church Teaches
When Catholics think of catechesis, we almost always default to the idea of religious education for children.
However, that’s only the beginning of learning our faith.
Religious education lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning about Christ and the Truths he has revealed to us.
Going back to the Baltimore Catechism, our first task is to know God.
With God’s infinite and eternal nature, we will never complete that task on this side of heaven.
If it’s been a while since you opened your Bible or your Catechism, those are the best places to start. Read through the Gospels front to back, if you’ve never done so before. Hit the Catechism’s index and look up a topic that’s interesting to you.
If you have a local Scripture Study group, consider joining.
For me, our women’s study is an important part of my weekly life. Not just the learning, but the fellowship and support of finding a group of Catholic women is so helpful to my faith life.
If you don’t have one, ask your priest if he can start one.
I know exactly how difficult it can be to commit to a Bible study on a weekly basis. I leave my four kids with my husband and drive an hour each way to be able to go.
But I feel it’s important to make sacrifices to learn my faith better, and give that example to my children that I’m putting my faith first in my life.
If you can’t commit to getting out of the house to learn the faith, consider doing a study at home, either by yourself, with a spouse, or with your entire family.
Ask your pastor if the parish has Formed.
If not, check out Scripture Studies that are designed to do by yourself or in a small group, such as the Stay Connected series of Scripture Study journals for Catholic women.
Commit yourself to exploring the almost inexhaustible deposit of Faith given by Christ to his Church.
Commit Yourself to Accepting the Church’s Teachings
Being informed about what the Church teaches is only half the battle of knowing our Faith. The more we know what the Church teaches, the more we will run into teachings which confuse or trouble us.
In today’s culture, some of the most difficult aspects of Church teaching are her teachings on sexual morality.
Whether it’s the teaching on contraception, marriage, homosexuality, or transgenderism, you can be sure the culture is going to be yelling loud against the Truth.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Sometimes, sins don’t feel wrong. Our fallen human nature can lead us to confusion if we follow our feelings.
It may feel like love to allow two men who are in “love” to get married. It may feel like love to use contraception so that a husband and wife can continue to have marital relations when they can’t risk pregnancy. It may feel like love for two unmarried people to engage in sex or other sexual behaviors before they are married.
It’s okay to struggle with understanding why things that feel right to us are in fact wrong. That doesn’t make us bad Catholics.
It’s okay to struggle with resisting certain sins – even sexual sins – because we are all fallen humans, and sometimes our feelings can overpower our reason. That doesn’t make us bad Catholics.
But it’s NOT okay to choose to deny or disagree with the Truth. And the Church teaches us the Truth, that without doubt, these things contradict God’s plan for sexuality. They are inherently wrong.
Even if Catholics struggle with a teaching of the Church – these teachings or any other infallible teachings on the matter of faith and morals – we are obligated to assent to the authority of the Church.
Christ gave her the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide her, so that she would never teach error. He promised that the Holy Spirit would always be with her until the end of time.
No matter what else happens within the Church, she will not teach error in the matter of faith and morals.
This is the gift of the Magisterium.
To deny this gift is to deny the Holy Spirit, and ultimate to deny Christ.
Listen to this discussion with Cy Kellett and Jimmy Akin on Catholic Answers to understand more about schism and the dangers of rejecting the teachings of the Church.
Love God Above All Else
Religion is man’s response to God.
God reaches out to us first, pouring his love and grace on us, and inviting us to accept that grace and love, and choose to love him in return.
The way that we respond to God’s invitation in our lives is the way we practice our religion.
Some believe that they can be “spiritual but not religious.”
However, this is a lie that leads us to think we can do whatever we want, as long as we believe in Jesus in our hearts, or have some sort of interior relationship with Jesus.
But the Scriptures tell us that faith AND works are important.
We’re not simply spiritual beings. We are body-soul composites. So it’s important that we live our love for God both spiritually and physically.
Doing things like going to Mass, receiving the Eucharist, frequenting confession, creating a Sacred space in our homes, participating in Faith studies, praying the Rosary or other devotionals, wearing a miraculous medal, scapular, or other visible sign of our faith, are all ways that we can engage both our bodies and our souls in the act of loving God.
The Church, in her wisdom, lays out the bare minimum of our religious requirements:
- Go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation,
- Confessing our at least once a year,
- Receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter season,
- Observe the days of fasting and abstinence,
- Help provide for the needs of the Church.
Notice that all of these things are not just “spiritual” (or interior) acts. They all involve a synthesis of body and soul.
Keep in mind that these are the bare minimum of living the Catholic Faith.
Catholics are encouraged to continue to seek ways, through the rich tradition of the Church, to further express their love for God through practices of the body – practices that embrace our design and purpose as body-soul composites, and unite the aspects of faith and works.
So I would also encourage you today, to look at your life and ask yourself: do my actions reflect my love for God?
If things such as sports, activities, screens, entertainment, or hobbies distract you from fulfilling your religious obligations to God, or from furthering and deepening your faith, then they are distracting you from the purpose of your life.
Guard your faith at least as much as your guard your me time, your recreational time, your savings account, or whatever else it is in your life that you hold on to dearly.
Make sure your schedule and your heart have room for God.
Explore ways to love God with your entire being.
Practice Detachment from Earthly Things
Everything in this life, even blessings from God, can turn around and become temptations if we become inordinately attached to them.
In Good Stewardship: Take Care of Your Things, we practiced detachment from material possessions.
But Christ also teaches us that we must even detach ourselves from human relationships.
He says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
This seems like a pretty harsh teaching! Does it contradict Christ’s teaching of love your neighbor?
We must love our neighbor as ourselves. We must love our neighbor without fail.
What Christ is talking about here is when our love for our neighbor becomes greater than our love for God. We cannot allow that to happen.
As great as our love for our families, our spouses, our parents, and our friends is, our love for God must be greater. And, in fact, the more we love God, the more perfectly we are able to love our neighbor.
We have to be willing to prioritize God over even our relationships. Recently, I’ve encountered discord in a relationship that has been very important to me. At times I’ve asked God why he let this relationship fall apart.
But the more I pray and surrender to God’s will, the more I discover I can love God deeper by letting go of my attachment to this relationship. And the more I detach, on a human level, the more I discover my calling and ability to love this particular person in a different way, focusing my eyes and heart on the eternal.
This article from Kendra Tierney’s husband (Catholic All Year) helps drive home the gravity of loving God above all else – even your vocation and your family.
Serve God in Your Vocation
Every Christian has a vocation to holiness. And some are called to a particular vocation of either marriage, holy orders, or consecrated religious life.
In whatever particular vocation we discern, we can find our path to holiness.
Too often, we can become lazy in our vocations. We go on autopilot. We operate by habit: reacting rather than responding, being complacent rather than intentional.
But that path leads us to frustration and a lack of joy.
God wants more for us than that. He calls us to fully embrace our vocations: both our specific vocations, and our universal call to holiness.
He wants us to have the joy that comes with being fully alive in Christ. That doesn’t require that we go out and do big amazing things, but rather that we choose to serve God in the small (but no less amazing) tasks our daily life calls us to.
Your Faith is meant to permeate every aspect of your life.
We don’t just serve God at Mass on Sundays.
We serve him when we love our family. When we put our best effort into our work. When we strive to make every act a moment of prayer, or a gift of love to him.
One way to enter more fully into serving God in your daily life is through the discernment of charisms.
Charisms are “graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to building her up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world” (CCC, 799).
When I first did a discernment of charisms, it was life-changing.
It opened my eyes to knowing, loving, and accepting the special gifts God has given me. It freed me to pursue my gifts, in order to utilize them both for my own fulfillment, and for the good of my family and the universal Church.
If you’ve never done a discernment of charisms, check out this online quiz.
Begin the Good Stewardship Virtue Challenge Today!
Remember, you don’t have to do it all.
Take these ideas to prayerful discernment. Identify one, or maybe two, that are tugging on your heart. Ask God to show him how you can grow closer to him and to your destination in heaven by practicing good stewardship, and taking better care of your things this month.
Check out the rest of the Challenge, where we dive into the other aspects of good stewardship:
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