wasnt I taught any of this in Church?
ell, first of all dont make
the mistake of confusing the Church with the Church. There are those
in the Church who call themselves Christian as a sort of stamp
of approval they can wear while they go about life as they want life to be.
They dont come to Christ begging that their lives be changed;
they come seeking to have their lives validated.
Then there are those who truly
understand Christianity and, being the mystical body of Christ, are
the Church. This Body of Christ has been living, teaching, and preaching
true Christianity for ages.
Church and the Church
This gulf between the
Church and the Church got started right from the
earliest days of the Church. It was one thing to convince Jews, who already
knew the Law, to live the Law from the heart, as a devout
lifestyle of a New Covenant through Christ.
But when Saint Paul started converting pagans, an entirely different situation
the Least I Have to Do?
after all, is all about making sacrifices to the gods to appease them. Granted,
Judaism also had a focus on sacrificesacrifice was one of the primary
purposes of the Templebut Judaism understood God to be a personal God
who cares about His creation through divine love.
Jews had the tradition, through the Old Covenant, of being told,
Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Pagan gods were
essentially indifferent to humanity and loved only each otherwhen it
So when pagans heard the words
salvation and eternal life
preached, they converted in droves. But the primary question
for many of them was, What do I have to do to make this God give me
eternal life? Right from the beginning, the focus was on getting
something, and loopholes looking for the easy way
became the norm. Multitudes of souls who claimed to be in the Church started
asking, What is the least I have to do to get into heaven? Their main
thought was not on loving God with all their heart and soul and mind and
strength but on avoiding hell.
What is the least I have
to do to get into heaven? You can find traces of this sort of question
between the lines of most of Saint Pauls letters. If you read the letters
carefully, you will see that Paul had to argue endlessly against the idea
that Christianity was a magical form of
salvationthat is, that you could be saved just by saying the right
words or performing external actions. He kept preaching, over and over, in
one way or another, that Christianity is a total commitment to a new
lifestyle in Christ, by which the old lifestyle
of the world is crucified. Thats why he repeatedly
speaks of baptism as deaththat is, death
to pride in ones self and death to ones
attachment to the unholy
social world around us.
This endless need to argue against
his opponents in this way explains why Pauls letters put so much emphasis
on faith over works. Paul, always on the defensive against
heresy, had to focus more often than not on only one
side of the issue. But, realistically, how could anyone live the lifestyle Paul
described if, through faith, works were not made
Ingratitude, and Contempt
So Saint Paul, and the Church,
taught the hard truth of a Christian lifestyle right from the beginning.
And that truth has always been taught by the Catholic
Church. And that truth has been confirmed by the personal experience of the
Catholic mystics through the ages. And that truth continues to this day,
despite those who treat it alljust as they treat the
Sacred Heart of Jesuswith indifference,
ingratitude, and contempt.
Sadly, as Christ described in
the Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat (Matthew 13:2430),
we will always have a Church filled with weeds.
So listen carefully to Christs
Him, Lord, will only a few people be saved? He answered them,
Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will
attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. . . .
Nevertheless, Christ didn’t say
this to be discouraging. Just as David overpowered Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32–51),
the “strength” of which Christ spoke is the strength of trust and desire. If your
trust in God and your desire
to be saved are stronger than all your
temptations to be accepted by the
world, then it will be possible for you to enter through
the narrow gate.
The text of
this webpage, integrated with other material from my websites,
has been conveniently organized into a paperback book of 350 pages, including
a comprehensive index.
Though Demons Gloat: They Shall Not Prevail
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
Though we are attacked by liberal activists from without and by apostasy
from within, the true Church—that is, the body of those who remain
faithful to Church tradition—weeps, and she prays, because she knows
the fate of those who oppose God.
Our enemies might fear love, and they can push love
away, but they can’t kill it. And so the battle against them cannot be
fought with politics; it requires a profound personal struggle against
the immorality of popular culture. The battle must be fought in the
service of God with pure and chaste lifestyles lived from the depths of
our hearts in every moment.