Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Do you want to be happier? Do you want to feel better when you wake up in the morning? Do you want to have more energy during the day? Do you want to look better? Do you want to improve your marital relations? Do you want to look ten year younger?

Are you thinking, “Yes! Yes! Just tell me what to do!” or at least, “I know what I need to do, please give me a new way to do it that I will actually participate in.”

What if the opening paragraph read:

If you keep eating the food you like you will remain fat and listless. You feel sluggish because of the amount that you drink. You look older because of the cigarettes you keep smoking. You are feeling low because you keep filling yourself with mild poisons.

If you are like me you find some interest in the first paragraph and start shutting down or even skimming through the second. One invites people to be the best version of themselves that they can be and the second merely points out how terrible a person is as motivation to be better. (So the alternative is to be a negative person like you?) The first tends to work better than the second but far too many people use the second especially in matters of faith.

Rare it is that a person does not know what the Church stance is on something or what (at least they’ve heard) what Scriptures says about a given topic (through probably not why.) They care - but not enough. This is mostly because they know the teaching through the second type of teaching. This is true of premarital sex, cohabitation, same sex marriage, contraception, or even missing Mass on Sunday. Too often the thrust of presentation on these teachings is, “Here is what (God/Church) wants and those who are not doing it are sinning and sinning leads to unhealthy lives and unhealthy lives can put your immortal soul in jeopardy.” This is all true – but not very appetizing. If you teach the truth unappetizingly it does not matter much because people are not going to digest it.

Rather, start with the promise these teachings offer – even before the why of it. “You have tried everything else and they have not got you very far at least for very long. Do you want your marriage to be better? Do you want to love more deeply? Do you want to risk discovering something special between you and your spouse that you might never have seen before (or have lost touch with? Do you want to feel better about things? Do you want to risk finding a different kind of fulfillment? Then risk trying to live this teaching. It is unconventional by today’s standards but that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Why might it work? Let me offer you these reasons . . .”

Which would you rather hear or at least which would entice you to conversation? When you choose – then present the faith to others that way.


Anonymous said...

thank you Father---this was like water to a very thirsty "taditional Catholic"---i will be thinking about these remarks--sincerely, n.

Matt W said...

To quote a wise man, "Ouch."

Wayne said...

I agree with Matt. I just wrote a letter to one of my siblings who has been "living in sin" for years and I thought I did a good job at saying how much I cared for her. I should have saved it until I read this post.

Cracked Pot said...

"...But I will show you a more excellent way...." St. Paul (1 Cor. 12: 31)

Anonymous said...

It's easy.
Vinegar for cleaning your own mirror-windows:
Honey for cooking with.

Although, some are going to take it the wrong way regardless.