There s a saying that goes like this, “He who is polite to you but rude to the waiter is not a polite person.” Manners cannot be a veneer. You are either a person of manners or not. One is to be solid mahogany or be considered a charlatan.
So it is with faith as we see today in paragraph 36 of Lumen Gentium, bringing us dangerously close to the end of this chapter. The Catholic way of living the Christian life cannot be something we wear when convenient. The Church is not something one joins, it is something one becomes. Just signing up at the local Catholic parish does not make one a Catholic anymore than does an Italian become Irish because he wears a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” T-shirt. There is a life to be lived.
Christ was exalted by God because of His obedience to the will of the Father and the extreme living out of that life in a world hostile to it. He handed on that life to the Apostles and, in turn, to each of us. So we cannot think that faith is something to do for an hour on Sunday, before meals, and for a few seconds before going to bed at night, it is who we are to be.
And like Christ and apostles we are not just to live it for ourselves. Among the offices into which we were anointed at our baptism is that of the kingly office. It gives us mandate to involve ourselves into the temporal workings of this world when they do not serve the proper means and ends of the human person. We are to steer our homes, schools, communities, governments, workplaces, our very world into the right order before God.
There are two pitfalls here. The first is the thought that the goal is just to win and turn everyone into Catholics. The point is not to be on the winning side but to bring true joy and freedom to all. It is like debating. If your goal is just to be right, even if you are you will not win friends. If your goal is to bring someone to truth, then you have a much better chance of winning over your opponent.
The other side of the coin are those who think you simply want to ram your religion down their throats. (Of course what nobody sees is that they too want to ram their beliefs – even secular as they may be – down your throat. There is the mistaken idea that there is some sort of neutral position. There is not. Every belief, even atheism comes with presuppositions that cannot be scientifically proven. Hence Atheism is a belief.) Never think because your position happens to be Catholic that you have no right to share it and to try to imbue your nation with its ideas. EVERYONE has that right and you are not a second class citizen. Youy voice is just as important and civilly valid as anyone else’s trying to sway the nation.
There is a way in which we were designed to live. And it is living that life that gives us the best chance at joy. It is our mission to do what we can to establish true justice, love, and peace. “The laity enjoy a principal role in the universal fulfillment of this task. Therefore, by their competence in secular disciplines, and by their activity, interiorly raised up by grace, let them work earnestly in order that created goods through human labor, technical skill and civil culture may serve the utility of all men according to the plan of the Creator and the light of His Word. . . and in their own way may be conductive to universal progress in human and Christian liberty.”