Dr Philippa Martyr: If we’re different, others will want what we possess

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Only people with a sense of personal sin can become holy. Photo: CNS, Chaz Muth

If we’re different, others will want what we possess

Recently I said that you can’t be holy and live exactly like pagans at the same time. This is not a new idea.

It’s what Jesus said, and St Paul said. It’s what every saint in the Church’s history has said.
Without facing this fact, nothing will help the Church in Australia or anywhere else. This includes the Plenary Council.

Over the last fifty years, Australian Catholics have embraced the ancient lie that you can have your cake and eat it. We could become socially acceptable and still be good Catholics.
We could blend effortlessly into a completely post-Christian world. We could upset and offend and challenge no-one, and still be fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

We thought we were helping non-Catholics just by hanging around them. They were expected to see tiny differences between our lifestyle and theirs, and be won over.

We called this ‘mission’ and ‘evangelisation’ – and yet somehow no-one wanted to join us at Mass. Even WE didn’t want to join us at Mass.

Around 90 per cent of all Catholics in Australia now live, act, vote, and believe exactly like secular Australians. And we’re not sure about what the remaining 10% – who attend Sunday Mass – believe.

Along with Mass attendance, use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a good indicator of spiritual health. And it’s something you can count and measure.

In Australia, it’s almost extinct. COVID-19 precautions have simply helped to conceal the loss of an entire sacrament.

“… without this, we’re toast. The Plenary Council will be merely an expensive gabfest. Our parish churches will merely be morning-tea dispensers to decreasing numbers of people. So we have to be different from the world around us.”

Only people with a sense of personal sin make the effort to go to Confession. But only people with a sense of personal sin can become holy.

The only way to become holy is to clear out everything – from your heart, your soul, your mind, your wardrobe, your social media account, your friendships, and your bank balance – that’s standing between you and God.

Nothing and no-one is exempt from this. Everything has to be made subject to Christ if you want Him in your life. Everything has to change if you want Him to do good with you.
Catholicism is a faith of salt and light and fire and blood.

It’s not for cowards; it never has been. It’s not for time-serving corporate types and lazy self-indulgent daydreamers.

It’s for weak, broken, struggling people who have heard the passionate cry from the heart of Jesus to become holy like Him. And they’re having a red-hot go at it by dying to themselves daily.

This takes prayer, which takes time and persistent effort. This takes self-denial, and suffering, and pain, and joy, and very regular reception of as many Sacraments as you can get.

And YOU have to do it. And me. And them. Rearranging agencies, job titles, church property, timetables, and committees won’t do it.

And without this, we’re toast. The Plenary Council will be merely an expensive gabfest. Our parish churches will merely be morning-tea dispensers to decreasing numbers of people.

So we have to be different from the world around us.

Next week – how do we do it?

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