They Will Know Us By Our Latin – er, Our Love

[ 16 ] July 9, AD 2013 |


what

Let’s get two things out there: I am a terrible lover, and I’m not known for being an extraordinarily loving either.

A terrible lover – what does that mean?

It means I’m self-absorbed, arrogant, and selfish.

I also have high expectations from people, whether it be something like expecting people to follow traditional societal norms (like marriage->cohabitation->baby) or whether I expect my Bishop to crack down on the liturgical insanity that exists in so many parishes.

And to top it off, if I have an opinion, I have to be heard.

This sad reality has come to the forefront of my prayer life through specific interactions and personal situations I’ve had with both Catholics and non-Catholics alike over the last few months.

So that’s my first point: I don’t love well, and I believe it is fundamentally undermining the possibility of my non-Catholic friends and family of considering the Catholic Church as an option.

Could you and I be the very reason somebody will never consider becoming Catholic?

Question for you: by and large, what do you think are the first five or six adjectives a non-Catholic would use to describe practicing and devout Catholics today?

While I don’t know that I could hit it right on the head 100%, I would bet that a randomly chosen, non-Catholic on the street who was being honest might list characteristics like strict, traditional, stuck in the past, and judgmental.

While it might be good to see words like, ‘traditional’, one word that I do believe would consistently be lacking is “loving.”

My second point? The lack of ‘loving’ being first on that list needs to change. More on that in a second.

Third: what about you? What five or six adjectives do you think a non-Catholic friend or family member would use to describe you if asked?

“Oh, Jane? Well, she’s nice I guess. She’s really Catholic – like, really strict and stuff.”

Again, I could be off on this with how negative I make it out to be.

But with any case, the problem is the same: I believe that we as Catholics are not known for being extraordinarily loving; not by the media, not by the general public, and most tragically, not even among our own non-Catholic friends and family members.

This is a huge problem.

In fact, I know that I’m not known among my friends, family, or anybody else for being an extraordinarily loving.

If one of my family members outside of the Church were asked to describe me, I think they would answer something like, “Ryan? He’s religious, a strict Catholic. Slightly arrogant, but successful and generally happy by and large.”

Unfortunately “religious, strict Catholic”, “successful” and “generally happy” are not qualities that will result in a smile and a “well done, good and faithful servant” when I’m next in line.

And it certainly doesn’t result in new baptisms or reconciled souls.

Extraordinary love does, though. Perhaps its time to recommit ourselves to finding ways to love in extraordinary ways, both as a response to the Lord’s own extraordinary love toward us and as act of love for the salvation of the world.

“By this,” our Lord says, “By this they will know you are my disciples: that you have love for one another” (John 13.35).

(Shorter) Prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.

Christ, be my all.

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Category: Columnists, Vocations

About the Author ()

Ryan Eggenberger is a partner at Little Flower Strategies, LLC. He writes about travel, marketing, and his terrible parking skills. Follow him on twitter at @RyanEggenberger.
  • http://www.natalietrust.com/ Natalie Trust

    Oh Ryan, this is good. So good.

    That we may learn to love well. Lord, hear our prayer.

    • RyanEggenberger

      Thanks Natalie! You made my day :)

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  • Phil Dzialo

    Ryan, I know many traditional Catholics and if I were asked to describe them I would use the following: intolerant (of anything outside their limited belief system); uncritical thinker (accept directions and moral positions contrary to our understanding of humanity); insular; anti-intellectual (refusing to historically examine the historical Jesus and the actual development of the Codex of the Bible and acknowledgement of other apocryphal documents (Nag Hammadi); misogynist and desirous that their morality trump all other national beliefs and codes of conduct. You see, love has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with unconditional service to other human human primates as needs dictate. This makes like worthy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=678162576 Ce Gzz

    they call me in Spanish a “catholic Catholic”.Here in Bolivia to be a Catholic it is still ok, but when they realize you read Catholic authors, you quote scripture…then they think you are a radical. That’s when I tend to mention that I rather burn in love for Christ than be vomited. Outside home they say I’m helpful and friendly. Inside home I know I have to improve even more with my parents. This post is a good reminder to watch out how I act and be more consistent with the Christ I profess.

    • Gary Adrian

      God bless your efforts and keep being a Catholic Catholic.

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  • russ

    Please see my thoughts on traditional Catholicism. This is a serious problem that damages our witness to the world.
    http://crossed-the-tiber.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-traditional-catholics-kosher.html?m=1

  • johnnysc

    If we are talking about proclaiming Truth ‘charitably’ …well in this
    day and age it doesn’t matter. If we proclaim the Truth as we are told
    to and as we should, no matter how ‘charitably’ we do it we are going to
    be accused of not being a loving person. People want approval of sin
    and anything short of that is ‘hateful’. They don’t even want it to be
    called sin. So what happens? We become cowards and we certainly don’t
    want to be accused of being racist, arrogant, hateful or heaven forbid unloving and what ever other catch words society has to bury Truth in relativism.

    And Jesus said to her, I will not condemn thee either (compassion). Go, and do not sin again henceforward (conversion). John 8:11

    Jesus called sin a sin. Out of love.

    I find it interesting that the same who fault traditionalists as not being good for evangelization fail to speak up against liberal Catholics. Is Nancy Pelosi now the model for proper Catholic evangelization?

  • MM

    Look, everyone is called to a different way to witness. Some are called to be warriors and warriors by their nature, don’t come across as “loving” in the middle of a battle. Warriors risk their lives and livelihoods because of their love for what is right, but they don’t appear “loving” in the gentle, sweet, nurturing sense. But there are others who do things like charity work who do come across as “loving” even though their motivation may be exactly the same as the warriors. If we were to come up with 5 words to describe, say, George Washington, would one of them be “loving”? No, it would be brave, wise, etc. even though he might have done everything for love of his people. My sister is a very obviously nurturing soul with a ton of kids and a ton of friends. Everyone around her would describe her as “loving”. But I have a friend, a burly nonverbal guy, who works himself into the ground out of love for his family but probably the word “loving” would not be a word an acquaintance would use for him. But he is just as loving as my sister. So is it more important to BE loving or is it more important to APPEAR loving? There are some saints who are popularly recognized for their love by the general populace like Mother Teresa. But there are others who were hated for standing up for what is right. I don’t really think it matters what others think of us as long as we are doing the right thing.

    • russ

      MM, Agreed, but my point was if we are attempting to win people to faith and encourage them to believe that the Catholic Church is the true Church, best not tell them “I am suspicious of the recent popes, their modernist agenda and btw,, Jesus loves you but I don’t care for most other Jews, and those holocaust numbers are grossly exaggerated. And yes RCIA meeting is at 7PM, see you then.You’ll love being Catholic!”
      http://crossed-the-tiber.blogspot.com/2013/07/are-traditional-catholics-kosher.html

      • johnnysc

        Yes…we understand you don’t like traditional Catholics but I think the comments are referring to Ryan’s article. Btw…..could it be that we could characterize your words as unloving towards traditionalists?

      • russ

        Johnny; is Michael Voris unloving to call out evil when he sees it? Why is it unloving to call out the evil of anti semitism in the Catholic Church when exhibited by some, not all “traditional Catholics.?”

      • johnnysc

        “is Michael Voris unloving to call out evil when he sees it?”

        I certainly don’t think so but I get the impression from Ryan’s article that he would think so which is what I am responding to.

        You keep putting links to your blog post. I am only commenting in reference to Ryan’s article and the comments in this combox.

        “by some, not all “traditional Catholics.?”

        You left that part out in your previous comment.

  • Susan Gates

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been thinking this, too, so it was great to read your reflection.

  • Gary Adrian

    Honestly, in my parish, which is very Traditional (EF mass and all), if you named ten people in the parish to me, for at least eight of them, the first word to describe them is loving. This is what helped me come back to the Catholic Church about a year ago. Yes, there are some that are not very diplomatic, but when it comes to loving and giving of themselves, they shine.

    But your point is well taken. I find myself at times being judgemental. Yes, we must recognize evil and avoid it, but even those who are very sinful, we need to show love toward. This doesn’t mean we want them as a true ‘friend’ especially if we are young. Sad to say, when I spend a lot of time with people who live a sinful lifestyle, it is easy for me to be influenced by them. I become more prone to sin myself, I forget the pain our savior experienced when he died for our sins. Yet we must find a balance.