“The Heresy of Action”

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“Sorry, but I don’t eat meat on Friday; I’m Catholic.”

How easily and glibly these words can slip out of our mouths!

Is “I’m Catholic’ just another label we toss around, not much different from “I’m a [name your sports team] fan,” or “I’m a bicyclist,” or “I’m a bookworm”?

All of them labels, defining us, putting aspects of our lives into tidy little boxes for each specific situation in which we find ourselves.

And yet, how frequently do we find ourselves doing that with our Faith? The words slip out of our mouth, curtailing or commanding our activities in specific situations.

Is that how others should find out that we’re Catholic? Is that attitude going to draw others to the Church? Is that kind of example going to make others think that Catholicism is the one true Faith?

Is it fair to do that with our Faith?


Because our Faith, of its very nature, should reach down to our very identity; it should touch us in the core of our being, so that we live as if we really are children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we should still “do” all the little things that

Does how we live justify our profession of faith in the Catholic Church?

Venerable Fulton Sheen writes in The Cross and the Crisis:

Minds no longer object to the Church, because of the way they think, but because of the way they live. They no longer have difficulty with the Creed, but with her Commandments; they remain outside her saving waters, not because they cannot accept the doctrine of Three Persons in one God, but because they cannot accept the moral of two persons in one flesh; not because Infallibility is too complex, but because the veto on Birth Control is too hard; not because the Eucharist is too sublime, but because Penance is too exacting. Briefly, the heresy of our day is not the heresy of thought; it is the heresy of action.

The major stumbling-blocks people encounter when they look at the Church from the outside are blocks of action, of morality. “This saying is too hard”–which the followers of Christ said when He proclaimed Himself the Bread of Life–is the same thing people say when they look at the Church:

“It’s too hard to avoid pornography.”

“It’s too hard to stay married to her.”

This is not just a problem faced by those outside the Church; it’s something we face in our daily lives.

What stumbling-blocks do we encounter in our daily lives?

Does how we live justify our profession of faith in the Catholic Church?

Do we go to Mass on Sundays, make a weekly Holy Hour; and yet spend the rest of our time engaged in worldly, mind-numbing, soul-destroying activities?

And if your answer to that question is “yes,” as mine was…what can we do about it?

I could rattle off the platitude: Make sure our Faith informs every aspect of our lives; but I don’t like platitudes. I like rock-solid, concrete, practical advice. So here are three pointers to help us avoid the “heresy of action” in our daily lives:

a) When we find ourselves having to explain why we’re passing up that prime rib on a Friday in Lent, let’s try to leave the apologetic tone–the “I’m sorry” tone–out of our voice. Do we need to apologize for not eating the meat? No; it’s nothing to be ashamed of; instead, if we know our Faith well enough, this can become a teaching opportunity. So that we know what to say the next time someone asks us if we don’t eat meat on Friday because Jesus was a fisherman. (A: He was a carpenter, not a fisherman; and no, the fact that His Apostles were fisherman has nothing to with the rule of Friday abstinence.)

b) St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said “Preach the Gospel always. When necessary, use words.” Do we sometimes have to say the words “I’m Catholic”? Yes. Should that be the primary way we show others that we’re Catholic? No. The way we live should show others that we’re Catholic. Do we fume when someone cuts us off in traffic, or do we bite our tongues and count to ten instead of calling that person a name?

c) Do we pray? Ten minutes a day of meditation–not talking about God, or rattling off the latest list of prayer intentions, but listening and letting Him speak to us–will do more for our lives as Catholics than all the apologetics books and all the “I don’t do X because I’m Catholic” speeches in the world. Because those minutes of intimate contact with Our Lord in prayer are where the heart of our Faith is.

God Love Y’All!

God Love Y’All!

Emily C. Hurt

Emily C. Hurt

Emily C. Hurt is a 2012 graduate of Christendom College with a Bachelor's in Theology. She wrote her Senior Thesis on "Redemptive Suffering in the Theology of the Servant of God Fulton J. Sheen." When she's not job-hunting or reading Fulton Sheen, she writes about the writings of Fulton Sheen, redemptive suffering, and her alma mater at her blog, www.theological-librarian.blogspot.com.

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