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Living As Catholics In The World But Not Of It

Indifferentism may be the greatest mistake we as Christians have made thus far. We are all called, as Catholics living in a post-Christian world, to be “in the world but not of it”.

Tue. March 12th, 2024

The Child Therese

There is an old adage that says, “You are who you’re with”. Although this is true, it is also true that we are all called, as Catholics living in a post-Christian world, to be “in the world but not of it”.

Allow me to familiarize you with two saints brought to life by Cardinal Wiseman in his novel Fabiola

This story takes place in the late second/early third century after Christ where readers join St. Sebastian and St. Agnes not only at the sites of their martyrdoms as we usually place them, but also in the secular occasions of their day.

They attend banquets of wealthy pagans and entertain pagans as guests in their own homes.

Always they are cunning as serpents and gentle as doves as they judiciously live their Faith without being rash enough to show it to the pagans who surround them.

A certain pagan becomes very interested in these two saints and is thus drawn, without her own knowledge, to the Faith. This cousin of Agnes, Fabiola, eventually comes to the understanding of the true Faith due to the quiet example of these two martyrs of Christ who knew how to be in the world but not of it. 

Their example conquered an empire and our indifference in matters of religion and tolerance of evil in our own world has left us with an almost equally daunting task as these early martyrs of Christ faced.

Although I do not blame individuals, most people will not deny that Christians as a whole have been far too passive toward the evil that is taking over our culture. And further indifference will only magnify the problem.

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Catholics Are Called To Share The Sacred Treasures They Possess Through The Catholic Faith

Greatest Treasure

Forgive the analogy as I know that many people are displeased with Disney and for good reason, but let me go back to the good ol’ days when they were still making decent films.

Just the other day, I was showing some of my younger brothers and sisters the old Mickey and the Beanstalk short film.

In it a line ran something like this:

The giant in this story had treasure enough to make all of Happy Valley happy again. But he would not share it and so the entire valley suffered.

These words struck my Catholic sensibilities. The word “treasure” brings to mind the greatest treasure we possess: the Catholic Faith.

And “valley” reminds Catholics of the “valley of tears”: earth. We cannot be tempted to smugly content ourselves with the knowledge that we have the True Faith. No, we must be longing to share it with those around us and “make all of Happy Valley happy again.”

We have a treasure and that treasure must be shared. 

How To Avoid Both Indifferentism And The Pull Of The World While Still Living In The World But Not Of It

As afore mentioned, indifferentism may be the greatest mistake we as Christians have made thus far. It is the culprit when it comes to why our culture has fallen further and further from Christian standards. And indulging in indifferentism is only going to get more dangerous.

This is because adhering to a moral system is not easy and if there isn’t the peer pressure to uphold Christian standards, most people will do what is easy and take part in ever more sinful acts.

If “you are who you’re with” then we should gladly provide those around us with opportunities to become good people by being good people ourselves. Not privately, but publicly. Our Lord Himself admonishes us to let our light shine to those around us. (Matt. 5:15)

The struggle of being in the world is the being “not of it” part. To accomplish this, one must have a strong support system, and that system has to be made up of people who are willing to tell the person when he is straying from the straight  and narrow path.

The person in question must also be willing to listen and carefully weigh the advice and warnings of the support system. If neither of these things happen, then the person is in great danger of falling away slowly from the Faith. Close friends, priests, and your family can be your support system.

I live in a small town. We don’t lock our doors at night, we leave the keys to our cars in the ignition. Everything is based on the honor system. The reason this works is because everyone knows everyone.

Catholic values and beliefs

If someone did break into your house or steal your car, everyone would know. The peer pressure alone keeps people being honest and upright.

Peer pressure is real and it works.

It all depends on what you are being pressured to do.

A final and important way to ensure that the world’s pull does not become too influential is to have a strong and personal relationship with Christ. Even in the absence of peer pressure or a support system, a person can continue to pursue his calling to be a perfect Christian through prayer and mortification.

Try not to ask Christ to give you what you want, but ask Him to show you what He wants. A short prayer to pray every night before bed is, “Lord, show me what Your will is for my life and give me the strength to accept it.”

Living In The World But Not Of It: Action Items For Everyone Who Wants To Take Back Our Culture For Christ

Now for a few action items on how to be the best version of your Catholic self. First of all, be the same person regardless of who you are with or where you are. Always be the same person of Faith who is unashamed of it.

Do not shy away from conversations with those in confused spiritualities or Protestants, but rather think of it as an opportunity to share your beliefs. You must also be willing to stay strong on the points of the Faith and never appear to agree with false doctrine.

Be respectful and approach it in a friendly manner. After all, this person is asking you to share your treasure. Don’t let them convince you that it is fool’s gold! Try to avoid sounding defensive. If the person still fails to see your point or accept it as truth, just say something friendly but don’t give an inch.

I usually try to say something like, “It was nice talking to you, and I’m glad that we still live in a society where we can talk about this!”

Although they were not in a society that they were able to openly discuss their Faith, I’m sure St. Sebastian and St. Agnes would have definitely taken advantage of it if they had been! And at times in the Fabiola story they are called upon to make disparaging remarks about the Faith and instead turn it on their questioners by carefully stating the truth as simply as possible. We do have the opportunity to talk about our beliefs, let us make as much out of it as we can!

One final thing to be aware of: always be open with children about how things stand. Of course, don’t jump right in and scandalize them with an overload of the evil going on. Rather, take the time to explain to them that some people don’t follow God’s law but we don’t do things like that, and teach right from wrong as the topics arise.

This allows children to begin to understand these things more and more and aren’t suddenly confronted with things they didn’t even know existed once they become adults. This makes it so that they are also able to build up an immunity, so to speak, against the pull of the world. 

One Final Word Of Encouragement To Those Called To Be In The World But Not Of It

Life is a battle. If we are to be victorious we must be soldiers of Jesus Christ. This requires us to be living in the world but not being of it. To do so we must train to go to war for our beliefs and our way of life. This includes understanding the battle we face, strategizing a plan of action, and passing on the baton to others. Christ is King! Keep up the good fight!

Faustina Bio 2023

Faustina Bowen's passion is telling great stories through film.

Having been influenced from early childhood by the classics, she understands the importance of being familiar with historic events as well as the fictional works of the great authors. 

Stories, whether based in real events or fictional ones, connect us to one another and our past and passing them on is vital to the survival of our culture. 

She oversees most scripts for Industrious Family Films and is also the Production Director. From creating call sheets to responding to emails, Faustina is on it!

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