According to George Weigel, “half of the world’s two billion Christians are Catholics” and yet you can never tell them apart from anyone else. Why is it that if you are in a secular place full of people, you would never be able to distinguish Catholics from non-Catholics (unless of course you have already seen them at church)?
There are 3 things (based solely on my own opinion and observation, and of course there will be more, but these are the top 3) I have experienced and still sometimes struggle in when practicing my faith.
1. People know it when Catholics pray.
Catholics do the sign of the cross when they start and end their prayers. Don’t you find it so difficult to start a prayer in public, because you’re afraid that someone might be looking? I rarely find Catholics in public who pray before meals at work, at school, at the food court. I rarely see the sign of the cross anywhere. I see it at church, yes. At home, yes. So why is it when we are in public, we are so ashamed of the cross? The sign of the cross signifies our faith. It’s like when you try to call a person, you would first have to dial their number. Someone told me that the sign of the cross is like God’s number–we have to dial first. We have to do the sign of the cross, because we show our faith. We show that we believe that our prayers will be heard. The sign of the cross is a sign of respect. Honor it. Do it. Don’t be ashamed.
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” || Matthew 10:32-33
2. Catholics pray the Rosary.
Before, praying the Rosary seemed forever to pray. Fifteen long minutes of repeated Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, and Glory Be’s, it would drive me insane. I was born and raised Catholic and at home we would have our own family time before we sleep where we all get together to pray the rosary. We, as a family, have always believed in the saying, “A family that prays together stays together.” I remember a time when those 15 minutes of family prayer time were the most unbearable. My siblings and I would always find things funny during those 15 minutes, or would just repeatedly mumble the prayers as fast as we could so we could end it quickly. (Of course, our parents would always scold us for doing this.) I recently read in the book “Rome Sweet Home” by the Hahn’s couple where Kimberly stated, “Mary’s a warrior maiden who does battle through her motherhood.” Mary is our intercessor and praying the Rosary is a humble way of acknowledging Mary as our mother and having faith that Mary will provide to the Father whatever we ask of her according to His will. Just think about asking for permission to your dad and using your mom to convince him. Pray the Rosary because it is a powerful tool, tested and proven.
“Woman,why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” || John 2:4-5
3. Catholics need to confess their sins to a priest.
Being sorry for our sins is one thing, but being able to confess it is another. When you’ve done something so serious, of course the natural reaction is to hide it. Hide it until you no longer can hide it. So asking for forgiveness to God in prayer is faith, faith that He will forgive us of our sins. Asking for forgiveness to God through a priest is humility, being humble enough to admit where you have gone wrong. Why do we need to confess our sins to priests when God alone can give us forgiveness, you ask? As Pope Francis noted, “someone can say, ‘I confess my sins only to God.’ Yes, you can say to God, ‘forgive me,’ and say your sins. But our sins are also against our brothers, against the Church. This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness of the Church and of our brothers, in the person of the priest.” (I could not have explained it better.)
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. || James 5:16
Now I tell you these things, not because I find glory in claiming the struggles of Catholicism, but for you to become aware of the blessings we neglect to share to other people through our Church. Catholicism is beautiful in its own tradition and practices and sometimes we forget to practice those things that make us Catholic. Going to church is one thing, but practicing it is courage and a way of evangelization. “We need more contagious Catholics,” as the Hahn’s would say.
If we don’t share the faith, who will? I am Catholic, and I am proud of it. □