The following is a guest post from “CK.” Although it was completed several weeks ago it comes at an opportune time considering a recent Mark Driscoll sermon titled, “Jesus and Religion.” In this sermon, Mark Driscoll stated, “And here’s the problem: Religious people make rules for God.” Is this true? Are the rules of the Catholic Church just a bunch of people trying to tell God what to do? CK gives us a take that is truly Catholic.
Catholics have a lot of rules. They should go to Mass on Sunday, fast on days of abstinence like Ash Wednesday, and genuflect (kneel reverently) in front the Eucharist when they enter a Catholic church, just to name a few.
For many Catholics, and to their sometimes even more confused Protestant brethren, these rules can seem without purpose, just another part of a confusing web of doctrines and traditions that only serve to complicate matters when our objective should be simple: a deeper relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ.
But nothing could be further from the truth. In the Catholic faith, the rules we follow are always ordered toward a greater good, namely union with God himself.
It was the scholarly St. Thomas Aquinas who molded the philosophical system of the pagan philosopher Aristotle into a Christian framework, and in doing so gave Catholics their philosophical basis for understanding how rules connect to our greater purposes. For Aquinas, all agents act for an end or final cause, but in order to reach their final end an agent had to take a number of intermediate steps to get there. Since our final cause is God, we are guided along our path by various moral rules and theological precepts which help us to our final end. In this way, the rules of the Catholic faith help us experience the very life of God.
Catholics should go to Mass on Sunday because God himself is present there, and Jesus instituted the Mass to replace the Jewish Sabbath. Catholics should fast on Ash Wednesdays, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who fasted in the desert for 40 days to prepare himself to share his message with the world. Catholics should genuflect when they enter a Catholic church because they are acknowledging the real presence of God Himself in the Eucharist stored in the tabernacle behind the altar.
We Catholics have to know our faith if we want to live our faith, so that we’re aware of the greater purposes of what we’re doing. If we put in effort to know our faith, which the rules serve, we will surely be rewarded with a deepened faith and knowledge of God.