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Sunday, August 30, 2015

In your faith life, do you do things out of conviction? Or do you simply follow the rules? - Daily Reflections August 30,2015

AGAINST A LEGALISTIC RELIGION
 
In November 2012, I had the chance to attend a canonization for the first time. It was a great moment to see the huge picture of Pedro Calungsod on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Everything went according to a fixed ritual. The Swiss Guards in their picturesque uniforms marched in and stood guard at certain spots, but like lifeless statues. After the Mass, Pope Benedict toured St. Peter’s Square in an open car, dressed in precious vestments, wearing a huge miter, full of gold and precious stones. An impressive ritual and exposition of ancient rites, vestments and uniforms! But I felt that a personal, human touch was lacking. I missed the interior spirit of dedication. I missed the soul in all these ceremonies.
       Every religion is in danger of becoming an empty shell. Before Pope Francis was elected, many Catholics turned away from a “lifeless” Church, so they say. Pope Francis did away with pomp and circumstances. He kisses babies and embraces the sick and disfigured pilgrims. More important to him than century-old rules and rituals are the simple reaching out of Jesus to all who came to him.
       In Jesus’ time, many Jewish religious leaders lived a lifeless, empty formalism. That’s what Jesus tried to correct. For sure, He didn’t have anything against cleanliness but He wanted to stress that interior and moral cleanliness of the heart is more important than exterior cleanliness.
       We are all in danger of doing something externally without interior conviction. A rosary in the car is good, but if the driver does not observe traffic rules and drives carelessly, the rosary will not help. It is great to go to Mass on Sundays, but why is there so much corruption and crime in the country? Attending the Mass is useless if it has no effect on our daily lives. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
 
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: In your faith life, do you do things out of conviction? Or do you simply follow the rules?
 
Lord, I realize that I am often like the Pharisees who do things to obey certain rules but do not live out their meaning. Enlighten me, Lord, and let my faith become more authentic.

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