Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On Catholicism and limits

I was informed regarding my post on fasting that there are other Catholics who fast in the classical understanding of fasting.  Of course I know that.  Again, my point wasn't to say the hub of holiness spins on me.  It was to point out that a requirement put forth by the Church for giving up is actually something that many today would be hard put to achieve.  If the majority were eating three rounded meals a day, I could see it.  But why have such a limit at all?  Why not say: do without.  Yes, for medical factors there can be exceptions.  There were in most materials I read in the day.  But to fast like that?  Many's the day I can barely boast a full regular meal in a day.

Perhaps pushing the limit.  Just like the minimum requirements for being a faithful Catholic.  Maybe, just having minimum requirements at all.  Sometimes I wonder about that.  Why say 'minimum'?  Why not say maximum?  Why not push for the stars.  I am not alone in noticing that when it comes to the overall Church, fealty to the Church is at times lacking, and sometimes in numbers greater than other religious traditions, whether Protestantism  Judaism, Islam, Atheism.  Catholicism frequently scores pretty low in the devotion scale.  Yes, I know that Catholics nail it when it comes to charitable giving, and few other traditions can hold a candle to the generosity that come from the Catholic world.

But with that said, time after time when studies are done, it is found that Catholics as a group lag behind.  It's something that Catholics involved within the Church  through education, ministries, discipleship often lament. Perhaps one reason, just a thought, is this idea of the minimum.  The idea of the least I can do.  Perhaps pushing a little more.  Saying that we should strive for the most.  Give it all up, unless there are reasons we can't.  I think of my own boys.  Usually I don't tell the the least I expect from them.  I usually try to push them and tell them the most of what I expect.  It's probably not for no reason that God didn't tell the Israelites 'any lamb will do, but one without blemish would be better.'

Maybe, just maybe, if the Church turned around and said it expected weekly attendance,  giving it all up for fasting, monthly confession, and on and on, it would be seen as setting the bar higher.  Even if folks couldn't always make it, failing to make it 100% might result in 80%.  But being told 5% is the minimum goal might end up being 5% at tops, or even less to fail for far too many.

Just  a thought, as I kick things around this Ash Wednesday.


  1. The only thing (and this is just my stats-loving side) but I sometimes wonder if Catholic charity numbers benefit from the "single heading" number. (since I do know a lot of protestants that do charity works)

    You know what I mean. Say we wanted to see what name donates more. Why "Bob" donates the most of any other name.

    But when you look at the numbers, you realize part of the reason is because Bob is such a common name. If you were to divide the group in two (Bob and !Bob [not!Bob]) then !Bob, being greater in number, wins out, it's only because that group is subdivided into Johns and Joes and Charlies etc that it comes out with Bob on top.

    Not to take anything away, I give Catholics plenty of credit for helping out the poor, just a statistical, intellectual curiosity to me. ;-)

  2. I see what you mean. But my own personal experience has confirmed the stats. I mean, the outpouring of help and support we've received over the years is jaw-dropping. Protestants are also wonderful and giving, but even pound for pound, there seems to be a willingness for Catholics to open the purses and let fall - at least where there is a clear and obvious need. How much it is normally, just in the 'we give regularly side', I'm not sure.


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