1 Corinthians 5:9-13
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people, not at all referring to the immoral of this world or the greedy and robbers or idolaters; for you would then have to leave the world. But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person. For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst.” (my emphasis)
When someone tells you they are a Christian, what is your reaction? Perhaps someone might ask you if you're a Christian, what is your response? If you are Catholic, can you take a punch?
In St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, above passage, he is not warning them of non-believers, he is warning them of false Christianity. I've claimed in earlier posts, when someone informs me they are a Christian, I raise my 'red flag'. I have learned, the hard way (which is how I've seemed to learn my entire life), when one lives their Christian lives they don't have to make such assertions. Paul is not suggesting we judge as Christ judges, but we are obligated to judge the character and level of Christianity of those we encounter.
One of the best compliments I have ever received is when a non-believer asked me if I was a Christian. I had never been asked that question. My response was, "I try to act as Christ-like as possible." They told me it was because I treated people so well. I now know it's much more than that, but I treated it as a wake-up call. I needed to make sure I walked my Christianity daily. (I didn't and that's part of the hard realization of sacrifice and avoiding temptation.)
To the question, as a Catholic, can you take a punch? I recall the times when I didn't dare pray in public, make the sign of the cross and was ashamed of admitting I was Catholic. What embarrassed me? I ascertained it was the evil within and not Holy Mother Church. Once I separated the two, fallible vs. infallible, it all clicked.
Do not open your heart to every man, but discuss your affairs with one who is wise and who fears God. Do not keep company with young people and strangers. Associate with the humble and the simple, with the devout and virtuous, and with them speak of edifying things. Frequently we think we are pleasing others by our presence and we begin rather to displease them by the faults they find in us. Seek only the intimacy of God and of His angels, and avoid the notice of men. (my emphasis)
As I've written before, Holy Mother Church has always been under fire, especially from within. Whom, on earth, do we trust? It's difficult to get a good read on people who claim to be apologists. I have a few I listen to and try not to let their biases undermine their messages. If I find a book I'm reading strays from the Deposit of Faith, I shut it done and start another.
It was once equally difficult with clergy. We all have, at one time or another, heard homilies where we walked away from Holy Mass asking, "What in the heck was that?" Thankfully for YouTube, I have my favorites. These are priests who deliver straight forward, in-your-face, Truth. They have different styles but as long as the message is not contrarian to God's Truth, then I listen and take heed.
In his book, "Open Letter to Confused Catholics", Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre affirms "The desacralization is such that these Masses can come to lose their supernatural character, “the mystery of faith,” and become no more than acts of natural religion." My wife and I left a parish, at one time the largest Catholic parish in the US (a parish we were home to for over 30 years), because the entire entity became complacent in the administration of Sacraments. We were no longer being fed our spiritual nourishment. We were starving.
There was an instance where, as a team leader for our parish CHRP (Christ Renews His Parish) I suggested the program be made more Catholic. It was not received well. Some agreed, some didn't understand but the leadership team dismissed me as some kind of quack. It reminded me of the follow passage:
2 Timothy 4:3-5
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
When times get tough, when I feel alone in my thoughts I recall a quote by St. Peter Damien:
Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men, lashed as it were by God, do not despair. Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face. Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips."
My opinions, albeit it based on the teachings of Jesus Christ, are simply food for thought. The advice Thomas Kempis provides is gold.
God Bless you