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Sin and Cafeteria Catholicism

I was speaking to a woman I know and she said that a man she knows had stopped going to Church months before and that he didn't believe in many things the Church taught including the Church's stance on contraception. But he still considered himself a good Catholic. Pretty normal stuff nowadays sadly.

The women is a committed Catholic and she said that she'd told him that she wasn't a "Cafeteria Catholic" but he reminded her of many things she'd done which are against church teaching throughout her life and he said triumphantly, "See we all pick and choose."

She said that she'd come to believe what he'd said was true. Now without going into details I told her that her friend was wrong. Very wrong. There is a big difference between sinning and picking and choosing.

We all sin. But that doesn't make us cafeteria Catholics. The real difference is that cafeteria Catholics simply don't acknowledge sin.

While we all transgress, a committed Catholic will still judge themselves against an established standard. We will inevitably fall short of those standards but we still strive to achieve it and emulate ourselves after Christ to the best of our ability.

The cafeteria Catholic may act in very much the same manner as a faithful Catholic but simply removes all that striving. When confronted with a discrepancy between their will and the teachings of the Church they simply change the standards based on what they feel is right for them. And let's face it, when we set our own fungible standards, sin becomes impossible because our decision making becomes the standard of behavior.

We all fall short of the standard. The cafeteria catholic just lowers the standard.

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Sarah said...

Funny- my husband and I were discussing something similar tonight on our walk. It seems that there's a demarcation line between the Cafeteria and average rate sinner Catholics that lies somewhere around the confessional. Think about it- those Catholics aware of their sins (or even the fact that they are sinful) are more likely to have frequented a confessional within the last year or so. Not that it's something to be proud of- if you're in a confessional, you're at the right place to start a holy life- however, the fact that we are so broken as to need the sacrament shows how frail we really are. In the end, we're all sinners, it's just that those who don't surf the buffet line are more aware of it.

So, temptation here is to point fingers at the Cafeteria Catholics and say (like the Pharisees), "See how much more holy I am than thou because I follow the Law to the letter!" Rather, we should talk about our own sins and need for Christ's healing hand and what He's done for us in our life and hopefully make them curious about what they're missing in theirs?

Carmela James said...

This happens so often. Moral relativity is so abundant today, people think it's okay to modify valid religions to suit themselves, calling it "my religion," and saying that it's just as good as any other religion.

Two real examples I've had people tell me:

"According to MY religion, homosexuality is okay. I mean, Leviticus says that you shouldn't lie with a man as you would with a woman--well, I don't lie with women, so I'm perfectly in line with that passage."

"According to MY religion, abortion is okay, because I think that the souls of aborted babies are just reborn again."

Anonymous said...

Cafeteria catholics don't pray. The further they get away from a prayer life the further they get from the church. We must pray for the lukewarm catholics they are the devils instrument and do more damage to the family than any other type of modernist.

Anonymous said...

Oh and about the Pharisee thing. It is not a temptation, it is an act of charity to instruct the ignorant.

SherryTex said...

Actually, the true Catholic feasts on all of Christ's teachings, the lapsed or slothful Catholic goes to the buffet and announces they are on a diet and misses the richest part of the meal.

CatholicMomof6 said...

The Modern Church is a den of Cafeteria Catholics. Priests no longer take their responsibility to teach the Catholic faith seriously. Their 8 minute sermon is filled with anecdotes and childhood tales. It's all very comforting. It's a easy place for Cafeteria Catholics to go. They can volunteer for some service like EMOE, Lector, choir, RCIA, Religious "education", etc. But they don't actually have to believe in the Truth. The Church has allowed it to happen. The truth is if you aren't eating from the cafeteria, you are a minority in the Church today.

lisag said...

The problem is that Catholics don't educated themselves. Many Priests don't educate their parishioners. All these uneducated Catholics do not want to know the truth, because then they would have to change. They don't want to because they are comfortable in their lies.

Subvet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kadiddlehopper said...

I think Matthew's article describes the distinction between the Catholic and Protestant. One who rejects the teaching of the Catholic Church (protesting against). You could say that all Protestants are 'Cafeteria Catholics', varying only by degree. So do we have Protestants who claim to be Catholic...yes....the Cafeteria Catholics. They're usually outspoken proponents of 'social justice', which is just another euphemism for forcing taxpayers to provide charitable donations to an everexpanding group of Democrat constituencies. This group does not represent just the 'extreme cases' of need. Rather it represents those who just want more than they can manage on their own.

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