Rules and Relationships

July 27, 2017

Many of my non-Catholic friends seem to have the notion that Catholicism is riddled with rules and regulations and that to be a good Catholic Christian one must conform. I think that conforming to rules is focused on so much that the greater part of

Daniel Fachting, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, Lay Minister at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Clare, and Chancellor for Knights of Columbus Council #3029. He can be reached at fachtingcounseling1@gmail.com or by calling (989) 386-8166.

Daniel Fachting, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, Lay Minister at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Clare, and Chancellor for Knights of Columbus Council #3029. He can be reached at fachtingcounseling1@gmail.com or by calling (989) 386-8166.

being a Christian is often over looked. My memories of being a young Catholic, growing up in a Catholic family, are full of following the rules. We memorized and followed the Ten Commandments, the Laws of the Church, and followed all the prayers, customs and traditions of the Church to a fault. It seemed that being a good Catholic meant following all of the rules.
I went to mass every Sunday, went to confession every two weeks, received communion weekly, went to CCD classes, attended all Holy Week Liturgies, was an altar boy, sang in a choir, prayed daily, did my chores dutifully, attended a Catholic school, and obeyed my parents and very rarely used profane language.

In short, I was as close to being a perfect Catholic that one could become. I also felt a deep sense of guilt for not following all the minute details of the rules. My sense of sin revolved around keeping the rules. One sinned by breaking the rules. I kept the rules-the best I could.

Only later, in my college years, did I begin to learn that Christianity was not just about keeping to the customs and rules of the Church and Bible. I learned that Christianity is about relationships. The most important of those relationships is the one that God invites us to be in, a love relationship with Him. At the same time we are invited to live in a love relationship with other Christians. I learned that I could have a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus.

In this relationship I learned that I was loved and accepted, not because I followed the rules, but unconditionally! God loves me not because of my behavior and who I am, but because of who He is!

At this stage of my life, I am convinced that God is more about relationship than rules. I don’t want to say that rules are not important as they are for our guidance and lead us to joy and happiness. But rules and customs will not bring us the ultimate joy and happiness of living in intimate relationship with Jesus who is both our Savior and Lord. Only through intimate relationship with God and others will we experience the fullness of love.

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