On Becoming an Integrated Pagan

1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 1

Who among us has not been tempted to seek what we perceive as being the best of two worlds?

In Paul's time, the Christians of Corinth were understandably attracted to the easygoing, loose ways of Paganism, which characterized the majority of their society. But, at the same time, they wanted that inner peace which comes from being in sacramental harmony with their creator, in and through Jesus Christ. We can assume from what Paul says that some of them acted as if Baptism and regular participation in liturgies provided them with a passport to a safe double life.

Paul does not mince words in reminding them that just as the acceptance of God's favours did not automatically assure the entrance of the ancient Jews into the Promised Land, so too, acceptance of Christian Baptism and worship does not assure the Corinthians of salvation.

Clearly the same word of caution is relevant in our time. We so called "practicing Catholics" have no right to take salvation for granted. We live in a time of opportunity but not of total redemption. Thus none of us is home free. Not yet! We have the opportunity for salvation, but the way we live our lives must express and give evidence of our continuing willingness to accept that opportunity in all of its manifestations.

Baptism establishes us on the right road. Regular assistance at Mass and frequent reception of the Sacraments are of great importance both as expressions of our good will and as a means of strengthening our resolve to live in Christ. But without daily, conscious effort to be honest, charitable, prayerful, temperate, and pure of mind and body, we are deluding ourselves and insulting the generosity of God who, through His gifts, has called us to glorify Him at an uncommonly high level. It is not easy to be a Catholic. To whom much is given, much is expected. The tools entrusted to The Church for the glorification of God are incomparable.

Do not despair. Remember that God judges each of us according to how hard we try. Not how well we do! We live in a pagan society in which the expression of our traditional values can elicit ridicule. This can be very hard to take, especially for young people. The temptation we all face is to become an integrated pagan with Christian overtones. It is the temptation to go through the external motions of worship; but at the same time to laugh at political corruption, to cheat on our taxes and, in general, to go along with whatever is current within the majority.

If, under the circumstances, being a Catholic seems easy to you, then something is wrong and perhaps the process of your integration into paganism is underway. If so, be grateful for the insight, renew your Baptismal promises...put your hand to the plough and don't look back.

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