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If the abstract is frustrating you, try reality


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Charles DeReuil II - published on 09/07/23

It is not only necessary to give our lives to God, it is also necessary to give ourselves to those around us.

Half-way through my first year studying in Rome, instead of being enamored by the Church and Her tradition I found myself confused and frustrated. The theological confusion present in the Church and the secularization of the Western world seemed much more noticeable in Rome than it had been in the United States. In my search for clarity and the truth, I too often found myself wasting endless hours on podcasts, articles, and blogs. 

While it is important to be theologically sound, and to have a good sense of what is happening in the Church, it is also important to remember that the Faith is meant to be lived, and the fundamental way in which it is lived out, is between persons. Society is becoming less and less personal. This affects how we relate to the Church, and leads to an overly ideological and politicized conception of the Church. 

I have found that one way to escape this flawed mentality is to focus on the individuals with whom our actions have an immediate effect.  

Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Centesimus Annus:

“Man cannot give himself to a purely human plan for reality, to an abstract ideal or a false utopia. As a person, he can give himself to another person or to other persons.” 

When we relate to the Church on a purely abstract level, when we have no relationship with the Holy Trinity, or the people in our parish, we run the risk of giving ourselves over to some ideal of what the Church should be, or a false utopia.  Sharing our life with those around us is an essential aspect of living out the gospel. At the heart of the gospel and at the heart of the Church is God entering into our lives through Jesus so that we can share in the life of God.

It is not only necessary to give our lives to God, through the sacraments and contemplative prayer, it is also necessary to give ourselves to those around us. If we are sharing in Christ’s life, we can bring Christ to other people by sharing our life with them. 

Get to know the people in your parish. If you are in the practice of eating lunch alone at work, start eating with your co-workers. When you are at the grocery store talk to the cashier as you check out your groceries. If you are the cashier, talk to your customers. Have your neighbors over for dinner or coffee. We are meant to live in community. It is important to remember that the salvation of souls does not happen in the abstract; it is the result of personal encounters.


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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