At our house we have a standing requirement that all the kids’ cell phones stay in the kitchen when they go to bed. Boy, how the kids hate this rule! They make every excuse in the book as to why they need their cell phones in their bedroom at night. My favorite one is: “I must have my cell phone at night because I use it as an alarm clock, and if I don’t have my phone, I won’t wake up.” Like a good old-fashioned alarm clock (which they have) won’t work? Hmmm…. Of course the kids see this as a very oppressive rule drastically limiting their freedom. What they can’t see is that, while this rule is restrictive, its intent really is to help them. As their parents, we know it helps them avoid the temptation of texting their friends all hours of the night, playing games, and, in general, being distracted from getting a good night’s sleep–something critical for them to perform at their best the next day. What they see as oppressive is at its heart actually very helpful. And, while contrary to what my kids might think, this rule was created out of love for them. A love that only desires what is best for them, even if they don’t understand it or see it that way.
When you read the Catechism of our Catholic faith, you will certainly see that our faith also has many clearly defined requirements, guidelines, and, well, I guess you can call them, “rules.” Catholics seem to have a rule for everything. While these rules can be comforting, and give you trusted guidance as you navigate through life, they can also seem oppressive and punitive. This is especially true when you experience divorce. Suddenly, you have to abide by a set of doctrines that are unknown, unfamiliar, and might even seem downright unfair. This can add insult to injury, just at the time in your life when what you need more than anything is acceptance, encouragement, and support.
When you are feeling the burden of living your Catholic faith, try and look at it from a parent’s perspective. Pray for the wisdom to see past the rules and to understand the underlying abundant love your Heavenly Father has for you. A love that only wants what is best for you. A love that is made concrete by living your Catholic faith fully, even though it may be very difficult to do sometimes. Your Heavenly Father does not want to punish you with a bunch of rules; He wants to lead you to a life of abundance.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give…” – Luke 11:13