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04: Is Catholicism just a bunch of rules?

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Episode Show Notes

Is Catholicism a religion of rules? Why does the Church tell us what we should or shouldn’t do? What’s the purpose of following rules? What’s the point of the Catholic faith?

These are the questions we will explore in this episode of Unboxing Catholicism.

Wherever we go, there are rules. 

  • Our families have rules.
  • Our schools/offices have rules.
  • Our countries have rules.
  • Our physical bodies have rules.
  • Nature has rules or laws. Gravity.

We need to be thankful for these rules because they help us maintain stability, safety, order, and it’s for us. Now, bringing this to the realm of faith and spirituality, it’s the same thing. All religions – including Catholicism – have rules. And this brings us to our next point of reflection.

Rules are not ropes. They exist for a reason.

The Catholic faith, just like all Christian denominations, has rules, but they’re all about two things. Commandment: love God and Love others. Matthew 22:36-40

In the case of our Catholic faith, some rules exist to make us holy – because this is the main objective of Christianity – to help us attain eternal happiness and holiness in heaven.

Did you know that there are really only six precepts/rules that the Catholic Church instituted for Catholics to adhere to – these are based on biblical teachings?

  • Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. This is what is due to God.
  • Attend Confession once a year. We all need healing from our sins.
  • Receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once during the Easter season. Just as we eat food for our bodies, our souls need nourishment.
  • Observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church. We discipline ourselves and practice detachment for the sake of our Lord and others. 
  • Help provide for the needs of the Church. It doesn’t always have to be money. It could be time, talent, and treasure.
  • Observe the Church’s marriage laws. Marriage, as our faith teaches us, is a sacrament instituted by God and therefore its laws come from Him. 

The Church also has moral teachings on sexuality and family for in her 2,000-year history, she is aware of the different issues anyone can run into regarding those. Think of the Church here as a grandmother – ever old and ever new – imparting timeless wisdom. Instead of criticizing her conservative views and hurling at her various labels, let’s try to open our minds and listen to what she has to say. 

And we don’t understand, ask other members of the Church – we are a family. We seek to understand one another. We go to the love story of our Father – the Bible and we see how our ancestors – the first Christians – addressed the questions of our time. We are blessed also to have the internet and the Catechism at the click of our fingertips. 

Catholicism is not a religion of rules, but a family-centered on relationships.

Jesus didn’t come to abolish religion, but he redeemed it from the legalism of Pharisees and fulfilled its purpose. Matthew 5:17 (not abolish but fulfill). 

GK Chesterton: Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.

As Pope Francis and his two immediate predecessors repeatedly stated, our Catholic Christian faith is not just an idea. As a saint put it, “Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed, rules to be followed, or prohibitions. Seen that way, it puts us off. Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and claims my love. Christianity is Christ.” 

Therefore, we must take all possible means and opportunities for us to deepen this personal relationship with Christ – through prayer and the Sacraments which allow us to encounter our Lord in the most profound way.  

We have to realize that Catholic teachings are not just high moral standards that are impossible to attain – they are chapters in a beautiful romance with a merciful God – and all of us are invited to participate and find true, everlasting joy in it! 

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By John Bernard Ordoñez Caasi

Bernz is a Catholic revert, educator, and speaker. As a former anti-Catholic Protestant, he helps ordinary Catholics understand their faith deeply so they can explain it clearly without being preachy.

He hosts his own podcast (Unboxing Catholicism) and YouTube vlog where he uncovers the truths and lies about Catholic teaching and spirituality. He also travels around the country giving talks on faith, leadership, and personal finance.

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