I am a lay Catholic, which means I am very, very dangerous.

I am, in every sense of the celestial Body of Christ, nobody.  I’ve been writing a Christian blog for two years and my only readers are the same 10 people that accidentally click on my facebook links while attempting to play Words with Friends or Farmville.  I published a book on the spirituality of Teaching and it has sold a whopping seven copies since last November (five I bought to give out as gifts and my Aunt bought the other two).  I taught a class on Apologetics in my own parish and only four people showed up to each of the six sessions.

Sure, the reasons for my nothingness are many: I have no formal training in Philosophy or Theology, I’m not a Priest, Deacon, Bishop, Cardinal nor do I belong to any 3rd order religious congregation, I have no marketing expertise and most of the people who I know  that actually have a say in the Catholic blogospere hesitate before sharing my posts because of my aforementioned lack of qualifications (not you, Lisa Hendey, Brandan Vogt and possibly Kevin Knight if this is finally New Advent-worthy).

But it is precisely because of my lack of certification that I am dangerous.  I count myself as part of the majority of Catholics worldwide who, in every aspect of their life, are expected to live perfectly just as Jesus commanded us to (Matthew 5:48).  Who, then, is considered public enemy number one to the relativistic society in which we live?  The practicing Catholic who calls out the errors of the mediocre and shadows their claims with an onslaught of truth.

Oh yeh, I’m dangerous alright.

On the other hand, I am even more dangerous if I do not strive to live perfectly.  If Christ did found a Church and my entire baptized being has its roots in it, then my lack of study and practice of the doctrines of this Church (whether I agree with them or not) crack its foundation and allow the messiness of the world to leak in.  If I am not a perfect example of Christianity, I give Christ’s Bride, the Church, a poor name.

Being unable to give an answer to someone who is curious about Catholicism is one thing, but failing to live up to my Teacher’s expectations in both word and deed is another, more serious issue.  Unfortunately, this is where many of my wayward brothers and sisters find themselves in the Catholic Church- uninformed and thus a danger to their own salvation and to the perception of the fullness of Truth.

Since I am probably too “unqualified” to write this,  I find solace and rationale to my “dangerous side” in two Biblical heroes that prove that degrees and doctorates are trumped by the sheer desire to learn about truth. John the Baptist, the reed that swayed in the wind of the desert that no one came to see (Matthew 11: 7-9), and the surprise intellectual Giant that came from Nazareth (a.k.a. the land of nowhere), Jesus.  Both were given much less education than I have received while on earth and yet, they shaped the world more than any being in the history of the Universe

To the 23 people who will read this post, know that the reason why voices like mine have not been heard is not because of a lack of academic study or determination.  Rather, it is because I have not lived my vocation with sufficient zeal to capture the hearts of readers.  I may have the same mental capacity for Truth as the Pope, but if I don’t live this truth in every one of my actions, I become a danger to God’s salvific plan.

Like the grassroots instigators of John the Baptist and Jesus, I wait in my digital desert contemplating the perfect lifestyle demanded by God so that when the time comes, I will be ready to carry it out with ardent zeal.  Until then, my blog is my camel’s hair cassock, my facebook account is my feast of locusts and my 140 character limit tweets are my wild honey. Through these tools and through my daily routine, I grow in my relationship with Christ by recognizing His presence often.

It is that Power, that Creator of the universe that teaches His people through little ole’ uneducated, unstudied me…

That’s dangerous!

127 thoughts on “I am a lay Catholic, which means I am very, very dangerous.

    • Thanks Kate, thank Kevin Knight though. He’s a great man and his apostolate is “the great digital unifier”, second only to the great spiritual unifier- that Church Christ founded a while back 🙂

  1. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
    1 cor 1:27

    Your dangerous man!!!

  2. If it is God’s will to use you or me then it won’t matter how insignificant we are. Think of St. Ignatius of Loyola, or Mother Angelica or the Virgin Mary. One could go on and on in this vein.

  3. Great post TJ! I’ve been writing a blog since January and I was going to ask you how you got 10 readers. I think so far I have me and my wife reading, and she only reads because I make her proof read before I hit “publish”. I am facilitating “The Great Adventure Bible Timeline” in my 3500 family parish and I have four people in the class, and one of them is — yep, you guessed it, my wife. Despite all this, I too am dangerous. Keep up the good work.

    • I come from a large Irish/Polish Catholic family mix. Add that to my numerous “cousins” on my wife’s side (who just so happens to be hispanic) and boom, the whole Western Hemisphere is covered. So 10 followers out of the thousands that know me is the result of the law of averages 🙂 In all seriousness, facebook + twitter + Email + word of mouth + several hours in an adoration chapel + an Email to Kevin Knight @ New Advent seemed to work.

    • Where would the world be without lay catechists? Thank you number 23, you are more than just a number to me (and to your students, I’m sure).

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more, and a very hearty Thank You for your efforts. As I continue along my spiritual journey, it is very heartening to know that as little ole lay Catholics will have much to do with the transformation of the Church to its baptismal destiny. I pray that we all may behave in a manner worthy of the capital “C” Catholic. Otherwise, you’re really a protestant.

    • LOL, very clever! Thank you for the comments and yes, our fellow laymen/women are the veins of the Church, but so are our Protestant brothers and sisters.

  5. TJ,

    I think this is one of the best posts I’ve read anywhere in a while. Feelings of obscurity and disappointment in myself for not having more people noticing me and my events, contributions, etc…this is the easiest trap for me to fall for. It always makes me unappreciative for the few people God is trying to use me to reach.

    • Thanks Justin. Remember, you have a cloud of witnesses watching you. Let the Saints (and me) be your encouragement. Just like Brandon V. said in his comment, Jesus was silent for thirty years, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing His Father’s will.

  6. You aren’t alone. I’ve studied philosophy and theology. I’m a priest. Yet, even moreso … I’m a nobody in this world. The Triune God isn’t asking for our fame, but our faithfulness.

    • Well said, Father. If anyone is more dangerous than a lay Catholic, it is humble priests like you who drive the prince of darkness nuts.

    • God would like our faithfulness, but thats not what he asks of us.Jesus stands at the door and knocks. If any man opens the door, He will come in and sup with hi an He with thee.
      Tell me Mr priest, did you miss that lecture in theology school?
      Religion teaches that man is saved by works, by doing this and that. Jesus shows us quite the opposite.Salvation is for the asking. No matter how retched your state is, you can come to him and open the door and he will come in. No holymen in fancy costumes, no golden trinkets. Just you and Christ. Thanks for your time

  7. Great reminder. Thank you! We must be standing up as lay people. This works nicely with some comments by Bishop Robert Morlino, via Fr. Z’s blog. He was saying that we laymen must stand up for the Faith; we must live it in front of the world. . . and not wait for him and the priests to do so. Even if they do preach well and encourage well. .. . we must stand up for Truth in the public square.

  8. Thank you for being an inspiration in this post. Thank you for doing your small part, as all of us should. The bride of Christ is beautiful and we should shine and small grains grow!
    I anticipate my wife will purchase your book (i’m hoping she’ll think of it for her reading list).

    • Thank you, Carlos. I hope you enjoy the book. I am about halfway through the second one in the series, hoping to get it out by next year this time. Keep growing within the Bride!

  9. Wonderful post!! I’ve been Catholic my whole life. Being mexican is kind of a given to be Catholic.

    But up until 4 years ago, during my first year of medical school, I truly felt a pull towards the Church, its teachings, Traditions, dogma, etc.
    I joined Bible and Theology classes on my Church.
    I think I’ve spent more money on Catholic books than medical books and that’s saying something!

    I’m slowly learning to stand up for my Faith and falling in love with it more every day.

    And it shows…in my treatment with patients, their families, my friends, etc. Every one of us is deeply loved by God and we’re all part of something greater, something He has meant for us to be.

    I’ve never been happier in my life.

    • Congrats on all of your endeavors! I’m married to a Mexican and work a lot in hispanic ministry, perhaps you might like our bilingual blog @ faithandzeal.net/ feycelo.net. Que Dios te siga bendiciendo, ¡y que viva México!

      • Gracias por las bendiciones!!

        I’m actually engaged to an American. He’s from Texas but came down here to medical school as well. Soooo, instead of considering English as my second language, I just consider English and Spanish as my first ones.

        It’s great!!

  10. Great post! I think your post would make a great talk to confirmation students. We all need to live a little more dangerously and if your a Catholic these days you’re getting your opportunity! (HHS attack on Religious Liberty) Your post reminded me of the great talk that Archbishop Fulton Sheen gave on confirmation. You can dowload hear it at
    http://www.fultonsheen.com/Fulton-Sheen-MP3s/Catholic-Catechism-Series—Part-27—Confirmation.cfm?PID=75

    Peace in Christ,
    Brad

    • As God would have it, I teach Confirmation prep to the youth in my parish! Strangely enough, Fulton Sheen is my favorite author and speaker. I’m listening to the link you posted right now, thank you for sharing it with me. Anything Fulton Sheen is wonderful!

    • Thank you! I’d love to subscribe to yours too, most of the Evengelical converts I know are always quite zealous when it comes to Catholic truth. That will surely spread when you get it online after living it @ home! God bless.

  11. I really connected with this (except I dont have a blog…yet). Even though my college degrees are in economics, the early church and the fathers are my passion. For the past 20 years (since I was 10) I’ve been reading about early church history and the writings of the fathers. Even though I can (and have) stumped many a priest and even a bishop in my day, I don’t feel authoritative enough because I’m not formally trained. However, I am starting a 6 weeks educational session on the church fathers at my parish next month. Hopefully more than 5 people attend 🙂

    The saddest part, to me, is that if I were at a small Protestant congregation, I’d be overwhelmed with people wanting to learn. A close friend of mine is an associate pastor at a Protestant congregation in a neighboring city. I helped him build a church history course (the same one I will be teaching) and he had over 30 people sign up…and his total congregation only numbers 300!!

    I feel strongly that knowledge of history = more patriotism. That is true in the secular world and in the ecclesiastical. I am on a personal mission to teach it to as many people as I can. That has so far proven difficult for a lay catholic with no formal
    credentials.

    Ok…off my soap box 🙂

    • Get back on your soapbox and publish it on a blog, then count me as a subscriber 🙂 I’m reminded by MOther Teresa’s quote, “If it doesn’t work out, then God wasn’t interested” (paraphrased) and then “God doesn’t demand that I be successful. He only wants me to be faithful.” Keep up the good work!

  12. Thanks to New Advent, I’ve found your blog. You are now bookmarked for regular reading. Thanks for your post and to know there’s another layman who cares about the Faith. At least you’ve had the guts to write a blog, even though you may not have “credentials.” Yet, I think of all those who have the “credentials” and who’ve led so many astray, which tells you who the really dangerous ones are. I have my share of credentials: I’ve studied philosophy and earned a bachelor’s from an Ivy League university and I have a law degree, but the only credentials that are worth anything are the ones earned as a husband, father and practicing Catholic, who’s studied the catechism, reads Scripture regularly, studies the Magisterium, accepts the teaching of the Church whether I “get it” or not, and seeks out others who do the same. And I’m dangerous too because I don’t stand mute any longer when someone attacks Jesus, the Faith, the Church or what I now KNOW is the Truth, whether it comes from a know-nothing “Catholyc” or someone outside the Church, and my children are learning from me. That’s how we’re really “dangerous”!

    See, perserverence pays off. You now have about thirty readers! Congratulations on your enlarged following!

    Steve from Long lsland

    • Steve from Long Island….I have nothing in common with you in the way of “credentials” and I hail from an entirely different region of the country, but I otherwise must share a brain with you. I so agree with your point about those with “credentials” have often been the ones leading others astray and therefore, they are quite dangerous. I join you in raising my children to be just like me, a faithful Catholic who loves all being Catholic is about. Keep on keepin’ on, dear brother from a different mother 🙂 and let’s encourage one another! God bless you and yours!

  13. T.J. “To the 23 people who will read this post, know that the reason why voices like mine have not been heard is not because of a lack of academic study or determination. Rather, it is because I have not lived my vocation with sufficient zeal to capture the hearts of readers.”
    Some people have a calling to write and to teach while others think they do.

    • Great point, Larry. But if we are to imitate Christ, then we must allow His Spirit to turn us into Teachers like Him. And if we are to listen to Paul’s inspired words to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:16), then we must also allow His Spirit to turn us into writers.

  14. Ok, i like the the context of your post. But say something controversial or interesting and we’ll see where this goes.

    deacondog

  15. Christ does not ask us to be like him. He commands us to love one another. Who was it that said to evangelize with fewest words? 1C4:16 we must have, really? we must have different bibles.

    • Perhaps Christ does not ask us to be like Him (ok, actually he did in Matthew 5:48), but he certainly did command us to teach like Him: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20) In a world that is depending more on keyboards than pulpits as of late, writing (blogging in particular) has become a God-given medium by which we are able to complete this teaching mandate.

      • M5:48-48 “Do not even the gentiles do as much? You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He says very clearly to be like G-d the father. Again, you must have a different bible than mine. You have a way of taking things out of context. Christ was talking to his deciples, the ones HE chose to teach. Not the ones who chose themselves. not everyone can or should try to be a teacher. I’ am not.

  16. I found your post in my email with the other “new advent’ groupings. I don’t have a Facebook page, I don’t Twitter(though I love birds) so I guess that means I do not Tweet either( is that another site?)
    I am one of the few cradle Catholics that never questioned the magisterium, went to Catholic school 1-12, started working ,got married in the Cathoic Church, had 4 children, taught CCD(is that showing my age?), altar society, and wore every hat there was to wear in a parish the only thing I drew the line was Parish Council. Taught my kids at home when I saw the RCIA programs turning into mush in the 80s and 90s and yet I feel like my lot in life is to pray for my children who decided not to be Catholic(2), or at least not practice weekly(the other 2). Sometimes I wish I knew how to blog but then I guess that might be depressing to some, hopeful to others?
    Continue on, you seem to know what you want.. well I do too.
    To know, love and serve God in this world so I can be happy with Him in the next..0 🙂
    Blessings!
    Tapestry

  17. Litany of Humility
    Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930)
    Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

    O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
    From the desire of being esteemed,
    Deliver me, Jesus.
    From the desire of being loved…
    From the desire of being extolled …
    From the desire of being honored …
    From the desire of being praised …
    From the desire of being preferred to others…
    From the desire of being consulted …
    From the desire of being approved …
    From the fear of being humiliated …
    From the fear of being despised…
    From the fear of suffering rebukes …
    From the fear of being calumniated …
    From the fear of being forgotten …
    From the fear of being ridiculed …
    From the fear of being wronged …
    From the fear of being suspected …
    That others may be loved more than I,
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
    That others may be esteemed more than I …
    That, in the opinion of the world,
    others may increase and I may decrease …
    That others may be chosen and I set aside …
    That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
    That others may be preferred to me in everything…
    That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

    TJ…I didn’t share this to say you need to be humble….I shared it merely because it sure helps me not to fret at all when I wonder if anyone notices anything I do. (Which is entirely normal and human, by the way. The error only comes when we obsess about it.) Thanks, New Advent, for linking to TJ’s blog. Good choice!!! And, God bless you, TJ, for standing with all of us anonymous Catholics who are out here striving to live how Christ and Holy Mother Church teach us to do.

  18. Very well put. I thought I was reading my own story. Though, I do have a marketing background, but all that basically means is that I have a process for promoting works that never get read as opposed to simply leaving them out on the web to never get read. From one obscure, unqualified lay writer to another, may God bless you richly.

    By the way, besides me ordering my own books for family, my brother-in-law actually ordered several on his own initiative. I did not know that for about a week, during which time I was thrilled to think that someone actually wanted to read it.

    God bless. Fun read.

    • Thank you S.T., I just checked out your blog, very nice! As for your brother-in-law, the same thing happened with my Aunt… very eerie how similar our situations are.

  19. Why do you pick and chose what you want to believe out of the bible? Jesus said..call no man Father. He meant religious leaders, not your papa. Do not make or bow down to graven images.This is a regular practice of catholicism, so is calling men Father. Its time to take another look at where you trust your salvation. To a man in a big costume in a room full of graven images, or to a living invisible god.

    • While I thank you for visiting bozoboy, I’d recommend you do a lot of research on the Church you are attacking. I’d recommend the Catholicism series that came our late last year for starters. I’d also recommend that you review the title of this blog and understand that your next comment will probably get blocked if it includes personal claims of what you think the Catholic Church is as opposed to what it really teaches.

      • banning contrary ideas is the hallmark of the CC. I can post what the CC teaches without any comment from me. Will you allow me to do that?

      • Hi my friend. Ban me because i remind you of your religions history. Its not because of me, its because of the CC history of murder. You can call me all the names you want. The CC is in chains of history

      • First, I have not called you any name besides your handle. Second, yes, my Church does have a history of murder, but I already knew that. Jesus Himself knew it when He said that the wheat would grow with the weeds. And third, thank you for calling me your friend.

  20. I’m less than a nobody: I’m not even confirmed yet.

    I look forward to that dangerous promotion and I’ll join your ranks.

  21. Looks like you’re going to have a lot of Subscribers now…and count me in as well. Your brother in Christ from the Philippines…also a Lay Catholic (much layer..if there is such a word…lol).

    • LOL, I don’t know how one can get much “layer”, but I look forward to becoming less and less too… hilarious.

  22. Great post, T.J. — like Steve from Long Island, I came here via New Advent (doesn’t everyone?) and have favorited you.

    Even though I’ve been a catechist for the last ten years, I learn a new thing or two about our faith & tradition every day. Am looking forward to eternity because there’s no need to rest and one’s eyes dont get puffy from scanning and inputting Catholic and else-wise blogs.

    By profession, I’m the director of our RCIA — and the continuing frustration remains …even as we move into Holy Week and initiation next Saturday — is that it is impossible to share everything I’ve ‘come to know’ with my students. Praise God for the Holy Spirit who continues to reveal via your work and the work of others that can be found on the internet and between the pages of ‘real books.’

    Keep up the good work. You never know who may really be reading!

    • That eternity thing sounds fantastically wonderful. Hopefully I will be there too. Say a quick prayer for me, please.

    • Stephanie, I’ve been ordained 28 years (this coming June) and I’m still learning. TJ, stay with it, man. You know more than you think. The simple truth is: Jesus and His Bride ROCK!

      Though I must admit I am always saddened by the vitriol of those who haven’t fully embraced His Divine Merciful Love. (thank you,Lord, for sharing through St. Faustina!)

      • Congrats on the 28 years of servitude Father. I agree, Jesus and His bride certainly do rock. Thanks for the encouragement!

      • The Second Vatican Council (Lumen gentium ## 61-62), said:

        … in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope, and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace.

  23. My experience is very similar to your own. I had been researching blogging for our parish youth group, but they ultimately decided against going ahead with it. Having already spent much time and effort on the project, I decided to try it on my own. Four year later, I’m looking forward to my one millionth visitor. By “Facebook” standards, that’s not much, but it’s certainly better than nothing! In faith, there’s no telling where these things might lead, so hang in there and keep up the good work. God loves you. God will provide. Enjoy!

    http://www.askmeaboutgod.org

    • Doug, your site is amazing. You have some mad digital imaging skills and I am quite impressed. What I am even more impressed with is your Parish;s decision to ditch the blog tactics, have they read Brandon Vogt’s book The Church and New Media? If not, purchase it for them and watch your numbers grow. Thanks for the comment!

  24. Great post — and challenging, too. I hate how often I fail in love and give scandal to my church and fellow Catholics!

    But don’t get hung up on “qualifications.” The Holy Spirit has the right to use anyone and anything to work his will, so in that case we’re all qualified and totally not qualified. I personally think that while credentials are nice to have, we’re too hung up on them!

  25. @TJ– I do not know what g-d is calling me to do. I have recently left the catholic church in favor of Judaism. I’m still in between the two and taking classes about judaism. I like the catholic church but judaism is the only one that has ever made sence to me.

    • Judaism is a wonderful faith, but I find it incomplete because
      they are still awaiting the Messiah while Catholics know He has come, walked among His Chosen people, rose from the dead and completed the covenant. Search your heart and open it up to God’s son, Jesus Christ. My oldest daughter said she would have converted to Judaism except for that very thing, the hope is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

    • Is this THE Tim Roach from the radio? I’m honored to have you in my humble blog abode, even more humbled to be compared to St. Paul. Thank you for your encouragement.

  26. I am not certain where I fit in this mix. I am “not yet” Catholic, but a Jew (learned, with degrees) who by the sheer Grace of God came to understand how and why Jesus is the Anointed One. Without Him, nothing makes sense. I am currently working up the courage to break with my family, friends, colleagues, et al. I do not blog because, frankly, I do not think I have anything one wants to read. So I applaud your effort. One (of the few?) positive results of Vatican II is a more educated laity. An ignorant laity is nothing but a herd of sheep, whose souls may be saved, striving to know and live the faith makes Salvation all the sweeter. I only know of you via New Advent, and I’ve signed up to follow your blog. Now, on to click your books button on top. Pax Christ – A most blessed Holy Week and Easter to you and yours.

    • Efrayim, very pleased to meet you and to welcome you into the Church. Best of blessings as you share the news with your loved ones. Let me know if you need anything as you make the transition and beyond!

  27. I love your testimony, TJ. It seems truly humble and joyfilled, and free of sarcasm or rather, irony that can often be taken as sarcasm. I long for more bloggers like you that seek to lift up – lift up our eyes, our minds and our hearts to God. To recognize all the impurities of the world, and the untruths can make one cynical or even just slightly sarcastic; then presented as masked humor. I do believe we need to adress the untruths!! But in heaven, I hope we will all be overfilled with joy and feel no need to poke sarcastic, ironic fun, even kindly. We will be made whole, without need to fill in. So keep writing and may God bless your work according to His will, and may I be able to adhere to my own words!!

  28. Ah, Efyrarim says we are like sheep. I love being a sheep. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and they know His voice. He knows His sheep aren’t too bright but He loves them and we love Him and follow Him and if we get lost He looks for us.
    Shalom Efrarim.

  29. Well, you’ve got more readers than many of us do. But the way to do this, to be a person of influence, is still one on one, meeting people, getting to know them, seeing how you can encourage, help, and so on. So few people evangelize that way today so the field is wide open. I suppose everyone here already knows this though.

    • You hit it right on, Tim. As a Teacher, I can tell you just how much a difference one-on-one time with my students helps them. It is no different with evangelization. Well said.

    • 3. “With equal truth it may be said that of the great treasury of all graces given to us by Our Lord—for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ—nothing comes to us except through Mary’s mediation, for such is God’s Will. Thus, as no man goes to the Father but by the Son, so no one goes to Christ except through his mother.” (Leo XIII, Encycl., Octobri mense, September 22, 1891.) — [pp. 13,14, no. 19]

  30. 8. “O Holy Mother of God; to thee we lift our prayers for thou, powerful and merciful, art the Mediatrix of our salvation.” (Leo XIII: Encycl., Jucunda semper, September 8, 1894.) — [p. 19, no. 43]

  31. Our Lady appears as the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizing her role as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Grace. She suffers in union with Jesus as our Co-Redemptrix and offers us the grace and mercy merited by Him through her heart as Mediatrix and begs us for our reparation and consecration in the subjective redemption. Our Lady appears as the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary symbolizing her role as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Grace. She suffers in union with Jesus as our Co-Redemptrix and offers us the grace and mercy merited by Him through her heart as Mediatrix and begs us for our reparation and consecration in the subjective redemption.

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