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Pope says keep faith fresh, don’t become ‘lukewarm Christians’

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Remembering that first encounter and that initial feeling of loving and being loved is as important in one’s faith life as it is marriage, Pope Francis said during his early morning Mass. “If we throw away the enthusiasm that comes from the memory of that […]

Many Catholics try only to meet the smallest requirements to be members of the Church. This is an error called Minimalism. All we have to do is go to Mass and put our dollar in the collection basket and we’re “in.” The truth is, Jesus didn’t give Himself on the cross to invite us into a social club. He invites us into a relationship of love.
Pope Francis joined his predecessors in calling out this error.

“If we throw away the enthusiasm that comes from the memory of that first love,” he said, “the greatest danger for Christians draws near: tepidness. Lukewarm Christians.”

The Holy Father recalls Revelation 2:4. He contrasts minimalism (lukewarmness, tepidness) with memory of our first love. When we forget our first love, we lose our passion. What would happen in marriage? What if one of the spouses were to say, “Now that I’m married I don’t have to put much effort into the relationship. All I have to do is . . .”? How long will that marriage last? How much happiness will it bring?
Pope Francis reminds us that the same is true of the faith.

Lukewarm Christians, he said, “are there, stopped, and yes, they are Christians, but they have lost the memory of that first love. And they have lost their enthusiasm, but also they have lost their patience, that ability to tolerate things with the spirit of the love of Jesus,” and, especially, “to tolerate those things they must carry on their shoulders, those difficulties.”

In other words, when we fail to love we lose the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. We lose the love, joy and peace that come from God’s Spirit moving in our hearts.

“Poor lukewarm Christians,” the pope said. “They are in serious danger.”

Now, I know our tendency is to start pointing fingers and identifying people we know who are tepid in faith. The challenge is to look inward and see if parts of our own faith are growing cold. We need to rediscover our first love and to rekindle our passion for the faith. What are some ways you do that for yourself?

Also published on Medium.

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