A book publisher challenged my core philosophy last week. I’m glad he did; the spiritual self-exam was healthy and overdue. How, he asked, could I claim that Catholicism is “simple”? The Church is one of the oldest, largest, richest and most multifaceted religions in the world, a faith that has more saints than anyone can count, thousands of individual parishes and dioceses, millions of priests, hundreds of pages of dogmatic rules and regulations, and mysteries galore. There are more than one million books in the Vatican Library. The lay version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is over 800 pages long. We have rules dictating when we kneel and when we stand, what color the priest wears on Sunday, and how long we should fast before receiving communion. What is so simple?
Just this: love. We were created by love to love. We have no greater purpose than this. We have no other purpose than this. All (yes, all) questions about existence are answered in love. Everything the Church has or does is in some way tied to the purpose of spreading the message that Jesus taught Peter, James, John and the rest of the original apostles and disciples. The message is this: Love God, and love one another.
Each of us has been given a unique basket of spiritual, physical, material, emotional and intellectual gifts. Each of our roles in His creation is different, and your role cannot be fulfilled by anyone except you. We are each necessary and a unique thread in God’s creation. This multibillion-thread tapestry defies understanding by any one of us, no matter how brilliant we may be. We just can’t see the whole thing. But we can fulfill our role. Our unique, irreplaceable, critical role. And fulfilling our role is simple: we use the gifts we were given to Love God and to love our neighbor.
It’s that simple.