By Brendan Slovacek

Why does it seem like the Catholic Church just tells us what we can and cannot do? Who are they to tell me how to live my life?

We have all asked these questions before at some point in our lives. I used to spend a lot of time going back and forth arguing with others about how I thought the Church was so wrong about different issues.

But it turns out I just didn’t know what I was talking about.

Many people just see the Church as “an imposer of rules” that supposedly keeps us from having fun, but that’s honestly not true! God has given us a set of “rules” to live by, yes, but they are there to protect us, not hold us back.

I am a pretty active athlete, but when I was younger I got ejected out of a lot of ball games (like a lot). I had a tendency to get a little too aggressive on the field, whether it was intentionally body-checking a baseman after I got a run in baseball, or intentionally making helmet to helmet contact in football. Sometimes, it was mere ignorance of the rules that got me into trouble, and sometimes I broke the rules intentionally. Somehow, I could never “win” the game since I never actually followed the rules of the game. Instead of taking home the trophy, I would be kicked out of the game.

I learned pretty quickly that the purpose of a ball player was to make the run, catch the touchdown, and get the ball in the basket. However, I couldn’t succeed in fulfilling that purpose if I wasn’t following the rules that might have helped me achieve it! Even if I wanted to do other things like knock down the catcher, I would lose the game because I would get ejected for not playing the right way. My purpose was not to knock the teeth out of the point guard, it was to get the ball in the basket, and there was a right way to do that.

If you truly believe in God and believe that He made you, then you have to believe He made you for a purpose. God’s ultimate dream for you is Heaven, and you can achieve that dream by fulfilling your purpose to know Him, love Him, and serve Him.

God has given us rules to live by so that we have a chance to live out our purpose in life. Some people think the Church has simply made up a discriminatory and judgmental set of rules, but these rules are actually a gift from God. God loves us so much and desires so greatly for us to live with Him in Heaven that He has given us the clear and straight pathway to Heaven through those rules.

The “Ten Commandments” and I didn’t get along when I was younger, and even now I sometimes don’t like them. But God made us to be in communion with Him, and following these “rules” is how we can achieve that goal. Yes, I might have the freedom to do whatever I want, but if I want true and lasting happiness, I have to choose to do good! Things that are bad will never lead to a real happiness and goodness; instead they will only lead to temporary, artificial comforts and pleasures. The eternal, real good is Jesus Christ, and if I want to use my freedom in the best possible way, I need to choose Him. Only when we fully understand what it means to live fully alive and fulfill our purpose will we always choose God’s way. We are alive for the purpose of being one with God and each other. We have been created out of goodness, and are called to fulfill our lives through goodness. By choosing things that lead us away from our purpose of communion with God, we aren’t being fulfilled.

It can be hard to follow the rules sometimes, whether it’s in sports or in life. We don’t always want to do it the right way, but usually that means we need to get over our pride and remember the Truth that is greater than our own desires. We are all lost in this journey of life, but God has shown us the way to Heaven. Now it is up to us to make the right choices to get there. When you break down every choice you have in the journey of life, you realize that the only logical choice is to follow God’s directions to Heaven; any other decision leads away from your main destination. 

The only way to live your life to the fullest is to live fully for God. Do it for yourself, and do it for God. 

Choose today to be a saint.