Cafeteria Catholicism

Imagine this:

You are given the opportunity to have an all expense paid dinner. The venue is a gorgeous 5 Star restaurant. It is the best restaurant in the world. The catch is that it serves only one dish. This dish, however, is cooking at its finest. It has the perfect blend of flavours. It has developed into a recipe that trumps all others. It may be quite a change for those not accustomed to it’s flavour or its presentation, but it always satisfies and delivers the promise of good tastes. It would only ever leave you hungry for more of its goodness. It could lead a person to sadness to know they may never get the chance to have this meal again. It is just that good.


Now imagine, you decide to not go to this dinner. You don’t like the idea of accepting that beautiful meal out of a fear that you might not like it, it might be a waste of time, or you don’t like the crowd that dines there. It has been known that the waiters in the past have made some mistakes. So because of this, instead, you choose to go across the street to the family dinner buffet.  Right away, you can tell that there is no real food there. The potatoes are just some powder mixed with water and left to sit under a lamp for hours. ‘Fresh Corn’ comes from a can and sits soaking in water until the kernels are just wrinkled and soggy. The roast is dry. The roasted potatoes were microwaved. Overall, it’s not going to be a meal that satisfies, but hey, at least you get to pick and choose what you want, even though it’s going to be weak and leave you hungry for something with actual substance later on in the day.

Let’s look at this another way. If a person from a religion claims to be devout, but doesn’t follow the teachings, doesn’t believe in its practices, doesn’t care to actually participate in the fullness of their faith, does that make them a true follower? The obvious answer is no. What it makes them is a follower of themselves. They use their faith as a guideline, and from there create their own belief system that best suits them.

It is like choosing the scuzzy buffet. You pick and choose what you want and opt to avoid what you don’t want. You would rather do this than accept the full, perfect meal that promises to satisfy. What I’m talking about here is Cafeteria Catholicism. Cafeteria Catholicism, my brothers and sisters, is picking and choosing ideas or morals according to your liking, lifestyle, or preferences. What this does is obscure the faith, and in the end becomes contradiction and heresy. Ultimately, you end up with something that isn’t Catholic at all, but rather a relativist belief or some form of Protestantism.

When we say the creed at mass, we openly say:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

This means that we profess that we believe in the Catholic Church and her teachings. So why do so many ” Catholics” say they are Catholic, and yet choose to disregard or openly go against the Church’s teachings?  A lot of people, even those that call themselves Catholic, believe that it is a right to be able to pick and choose what you want to believe.  This could be anything from believing that missing Sunday Mass because you are too tired is a legitimate reason to just stay home, or that going to Mass isn’t necessary to have a relationship with God. It could be thinking cohabitation, sex before marriage, masturbation, the use of drugs for pleasure, and contraception are not immoral things to do, and that God is totally okay with your choices no matter what they are. These things, however, go against the Church and, in turn, go against Christ and His teachings.

It is a terrifying reality that in the world this mentality seems to be a norm for so many people. They will say: Yes, I am a Catholic, but I do not believe in certain teachings of the Church and I will form for myself my own ‘truths’ that are more ‘acceptable’.  It is relativism to think that there is no absolute truth, that you can choose what you want to because the times are different, or perhaps you don’t want to let faith be a lifestyle that dominates you. Tradition means little once you start thinking like a relativist. The Commandments laid out by God become just suggestions or guidelines which you don’t have to follow if you don’t want to. So then what is the point of calling yourself Catholic when you don’t want to live up to what it means to be Catholic?

Being Catholic in its fullest is accepting all of the Churches teachings, traditions, and Christ’s commandments. This is the perfect meal. It is the banquet that Christ presents us with. To turn away from this is turning away from Christ and the Church he established for us. He instituted the Sacraments. He chose the Apostles so He could entrust them to care for His Church, leaving Peter with the keys of Heaven and making him the first Pope. The Holy Spirit guided them, and they proclaimed the Good News who is Christ. We are called to believe whole-heartedly. We must love with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our strength.

It takes work to learn about the Faith. Some things are hard to understand. Why does the Church teach what it teaches? Where did those teachings come from? These questions can be answered in a variety of ways:

The Catechism: The Catechism is an amazing resource. It is there that we can read what the Church teaches and why. It is simple to read and presents us with all the resources we need to understand what the Faith means through explanations from Saints, scripture, and encyclicals.

Encyclicals: These are papal letters sent out to all the Bishops.

Writings by Saints: There are countless writings from Saints that discuss Church Teachings.  St. Louis de Montfort, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Boniface, and St.Catherine of Sienna are just examples.

Scripture: Yup. Pure and simple.  Christs teachings are written out for us in the Gospels, and what He taught is carried on by the Disciples through Acts.  Read the Bible. It’s good for the soul.

Saying all this, it is true that there are those who simply do not truly know the teachings of the Church.  It could be for many reasons, such as negligence or being raised in a different environment. Lumen Gentium discusses this issue:

“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” ( Section 16)

We must pray that all may come to know the teachings, but more importantly that they may come to know the fullness Christ.

Our discipleship to Christ must be a radical one. It must be rooted, strong, and true. We must aim to be true followers. To do this, we must know who He is not only on a surface level, but in His heart. This leads me to my next point which is orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is adherence to right teaching. In the case of Catholics, it is obedience to Christs Teachings, which in turn lead to adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church. How do we know that this is what He wants? We know this because He established the Church in the first place.

We should be like ducklings following their mother through the rivers and sometimes on the unsafe shores. We should keep under the wing and close by, always calling out to them. The other option is being a rubber ducky, that just bobs along, spinning on its lonesome. It is carried by every current and the slightest breeze is enough to send it into deadly rapids. Eventually, it may be pushed to shore where it will  be left alone and probably get chewed on by a dog, like a Saint Bernard or a mastiff or a mexican hairless.


Skip the buffet. Accept the delicacy and richness of Christ’s banquet. Pray for conversion of all souls. Pray for clarity and wisdom for those that claim to be followers, but are actually lying to themselves. Pray for yourself that you will not give in to the temptation to believe what is convenient, rather than what is true. Sometimes it’s hard to accept everything because of how it will make us feel, and sometimes it may even make others uncomfortable or angry to know what we believe to be Truth. Ultimately, though, what others think doesn’t matter. Christ matters. He told us to follow Him, not to watch from afar, walk the other direction, and claim to follow Him. In the end, He will be our judge.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell- and great was its fall!”


Catholic Ruki


Catholic Chris Talks about Smorgasbord Catholicism! It’s an older video, but it is still good.



About catholicruki

Married. Mother. Catholic.

Posted on April 13, 2013, in abortion, Apologetics, Catholic, chastity, contraception, Creed, faith, family, fear, knowledge, Love, lust, marriage, morality, Orthodoxy, Philosophy, pro-life, sex, Tradition, Virtue, wisdom. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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