23 June 2024

It’s Good to Preach to the Choir

'Catholicism is not a pick-and-choose religion; we choose either the entire Deposit of Faith or nothing. All the parts of our Faith—doctrine, morals, prayer, sacrifice—go hand in hand and must be believed and practiced cohesively.'

From Crisis

By Leila Miller

Do not let anyone discourage us or tell us that it’s redundant, unnecessary, or foolish to speak the truth among our fellow Catholics.

We’ve all been told that “preaching to the choir”—that is, speaking the truth to those who are already on our side—is a waste of time. But is it? I believe that preaching to the choir is not only fruitful and good but that it should be a priority. Here are my reasons:

1. The “choir” needs catechizing. 

Even Mass-going Catholics who love the Lord and His Church are all over the place as far as catechesis. Some may heartily agree with the Church on the issues of abortion, “gay marriage,” the Eucharist, and the vast majority of moral and doctrinal issues. But those same choir members may find a stumbling block when it comes to issues of modestyIVFinvalid weddings, or the sin of divorce and “moving on” to the next romance

These whitewashed issues, the sinfulness of which would not have been controversial to previous generations of Catholics, are subtle traps for today’s faithful. While some in the “choir” may not want to hear the truth that certain commonly accepted practices offend God, many are simply ignorant, thanks to decades of catechetical neglect. 

Consequently, many Catholics look to be living a full Catholic life, but their faith could easily collapse when true suffering or temptation comes, or when real sacrifice is asked of them. Even long-standing members of the “choir” can fall away, at least interiorly, when one point of disagreement or required suffering is presented. 

Minimal preaching about the cross and redemptive suffering, combined with limited knowledge of Christian moral principles and doctrinal truths, is a spiritual disaster waiting to happen when a real test comes. While God allows crosses to sharpen our faith, increase our virtue, and perfect our love, Satan uses them to draw away the weak or unfortified. Which brings us to the next reason we must preach to the choir.

2. Salvation of the “choir” is not assured.

As Catholics, we must never fall into the enticing but dangerous heresy that the Christian on earth has “eternal security” or is “once-saved-always-saved.” In fact, we must remember that each member of the “choir” is always at risk of losing salvation. Our free will is operable until our last breath, and God gives us the dignity to choose to love Him (or not) throughout our lives. He could never force us to love Him because love, by its very nature, must be freely given. 

Catholicism is not a pick-and-choose religion; we choose either the entire Deposit of Faith or nothing. All the parts of our Faith—doctrine, morals, prayer, sacrifice—go hand in hand and must be believed and practiced cohesively. To keep some parts and reject others is like trying to preserve a priceless, beautiful tapestry while pulling out one string that unravels the whole. It cannot be done, and the result is a worthless, ugly mess. 
One willful rejection of a dogmatic teaching, or one mortal sin committed against God’s universal moral law, is enough for a Christian to break friendship with Our Lord and lose Heaven. Yes, there is a path back in the mercy of sacramental Confession; but many Catholics do not avail themselves of the grace and mercy offered there, or at least not enough. 

The “choir” needs continual teaching, constant reminders, good example, and habit to stay spiritually safe. A soul’s path to sanctity is laborious, at times tedious, and never “once-and-done.” To stay healthy and moving forward, a Catholic soul must continually be nourished, nurtured, and fortified with the endless treasures the Lord has given us through His Church. This brings us to the secret weapon that should not be a secret, and which the choir needs to know about. 

3. Winning the “choir” means winning the world for Christ.

According to traditional spiritual theology, there are three stages of holiness for a soul in a state of grace: 1) the purgative stage (the way of the beginner), 2) the illuminative stage (the way of the proficient), and 3) the unitive stage (the way of the perfect). 

Because of poor catechesis, most Catholics have never been taught about this ordinary path to sanctity (which can be correlated to St. Teresa of Avila’s Seven Mansions). Quite simply, the stages of holiness are the road by which every Christian must travel on the way to the Beatific Vision. Each stage has signposts along the way to help us understand approximately where we are in the spiritual journey. 

I believe it was the late, great Fr. Benedict Groeschel who said that most Christians (in a state of grace) live and die in the purgative stage. Thus, we may assume that most of the “choir” is still in the first stage of holiness—where temptation to return to mortal sin remains strong. 

While it is a good thing to be on the path at any stage, a soul in the purgative stage is not able to transform the world for Christ in the same manner and with the same spiritual power as a soul in the latter stages. The holier we become, the more conformed to Christ we are, the more grace abounds, and the more souls can be saved for the Kingdom.

Just one authentic saint—a soul who has achieved transforming union with God while on earth—can transform not only a family, or a parish, or a city, but an entire nation. Indeed, some saints in their day have transformed the entire world. In other words, even one soul among the “choir” who has attained the third stage of holiness can do (and has done) more for evangelization and salvation of souls than a hundred, a thousand, or a million “beginner” Catholics just humming along.

We live in a bizarre, increasingly depraved time, and we are all concerned for our future and the future of our children. We are sorrowful for our nation. We desperately desire to reach the world with Christ’s truth, before it is too late. I truly believe that the “choir” is the key. 

There are millions of Catholics in America alone who are ready to be lit on fire by the Holy Spirit. I’m not suggesting we cease all other evangelization, but if we simply got serious about teaching Catholics their Faith and how to become true saints, then we not only win the nation, but countless eternal souls will be saved as well.

This is why “preaching to the choir” is important and even imperative. We should not let anyone discourage us or tell us that it’s redundant, unnecessary, or foolish to speak the truth among our fellow Catholics. Whether it’s on social media, in parishes, in families, and, yes, even in literal choir lofts, let’s lovingly and humbly keep spreading the True Faith. 

Most of our problems are solved if Catholics become fully Catholic; and that starts with the very “choir” that is all around us. Let’s unleash the truth and grace of Christ by preaching to the choir!

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