No such thing as a perfect Catholic

If you struggle with a desire to do everything perfectly, to succeed and achieve and be the best, that perfectionism may seep into your spiritual life. The thing is, being a “perfect Catholic” isn’t possible. We’re sinful and we stumble at times. But if you hold that trait of perfectionism, a road bump could derail you altogether. If we can’t be perfect at our Faith, we might be misled into thinking it’s better to not even try. How can we fight that desire to be a “perfect Catholic” and instead be content with slow and steady growth? The Morning Air® team shared some advice for staying the course when we’re not living up to our own high expectations.

Maybe it has to do with your motivation for wanting to be that perfect Catholic. “One thing that works for me—with my Lutheran background, maybe—is just remembering that our good works are motivated by a response to God’s grace by his first step toward us and not really trying to earn his favor,” said Glen Lewerenz.

“I couldn’t agree more … and the more in love you are with God, the more you receive that beautiful gift from the Holy Spirit which is fear of the Lord. It doesn’t mean you’re scared of the punishment—which, of course, Hell is seriously scary—but you don’t want to disappoint God and you want to do good things for other people. … So while it’s not earning our way to Heaven, it’s certainly making as much Heaven here on earth as we possibly can,” said Kendra Von Esh, Catholic speaker and TV news anchor.

Our faith is a journey that lasts our entire lifetime. It can be frustrating for some Catholics to continually fall into the same sins, lapse in our prayer life, or feel like we’re not moving forward. It’s important to remember that although everyone around us might appear to have it all together, that’s far from the truth.

“We are all in the same boat. We all have our peaks and valleys; we’re at different stages. I think we just try to become this perfect, holier-than-thou person … but we are all learning,” explained Von Esh. “We’re all stumbling along this path and there’s so much to learn in the Catholic Faith that I just want to say to everybody: please don’t compare yourself to what that person is experiencing on their journey with God, because it’s going to be different for you.”

Even if you’re an ‘I work alone’ kind of person, when it comes to your spiritual journey you must learn to rely on others to help you. Lean on the Church, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and know that Confession is a critical part of staying on track. Once you accept that you cannot be perfect, frequent Confession is your lifeline to remaining as faithful as possible.

“It’s the venial sins we need more help with because those are just so easy to fall into, you know? … I’m just shocked at how much Jesus speaks through the priests in guiding me,” said Von Esh.

Just remember, the “perfect Catholic” doesn’t exist! But we can try our best, with God’s grace, to follow him as closely as possible.