How to Be an Authentic Catholic

What does that mean? What does it mean to be truly, genuinely, sincerely Catholic? Does it mean making sure you never hurt anybody’s feelings? Does it mean going to Mass on Christmas and Easter? Does it mean wearing a crucifix around your neck?

Father John Gordon joined John Morales on Morning Air to discuss the concept of authentic Catholicism and how we can avoid being what he calls “cafeteria Catholics”.

Fr. John began the conversation by quoting the Book of Revelation and the words of St. John the Apostle to the people of the city of Laodicea.

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)

That should immediately announce to the reader what God thinks of those who reside in the tepid waters of lukewarm faith and spirituality. It should be obvious that He looks on lukewarmness with unabashed disfavor. In other translations of the Bible, it even goes so far as to say that God will “vomit” the lukewarm from His mouth.

Needless to say, God has no need or desire for passive discipleship. “That ‘cafeteria’, ‘lukewarm’, ‘I’ll do what I can when I can’ approach to faith is the kind of thing that, frankly, makes Jesus sick to His stomach,” said Fr. John. How lost is a person that has no zeal or fire in his or her heart for the truth? Regardless of whether someone has come to all the right conclusions or not, if one seeks the truth in earnest, they will be looked upon more favorably than one who stands idly by as the war between good and evil is fought.

An authentic Catholic isn’t someone who does the bare minimum. There’s nothing authentic about phoning it in, in any aspect of life. A true Catholic is someone who has a growing, dynamic relationship with Christ. As St. Paul says in his second letter to Timothy, we have been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are charged with stoking those flames, not only helping that fire survive but thrive!

Sloth, acedia, and lukewarmness are always waiting in the wings to pull us down and keep us from attaining our full potential. One of the dangers posed to our personal spiritual journey is the temptation of comparative holiness. There’s plenty of time later. It’s not so bad to skip.  I’m better than I used to be. I’m better than that person next door.

Fr. John said that to feed that flame and avoid getting pulled down, the core directive is to allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit and not by the world. The word “allow” may deceive us, implying that we simply wait for Our Lord to drag us to do His will. No, allowing ourselves to be led by God means cooperating with His will because He knows what’s best for us. Ultimately driving us to cooperate with God and allow Him to deepen our love for Him is the desire for sanctity, for sainthood, and for eternal happiness.

“One of the things that can help jumpstart us [fan that flame] or help move us in that direction is the scheduled prayer of the Church,” said Fr. John. “Devotional prayers such as the rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or even just to kind of contemplate and meditate on the Daily Scripture readings of the Mass for each day are all ways in which the Spirit is giving us an opportunity to say, ‘I’m going to choose for God this day.’”

Fr. John recommended implementing prayer throughout the day, especially in the morning, to deepen our faith. And for those who can’t find the time in the morning to, at least invoke His name as a form of a morning offering as soon as we get up. Jesus, I am yours. Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I give this day to you.

In addition to daily prayer, attend Mass at least once a week. Make that non-negotiable. The thought of missing Mass should never even cross your mind. Attend confession regularly, bi-weekly or monthly if possible. Every saint knows that they’re a sinner. Every sinner thinks that they’re a saint. We need the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

To begin one’s journey to becoming an authentic Catholic, Fr. John recommended three things to start: “Daily prayer, Sunday Mass, monthly confession. If you do that, I guarantee you four to five months, if not sooner, you will love who you see in the mirror.” You won’t be looking at just a human being, just a man or just a woman. You will be looking at a Son or Daughter of God.

Tune in to Morning Air weekdays at 5am CT

John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.