Pope Francis: Faith Is Not Simply A Private Matter


Ever hear of an “acoustic shave?” According to UrbanDictionary.Com (reader beware of language and inappropriate material on the site), that’s “the act of shaving with a razor, not an electric shaver.” Pretty clever. Do you know what an “aisle salmon” is? It’s the act of moving in the opposite direction of everyone else using the aisle. And how about that “toothpaste hangover” reference? That’s the effect that makes everything taste disgusting after you brush your teeth. It’s funny and notable how popular English slang has become and how using it can shape social attitudes.

There are a lot of trends in attitudes rising lately. Recently, I listened to a radio program where the host spent an hour devoted to discussing how anger and outrage seem to be the attitude of choice these days. His point was, wherever you look or whatever you listen to these days, there is always someone who is outraged and demanding an apology from an offender. I see his point and have often turned off news programs or ignored certain news articles because I, too, am tired of the outrage.

There is another attitude I’ve noticed that troubles me, and that is the “It’s your life, I don’t care what you do with it” attitude. It’s a sort of disclaimer one uses when knowing someone else is doing something morally objectionable. It’s a bit of an offshoot from the old Seinfeld show saying, “…not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

As Christians, there should be more to our response than just knowing someone is making the wrong choice and distancing ourselves from it. Of course we shouldn’t trample on anyone’s personal freedoms, but when I say “there should be more to it” I mean we should care. We should care that someone is doing something wrong. If we are Christians, we are supposed to love others. If we love others, we should care about the welfare of their souls and should do what we can to help them get to heaven. So, instead of disconnecting our interest from their behavior, we should be willing to talk to them about the issue and hopefully, plant a seed of truth.

Faith is not simply a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion,” wrote Pope Francis in his encyclical Lumen Fidei, released last year. His message admonishes us to be examples of Christian love and fidelity to God first and foremost, then reach out to others who may not know Christ or may be estranged from Him. Pope Francis urges us to work to help others through the “field hospital” that is the Church.

Of course, we always need to approach a discussion of this sort with love. The goal in discussing the misguided idea that a serious sin is somehow okay, and hopefully changing that person’s mind is to plant a seed of truth, and then get out of the way so God’s grace can do the rest.

Discussions like these may feel uncomfortable and that’s understandable. Society lables people who legitimately do this with concern for others as bigots and haters, but it’s just not true. Even St. Paul openly corrected St. Peter – the Pope – when he saw Peter watering down the truth:

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas [Peter] in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Galations 2:14)

As Christians, we need to show our love through charitable conversations about what is right and what is wrong. This is not judging or condemning, it’s not hatred or bigotry, and it’s not forcing your values on someone else because in the end, the choice is theirs. It’s simply having a reasonable conversation with the hope of leading someone toward heaven. Isn’t that where we all want to be anyway? Why not give someone a helping hand in that direction?

Got questions? Email me at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.



  1. Stephanie-1038839 January 20, 2014 Reply

    Too many self righteous people feel it’s their duty to admonish others without first pulling the beam from their own eye. I’d be weary of using to words to change or correct another’s attitude. It’s more compelling to do as St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.”

  2. Bill-304473 January 14, 2014 Reply

    I couldn’t agree more when you stated how people take for granted what is actually a sin. What bothers me is how people use the phrase ‘I had sex’, and I assume it sounds fine, compared to ‘I had intercourse’. Right now, I’m talking of pre-marital intercourse. For instance, on TV, a celeberity will openly admit she undergoes pre-marital ‘sex’ when she could be more precise and say ‘I had intercourse’.

    The same goes for the person who says ‘the N word’ and may still be a racist; but, will not admit it and let others know.

    If I openly discussed this, other than with you, I would hear ‘that’s a sign of the times’. When one uses that expression does he think ‘I never thought of that. Gee, I do not want to admit I have low morals’? Hopefully, I clearly explained what I think. If it makes sense to you, can you respond to the question above?

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