Striking a balance between public and private faith


I have been thinking a lot recently about how to balance practicing faith in public and private life. I have never been attracted by public displays of religion—charismatic Christianity, as an extreme example, has always completely repulsed me. I have felt suspicious more than once of someone who seemed to need me to know just how Catholic or how devout they are, like they have something to prove. At the same time, I know that performing your faith where other people can see you (i.e., living by example) is important. How have you all struck this balance in your own lives? Is it possible to have a more private practice of faith without denying your faith?


For me, and for most in my experience, An interior prayer life through faith enables us to pray for those around us and that God will present oppurtunities to show your love to others and quoting The Pope; “we are called to proclaim our faith and if nessecary use words”.


… If the life of faith is love acting through charity, then everything we do should center around a public life of faith. This is feeding the poor, defending the defenseless, organizing donations for victims, advocating for the weak, etc, etc, etc. The expression of that faith through love leads to peaceful and caring lifestyle. It’s when people ask what motivates that person that it becomes essential to say that we are part of the Catholic church, and that they can join the same communion too. Public expression of faith is not standing on a street corner with a poster board. It’s in every act of charity that we do for our neighbors.


St. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” I think we should be praying that God would bring us to a point where we want our lives to be like that also. If they are, I don’t see how we could take Christ out of our public life or conceal our faith from others. But we should be praying that others see Christ in us.


@coffee_cantata , the way we live speaks more than what we say .

I have been involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal , and it was not for me a public display of religion .


Um, the Mass, any Mass, is a “public display of religion”. I hope you don’t have a problem with it.
Charismatic services are no more or less public than anything else that might go on in a church. It’s not like they run around speaking in tongues and falling down on the street.

“Public displays of religion” are only problematic when they are done to call attention to how holy we are. Jesus warned against that kind of attention seeking. If I am praying in the park hoping people will say, “Oh look how holy that person is” then it’s wrong.

By contrast, if I am praying in the park because I want to pray and the park is a nice place, or because I want to pray with a group and in so doing publicly identify as Catholics praying for our country or against abortion or whatever, then it’s fine.

Same goes for wearing medals or scapulars, or ashes on Ash Wednesday. If you’re doing it to show off then that’s bad, if you’re doing it because that’s who you are then it’s fine. And you better make sure your behavior lives up to the visible sign.

I have no problem “balancing” this, I don’t feel a need to hide my religion and I don’t go around showing off either.



If you live the faith it will be obvious in every word you speak, every choice you make and even how you conduct yourself. You cannot be a covert Catholic/Christian… it will seep out of every pore.


I’m not one to push my faith or bring it up at every possible moment, but I don’t hide it either. I wear my St. Benedict medal every day and occasionally get asked about it. If someone asks, I’m happy to explain that I’m a Benedictine Oblate and what that means. If I’m away from work and someone asks where I went on vacation, I’m happy to say that I went on a retreat (and, if needed, explain what that means). Today I’ll be leaving work a little early to get to Mass so I’m happy to explain why I need to leave. If someone tells me about problems they’re having, I’ll offer to keep them in my prayers.

My faith is part of who I am, but I don’t try to force it on anyone else.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit