The "Do I have to" as opposed to "Should I" Argument

I have noticed in severals thread the common theme of “Do I Have to Believe this?” and then a topic such as Fatima or the Rosary or Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Various topics are then explored and the Battle lines drawn along the same argument the opposing side being the “Should I” camp.

Holy Mother the Church defines Dogma for us - so that we know what we HAVE to Believe as a minimum. Every Dogma is Mandatory. This we know.

But Holy Mother the Church likewise fosters devotion through various means. To strengthen Our Faith.

So do we all have to become Third Order Dominicans in Order to save our Souls?

Obviously not.

But should we respect those who are? I say yes. And I say that those who are of the “Do I have to Camp” should respect Devotions and those to whom they have added meaning as Holy Mother the Church has approved them and that respect should be given accordingly.

I have no problem respecting the fact that someone wants to believe in certain practices, devotions, apparitions, etc.

I do see a problem though, when someone says “you don’t say the Rosary?!:eek: How can you call yourself a Catholic?!”:mad:

You see, the street goes both ways. I have been on the receiving end of much criticism because I do not have any praticular devotion to the rosary, Padre Pio, or the Divine Mery Chaplet (all popular devotions in my area). My prayer style is much more Ignatian, and free-form, and it works for me. A very wise priest once said to me “Pray as you can, not as you can’t. God knows what you are trying to say now you have to try and listen. Do that the way that works best for you.”:slight_smile:

The Church, in her wisdom, has given us many tools to use to bring us closer to God. Some she has said we must use, others she has given us the choice.

Isn’t the Church AWESOME!!:smiley:

I have nothing to add to the conversation, I just really liked this post.

Agreed. The problem lies with the Criticism and the individuals who practise it. Yes we are to spread devotion to the Holy Rosary and to recommend it as a devotional - not because it is required as a matter of Faith - but rather for its many Spiritual Benefits and the 15 Promises. However - if someone doesnt wish to practise devotion to the Holy Rosary for whatever reason should we then say "How can you call yourself a Catholic?! " That isnt what Our Blessed Mother had in mind IMO.

I agree Robert. Many converts and many Cradle Catholics catechized in the past 30 years did not receive the exposure to many of the traditional devotions that have been prominent in the Church over the Centuries. I find it sad that so few show up at my Parish for Rosary devotions, but I do respect everyones right to observe or not observe voluntary devotions.

Great post! Not only do those who practice a devotion deserve respect, but those who chose not to practice that devotion deserve the same respect which sometimes seems to be very lacking around here at times especially when the topic seems to pop up on a regular basis.

This is kind of represented in the thread title, ‘The “Do I have to” as opposed to “Should I” Argument’. There is no devotion that falls into the “Should I” category yet many Catholics believe that there are some (always the devotions that they seem to prefer). Like a Catholic “Should” pray the rosary, a Catholic “Should” believe in and have a devotion to Fatima.

That is not what the Church Teaches.

I have certain devotions, daily Mass attendance, praying the LOTHs, daily Scripture reading, devotion to certain private revelations (just to name a few). Do I believe everyone “Should” do these, no as the Church does not say that everyone should. I do not push these on others out of respect for them, just as I ask that others not push their devotions onto me out of respect.

The “Do I Have To” argument can become quite dangerous, imho, because it can lead to the bad tendency whereby one looks at the bare minimum one has to do - and consequently, people in the Latin Rite have stopped fasting (it’s only required that they give up meat on Fridays in Lent and Ash Wednesday, and eat light on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) and stopped fasting before Communion (the sad result of the hour-long “fast”). And it has had dire theological consequences, as people feel free to reject the ordinary Magisterium of the Church and anything which has not been formally, solemnly defined by the Pope as binding on the whole Church (in other words, almost nothing!) And the liturgical consequences of this attitude have been even worse for the West. In the words of our German Shepherd, who is more authoritative than I,

It seems to me that we have before us a typically Western restriction and legalistic reduction of the notion of faith which radicalizes certain one-sided developments which begin to make their appearance around the High Middle Ages. A parallel may render the issue clearer: from about the thirteenth century on, interest in the conditions necessary for validity begins to push every other consideration to the margin of sacramental theology. Increasingly, everything ceases to matter except the alternative between valid and invalid. Those elements which do not affect validity appear to be ultimately trivial and interchangeable. Thus, in the case of the Eucharist, for example, this is expressed in an ever-stronger fixation on the words of consecration; that which is actually constitutive for validity becomes more and more strictly limited. Meanwhile, the eye for the living structure of the Church’s liturgy is progressively lost. Everything other than the words of consecration appears to be mere ceremony, which happens to have evolved into its present form but in principle might just as easily have been omitted. The characteristic nature of liturgy and the irreplaceable liturgical sense cease to be regarded as important, falling as they do outside the narrow limits of a legally defined minimalism. But the truth that this juridical necessary factor retains its meaning solely when it remains within the living totality of the liturgy had to be relearned only with great labor. A good part of the liturgical crisis of the Reformation was due to these constrictive tendencies, which are also the key to understanding the liturgical crisis of the present. If today the entire liturgy has become the playground of private “creativity”, which can romp at will just as long as the words of consecration are kept in place, at work is the same reduction of vision whose origin lies in an erroneous development typical of the West but quite unthinkable in the Eastern Church.

[Cardinal Ratzinger, *The Nature and Mission of Theology, Ignatius Press edition pp. 111-112.]

On the other hand, the “Should I” argument can be equally dangerous, for several reasons. For one thing, it can lead to judgmentalism as people set higher standards than the Church does. For example, one certainly should abstain from meat and cheese on Wednesdays and Fridays, and even as late as the High Middle Ages people were expected in the West to find a suitable penance to replace the fast - but most Roman Catholics eat meat on Wednesdays, and we aren’t supposed to judge them. (Even when a Byzantine Catholic eats meat on a Wednesday, there is no pain of mortal sin attached, and we’re still not supposed to judge them. Dispensations are granted freely in the East since the regulations are so strict - each spiritual director tailors the regimen to what his spiritual child can handle.)

Sometimes this can get so bad that people will get downright angry when others fail to practice their precise rule of prayer. I have heard people fume angrily at a close friend of mine “refusing” to go to Mass on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s not a Holy Day of Obligation, so there really isn’t any obligation to go to Mass, and consequently no guilt or wrongdoing or imperfection there. He didn’t like the guitars, New Agey homilies and hymns, and liturgical abuses, and frankly he was probably spiritually better off by simply going to Confession and then heading back to work instead of staying for Mass. I avoided the place entirely.

This argument/attitude can also be (mis)used to violate the legitimate diversity of the Church’s rites. One certainly should pray the Rosary, as Our Lady has asked - but I would hate to see people pushing the Rosary on the Eastern Church to the detriment of the devotions it would replace, the Akathistos and the chotki. It is certainly a good and pious practice to carry your Rosary in your pocket to remind you to pray it, but please don’t be scandalized that I carry my chotki instead. I appreciate your Advent Wreaths and the ever-changing rainbow of vestment colors, but please don’t express your outrage when I take you to Divine Liturgy and you see white vestments and no Advent Wreath. And my own ritual tradition has more than enough wealth (more than I can handle) of spirituality for me to use; please don’t question my Catholicism if I don’t practice any devotion to the Sacred Heart or the Stations of the Cross.

Let me Clarify. The “Should I” comes from the Individual themselves. For example - a person is exposed to various Devotional Practises available and approved as worthy by the Church. Once approved by the Church the Individual is then able to decide - Should I take up this devotion. The “Do I have to” is entirely different. Sunday attendance at Mass and on Holy Days of Obligation for example. The Church isnt asking its telling.

The reason I began this thread is simple. I see a lot of argumentation on this forum by people who fail to understand the distinction between what an Individual Catholic has available to them as an option to augment their faith and how in charity they attempt to share this and what the Church herself has required. The line appears to be blurred on a regular basis here. Hopefully going forward - people can understand that if someone is spreading the news about Fatima - they should be doing so in a Charitable way and no one should be offended by them doing so. If someone doesnt want to look into Fatima - then dont. Or the Holy Rosary - or anything else. But I see no reason for Tension to arise over these things. Why should anyone be offended by the Holy Rosary for example?

Pax

, Ignatius Press edition pp. 111-112.]

On the other hand, the “Should I” argument can be equally dangerous, for several reasons. For one thing, it can lead to judgmentalism as people set higher standards than the Church does. For example, one certainly should abstain from meat and cheese on Wednesdays and Fridays, and even as late as the High Middle Ages people were expected in the West to find a suitable penance to replace the fast - but most Roman Catholics eat meat on Wednesdays, and we aren’t supposed to judge them. (Even when a Byzantine Catholic eats meat on a Wednesday, there is no pain of mortal sin attached, and we’re still not supposed to judge them. Dispensations are granted freely in the East since the regulations are so strict - each spiritual director tailors the regimen to what his spiritual child can handle.)

Sometimes this can get so bad that people will get downright angry when others fail to practice their precise rule of prayer. I have heard people fume angrily at a close friend of mine “refusing” to go to Mass on a Tuesday afternoon. It’s not a Holy Day of Obligation, so there really isn’t any obligation to go to Mass, and consequently no guilt or wrongdoing or imperfection there. He didn’t like the guitars, New Agey homilies and hymns, and liturgical abuses, and frankly he was probably spiritually better off by simply going to Confession and then heading back to work instead of staying for Mass. I avoided the place entirely.

This argument/attitude can also be (mis)used to violate the legitimate diversity of the Church’s rites. One certainly should pray the Rosary, as Our Lady has asked - but I would hate to see people pushing the Rosary on the Eastern Church to the detriment of the devotions it would replace, the Akathistos and the chotki. It is certainly a good and pious practice to carry your Rosary in your pocket to remind you to pray it, but please don’t be scandalized that I carry my chotki instead. I appreciate your Advent Wreaths and the ever-changing rainbow of vestment colors, but please don’t express your outrage when I take you to Divine Liturgy and you see white vestments and no Advent Wreath. And my own ritual tradition has more than enough wealth (more than I can handle) of spirituality for me to use; please don’t question my Catholicism if I don’t practice any devotion to the Sacred Heart or the Stations of the Cross.

Great post, good job stating and keep the balance until…

“One certainly should pray the Rosary”

While the Rosary is a great private devotion, no one “should” pray it. If someone has a devotion to it, then great, but if not, it is okay not to pray it.

There is not should where the Church has not said there is. There is no should in private devotions. The Church is full of private devotions, more than enough for everyone to find those that appeal to them.

To say that one “should” pray the Rosary because “Our Lady said so” is to appear to raise a private revelation to the level of a dogma.

So I would add to your last sentence; “please don’t question my Catholicism if I don’t practice any devotion to the Sacred Heart or the Stations of the Cross” or the Rosary.

Pope Leo the XIII Disagrees

ADIUTRICEM
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON THE ROSARY

SEPTEMBER 5, 1895

papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13adiut.htm

Hi, Br. David,

You’re right; that wasn’t quite what I meant when I said “one should pray the Rosary.”

What I did mean is that it is the pinnacle and glory of Western spirituality, the hammer of heresies and the prayer which Our Lady treasures the most. Is that dogma? No - just mho. But it is something which the parish priests would be right to preach from the pulpit and tell people to pray - just as I think it was right for the Roman Catholic church I attended before heading East to preach St. de Montfort’s “True Devotion to Mary” from the pulpit - and certainly right for the Pope to encourage in his encyclicals such as Leo XIII’s which was linked below.

That being said, if someone doesn’t pray the Rosary, that’s none of my business. If I don’t pray the Rosary, that’s between me and my spiritual director - and please don’t question my Catholicism (although, I do love the Rosary, and I’m not going to give it up:p). One (Byzantine) spiritual director I had in one state encouraged me to keep up the Rosary; another one in a different state I was living in did not discourage it but told me to start praying the Jesus prayer. Both told me the right thing, I think.

Well said. This is precisely the attitude that more need to adopt. I like this post immensely and thank you for it.

Forgive my ignorance, but I see no where in this document where Pope Leo elevates the Rosary from a private devotion to a Dogma.

What I see is a Pope giving his opinion on something, in a very specific context. From what I can gather in a quick reading, this Encyclical was written to address specific issues, especially concerning a “disconnect” between East & West, and as instruction for the upcoming celebration of October as the “Month of Mary”.

Robert Burns, you opened this thread with this statement:

Holy Mother the Church defines Dogma for us - so that we know what we HAVE to Believe as a minimum. Every Dogma is Mandatory. This we know.

But Holy Mother the Church likewise fosters devotion through various means. To strengthen Our Faith.

So do we all have to become Third Order Dominicans in Order to save our Souls?

Obviously not.

But should we respect those who are? I say yes. And I say that those who are of the “Do I have to Camp” should respect Devotions and those to whom they have added meaning as Holy Mother the Church has approved them and that respect should be given accordingly.

I know that I am not saying that the Rosary is not a good and important devotion. I do not think that Br. David is either.
The rosary is just something, that right now, does not fit into my spirituality. For me, at this time in my life, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration, spiritual direction and private, free form prayer (“conversations with God” is what I call them) is what is sustaining me and helping me to live my faith. That is all that matters when it comes to private prayer. It works for me. It may not work for you and that is OK, as I am not asking you to pray this way or telling you the you should.

Please explain to me how you are not doing to Br. David and I, exactly what you accuse others of doing to you.

Where did I say that the Holy Rosary is DOGMA? Care to point it out? Thats just it - I never said that nor is it. The Rosary would fit under the Category : "But Holy Mother the Church likewise fosters devotion through various means. To strengthen Our Faith. "

So yes - I said what I said and you seemingly misunderstood.

As for the Holy Rosary the Blessed Virgin Mary made 15 Promises to those who are Devoted to her Holy Rosary.

ourladyswarriors.org/prayer/15promise.htm

Is this Dogma? No. But remember - neither is praying the Our Father a required DOGMA. But who doesnt do it? There comes a time where all Catholics will admit to what is good and allow it to be considered as good. Do I tell you what you have to do? No , but Pope after Pope after Pope has recommended the Holy Rosary and I am certain that the Christian Fleet Commanders were happy that Pope St Pius the V had the entire Church praying in unison with him the Holy Rosary as the overwhelmingly superior Islamic Fleet was bearing down on them at La Panto. They didnt have to pray the Holy Rosary either that day as a matter of Faith. But they certainly were happy they did in retorspect as was the entire continent of Europe.

Pax

You are not exactly saying that we MUST pray the Rosary but you are very strongly implying that we should. You also imply that eventually we will all come round to the point of view that it is necessary to pray the Rosary and once we realise this we will take it up.

Morning all,

The idea of what we should do is left up to ones interpretation. Yet when we see "EVERY Pope"  since Fatima and before with Pope Leo XIII, and "What are they doing". It pretty much becomes a silent instruction to those observing and paying attention. Really this is foregone conclusion. 

And what did Pope Benedict say “I too have have come to Fatima as a pilgram”.

The Catholic Faith is a strict observation of Faith. The idea is NOT to burden the already over burdened.

The Rosary comes to one by their own walk in this faith. You continue to walk this path and its not a question of “if” you should, because I assure you will. The Rosary will be a path that is constantly placed in front of you by Gods will. Has nothing to do humans, divine intervention is involved. Its not by chance that Pope Leo XIII said, “The Rosary is the weapon that will defeat satan”. What do you suggest He was telling you here? Well maybe its an assumption, but I venture to say that He was suggesting a path He knows will defeat satan, and was incouraging “all” to help. What say YOU? He wrote 13 encycles to the Blessed Mother after that Vision of Fatima. He cleary saw “our” future. As has every single Pope since him. Wrote the Pray to St Michael, the gave THIS period to the Holy Spirit. And what did Pope Benedict “just say” this past May about the Blessed Mother at Fatima?

They don’t have to TELL YOU to Pray the Rosary. They know anyone paying attention WILL Pray the Rosary.

GT,

NO one Should Pray the Rosary? Why do you make it a Point to appear on every single thread supporting the Blessed Mother and Fatima and oppose Gods Will? What is you problem with Our Lady of Fatima? You have a problem with World Peace?

You sure this is what you meant to say.

You should take yourself outside this constant opposition of Our Lady, and Pray on this a few months with a unbias thinking. See what God tells you about this. Let God direct you on this one. Especially in the wake of what Pope Benedict had to say about all this last year. And this short window of time we have left in it.

Do you actually believe Our Lady appeared at Fatima, do you believe the Miracle of the Sun actually happened? Do you believe there really is a Supernatural? Mankind “is” the war of Good and evil. There is not recorded period in “History” when there has been World Peace. Yet the BIble and Isaiah predicted it! And Our Lady of Fatima promised it! If we just follow Gods instuctions at Fatima.

The “only” thing we have managed to do, is stretch this battle to the last minute. Thats exactly what Benedict and John Paul have done. So maybe just maybe our children and theirs will have this time of Peace. So maybe the Hearts as men such as yourself could be softened to usher in this period of Gods promise, before its to late.

Gods Coming make no mistake about this. Just take a good a look around, your surrounded and imprisoned by evil right now and you don’t even see it!

You know what I tell everyone who works with God Children, "if you can’t help them, then don’t hurt them!

I don’t do any such thing. I come to these threads to clearly state what the Church Teaches in the matters of private revelation and private devotions.

That some people have an issue with this shows that there is a grave misunderstanding in what the Church actually Teaches in these matters.

Belief in any private revelation or the practice of any private devotion is not required by the Church for any faithful Catholic.

The only response to that should be “yes that is true” yet instead of that we get why one “should” (which is just a nice way to say must) believe in this private revelation or “should” (again must) practice this private devotion.

I am sorry that this always appears to be Fatima and the Rosary but maybe you need examine that and why you go against what the Church states in these issues.

A clear conscious doesnt feel guilt to be sorry. The only thing required here is an explaination.

A question with a question, and no answers to any questions. Doesn’t go un-noticed either:shrug:

And its not sorry it “LOOKS” this way" It “is” this way as your history of posts clearly indicate.

My conscious is not for you to decide. Your “Motives” are whats in question? And with the lack of response to any of the above questions it continues to be. :shrug:

Anyway,

While I certainly could understand any Catholic who wishs not to involve themselve for disbelief or whatever reason. Some, of which are very noble to say the least.

Whats not impressive is the TRUTH… were shooting for the “consolation prize” here and not first place???.:confused:

Not praying the Rosary is not a mortal sin. You won’t go to hell if you don’t pray the Rosary. However, it is unlikely that you will ever become a saint if you don’t pray the Rosary. A devotion the the Blessed Mother is a requirement for real holiness.

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