What to say to one who believes, but the rules are too tough?

Hello - seeking guidance from the audience. What are some helpful apologetic-type things I could say to a young university student who believes that the Catholic Church is the true church (namely because of the many, many miracles of the saints) but feels the rules are too tough for a young person to follow in this culture.

More specifically, this is a young man who is actively dating and through experience has come to realize that it is very difficult to find an attractive woman who doesn’t think premarital sex is a good thing. He also knows several married Catholic adults who stopped having children after two or three because their jobs wouldn’t allow them to live life as fully if they were to continue being open to life.

Though birth control may be his biggest hurdle, he has other issues with the harshness of Catholic rules regarding things such as working on Holy Days of Obligation (says that almost all American Catholics work on these days) & Sundays, eating meat on Fridays during lent, avoiding fantasizing (he thinks it is too much mind work) which is a normal part of a young person’s life.

He feels that if he were old and retired, the rules would be much simpler to follow. Birth control would not be an issue, it would be simple to go to Church on all Sundays and his hormones would be running at a much lower simmer than currently.

Any advice or helpful guidance?

They aren’t rules.

Moral truths are equally part of what he already believes-- that the Church is true. The Church communicates God’s truth to us. It does not make up the truth. The truth is the truth because God is God. God designed our sexuality for his purposes, and because God is the author of our sexuality, we must use this gift as He intended.

Seems he is under a mistaken assumption that one cannot work on a Holy Day or Sunday. You can do so if you must. Worship of God, works of mercy, and spending the day in the Lord are ideal, and I am not saying we shouldn’t do it. But if you have to work, you have to work. The Church doesn’t teach otherwise.

Seriously, Jesus gave up his flesh for us and he cannot give up flesh meat for 6 Fridays? If there is a reason he cannot do that for some reason, then he should discuss it with his pastor to see if a dispensation is in order.

Yes, virtue is difficult. But lust is the root of all offenses against God in the sixth commandment. I am sorry that he has had his understanding of his sexuality so distorted by the culture.

So living a virtuous life is difficult therefore not worth doing? EVERYTHING in life worth doing is difficult- running a marathon, getting to the top of your profession, becoming a world class athlete or artist-- but also fleeting because those things only matter in this lifel. How much MORE we should strive for personal excellence in our character-- virtue. That is important to our salvation. So if his priority is going to Heaven, he will cultivate virtue NOW. If it isn’t, then he can idle away his days in vice,

If he is an honest truth seeker, he will follow the truth where it leads. Don’t be shy about pointing this out.

You can also agree, it’s impossible to keep the Church’s moral teachings – on our own strength alone, that is. That’s why we need to live a good Catholic life, to be in a state of grace, to avoid near occasions of sin, and to grow in grace, virtue, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, by prayer, use of the sacraments, etc. And little by little we grow and change and become more like Christ.

Depriving himself of these resources will not make his life any better. Giving up the medicine of immortality in exchange for some temporary base pleasures? Insane!

Ad Orientem is correct in that “it’s impossible to keep the Church’s moral teachings – on our own strength alone, that is.” But with God, all things are possible. It sounds like he’s got an intellectual relationship with God. Now he needs to work on the emotional relationship. You cannot develop an emotional relationship with someone if you don’t talk to them. So he needs to start working on his prayer life.

The key is not to think that, “I have no time for prayer.” The answer to that is, how can you NOT have time for prayer?! Prayer doesn’t have to be rote: offering prayers for friends and family while sitting at a stoplight, for example. Talking to God while walking along the street. The Rosary does not have to be said in one swoop – I frequently have been in situations where I would pray a decade at a time over the course of the day. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy takes less than 10 minutes to say – surely that can be worked into your schedule at some point.

As he’s developing his prayer life, he can work on strengthening his will and temperance. He can offer prayers to be led to a woman who will honor and respect him as he will honor and respect her. And don’t forget that the Church has the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You don’t plan on failing and then go to Confession – that would be a sin in and of itself. But it does not have to be the end of your relationship with God, not when He offers us Himself through the person of the priest. A saint is not measured by the number of times he or she doesn’t fall, but by the number of times he or she gets up after falling.

My advice would be to tell him to
Abandon to God all that is displeasing
to Him, God LOVES us and will not
leave us to our own devices, He made
laws and commandments to be obeyed
and loves us enough to send Jesus who
“bore our sins on His own body on the
tree” so that we MAY die to self and
live for righteousness!! See 1 Pet 2:24
Not only THAT, He gave us Jesus’
to live in us to give us the willingness
to live for God!!

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

Start small and take it one day at a time.

Frequent confessions and mass attendance lend graces that will him on his journey.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

a word of advice to him and all the young…from a 69 year old who left the church at
18 or 19 and returned about 15 years ago, by the grace of you know Who.
trust me with this…from personal experience…I cannot begin to tell you
how often I have kicked myself in the butt, in the head, in my heart, and asked myself
as many times why…why …why did I ever leave Thee dear God. and now I cannot make up to what
I now look back to as a completely wasted life, I relied solely on “my” decisions and
that IS a big mistake. if ever God shows me what His plans for me were if I hadn’t
left Him…i know I will see a great sorrow, shame, and continue to kick myself in the butt.
but, as they say…“one cannot cry over spilled milk”
tell your friend, or have him read this…like everything else in life one
has to learn the ‘basics’…and what he is complaining about are the basics. there
is so very, very, very…much more to spiritual growth with our guardian angel,
our Blessed Mother, the huge amount of Saints, and best of all Jesus. He and all the
rest are there waiting…AND…in time…not our time but His…you will surely see
that Jesus is, was and always will be Thee bestest of friends you will ever have.
start your journeys, by just plain old talking to Him like you do a human best friend.
As you continue with the “basics” you will discover, find, so much more where often now,
all I can say is WOW!!! we know we must feed our bodies with nourishment…so also
our souls…
there is the most thrilling part of growing spiritually that is quite undescribable
as the mysteries of God are. prayer is a gift from God, there are so many more
books from Catholic presses that are astounding, lives of the saints, etc., etc., etc.
Really all you young-ins you will never, never, ever be sorry to “nourish” your souls.
one of the advantages of growing old and retired is we do have more time to pray.
all of your schedules from the young people around me are filled…but.
really and truly, truly, truly…taking time to feed your souls really “is” THEE most
important thing you can do. simply saying throughout the day a short prayer, made
up by yourself…like Jesus help me…Mary help me…what now, Jesus?
there are saints who have said, receiving our Lord once a week was not enough.
they would go to Mass every day…why…to help them get through the day! some
walked 2-3 miles in rain or snow before dawn knowing that only with our Lord
would they have the strength to do all they had to do. it’s a much too noisy
and busy world…find a quiet spot…start with just 5 min…it will grow as you
grow. don’t be afraid when you stumble, because He will be waiting for you to
take His hand again…

well since no one has addressed this particular part yet

even if you don’t use birth control, there is nothing in cahotlic teaching that sayd everyone has to have a large family

you discern with your spouse and your circumstances.

if you cannot physically or psychologically handle more than 2 or three, there’s nothing wrong with that. not everyone is made to be able to have 10 kids

each family’s life is different and it does no good to try to compare people, or to say that someone else’s reasons aren’t good enough, just because you can do it

1ke gave a great response to you query. I would also like to add that I am a young college student (a male) as well and, because of my Catholic Faith and the presence of God in my life, I try to follow the ways of the Lord with diligence and have no complaints whatsoever. Therefore, it is not impossible to live a life for Christ at this age of you are truly up to it.

May God bless you all! :slight_smile:

Personally, I believe it would be better to focus on the needs of a loving marriage, between one man and woman, before God and until death do us part.

In the UK, about half of all fifteen year old children do not live with both their biological parents. Children can go through hell, when they see their parents arguing and splitting up.

This generation of children have a daunting task, to turn those numbers around, they should not follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents generations. I was born in 1949, and I probably blame my generation for the cause of todays problems, the 60s and 70s were promiscuous times.

I actually love this post. I think a lot of young people feel this way. I can honestly relate. Some of Catholic doctrine clashes with what is the norm. Sometimes I rather not all the rules because it is a reminder of how I fail again. It can be easy to adopt an all-or-nothing perspective if you are in his boat. I thought eating meat on Fridays was only for Lent, though? Being told the rules are for your own good sounds like people are incapable of making the right judgment themselves. Sometimes it feels like the Catholic Church commends dependency and the strictness of it’s teachings can feel like they are too intrusive in people’s personal lives. What do to do? I do not know. I just know I feel VERY SIMILARLY to him.

The truth is always difficult to swallow. As someone who is struggling and becoming less stubborn about the church’s teachings, all those things feel like blows, especially if most people you know live happily contrary to the church’s law. It leaves me wondering well if X,Y, Z is so bad, when are these people so happy. God does not punish us in our ignorance, why learn more and be held accountable for more. I have issues with accepting reality and obedience in general. Doctrine can leave you feeling you will never be good enough. Why not wait until I am old where following Christ will be more necessary and easy? I am a healthy young woman now. Then I get scared - I could die tragically tomorrow and I do not want to go to hell. If I cannot follow God now, what makes me think it would be easy for me in the future? I have a sad story about someone young that I love. He wants to sin as much as he can now then get his act together once he gets married. Will that ever happen? I think not. I hope it does. It is more difficult for young people in our culture to follow Christ. There are saints who have. I do feel guilty for being unwilling to give things for Christ who suffered and died for me on a cross.

Should we pursue something that is difficult?
Morality is about right relationship with God. Relationship. Not merely following rules. Rules (morality) leads us to union with God.

1730 God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him."26

If you can speak frankly with him, ask him if he would consider marrying a promiscuous woman who is just looking for any old husband.
Why not? Very little difficulty involved for him. Hook up and marry. Easy. Done.

We know this is a disastrous scenario, yet frequently our relationship with God is held to the lowest standards possible. We want our god with the least discomfort possible.

Ask him, how do you expect to unite with someone infinitely good like God, when you have not put on your best behaviour, and your best clothes? Are you promiscuous, ready to give yourself to the first god that comes along???

Morality is about establishing right relationship with God and others. Our own lives are enriched when we enter this struggle, because we realize “the good” we are called to by practicing virtue and making moral decisions. Through right relationship with God, and following his moral precepts, we can realize our own beatitude, and help others in the same way.

Is God worth the effort, or is he not worth it? If he wants a true relationship with God, this is life-changing question.
If he decides he wants to respond to God, he will find the help he needs to overcome moral struggles. For God, anything is possible, even those things our culture has deceived us are impossible.

Are they so happy? (people living sinful lifestyles, that is.)

“Researchers find that nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, and more than half receive at least two prescriptions. Mayo Clinic researchers report that antibiotics, antidepressants and painkiller opioids are the most common prescriptions given to Americans.”

As a nurse, many of the people I talk to are on antidepressants, for anxiety, depression or anxiety attacks. Of course they’re anxious! They know they’re going to die. That’s terrifying.
Of the ones not taking antidepressants, many of them mention their trust in God, and make no bones about it,.
I have no problem with folks who suffer from clinical depression and need medications, But many people just don’t want to face life or death because they have no hope. We need to let them in on the secret.


This is it: the modern person’s problem.

In this day and age we are quite soft, used to comfort and appalled at any hint of having to make a sacrifice and putting something above our wants. It is really difficult to follow God with this mindset. It is what it is, times are such.

Being a Christian means picking up the cross, and being transformed through suffering. That is how saints are made and we are all called to be saints.

I’m not sure that sugarcoating things is helpful. People need their assumptions challenged so they understand what following Christ really means. There is no intrusion into personal life. This is secular talk, not the Christian faith. We can’t compartmentalise. God wants 100% from us.

Thanks to all of you for your helpful insights and perspectives. I was hoping there was a simple: “follow the rules and you and your Catholic spouse will live happily ever after”

It is easy to believe in the Catholicism for so many uncountable reasons: by miracle stories(like this person’s perspective) or by several other ways: by scriptural prophecies foretelling Christ centuries in advance of His coming, by the witnesses of the martyred apostles and saints, by logic or by a gut feeling that Catholicism holds the keys to Heaven.

The problem for is the execution of that belief: taking that faith - turning into hope and a lifetime of Charity including Obedience.

The problem of a believer is that being Christ’s disciple simply is carrying a heavy cross every day.

For those choosing the vocation of marriage: it means embracing God’s command to be fruitful and to multiply - trusting in Jesus’ assurance, that God our Father feeds his birds, so he will feed all His children too. It means accepting a house full of kids and exhausting oneself in managing every aspect of that - countless poopy diapers, constant noise, teaching the faith (all 10 commandments and 5 precepts of the Church), good-hearted discipline to ensure kids don’t get spoiled - giving, giving & giving oneself to exhaustion while still being kind and loving (esp. controlling one’s temper). It means spending a lot of money on them. It means being a good employee (or boss if you run a business) to strive to earn the money needed relying heavily on God’s providence. It means your weekends are consumed by your kids. It means your days of rest are spent with your family. It means not fantasizing about other women who are not worn out by many children. It means a mutual commitment to no divorce - ever: no matter how haggered and stressed you become as your children age you and wear you out.

In embracing the fullness of marriage, it means giving up one’s dreams to enjoy the luxuries you could have had otherwise. It means slavery to Christ’s cross - plain and simple.

So what is the consolation? What is the ‘good news’ beyond having all the sex with the young beautiful Catholic girl you just married?

The good news is this:

  1. Assurance that every good deed, even every cup of water you give your kids, is counted and added as merit in the Kingdom of Heaven - the same Heaven that Jesus prepares us mansions for.
  2. It means gaining Heaven, with the help of God - as the prodigal son’s brother did. That is not by asking for Mercy at the end of one’s life, but by following Christ’s example in life - by meriting the title of “Disciple of Christ” on top of the unmerited award “Mercy of Christ”.
  3. It means that Christ will Comfort you with Peace not of this world - a heavenly peace when one prays - especially before the Blessed Sacrament. You may not get the joys of sailing on luxury Cruises, but I assure you, you will receive Christ’s Peace that will make you feel so good inside, not even those in the fancy suites will be able to match that feeling. This is Christ’s promise and is true. And… it will be received often in quiet prayer at the ends of the day (at Mass, before the Eucharist, reading Scripture, rosary, in song, in deep quiet prayer).
  4. By embracing your vocation to marriage, you may skip Purgatory due to the number of sufferings endured.
  5. If God grants many children and grandchildren - near the end of your life, you will not be lonely.
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