More the point, the standards make you practice and practice makes — it doesn’t make you perfect, not in this world, but it does bring you a little closer to perfection. You learn what to do by doing what the Church requires, even if that’s all you do. You learn how to do it well and as you do it better, whatever it is, you find that it’s easier and more enjoyable than you’d realized. Going to bat is a lot more fun when you’re hitting .250 and getting the occasional double than when you’re hitting .200.
You find, for example, that ordering your calendar by the Church year, and going to Mass on days other than Sunday, brings the blessing of being able to step back from the rush and demands of the world’s calendar. It liberates you a little by widening your horizons. You begin to feel that another time judges the world’s time and puts it in its place. And getting yourself out to Mass on a day you don’t usually go helps you conquer a little your sloth and ego that would keep you home if the Church didn’t make you go out.
Finally, for people like me, at least, the minimalistic obedience to the rules becomes a way to move closer to Our Lord. In them I feel a concrete expression of his care and mercy. Start here, he tells me, with something I know you can do. The gifts I find there are all great gifts: forgiveness, instruction, encouragement, fellowship, the Body and Blood of the One who died for me. The Church’s minimalism is God’s way of saying “Taste and see.”
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For those who might be interested: The responses to my The Childish Ayn Rand prompted a reflection on where to place the ideas of Ayn Rand and her disciples: with the noxious ideologies we don’t engage as if they were legitimate ideas or with the legitimate ideas we disagree with. In Do Not Speak Well of Randianism, Monday’s editorial for Ethika Politika, I argue, as you may have guessed, for the first.