Being a Catholic presumes certain obligations and duties, and I am not speaking about the precepts of the Church. The precepts are important, but there are other obligations that we do not always think about. One of which is accountability. As a member of the Church that Jesus founded 2000 years ago, we are called to see each other as spiritual family. The terms “brother” and “sister” are supposed to mean something to the laity, and when the priest is called “father” it is more than a title, but a relational term.
I find it ironic that most protestants are willing to use the terms “brother” and “sister” for each other, but no one is allowed to be the “father” of the community. Almost like their theology is saying “we are rebellious children who refuse to submit to a parent because we do things our way”. There are some Catholics, however, who are living as practical protestants (and not just by having poor liturgies). They do not want to be accountable as a member of the family, so they find ways to live in rebellion, but make it appear that they are faithful.
The most problematic way that this is done is by consistently attending Mass, but avoiding any connection with others, and especially with the priest. When the priest tries to reach out to some people and they consistently avoid interaction and conversation with him, it is clear that something is wrong. People who resist accountability will often run when their self-imposed isolation is noticed. They will leave a parish and wander elsewhere until they find another place that they can “attend” but still hide in; they live like a “lone ranger” and say things like “I just don’t like crowds” or “I’m too busy for that fellowship stuff”.
I am not saying that every parishioner needs to be involved in every detail of parish life, but those who intentionally avoid parish life, are living like practical protestants: “don’t tell me what to do, I decide my faith for myself”. Let us each look at our hearts and our motivations so that we do not slip into this attitude. Let us willingly accept our accountability that God has given to us, and embrace it as what it is: a means to our eternal salvation.