What is a rosewater Catholic?

Pope Francis recently exhorted the faithful not to be “rosewater Catholics”. What does that expression mean?

Pope Francis: “Unfortunately, efforts have often been made to blur faith in the Resurrection of Jesus and doubts have crept in, even among believers. It is a little like that “rosewater” faith, as we say; it is not a strong faith. And this is due to superficiality and sometimes to indifference, busy as we are with a thousand things considered more important than faith, or because we have a view of life that is solely horizontal.” [General Audience 3 April 2013]

L’Osservatore Romano: And shame is the sin of those who say: “Yes, I have faith, but I cover it
up, so it isn’t plainly seen…”. It is, the Pontiff stated, “like that ‘rosewater’ faith, as our forebears
would say. Because I’m ashamed to live it boldly”. But, he emphasized, “this is not faith”. [30 January 2015]

Pope Francis: “If you do not go forth with the power of faith, with zeal, with the love of Jesus Christ, if you become soft — “rosewater” Christianity, weak — your faith will become downcast.” [12 March 2015]

Pope Francis: “And what is our faith like? Is it strong? Or is it at times a little like rosewater, a somewhat diluted faith? When problems arise are we brave like Peter or inclined to be lukewarm?” [L’Osservatore Romano 6 April 2013]

So we see from the above quotes that a rosewater Catholic is someone with a diluted faith, a weak faith. It may be superficial, or lukewarm. A rosewater Catholic may be a minimally-practicing Catholic, or one who does not regularly attend Mass. And someone who attends Mass, but never receive Communion — because they know that the way they live their lives is contrary to Catholic teaching, but they do not repent — may also be called a rosewater Catholic.

Don’t be a rosewater Catholic. Examine your conscience and find all the ways that your life is not in agreement with the teachings of Jesus and His Church. Do not make excuses. Do not rationalize your sins. Make a good Confession out of love for God and neighbor. Then strive to live the faith fully, without watering down the Gospel message.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to What is a rosewater Catholic?

  1. Rico says:

    Hi Ron,
    Thanks for this website and the time you put in to educate Catholics about the Faith. It is not an easy task, especially for those of us who must unlearn the errors of the past, and re-learn what we should already have known. The Catholic blogosphere out there is a minefield. There are many authors who are good to read, but might be teaching heresies. Can you please put up a list of websites or authors you think are solid in the Faith? And perhaps also those that one needs to stay away from. It doesn’t have to be a long list, perhaps just a “top 10/ worst 10” should do.

    I once got mired in a sedevacantist site by one named Fr. Cekada. Spent some sleepless nights wondering if he was right. It’s not something I would want on anyone, especially those whose only wish is to live the authentic Catholic faith. Getting into sedevacantist arguments just sucks the time and energy from you when you could have used it for evangelizing lapsed and non-Catholics instead. Having someone to guide you which authors to trust and not trust will also help you avoid many, many pitfalls. Thanks for the help…

    • Ron Conte says:

      The only fallen human person whose teaching one can entrust with your very salvation is the Pope — whosoever is Pope, whether liberal or conservative, saint or sinner. Jesus promises that no Pope will ever lead us astray. So we trust the Magisterium generally, the Ecumenical Councils, and the Popes, as well as all the teachings of the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

      By comparison, any theologian can err, including myself. We cannot secure the Faith by putting out lists of theologians who are to be trusted. As for those whose writings are filled with grave theological errors, see my past posts for guidance.

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