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.
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