The End of “Should”

“You should be doing (blank)”

You’re probably used to hearing the word “should” a lot. Whether it be from your friends telling you about how you should be up to date with the latest TikTok trend, or how you should come hang out at the next sports game to cheer your school on. Maybe it’s your parents telling you about how you should be cleaning your room, or a teacher saying that you should be studying from your notes in class to prepare for the next test coming up. You’ve maybe even heard it from your youth minister telling you how you should sign up and come to the next retreat your youth group is putting on (shout out to my youth minister for not giving up on getting me to come to my youth group’s retreat after the many times I said no). This word has become such a part of our vocabulary in life as well as part of the obligations we set before ourselves to fulfill.

What about your faith life? Does the word “should” play a role there? Striving for holiness comes with obligations such as attending Mass, receiving the sacraments, and prayer — but the shouldn’t be the basis for our faith.

Prior to many conversion experiences, I went through in high school, being Catholic was very much part of my family life growing up. We prayed as a family, attended Mass as a family, and became heavily involved with my hometown parish community. I didn’t give it much of a second thought of being so heavily involved as a kid, and I remember enjoying the time I spent at church when I was little. Over time as I got older, I found myself annoyed at the little things that came about with the faith. I sought to escape from hearing what I “should” be doing to maintain my faith life and made excuses as to why I wasn’t going to do what I “should” be doing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would not be where I am in my faith today without my parents raising me in the faith, and without the support system of friends and my youth group to journey with. Yet, even though the work and efforts of my parents were what brought me into the faith, there was not a strong desire in my heart to live it out for any reason other than “I should live it out.” Without any desire to pursue a relationship with the Lord, I failed to truly acknowledge the invitation God laid before me to enter into a relationship with him as my Father.

The Invitation and the Gift

Spending time with one another is pivotal in a relationship. It’s easy to overlook this when being caught up in the ‘busyness’ of the faith, and viewing how we partake in our faith as things to accomplish whether it be the weekly commitment of going to Mass or even trying to make it to confession whenever possible. Yet through this ‘checklist’ mentality, the truth remains: God desires and invites us into relationship with him.

It’s through this immense love he has for us that he’s given us the ability to partake in relationship with Him through the gifts of prayer, the Mass, and the sacraments. These are gifts the Lord has given us to abide in relationship with him. Even though these are obligations we partake in, these moments we get to spend with the Lord are meant to lead us to find true happiness and freedom in the one who gave his life for us — not because we should, but because He is who He is.

What if you said yes?

Communion with God is what should motivate us to partake in the gift of the Mass, the gift of the sacraments, and the ability to dive deeper in relationship with the Lord through prayer. To better enter into this, here are some questions to reflect and consider:

What motivates me to live out the faith in pursuit after the Lord? Does a desire to enter in relationship with the Lord motivate me to be active in my faith? Am I allowing myself to enter into a time of prayer more eager to spend it with the Lord, or am I yearning for the time to be over?

Am I making God a priority in life? Does he come first? Am I making enough space in my day to spend time with him? Are there other obligations taking more importance than making the space to pray, to attend mass, or receive the sacraments?

What if you said yes? Because the Lord is inviting me into a relationship with him, what is there to lose when it comes to giving up an amount of time in my day to spend with him? Am I willing to dive in completely in my pursuit after him? Is there anything that may be holding me back from doing so?

Take some time to write down your answers and take them with you to the Lord. Ask him for the grace and clarity to freely enter deeper in relationship with him. Whenever you may feel as if Mass or prayer is something you should be doing, rather than having the desire to enter freely into time with him, return to these questions. Christ extends the invitation out for us to enter in relationship with him. Are we willing to say yes?