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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > November 2011 > If You Want to be a Good Person, It Does Matter What You Believe
Current rating: 4.9 (7 ratings)
Robert Kaiser
I agree wholeheartedly that it does matter what one believes. Father, what is the consequence of incorrect belief? What are the consequences - I think if we want people to care, we need to tell them why it matters.
12/6/2011 10:45:33 AM
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Dave Newell
I think that our sense of reason enables us to sort some fact from fiction. And in that vein, there are aspects of dogma and doctrine which strike us as untrue. I strain to understand what you'd have us do in the face of finding something less than credible. By faith in this case, do you advocate that we lie to ourselves and/or God? I just can't see an honest path to God being predicated on the assertion that things I know to be false are true. And I don't think I want to worship a God who focuses more on whether I lie to myself than whether or not I am a good person.
12/6/2011 3:03:12 PM
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J. Fraser Field
I think you miss the point.

Father's not saying "believe in what you don't believe", (where does he say or even imply this) he's merely saying that belief matters profoundly. It is not incidental.

We may think we can just assert our goodness in a vacuum of philosophy and faith, but history suggests society and culture are profoundly effected by the foundational beliefs and assumptions at the root of a person's life.

Trying to believe something you don't believe is lying - a sin.

You wouldn't even be accepted into the Catholic Church if you did that.
12/7/2011 1:35:24 PM
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Sadly,this is what our society is lowering itself to.The basic,simplistic act of treating the other person with simple respect has degenerated into a "what's in it for me" attitude.All one has to do is turn on their t.v. God have mercy on what this world is becomming.
12/9/2011 2:42:52 AM
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Jim Maguire
Your article reminded me of "Man or Rabbit?" by C.S. Lewis.
12/13/2011 5:40:02 PM
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Really great article, thanks!
12/14/2011 12:16:02 AM
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Mike Haessler
Right on Father!
12/14/2011 9:01:15 PM
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Even Jesus' closest disciples left Him when he said unless you eat my body and drink my blood, there is no life in you. This is a hard teaching. The disciples that left Him must have thought too that this was false because they relied on their own intellect and not on God's. Thankfully His Apostles trusted Him and knew he had the words of truth. They put their faith in Him and we need to put our faith in His Catholic Church. Jesus didn't come to make us comfortable, he came to make us uncomfortable. Fr. Barron! Keep up God's work and continue to speak the Truth with boldness.
12/21/2011 8:43:09 AM
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Maria McManus
I once thought of myself as a good person and I thought there were areas of my life which were none of God's business! I lived an dual life - doing what I thought was expected of me (at work, at Church, in society) and at the same time filled with fears, insecurity, wounds which manifested themselves whenever I felt threatened or challenged.
In 2001, God blessed me with a shattered heart and evenything changed! Vividly I remember entering my childhood parish of St. Ann's, where I found Our Holy God in person and I knew for the very first time I was a sinner, unworthy to be in His presence expect like the Prodigal 'son' (daughter) He welcomed me home.
Too many Catholics do not have a personal relationship with Our Father in Heaven, with Jesus Our Lord and King and with the Holy Spirit our Paraclete, our Dynamite! When Christians recognize the Holiness of God and their own sinfulness then lives are transformed as Rom. 12:1-2 - our minds are renewed and we truly desire to live only in the good and acceptable and perfect will of Our Father.
Thank you Father in Heaven for using Fr. Barron to continue to challenge every Christian, every person to pursue a life of holiness and live in the very heart of Your will! A Blessed and Holy Christmas!
12/26/2011 4:46:52 PM
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Joseph Condon
Father: I think you have confused Mr. Kant’s categorical imperative with Matthew’s version of the Golden Rule. Mr. Kant saw rational, self-determining people as ends in themselves rather than as means to an end. He saw people as subjects, not as useful objects. Mr. Kant thought our inherent dignity requires we always act towards another as if the principle governing our behavior ought to be a universal law. Matthew, on the other hand, wrote, “So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; . . .” Matt. 7:12 Of the two men, Matthew is the utilitarian.
1/1/2012 10:18:33 AM
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Father only mentioned Kant's religious, not moral, philosophy. And in this respect, his statements are correct.

Also, the passage in Matthew does not state "So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them (so that they will reciprocate...)" There's nothing utilitarian or consequentialist in that verse.

Kant's moral philosophy is grounded on respecting others as autonomous subjects. While this is indeed a worthy pursuit, it pales in comparison to the Christian ethic, which is well put by Father: radical self-gift, living for the sake of the other.
1/9/2012 9:26:58 PM
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I think ethics are definitive, and a nice safe place to hide in. Love requires Hope, and the vulnerability of Belief goes to the very heart of true Liberty, a scary place where pride is no longer master. Wonderful article! God Speed!
1/20/2012 4:31:26 PM
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Dennis Trainor Sr
I believe this Catholicism Series is what we have needed for a long time. Keep it up. God Bless
1/20/2012 5:17:25 PM
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At esssence, the it does not matter what you believe argument is ecumenism... something which sounds good but has its dangers, as this post points out. Thank you for this post.
1/26/2012 9:41:06 AM
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Chris Wickern, sinner
You know, everytime I think a Church teaching wrong, I turn to the Catechism. I research the Church teachings and why it is thought and taught in this way. So far, I have found that it wasn't the Church's teaching that was wrong, it was my misconception.
1/27/2012 1:35:43 PM
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A large number of people today do not know the "right action or decision" to make in their lives. Truth is illuminated by your relationship with his Church. The more time we spend away from the Mass, the Sacraments, the Commandments and the Beatitudes the likelihood of us remaining "Good Catholics" is slim to none. My life included a short-lived episode when I attempted the "human experiment" of living without God that resulted in the destruction and my family. God's Grace and his merciful Love saved me from the dark side. By trusting in his love and obeying his will I am now living a joyful life!
2/3/2012 1:33:51 AM
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I would invite you to look to societies in which belief in a Creator God has been and is operative. These societies have just as long a list of historical atrocities. The logic in your proof is flawed kind sir.
2/3/2012 11:47:40 AM
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Patrick O
Fr. Barron has not denied that Christians have committed agregious acts. To bring that point up is to miss the point, my friend.
He is saying that our society's unique awareness of the inherent worth of the human person, our entire catalogue of human rights, has grown out our Judeo-Christian intellectual/spiritual heritage.
2/4/2012 7:41:07 PM
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Patrick O
Fr. Barron has not denied that Christians have committed agregious acts. To bring that point up is to miss the point, my friend.
He is saying that our society's unique awareness of the inherent worth of the human person, our entire catalogue of human rights, has grown out our Judeo-Christian intellectual/spiritual heritage.
2/4/2012 7:47:22 PM
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What a wonderful forum. Thank you for providing a place for thoughtful commentary. The time for this type of questioning is something I have missed in other Bible based studies.
2/10/2012 8:45:22 AM
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John Birman
I would like to respond to 2 comments made re: Fr Barrons Article. I am only objecting to a statement contained in each comment as most of what they said, I believe is valid.
Comment 1) "reason enables us to sort some fact from fiction..there are aspects of dogma and doctrine which strike us as untrue.. I just can't see an honest path to God being predicated on the assertion that things I know to be false are true." - I think this comment is a common one re: Theology. Basically it is saying "I don't believe this to be true, therefore I can't follow it" The objection to this attitude is that it entails one being in the position of a Judge. One holding all the facts,(which very few if any have), a position which Catholics would say was granted to Peter by Christ, and reserved exclusively to the Pope.It is basically the Protestant attitude, ie If I can't see it, or believe it, I can't follow it. Reason does enable one to differentiate much, but she is all too often a "Painted Lady" easily swayed and corrupted.
Comment 2) the other comment was "Trying to believe something you don't believe is lying - a sin". I don't believe that trying to do anything positive like working at or trying to believe some difficult Doctrine, and possibly failing is a Sin. Maybe giving up trying is. Faith is a Awesome Gift which none of us has earned, and one which many deep down in their hearts greatly desire.How lucky or better yet Blessed we are to have any, at all. I think the lying part would be to say you believe when you don't.
I think we need to pray for Faith, pray to accept that there are people Smarter, Holier, and better informed than we are, and possibly most of all pray for the Grace to be exposed to and accept their insight even if we don't understand it. Socrates said he knew one thing - that he didn't know anything. Luckily we have one thing he didn't - the assurance that Peter has the Authority to Declare this True and that not True.
2/13/2012 4:41:10 PM
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@ David Newell: Please take a few minutes to learn about Catholic assent. You can start with this URL:
2/20/2012 10:38:37 AM
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What is Wrong with our Political System:
Conflict of interest- Money vs Will of the people= greed, gluttony (over-consumtion) and sin

Greed and gluttony (over-consumption to the point of waste)are two of the seven deadly sins, root sins, and leads to demise eventually. At least the this writer is reporting "somewhat accurately, where the party has gone so wrong."

... Morning Jay: Democrats, Inc.
6:00 AM, Feb 17, 2012 • By JAY COST

....The Democratic party used to be the party opposed to big business. Andrew Jackson was reviled by business elites, and William Jennings Bryan scared the living daylights out of them. Neither of those men would be caught dead asking for money from such lobbyists and bankers, who would never give them a dime, anyway!
But that is obviously no longer true. What we have instead is a party whose leaders simultaneously press the case for “fairness” while giving unfair access to wealthy donors such as these. And that has basically been the way of the world for the last 30 years; since the mid-1980s, the Democrats in Congress have usually matched or exceeded the GOP in terms of contributions from business and professional PACs....

It does matter what you beieve, and how you practice what you believe.
2/20/2012 11:41:23 AM
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Bryan M.
There's a quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola that very clearly and beautifully demonstrates his devotion to the Church... It's one I'm really going to try to take to heart this Lent: "That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity with the Church herself, if she shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black. For we must undoubtedly believe, that the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of the Orthodox Church His Spouse, by which Spirit we are governed and direction to Salvation is the same;"
2/21/2012 1:04:09 AM
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SPA Knight
Unfortunately for all of us, Catholics are finally speaking up on moral issues in the public square but we have lost a temendous amount of credibility due to the sexual scandals. I believe that our priest are perhaps held to a much higher standard but then again they should. In terms of the Catholic having secular viewpoints on matters of morality, I can tell you that priests are afraid to teach from the puplpit. Catholics in the pews need to hear what the teachings of the church are on difficult subject matters that include abortion, contraception, chastity, pornography, adultery. I loved your series on the 7 sins and the latest "Catholicism" series but we ar not hearing that stuff on Sundays! The new evangelization must include reaching the average parishioner that gets more religion from network news than from their pastors at times. Respectfully submitted.
3/5/2012 12:26:08 PM
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@ Bryan M.
That is a perfect motto for a slave.
3/8/2012 3:09:51 AM
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It doesn't matter what you believe just as long as you're a good person is perhaps one of the pillar beliefs within Protestant denominations who are falling into what is termed liberal theology.... it undermines the dignity of every human life and creates a false and perhaps even a narcissistic or idolatrous view of what love is.
3/9/2012 3:34:21 AM
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Well said, Father. And much needed in this secular culture of the "I'm Spiritual but not religious" masses. But I have one question, Why do you not use the word Communism when describing "the secular totalitarianisms of the last century". You name Lenin, but stop short of naming communism as a great evil. Just wondering about that. The Catholic faithful really need some guidance on this particular issue of politics, communism/marxism/socialism, as its tentacles continue to penetrate, even sweep the globe, including policy and legislation in America. We know priests in America are divided and we get drastically opposing message depending the parish or diocese we attend. Thank you. Any comment would be much appreciated.
1/22/2013 4:11:33 PM
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