What it is to be a Christian
Do my Christian readers clearly understand what it truly is to be a Christian?
It certainly is not, as some people with slightly confused ideas appear to imagine, merely to abstain from murdering or plundering your neighbor. To do this is just to escape being a villain, that is all.
To be a Christian is not merely to be a good father, a good husband, a good son, a good workman, an industrious and honorable man, a good comrade, etc.; that is only to be an honest man, and a Christian is something more than an honest man.
To be a Christian is not merely to respect religion, to consider it good and useful, to acknowledge that Christianity has inspired noble deeds; that is simply to judge fairly, and to possess the good sense of an intelligent man: in order to hold such opinions as these nothing is needed but to rise above vulgar prejudices, and to despise the pointless sneers of a shallow philosophy.
Lastly, to be a Christian is not merely to observe certain exterior practices, such as to hear Mass regularly, to abstain, or even to go to confession. These practices, although very excellent, are nevertheless only means by which to become and to remain a true Christian. Then what is the Christian life? and what is a true Christian?
A Christian is a baptized man, who believes with his whole heart all that is taught, in the name of Jesus Christ, by the Pope and the Bishops, who have been entrusted by the Saviour to spread the Christian religion throughout the world ; a man, moreover, who observes, as far as human weakness will allow, all the commandments of God and the laws of the Church ; and who earnestly strives to the best of his power to imitate Jesus Christ, his God, his Saviour, and his great example.
A Christian is a man who loves God before all things, who would choose to suffer anything rather than offend Him, who detests sin that is required of us by God; does He not deserve it from us? Life passes quickly! Let us work while it is day: blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching; a few hours of weariness, a few hours of brave and patient fighting, and then, to the passing trials of this earthly probation succeeds the eternal rest, the unutterable gladness promised by the Saviour.
The Faith that Never Dies