In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” Jesus also reminds us that we will be hated for following him – so we should never bother to pursue the worlds adoration and acceptance. What we should do is adore God and do as Jesus commanded, “If you love me, follow my commandments”. He did not say to do what pleased the world or to do what is popular, but to do as he commanded. This is a lot harder than it sounds.
You should understand that it is not in being easy that it holds great value. Instead, it holds great value and appeal because it is hard to follow Jesus. It is difficult to be bound to a separate set of morals and ethics from the people and the society in which you must exist. It is trying to be invested in obligations like Sacramental Marriage, that the world around you cannot even comprehend since they have only the palest of analogues in what they also call Matrimony. They will even think you crazy or daft because your understanding of the marital obligation is so far out of phase with theirs.
Yes, to be Catholic is Countercultural. It sets you apart from the world. It leaves you heading in one direction while the world heads another. It very often leads you in opposition to the world and social norms around you. From things as simple as not eating meat on Fridays (at least in Lent – if not year round), opposing abortion, refusing artificial birth control, to things as complicated as refusing to participate in an invalid marriage (Divorced and remarried without an annulment, Catholics marrying outside the church without dispensation, gay marriages, etc…) even when family are involved. It means running to an adoration chapel instead of the local bar when you have seemingly insoluble problems.
It is a life of sacrifice and service for those of us called to marriage. However, with that sacrifice and service also comes the greatest fulfillment and joy a human can feel. While at times the obligations of the faith can seem to weigh you down and expose you to all manner of ridicule and degradation – it is those moments when it lifts you to heights you never imagined that stick in your mind and set your soul ablaze. The rewards of following His commandments can be beyond your capacity to imagine, especially when you come from a social system that thinks you simple or worse, deluded for not following them in their defiance of God. You see the unhappiness, and the misery they suffer with daily for choosing against God and yet still they persist. They become like a man banging his head into a brick wall until he passes out from the pain and falls bloodied to the ground.
You have a choice – choose fulfillment or emptiness. Oh, you may think the other life is full – but it’s nothing more than an illusion. Some of us have to take that path a long time before we learn that there is no real fulfillment there, but many of us have already figured that out. If you’re ready, it’s time to try something new and different– something that goes against the grain and all progressive logic. Be countercultural and live the Catholic faith in your daily life. It will not be easy. It will not draw the worlds accolades, but it will fill you to overflowing from the inside out with both purpose and joy, even through the pain in your life.