Posts Tagged ‘Conscience’

“Catholax” by Deacon James H. Toner

In 07 Observations on 2016/09/09 at 12:00 AM

What we think is the right road
I go to Mass every Sunday, usually. But when Mass is over, I have a life to lead as I want. I’m a Catholic, but I’m not a fanatic or a zealot.

But it’s the wrong road

Vice President Joe Biden is Catholic, as are five of the eight current justices of the Supreme Court, about 160 members of Congress, and about a dozen of the 35 (or so) people President Barack Obama has named to his cabinet. One might conclude that U.S. public policy must be well grounded in Catholic moral and social teaching. Not so, of course.

The reason that our public policy often directly contravenes Church teaching is that so many of our “leading” Catholics are, well, “Catholax.”

Laxism (from the Latin for “slackness”) is a 17th-century concept in moral theology that excused Catholics from their moral duties on very slight and insufficient grounds. When Catholic teaching authorities (ranging from parents and priests to college faculties) abandon the inculcation of moral virtue, replacing it with casuistry – case studies and weak-kneed or perplexed ethical “analysis” – laxism results.

Modern laxism dates at least to 1960 when presidential candidate John F. Kennedy declared, “I do not speak for my Church on public matters; and the Church does not speak for me.”

If, as we Catholics believe, Our Lord is head of the Church, then denying the authority of the Church is tantamount to denying the authority of Christ.

So often, all of us – not just politicians – find it much easier to acknowledge the “authority” of a “replacement supreme being.” That replacement may be the idol or mammon of power, prestige, pelf (money) or politics, but the replacement of God or of God’s authority is always at the heart of sin. When we substitute anything for God, we endorse that substitute as divine, and we begin the worship of false gods (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 398).

Worshipping spurious gods invariably leads to treating the world and the things of the world as more sacred than what is truly divine. Wrote philosopher Peter Kreeft: “The Church needs to recover some moxie, some chutzpah. We need to stop being nice and conforming to the world, saying, ‘We’re going to win you by being just like you.’ The Church has got to say, ‘We’re better than you – not better people than you, but we have a better worldview, a deeper truth. Our product’s the best one on the market.’ The Church has been so bedeviled by the American religion of egalitarianism that we are terrified to claim superiority. Only if you believe you have something better can you be enthusiastic about it.”

Having become tepid about Catholic teaching, we find it convenient, perhaps necessary, simply to ignore the admonition found in Revelation: “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth” (3:16; see also Rom 12:11).

So Catholic enthusiasm may be necessary but, as St. John Paul II told us, enthusiasm alone is not sufficient: “The enthusiastic faith which enlivens your communities is a great enrichment, but it is not enough. It must be accompanied by a Christian formation which is solid, comprehensive and faithful to the Church’s Magisterium.”

“Catholax” may be remiss or negligent about doctrine. They may be vague or slack about the faith. They may be careless or indifferent about the liturgy. The effects of such moral atrophy, however, are well beyond the realm of what may be. The result of lax Catholicism is public policy unmistakably corrupted by “serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (CCC 407).

Our pre-eminent Catholic duty is always to be witnesses for Christ and for His Church (see CCC 2044). That duty is not minimized – in fact, it is maximized – when one enters the corridors of power and politics. We must speak for Christ and for His Church; and God have mercy upon our souls if we say that Christ and His Church do not speak for us. Courageous public witness requires our being steadfast in the faith: “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm” (Is 7:9; see also 1 Cor 16:13). No wonder the lax flicker and flutter, slip and slide, and toss and turn in every political wind: they have no moral anchor. So they are “children, carried by the waves and blown about by every shifting wind of the teaching of deceitful men, who lead others into error by the tricks they invent” (Eph 4:14; see also Col 2:8, Heb 13:9).

We are called “to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies” (CCC 2105). That is our duty, despite the siren songs of the world. And firmness – not laxity – in the faith is our trust (2 Tm 1:14) and our joy (Rom 12:12).

Deacon James H. Toner serves at Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro.

– See more at: http://www.catholicnewsherald.com/104-news/viewpoints/713-deacon-james-h-toner-catholax#sthash.exHxfnqs.dpuf”


“The strong man will at times suffer, but he stands firm”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2015/07/24 at 12:00 AM
The facade appears full of strength and resilience. But how much softness and lack of willpower there is within! You must hold to your determination not to let your virtues become fancy dress but clothes which define your character. (Furrow, 777)

No man, whether he be a Christian or not, has an easy life. To be sure, at certain times it seems as though everything goes as we had planned. But this generally lasts for only a short time. Life is a matter of facing up to difficulties and of experiencing in our hearts both joy and sorrow. It is in this forge that man can acquire fortitude, patience, magnanimity and composure.

The person with fortitude is one who perseveres in doing what his conscience tells him he ought to do. He does not measure the value of a task exclusively by the benefit he receives from it, but rather by the service he renders to others. The strong man will at times suffer, but he stands firm; he may be driven to tears, but he will brush them aside. When difficulties come thick and fast, he does not bend before them. (Friends of God, 77

A Man for This Season, and All Seasons

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2015/02/20 at 12:00 AM

 by  Charles J. Chaput

within Religion and the Public Square

December 19th, 2012 http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/12/7440/

There is only one Thomas More: A man of tender nobility, subtle intellect, and forceful conviction, all rooted in profound fidelity to the larger commonwealth of Christendom outside and above Tudor England.

A day after the 2012 Summer Olympics closed in London, Joseph Pearce wrote that he felt like his “body had been covered in slime. I also felt a great sense of gratitude that I had shaken the smut and dirt from my sandals and had left the sordid culture of which I was once a part.”

Given the grand sweep of British history, those are harsh words from a former Londoner. An English Catholic convert and author, Pearce is now a resident Fellow at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. But he merely said what many people thought: that the Olympic closing ceremony they watched on global television was one long liturgy of overripe vulgarity, a jamboree of cheesy and offensive pop culture. In effect, it showcased a nation grasping to reinvent itself by escaping back to adolescence while ignoring its own real past.

This shouldn’t surprise us. Europe’s work of reinvention, or self-delusion, has been going on for decades, not only in Britain but across the continent. One of the key obstacles to the process is the depth of Europe’s Christian roots. As recent popes and many others have pointed out, there really is no “Europe” without its historic Christian grounding. Anyone wanting a new Britain, or a new Europe, needs to get rid of the old one first. So diminishing Christianity and its influence becomes a priority. And that includes rewriting the narrative on many of Christianity’s achievements and heroes.

By way of evidence: Consider the case of Thomas More, lawyer, humanist, statesman and saint; martyred by England’s King Henry VIII in 1535; canonized in 1935; celebrated in Robert Bolt’s brilliant 1960 play A Man for All Seasons; and more recently trashed as proud, intolerant, and devious in Hilary Mantel’s best-selling 2009 novel, Wolf Hall, now set for release as a 2013 BBC2 miniseries.

Critics of More are not new. His detractors had a voice well before his beheading. As Henry VIII’s chancellor, he earned a reputation as a hammer of heretics and a fierce opponent of Martin Luther and William Tyndale. Yet Erasmus of Rotterdam revered More as a scholar and friend. Jonathan Swift, the great Anglo-Irish writer, described him as “a person of the greatest virtue this kingdom [of England] ever produced.” When Pope John Paul II named Thomas More as patron saint of statesmen in 2000, he cited More’s witness to the “primacy of truth over power” at the cost of his life. He noted  that even outside the Church, More “is acknowledged as a source of inspiration for a political system which has as its supreme goal the service of the human person.”

Ten years later, speaking to leaders of British society in Westminster Hall, Pope Benedict XVI returned to the same theme. Benedict noted that More “is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose ‘good servant’ he was, because he chose to serve God first.”

So which is it: More the saint or More the sinner? Was he the ruthless, sexually repressed rage addict suggested by historians like G.R. Elton, fearful of change and driven by helpless fury? Or was he the humble and generous “man for all seasons” praised by his friend Robert Whittinton and so many others among his contemporaries? Were there really twoThomas Mores: the young, open-minded humanist, and the older royal courtier, gripped by religious fanaticism?

The moral integrity of More’s life has been argued with persuasive skill in the various works of Gerard Wegemer, among many others. And Peter Ackroyd’s fine biography, The Life of Thomas More, vividly captures the whole extraordinary man–his virtues, his flaws, and the decisive nature of his moment in history. Travis Curtright has now added to the luster of the real More’s legacy with his excellent new book The One Thomas More

As the title suggests,Curtright sees Thomas More’s life as a consistent, organic record of Christian witness, start to finish; a thoroughly logical integration of humanism, piety, politics and polemical theology. There is only “one” Thomas More–a man of tender nobility, subtle intellect, and forceful conviction, all rooted in profound fidelity to the larger commonwealth of Christendom outside and above Tudor England. For Curtright, More embodied “the Erasmian ideal of wedding learning with virtue,” lived through a vigorous engagement with temporal affairs. He treats More’s scholarly critics with proper respect while methodically dismantling their arguments; and he does it by carefully unpacking and applying three of More’s most important written works: The Life of Pico Mirandola, The History of Richard III, and Utopia.

Curtright correctly sees that More’s real source of annoyance for many modern revisionist critics is his faith. If revisionists like Elton implicitly define “humanism” as excluding religious faith, then a man like Thomas More and the whole vast Christian tradition of integrating faith and reason become serious irritants. As Curtright observes:

The entire structures of the two Mores and real More theories congeal around [critics’] notions of a “true” humanism that excludes the possibility of faith and reason working together, a position transparently stated by [G.R.] Elton and one that influences contemporary condemnations of More as a “fanatic.”

Bickering over the “real” Thomas More has importance beyond the scholarly community. Why? Because just as the nutty premises of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code confused millions by reinventing the backstory of Christian belief, so too the novel Wolf Hall offers a revisionist Thomas More wrapped in popular melodrama. The author, Hilary Mantel, a lapsed Catholic whose disgust for the Church is a matter of public record, drew her portrait of More in part from the work of Elton. The “hero” of her novel is Thomas Cromwell–More’s tormentor, and in reality, a man widely loathed by his contemporaries as an administratively gifted but scheming and vindictive bully. Unlike the widespread European shock that greeted More’s judicial murder, few wept for Cromwell when he finally followed More to the scaffold.

The One Thomas More is not a book for beachside browsing. While it’s well-written, modest in size and rich in content, it is a scholarly effort. Some casual readers may find it heavier than they bargained for. But as a resource on Thomas More, it’s invaluable. Curtright’s final chapter, “Iconic Mores on Trial,” has special importance. It directly challenges Mantel’s loose treatment of facts, for which it deserves wide circulation.

Having said all this, Thomas More has been dead nearly 500 years. Why should his legacy matter today?

Barring relief from the courts, Christian entities, employers, and ministers in the coming year will face a range of unhappy choices. As the Affordable Care Act takes force and the HHS contraceptive mandate imposes itself on Christian life, Catholic and other Christian leaders can refuse to comply, either declining to pay the consequent fines in outright civil disobedience, or trying to pay them; they can divest themselves of their impacted Christian institutions; they can seek some unexplored compromise or way of circumventing the law; or they can simply give in and comply with the government coercion under protest.

Good people can obviously disagree on the strategy to deal with such serious matters. But the cost of choosing the last course–simply cooperating with the HHS mandate and its evil effects under protest–would be bitterly high and heavily damaging to the witness of the Church in the United States. Having fought loudly and hard for religious liberty over the past year, in part because of the HHS mandate, America’s Catholic bishops cannot simply grumble and shrug, and go along with the mandate now, without implicating themselves in cowardice. Their current resolve risks unraveling unless they reaffirm their opposition to the mandate forcefully and as a united body.  The past can be a useful teacher. One of its lessons is this: The passage of time can invite confusion and doubt–and both work against courage.

Again: Why does Thomas More still matter? Why does he matter right now? 

More’s final work, scribbled in the Tower of London and smuggled out before his death, was The Sadness of Christ. In it, he contrasts the focus and energy of Judas with the sleepiness of the Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. He then applies the parable to his own day and the abject surrender of England’s bishops to the will of Henry VIII: “Does not this contrast between the traitors and the Apostles present to us a clear and sharp mirror image . . . a sad and terrible view of what has happened through the ages from those times to our own? Why do not bishops contemplate in this scene their own somnolence?”

More urges the bishops not to fall asleep “while virtue and the faith are placed in jeopardy.” In the face of Tudor bullying, he begs them, “Do not be afraid”–this from a layman on the brink of his own execution.

Of course, that was then. This is now. America 2012 is a very long way, in so many different ways, from England 1535.

But readers might nonetheless profit in the coming months from some reflection on the life of Sir Thomas. We might also take a moment to remember More’s friend and fellow martyr, John Fisher, the only bishop who refused to bend to the king’s will; the man who shortly before his own arrest told his brother bishops: “. . . the fort has been betrayed even [by] them that should have defended it.”

Charles J. Chaput, a Capuchin Franciscan, is the archbishop of Philadelphia and the author of Render Unto Caesar.

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Copyright 2012 the Witherspoon Institute. All rights reserved.

St. Thomas More: Faithful Statesman

In 15 Audio on 2014/12/19 at 12:00 AM
St. Thomas More: Faithful Statesman
Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemer
Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemer discuss the dramatic life and visit the literary works of St. Thomas More, the Patron Saint of Statesmen and politicians.

1.St. Thomas More as Patron of Statesmen Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_01.mp3The career of Thomas More is examined for the numerous instances in which he displayed the virtues which distinguished him as a model for others in public and political life. 2.Earliest Accounts of Thomas More’s Statesmanship Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_02.mp3The biographical accounts of the life of Thomas More by Erasmus and William Roper are examined for the distinguishing characteristics which cause him to be viewed as a model for others in public and political life. 3.St. Thomas More on Friendship Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_03.mp3The immense capacity of Thomas More for friendship is probed, with special attention to his relationships with Erasmus, King Henry VIII and Antonio Buonvisi. 4.St. Thomas More: A Christian Socrates in Action Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_04.mp3Thomas More is likened to Socrates in his lifelong pursuit of truth and death for fidelity to his ideals. 5.St. Thomas More on Education Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_05.mp3Thomas More had a splendid education himself and saw to it that his children had the same. He sees it as the search for truth and a means to acquire character. 6.St. Thomas More on Becoming Wise and Prudent as Serpents Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_06.mp3The literary career of Thomas More is examined for its brilliance, ranking him with Socrates, Cato and Cicero. Shakespeare was profoundly influenced by Thomas More. 7.St. Thomas More on Government Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_07.mp3Thomas More’s statesmanship relies on unchanging philosophic and theological principles, including the conviction that human beings are created free. 8.St. Thomas More on Church-State Relations Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_08.mp3Thomas More believes that the Church ought to be free from the state’s control, allowed to exercise free speech. Thomas More was even praised by Henry VII for his rule of obeying God and conscience first, then one’s king. 9.St. Thomas More From Resignation to Imprisonment Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_09.mp3When Thomas More cannot condone Henry the VIII’s actions of making himself the head of the Church in England and marrying someone other than his wife, he resigns and is unlawfully imprisoned. 10.St. Thomas More: Imprisonment, Trial And Execution Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_10.mp3Separated from his family, Thomas More lives in difficult conditions in the Bell Tower of the Tower of London for the last 16 months of his life. He writes moving literary works as he prepares for execution. His moving farewell to his daughter Meg is captured in a famous painting. He comforts those who ought to have comforted him. 11.St. Thomas More: Last Words on Statesmanship Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_11.mp3In his time in the Tower of London awaiting execution, Thomas More writes moving meditations on the Agony of Christ in the Garden. 12.St. Thomas More: Elements of His Own Education Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_12.mp3Educated at Oxford, he studies Greek with Erasmus. More courageously insists on priorities and decides which way of life to take. 13.St. Thomas More: His Legacy Host – Fr. C..John McCloskey and Dr. Gerard Wegemertmfs_13.mp3Thomas More is an example for any man and father of a family. Over and above his qualities as friend and humorist, Holbein chooses to portray More’s fidelity to conscience as he paints the saint’s portrait. Thomas More Societies abound in England today.

Faith is a gift that begins in our encounter with Jesus

In Uncategorized on 2013/09/19 at 12:00 AM

Faith is a gift that begins in our encounter with Jesus, a real, tangible person and not an intangible essence, ‘mist’ or ‘spray’. Our real encounter with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit was the focus of Pope Francis.

The Pope drew inspiration for his homily from the Gospel of John in which Jesus tells the crowd that “he who believes has eternal life”. He says the passage is an opportunity for us to examine our conscience. He noted that very often people say they generally believe in God.

“But who is this God you believe in?” asked Pope Francis confronting the ‘vapour’ of certain beliefs with the reality of a true faith:

“An ‘all over the place – god, a ‘god-spray’ so to speak, who is a little bit everywhere but who no-one really knows anything about. We believe in God who is Father, who is Son, who is Holy Spirit. We believe in Persons, and when we talk to God we talk to Persons: or I speak with the Father, or I speak with the Son, or I speak with the Holy Spirit. And this is the faith. ”

In the Gospel passage, Jesus also says that no one can come to him “unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” Pope Francis said that these words show that “to go to Jesus, to find Jesus, to know Jesus, is a gift” that God bestows on us.

The Pope said we see an example of this in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, where Christ sends Philip to explain the Old Testament in the light of the Resurrection to an officer of the court of the Queen of Egypt.

That officer – observed Pope Francis – was not a “common man” but a royal treasurer and because of this, “we may think he was a bit attached to the money”, “a careerist.”

Yet, said the Pope, when this individual listens to Philip speak to him of Jesus “he hears that it is good news”, “he feels joy,” to the point of being baptized in the first place they find water: “Those who have faith have eternal life, they have life. But faith is a gift, it is the Father who gifts it. We must continue on this path. But if we travel this path, it is always with our own baggage – because we are all sinners and we all always have things that are wrong. But the Lord will forgive us if we ask for forgiveness, and so we should always press onwards, without being discouraged – but on that path what happened to the royal treasurer will happen to us too”.

Pope Francis, what is described in the Acts of the Apostles, after the officer discovers the faith we also happen to us: “And he went on his way rejoicing” .. “It is the joy of faith, the joy of having encountered Jesus, the joy that only Jesus gives us, the joy that gives peace: not what the world gives, but what gives Jesus. This is our faith. We ask the Lord to help us grow in this faith, this faith that makes us strong, that makes us joyful, this faith that always begins with our encounter with Jesus and always continues throughout our lives in our small daily encounters with Jesus. ”

Vatican Information Service

“We cannot preach what we do not practice”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/02/01 at 9:20 AM
Jesus began to do and then to teach. You and I have to bear witness with our example, because we cannot live a double life. We cannot preach what we do not practice. In other words, we have to teach what we are at least struggling to put into practice. (The Forge, 694)

God has not just said that he loves us. He has proved it with facts… He came to teach us, but he taught us by doing things. In teaching us, he was the model, being our teacher and setting us an example with his conduct.

Now, in front Jesus, we can continue our personal examination of conscience. Are we ready to try to make our life a model and an example to our brothers, the rest of men, our equals? Are we ready to be other Christs? It’s not enough to say that we are. I am asking you now — as I ask myself: Can it be said also of you, you who have been called to be another Christ, that you have come to do and to teach, to do things as a son of God would? Are you attentive to the Father’s will, so as to be able to encourage everyone else to share the good, noble, divine and human values of the redemption? Are you living the life of Christ, in your everyday life in the middle of the world?

Doing God’s work is not just a pretty phrase. It is an invitation to spend ourselves for Love’s sake. We have to die to ourselves and be born again to a new life. Jesus Christ obeyed in this way, even unto death on a cross; that is why God exalted him [1]. (Christ is passing by, 21)

[1] Phil 2:8

Actions by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/06/21 at 9:00 AM

• One of the lessons my father constantly tried to teach my siblings and me while we were growing up is that our actions have consequences. One of my father’s favorite phrases that we heard over and over again was “think before you act.”

• While Dad wanted to orient us toward making right decisions, toward choosing the right things in life, he also simply wanted to protect us from harm.

• Unfortunately, like most boys my brother and I had to learn this lesson the hard way. But somewhere around age 12 or 13, after I had broken a couple of bones and had dozens of stitches from various accident, the message began to sink in!

• Both my brother and I have a couple of scars on our bodies that remain as reminders of some of the bad decisions we made in our childhood.

• But as a priest, I can tell you that the scars we bear on our bodies from physical wounds are never as devastating as the scars that we bear on our souls from the bad moral choices we’ve made in life.

• One of the most poignant lessons that I’ve learned from sitting in the confessional every Saturday afternoon for five years is that our moral choices have a definitive meaning and finality. Our sins affect us. They wound us and scar us. And ultimately they can kill us.

• Both our first and second readings today talk about sin and encourage us to turn away and repent. But our Gospel story today follows on the heels of the famous story of the disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

• What’s most interesting about today’s Gospel is that when Jesus appears to the disciples, He identifies Himself by His wounds. Our Lord directs His disciples to look at His hands and feet as a way to prove His identity.

• As we consider our Lord’s wounds, let us be clear about something: we put those wounds there. Our Lord was perfectly innocent during His life on earth, and yet as Isaiah prophesied, Jesus was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our sins.

• And in the process of wounding Jesus through our sinfulness, we also wounded ourselves.

• In philosophical terms sin is a privation; specifically, it deprives us of sanctifying grace. It never improves or adds to us in any way. In fact, sin makes us less than who we truly are.

• Sin distorts our true self by taking away part of our true self. It always wounds. It wounds our relationship with God, with one another, with the Church, and ultimately it wounds our souls. But there is a bright side to all of this!

• In the Easter season we celebrate the fact Jesus has conquered sin and death. Jesus has definitively won the battle between life and death!

• While Jesus still has His wounds, these wounds reveal Christ for who He Is – the incarnation of sacrificial love – and they also glorify the Father. And those wounds, my friends, are the means of our salvation.

• In the same passage that Isaiah tells us the Jesus was pierced for our offenses, he also tells us that by His stripes we will be healed. Because our Lord was willing to take on our spiritual infirmities and to be crushed for our sins, because He is the expiation for our sins, we have been redeemed.

• And yet while Christ has won the war over sin and death, and while we know what the final outcome will be, the battle for eternal life is still played out in each and every human soul.

• While we know that Christ died to save us, we still have to exercise our free wills so that we choose to cooperate with the grace that saves us. We still have to choose to repent from our sins. In this process it is important that we understand just how devastating sin can be.

• It’s important to realize that our sins, no matter how small or insignificant we think they might be, can easily ensnare and entrap us.

• For truly, my friends, there is no such thing as a “little” sin or a hidden sin. Even those venial sins that we don’t think much about and rarely confess have the power to deform us.

• And left unchecked, our venial sins can quickly lead us to mortal sins and to an enslavement from which it is not easy to recover.

• To make matters worse, we are now living in an age and in a society in which many sins are glorified and even defended as fundamental human rights.

• And those people who do have the courage to speak out against the popular sins of today arelabeled as judgmental, intolerant, and even lately, as terrorists.

• As a pastor, I am constantly confronted with the responsibility of helping you form your consciences according to the teachings of the Church. Quite honestly, this obligation I bear toward you is not an easy one, especially when we consider the world we live in.

• I am often tempted to say less than I should for fear of offending some of you, especially when it comes to difficult issues like abortion, same sex unions, cohabitation and contraception. But, my dear friends, I cannot be silent. These things are intrinsically evil.

• If we do not repent of these sins or any other sins that the Church qualifies are mortally sinful, they can lead us into hell.

• I tell you this not to shame you or scare you, but because I love you and care for your soul, and as your father in faith, I want to protect you from harming yourself, just as my own father tried to protect me.

• Moreover, I want to remind you that priests are not the only ones who bear this responsibility of witnessing to the truths of our faith. It’s your responsibility too. As baptized Catholics you too have the responsibility of being a soldier for Christ. You too share in the apostolic mission of the Church.

• In the second reading today St. John tells us clearly that we can know if we are truly in relationship with God by whether or not we keep His commandments. When we don’t keep His commandments, we sin and thereby wound the Body of Christ and ourselves.

• And so, my friends, if you are living in a way that goes against the teachings of Christ, which are proclaimed by the Church, then please heed the words of the first reading today: “repent and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away.”

• Last week was Divine Mercy Sunday, and what Divine Mercy Sunday teaches us is that God’s mercy is for the taking, but we have to first acknowledge our sins for what they are, and then we have to do our best to turn away from them.

• As your pastor, I am less concerned with what your sins are, and more concerned that you at least recognize your sins as sins and do your best to repent.

• We can never presume upon God’s forgiveness; we must ask for it. So please do not be hard of heart, and please do not let pride get in the way of receiving forgiveness for your sins.

• Place your trust in the Church’s teachings, for they come from Christ Himself, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and they have been safeguarded by the Holy Spirit.

• And in repenting from our sins, let us together faithfully witness to the beautiful truths of our faith so that all men might be saved.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Ability to Choose by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/05/18 at 11:11 AM

• Of all of the characteristics that set man apart from the rest of the natural world, our ability to choose is the most fundamental.

• In His great love and solicitude, the Creator has endowed man with the capacity and the freedom to make decisions for himself. So unlike the animals, we are not bound to act according to instincts. We are not bound to act even according to our emotions.

• Rather, we can exercise our intellects to assess any given situation and then decide upon our course of action.

• Our Lord gave us this capacity and freedom not simply because He loves us. Ultimately, our Lord gave us this capacity and freedom so that we could choose to love Him in return, for love is always a choice – not simply an emotion.

• As we learned last Sunday, our love for God is best shown through obedience to Him and His most adorable will. God gave us the capacity and freedom to choose so that we would choose to obey His will in every situation, and thereby show our love for Him.

• For every act of obedience to God and His divine will is in essence an act of love. And not only do we show our love for God by our obedience to Him, but we are ennobled and made holier by choosing God’s will over our own.

• Throughout the course of a normal day, each of us is confronted with hundreds of decisions we must make, many of which are decisions of little consequence, such as what shoes we will wear.

• Other decisions, such as what we eat or how we carry out our work, may affect our health, livelihood, and well being, and therefore are decisions that we weigh with more gravitas.

• But even more important than these decisions affecting our health and livelihood are the moral choices that we must make,  specially when we are confronted with the temptation to sin. This, of course, is the theme of our readings today.

• The good news is that if we do choose to sin, we know that our Lord will show us His mercy and forgive us if we are truly sorry for the sin. Our Lord will even forgive the gravest and most serious of sins if we are truly sorry for them.

• But even though God will always forgive the contrite sinner, there is always a price to pay for our sins, for every sin we commit – no matter how big or small we may think it is –damages us and those around us.

• The Catechism teaches that: “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity” (CCC #1849).

• “Sin is an offense against God…. Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become ‘like gods,’ knowing and determining good and evil” (CCC #1850).

• “Sin is thus ‘love of oneself even to contempt of God.’ In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation” (CCC #1850).

• The Catechism goes on to teach us that: “Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations, which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgment of good and evil” (CCC #1865).

• So by using our capacity and freedom to choose in a sinful manner, we undermine our capacity and freedom to choose in the future.

• Any sin that is committed repeatedly distorts our judgment so that good and evil are not as readily apparent. We see this most starkly in people whose consciences are sufficiently deadened to enable them to regularly commit the gravest of sins, such as abortionists or prostitutes or hardened criminals.

• But we also see this phenomenon in the not-so-hardened sinner who has learned to justify his or  her sinful behavior, such as a student who regularly cheats on tests, or a couple who contracepts, or a teenager who routinely lies in order to avoid punishment.

• Furthermore, any sin that is committed repeatedly enslaves us, robbing us of the freedom to say no to it. Anyone who suffers from an addiction is living proof of this truth. Simply put, the more we commit a sin, the more likely we will commit it again.

• But while sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, it cannot destroy man’s moral sense at its root (cf. CCC #1865). On some level, man always retains some capacity – as mitigated and corrupted as it might be – to choose.

• Thus, my brothers and sisters, it is of utmost importance that we make a fundamental choice to obey God in order to protect ourselves from the consequences of sin.

• Our readings today set up a dichotomy between the first Adam, who by his sinful life unleashed a spiritual death upon all of his progeny, and the new Adam: Jesus Christ, who by His death made life possible once again for all who choose to follow Him.

• We see in the stories from our first reading and Gospel how each of these Adams confronted temptation. The first Adam, in a fit of pride, was seduced by the evil one, while Christ humbly countered temptation with the spiritual tools of prayer and fasting.

• Holy Mother Church gives us these readings today on this 1st Sunday of Lent as a means of strengthening us and preparing us for our Lenten journey, through which we hope to imitate Christ through the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving.

• She gives us these readings at the beginning of this holy season of self-renewal as an encouragement for us to choose to be like Jesus Christ, the new Adam, rather than the first Adam who fell from grace.

• This fundamental choice of the spiritual life is one that we must make every day, for every day we are confronted with temptation. Temptation to sin is and always will be a constant in our lives. It’s never going to go away.

• So we must learn how to exercise our free will to say no always to temptation so that we might avoid the devastation and horror of sin.

• To help us in this battle, we have the spiritual tools of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving, which unite us more firmly to God, strengthen our wills, and increase our charity.

• These spiritual tools help us make reparation for our sins, and they help to undo the damage caused by our sins. As such, the practices of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving are absolutely indispensable for any of us who have repeatedly fallen into grave sin.

• And so, my brothers and sisters, as we begin our way through the desert of Lent, let us be firm in our commitment to increased prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. But even more importantly, let us be firm in choosing to serve God, and God alone.

• May our Lord, in His mercy, strengthen us all against every temptation this Lenten season.

Copyright 2011 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

“You need to think about your life calmly and ask for forgiveness”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/03/14 at 9:11 AM

You need to think about your life calmly and without scruples, to ask for forgiveness, and make a firm, definite and determined resolution to improve in one point and another, to improve in that particular small detail which you find hard, and in that other one which as a rule you do not carry out as you should, even though you well know you ought to be doing it. (The Forge, 115)

To be full of good desires is indeed a holy thing, and God praises it. But don’t leave it at that. You have to be a soul ‑‑a man, a woman ‑‑ who deals in realities. To carry out those good desires, you have to form clear and precise resolutions. And then, my child, you have to fight to put them into practice, with the grace of God. (The Forge, 116)

Take a good look at the way you behave. You will see that you are full of faults that harm you and perhaps also those around you. Remember, my child, that microbes may be no less a menace than wild beasts. Just as bacteria are cultivated in a laboratory, so you are cultivating those faults and those errors, with your lack of humility, with your lack of prayer, with your failure to fulfill your duty, with your lack of self‑knowledge. Those tiny germs then spread everywhere. You need to make a good examination of conscience every day. It will lead you to make definite resolutions to improve, because it will have made you really sorry for your shortcomings, omissions and sins. (The Forge, 481)

“Examine yourself: slowly, courageously”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/01/17 at 6:02 PM

Examination of conscience: a daily task. Book-keeping is never neglected by anyone in business. And is there any business worth more than the business of eternal life? (The Way, 235)

Examine yourself: slowly, courageously. Is it not true that your bad humour and your gloominess, both without cause–without apparent cause–are due to your lack of determination in breaking the subtle but real snares laid for you–cunningly and attractively–by your concupiscence? (The Way, 237)

Always end your examination with an act of Love–of Love-sorrow: for yourself, for all the sins of men. And consider the fatherly care of God in removing the obstacles in your way lest you stumble. (The Way, 246)

There is an enemy of the interior life which is both little and silly. Unfortunately, it can be very effective. It is the neglect of effort in one’s examination of conscience. (The Forge, 109)

Don’t wait until you are old to start becoming a saint. That would be a great mistake. Begin right now, in earnest, cheerfully and joyfully, by fulfilling the duties of your work and of your everyday life. Don’t wait until you are old to become a saint. Because ‑‑I insist ‑‑ apart from its being a great mistake, you never know whether you will live as long as that. (The Forge, 113)