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Posts Tagged ‘Consequences’

Passions by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2013/07/26 at 12:00 AM

• The great mendicant, St. Dominic, once said that “A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either command them, or be commanded by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.”

• When it comes to the spiritual life, our passions are the intensely powerful feelings or desires that lead us into sin, particularly the capital sins of lust, anger, greed, and envy.

• When we give free reign to our passions, we fall prey to concupiscence, hedonism, unbridled pleasure-seeking, and in the worst cases, hatred.

• Thus, St. Dominic’s point is well taken, for all of us from time to time have felt the turbulent waves of sinful inclinations rise and crash within ourselves.

• Sometimes it can feel like our passions – particularly those that inflame our lower appetites – are tyrants that must be obeyed. Emotions, especially when they are strong, can lead us to say and do all sorts of things that we know are wrong and sinful.

• Thus, it is so very important that every man of God learn how to govern his passions so as not to be a slave to them, for it is not God’s will that we be at the mercy of our emotions and passions, but rather that we learn self-control and restraint so that we may protect ourselves from sin.

• Truly, my friends, in our day and age, I cannot stress enough to you how important it is to guard ourselves from sin. Sin not only distorts and perverts our true selves, but it offends God. Moreover, as St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).

• Thus, as true followers of Christ, we must be willing to endure all types of suffering and punishments rather than commit sin, for the sufferings of this world are only temporary, but the suffering that we will have to endure for our un-repented mortal sins is eternal.

• There is a hell, my friends, and it would do us good to try to avoid it! This requires that we fight. While God’s grace is constantly trying to pull upward, our passions and sinful inclinations drag us downward, and thus we must be vigilant in fighting these passions.

• Our second reading from the Letter of St. James talks about what falling prey to our sinful passions can do to us, while the first reading from the Book of Wisdom gives us an example of how sin can harden our hearts and blind us to truth and goodness.

• St. James tells us that “where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice.” He then asks: “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?”

• The point St. James is making is that if we fail to fight against our sinful passions and inclinations, we will lose our inner peace, making us vulnerable to falling even deeper into sin.

• Rather than sating our desires, giving in to our passions, my friends, simply inflames them all the more. And when the sins we commit are mortal, it robs us of our interior peace because our Lord, Who entered our souls at baptism, flees from us until we make a good confession and are absolved from our sins.

• Further, the more we give into our sinful passions and inclinations, the less able we are to see the Truth and act in accord with it. Sin hardens our hearts, and if we fail to fight the sin in our life, our hearts will harden to the point that we begin to hate that which is good and holy.

• We see a very clear example of this in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom. This reading tells the story of wicked men who wish to cause suffering to a just man. While this passage is often understood to be a prophecy of Jesus’ passion and death, it shows us clearly how sin can devastate us morally.

• The wicked men mentioned in this passage want to harm the just man because he is just. They know of his innocence and goodness, but their sins have hardened their hearts to such a degree that the just man’s very presence is a reproach to them.

• While it is a very normal human feeling not to like some people, if we actually hate another person and wish them harm, then there is something seriously wrong with us, namely, that we have given in to our sinful passions to such a degree that we are now mastered by them.

• The good news is that it is never God’s will that we persist in our sinfulness. As the Divine Physician, He is capable of healing us and restoring us to full spiritual health. But in order for this to happen, we must align our wills with His most holy will.

• Last week I mentioned that if we suffer from a weak will, we can strengthen our wills through fasting and penances. Every time we choose, out of love for God, to voluntarily deny ourselves something we desire, our wills grow stronger, rendering us more capable of saying no to our passions and sinful desires as they arise.

• But there is an even more fundamental step we must take first if we truly wish to strengthen our wills and protect ourselves from sin, and this we read about in today’s Gospel. It is this: we must learn to be humble and charitable.

• In the Gospel today Jesus says to the 12 apostles: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Then taking a child and embracing him, Jesus tells the 12 that they must be ready to receive such a child in His name.

• In these words and actions of Jesus, we see these two virtues humility and charity extolled.

• St. John Vianney once said that: “Humility is to the various virtues what the chain is in a rosary. Take away the chain and the beads are scattered; remove humility, and all virtues vanish.”

• Thus, humility is the root of every other virtue. Humility nourishes our soul and makes us capable of receiving God’s grace so that the virtues can take root and grow in our souls.

• Moreover, humility helps us to see how truly weak we are, and thus it induces us to seek our Lord’s strength and protection all the more when we’re bombarded by temptation.

• Charity, on the other hand, is the form of all the virtues. Whereas humility prepares us to receive the other virtues, charity helps to perfect the other virtues within us.

• Because charity is the most important and most powerful of all virtues, the more we grow in charity, the more the other virtues naturally grow within us as well, including the virtues of temperance, chastity, and meekness, which help us to control our passions.

• The more we grow in humility, the more we see God and ourselves as we truly are. The more we grow in charity, the more we love God for Who He Is. The more that we know God and love God, the more we want to serve Him and avoid offending Him.

• My dear friends, let us learn to turn away from sin by strengthening ourselves against our passions and sinful inclinations through growing in the virtues of humility and charity.

• Let us avoid sin at all cost, not only because sin has the power to distort and destroy our souls, but also out of our love for God, Whom we should love above all things.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

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

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Sin

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/06/29 at 9:11 AM

• Our passions and sinful inclinations can truly harm us by distorting our souls and making it more difficult to see the Truth and act upon it.

• I have talked about some of the dangers of falling into sin through a weak will: how it takes away our peace and makes us vulnerable to committing more sin, and how it can ultimately lead our souls to hell.

• I have also mentioned how the virtues of humility and charity, along with the spiritual practices of fasting and penance, can help us learn to master our wills and overcome the temptations to sin that our passions can provoke within us.

• In our Gospel today our Lord gives us a little primer on sin and the importance of trying to avoid it at all cost. Therefore, I’d like to talk a little more about sin, its effects, and what we can do to avoid it.

• Benjamin Franklin once said that: “Sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, but it is forbidden because it is hurtful.” And he’s absolutely right! Not only is sin hurtful to the one who commits the sin, but it is also hurtful to those around us.

• As I’ve mentioned before, sin enslaves us. It makes us less than who we are called to be. Sin robs us of our personal dignity and it distorts our true character. As the French author Andre Gide put it: “sin obscures the soul.”

• But our sins also affect on those around us, and our Lord addresses this in the Gospel today. And being a cause of temptation for others or inducing others to sin is a sin.

• Jesus says: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”

These are pretty harsh words from the Prince of Peace! But we must take them seriously.

• When we lead others into sin through our sinful actions, we jeopardize their souls. Or if our sins are known to others or made public, they may cause scandal – which can cause people to fall away from the Faith, thus jeopardizing their souls!

• Sadly, the Catholic Church in this country knows firsthand the devastation that scandal can cause. For example, in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Church in 2002, hundreds of Catholics left the Church, especially in parishes where abuses took place.

• But even on a small scale, giving rise to scandal and inducing others to sin is something we must be wary of. One issue that comes readily to mind is dressing modestly. When we dress immodestly, we may lead others to sin, and this is especially sad when it happens at Mass!

• Parents, too, must be very careful about what they say and do around their children. Children pick up on everything, and sometimes they can be very quick to call you out for your sins and moral failures.

• But what’s worse than that is that children often end up committing the same sins as their parents. If you’re living in a way that is morally compromising or if you have habitual sins that are apparent to your kids, it’s very likely that they will think nothing of doing the same things as they grow older.

• Thus, it’s very important that we try to make reparation for the damage we cause to others by our sinful actions. It begins by making apologies when necessary.

• As weak humans, all of us sin from time to time. No one outside of Jesus and our Lady have ever lived perfect lives. And because we sin, we must ask for forgiveness, first from God, but also from those who may have been affected by our sin.

• But in addition to asking for forgiveness, we also need to show we’re sorry for our sins and make restitution, and that’s why the priest gives us a penance whenever we go to confession.

• Penance helps us to restore the balance of justice we disrupted by our sin. It’s a way that we can make up for what we’ve done wrong. And that’s why it’s important for Catholics to perform acts of penance on a regular basis.

• Penance brings healing to our soul, and it helps us right our relationship with God. Penance also helps to deepen our sense of contrition, making us less likely to commit the same sin again in the future.

• In addition to talking about leading others into sin in today’s Gospel, our Lord also speaks about the necessity of avoiding whatever leads us to sin.

• We are told: if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. . . . And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. . . . And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, for it is better to go through life without these things rather than be thrown into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.

• Hopefully it’s obvious that our Lord is speaking figuratively here. He doesn’t really expect us to maim ourselves.

• Our Lord’s point is that we should do everything in our power to avoid those things that lead us into sin, what we call in Catholic parlance: “the near occasion of sin.” Jesus makes the point that we should do this because if we don’t, there may be – very literally – hell to pay.

• I say this not to scare you, but simply to underscore our Lord’s own words. Please understand, my friends, that when it comes to sin, the stakes are high. So many people today waltz through life, sinning with reckless abandon, with nary a thought to the consequences.

• And yet there are always consequences to our sins, whether we recognize them or not. Sin not only offends God, but it alienates us from God and makes it harder for us to love and live a holy life. So we must try with all our might to avoid sin at all cost.

• Personally, I love the stories of the virgin martyrs, like St. Agnes, and even more recently, St. Maria Goretti, who preferred to die rather than allow themselves to be defiled by sin.

• They give us hope and show us a great example of courage in the face of sin. The virgin martyrs remind us of how we are called to love God above all things – even our own lives.

• Now if we wish to avoid sin, then we must also avoid the near occasion of sin. For a lot of us in today’s world, that means being very careful about the type of media we expose ourselves to, especially on television and the internet.

• It also often means learning to avoid or limit contact with those people in our lives who easily lead us into one of the 7 deadly sins like anger, lust or envy.

• Ultimately, we must learn to constantly throw ourselves on God’s mercy, and trust that He will give us the grace we need to overcome temptation when we face it, and that He will forgive our sins when we fall prey to our temptations if we make a good confession.

• My dear friends, let us listen well to the words of our dear Lord today. Let us flee from every temptation to sin as if our lives depended upon it, for in truth, they do.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

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

Mind Over Matter

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/06/16 at 12:00 AM

A major problem nowadays is that too many people (including too many Catholics) think that a statement or idea is true merely because they think or believe it is true. In other words, the individual has assigned to himself the task of determining what is true or false. Modern American culture is based on the idea that each one may decide for himself what he can think, believe and do in the moral order. When it comes to physical matters, no one disputes the laws of nature. Only a fool would think he could repeal the law of gravity. Yet, too many decide they are at liberty to repeal or ignore whatever ideas or laws they don’t happen to like. As a result what is really important in life is left to subjective interpretation, usually of those who have no intellectual background to decide on such matters as the nature and destiny of man. When anyone claims the right to reject natural order or divine law, he is on a very slippery slope.

Let’s revisit the concept of truth. Truth is a concern only of humans. Animals are not even aware of truth. Their nature and destiny is something they never ponder. Previously in these pages I stated that truth is reality: what really is, not what we think is. St. Thomas Aquinas, arguably one of the most brilliant men who ever lived said that truth is the conformity (agreement) of the mind with reality. Note: he did not say that truth is the agreement of reality with someone’s mind.

This reality, of course, refers what is called objective reality. There is such a thing as legitimate subjective reality such as favorites foods, or books, or people. We naturally develop favorites in such matters and no can say that your choice is wrong. Another may have a different choice, but both are right. My favorite flavor is probably coffee, and if yours is vanilla, so be it. But, when we try to make subjective evaluations of objective reality, then a choice can be judged to be in error. For example, a person decides that the Ten Commandments are out of date and need to be re-evaluated. (Ted Turner actually  proposed this idea.)

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The Great Deception by J. Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/01/28 at 9:11 AM

The Law of Degradation states that things will continue to degrade further unless effort is made to stem the downward movement.  Humans begin physically degrading from conception.  Illness, left untreated, becomes worse. Garbage does not improve its aroma with time.  A mind not used well does not become more intelligent. Unused muscles atrophy.

This principle applies in the moral order as well.  One of the basic words in Catholic vocabulary is “sin.”  Sin has been and still is the major cause of personal and societal ills.  At the root of every social problem is a moral problem or habits of sin.    Sin and redemption are basic tenets of Catholicism.

Illicit drug use is a moral problem (instant gratification). Having illegitimate children is a moral problem (impurity).  Unwarranted price inflation is a moral problem (greed).  Political corruption is a moral problem (hypocrisy).  And so it goes.  We try to solve them with non-moral means, and, of course, it never works.  The worst of it is that Catholic pulpits are mainly silent on the subject of sin.  I cannot recall the last time I heard a sermon on the topic, and yet polls show that Catholics are as immersed in the sins of the culture as non-Catholics.

Sin is real whether we like it or not or believe it or not.  If we look at what used to be Christendom, we see immediately that sin is alive and well.  Too many people exist in lives of chronic sinfulness, some because of ignorance, some because of indifference, and others because of malice in the soul.  Habits of serious sin (mortal sin) have consequences because sin is a rejection of divine law.  It is a rebellion against God (which is a rather daring undertaking).  Sin always exacts a price.  Somewhere, somehow, sometime the sinner must pay the penalty for his accumulated sins.

What are some of the effects of constant, unrepented serious sin?

  1. Life becomes disordered, i.e. out of order.  God has set up an order by which each person can live and fulfill  his or her potential.  It does not involve sin.  Obedience to divine law assures us that we are in harmony with this divine plan.  Disobedience renders our life irrational, in that we, by habitual sin, thwart the divine plan and make ourselves incapable of attaining God’s best blessings.  A habitual sinner is like a person who refuses to obey the rules of math, and always ends up with a wrong answer.  Moreover, no human has the standing, legally or morally, to decide that divine law is optional for him, and that it can be ignored with impunity.  Thus the habitual sinner exists in a state of disequilibrium concerning God no matter how “successful” he may appear to be in the world.
  2. The constant sinner has rejected the concept that the creature owes a debt of commitment to the Creator.  Sinners are committed to things of this world first … money, power, popularity, illicit sex in inordinate amounts.  The greedy person never has enough of what he craves.  Power often leads to other forms of corruption, etc.  The Creator is forgotten or ignored in the pursuit of ephemeral delights.  He begins to look for ways to rationalize his way of life and to associate with like-minded people.  The problem is that natural debt to God does not vanish because someone finds it inconvenient.  The one who never attends Sunday Mass has rejected the debt he owes to God, but God  does not free him from the debt.  The final cry of the unrepentant sinner, “The past has deceived me; the present torments me, and the future terrifies me”.
  3. Habitual serious sin is grossly deceptive.  Our Lord called Satan the father of lies.  As soon as the human race appeared on earth, Satan set out on a “con job” and was very successful in the Garden of Eden.  He told Eve that God was the deceiver in telling her and Adam not to eat of a particular tree.  Satan said that if they did eat it, they would become just like God and He didn’t want that.  “So go ahead! Take a bite.”  They did.  Not only did they not become divine; they lost all the gifts and blessings they already had.  And Satan slithered off to look for Cain.

Habits of sin affect the mind proportionate to the sins involved.  We change our values.  We begin to think that evil is really “not that bad.” (In fact, there are attitudes around that say a certain amount of activity that used to be called sin is actually beneficial to you such as “free love”.) Changed values led to the deaths of 55 million aborted babies.  We see the odd sight of “Catholic” politicians endorsing and voting for sin at every opportunity.  Ultimately, sin destroys the society in which it becomes an accepted part of life.  Every one of the past civilizations that existed died from suicide caused by moral failure.  We are on the same road now. The regime in DC flaunts its disregard of traditional morality, especially in matters of life itself.  Just this week, the current administration issued an ultimatum to the American Catholic Church demonstrating that those in power could not care less about its doctrines or its conscience; Catholic institutions must toe their immoral line or else.

G.K. Chesterton said that unless man becomes an enemy of evil, he will not only become its slave, he will end up championing it.  How many “Catholics” vote at odds with their Faith? Far too many!  The divine moral law (the Ten Commandments) will never change even if every human votes to rescind it. It just doesn’t work that way. The Law of Degradation applies to sinners.  Those who begin their anti-God rebellion may begin with one type of sin, but it is not long before other types become habitual as well.  Just as one initial disease can cause others to appear, habitual sin has a way of expanding because the sinner can only rely on the grace of repentance.

It is no longer “cool” to believe in sin, judgment, Heaven, Hell, good and evil, truth and error. But these ideas matter and have objective existence even if we snicker and sneer at them. The most important moment of your life is the last one. If you have lived striving to be obedient to divine law, you can smile.  If you have lived according to your own laws …

Living within the Truth – Part III

In 03 Archbishop Charles Chaput on 2011/09/04 at 1:11 AM

Let me sum up what I’ve been saying.

My first point is this: Ideas have consequences. And bad ideas have bad consequences. Today we are living in a world that is under the sway of some very destructive ideas, the worst being that men and women can live as if God does not matter and as if the Son of God never walked this earth. As a result of these bad ideas, the Church’s freedom to exercise her mission is under attack. We need to understand why that is, and we need to do something about it.

My second point is simply this: We can no longer afford to treat the debate over secularization — which really means cauterizing Christianity out of our cultural memory — as if it’s a problem for Church professionals. The emergence of a “new Europe” and a “next America” rooted in something other than the real facts of our Christian-shaped history will have damaging consequences for every serious believer.

We need not and should not abandon the hard work of honest dialogue. Far from it. The Church always needs to seek friendships, areas of agreement, and ways to make positive, reasoned arguments in the public square. But it’s foolish to expect gratitude or even respect from our governing and cultural leadership classes today. Naïve imprudence is not an evangelical virtue.

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. This is one of the most vividly harsh lessons of the 20th century. And it’s a lesson that I hope we have learned.

That brings me to my third and final point today: We live in a time when the Church is called to be a believing community of resistance. We need to call things by their true names. We need to fight the evils we see. And most importantly, we must not delude ourselves into thinking that by going along with the voices of secularism and de-Christianization we can somehow mitigate or change things. Only the Truth can set men free. We need to be apostles of Jesus Christ and the Truth he incarnates.

So what does this mean for us as individual disciples? Let me offer a few suggestions by way of a conclusion.

My first suggestion comes again from the great witness against the paganism of the Third Reich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The renewal of the Western world lies solely in the divine renewal of the Church, which leads her to the fellowship of the risen and living Jesus Christ.”

The world urgently needs a re-awakening of the Church in our actions and in our public and private witness. The world needs each of us to come to a deeper experience of our Risen Lord in the company of our fellow believers. The renewal of the West depends overwhelmingly on our faithfulness to Jesus Christ and his Church.

We need to really believe what we say we believe. Then we need to prove it by the witness of our lives. We need to be so convinced of the truths of the Creed that we are on fire to live by these truths, to love by these truths, and to defend these truths, even to the point of our own discomfort and suffering.

We are ambassadors of the living God to a world that is on the verge of forgetting him. Our work is to make God real; to be the face of his love; to propose once more to the men and women of our day, the dialogue of salvation.

The lesson of the 20th century is that there is no cheap grace. This God whom we believe in, this God who loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die for it, demands that we live the same bold, sacrificial pattern of life shown to us by Jesus Christ.

The form of the Church, and the form of every Christian life, is the form of the cross. Our lives must become a liturgy, a self-offering that embodies the love of God and the renewal of the world.

The great Slovak martyrs of the past knew this. And they kept this truth alive when the bitter weight of hatred and totalitarianism pressed upon your people. I’m thinking especially right now of your heroic bishops, Blessed Vasil Hopko and Pavel Gojdic, and the heroic sister, Blessed Zdenka Schelingová.

We need to keep this beautiful mandate of Sister Zdenka close to our hearts:

“My sacrifice, my holy Mass, begins in daily life. From the altar of the Lord I go to the altar of my work. I must be able to continue the sacrifice of the altar in every situation. … It is Christ whom we must proclaim through our lives, to him we offer the sacrifice of our own will.”

Let us preach Jesus Christ with all the energy of our lives. And let us support each other — whatever the cost — so that when we make our accounting to the Lord, we will be numbered among the faithful and courageous, and not the cowardly or the evasive, or those who compromised until there was nothing left of their convictions; or those who were silent when they should have spoken the right word at the right time. Thank you. And God bless all of you.

St. Isidore to the Rescue

In 13 History on 2011/06/07 at 1:28 PM

Anti-Semitism lurks in every society: good or evil, Christian or pagan. Why? Because Satan will always hate the people God once chose for His very own.  The hatred of Christians for Jew and of Jews for Christians is one of Satan’s works.  It has destroyed men who could have have been saints and turned ordinary humans into monsters.

In late Visigothic Spain there was a persecution of the Jews.  St. Isidore of Seville warned Spain’s Catholic people against this spiritual disease when he saw it beginning to infect them.  At first they listened to him.

St. Isidore presided at the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633, prohibited the forced conversions of Jews and condemned the king for instigating such a procedure.  However, not even three years after Isidore’s death, a new king prohibited the public practice of Judaism.  Sadly, the bishops did not object.

By the time of the Twelfth Council of Toledo, the king instigated the proclamation of twenty-eight laws against the Jews.  To remain in Spain, Jews were required to be baptized. Circumcision was punished by castration.

Spain ignored Isidore.  The Moors invaded and occupied it for 700 years.

Phillip II of Spain expelled the Jews (Sephardic), who were the middle class. Interestingly, Spain lost her enormous empire and stagnated commercially until the descendants of the Jews he had expelled returned after Castro took over Cuba to where the Sephardic Jews had migrated.

History has shown that nations that persecute the Jews suffer unforeseen consequences. The Roman Empire destroyed Jerusalem and scattered the Jews (Diaspora).  Nazi Germany almost self-annihilated because of the Holocaust.

The Russian Czars inaugurated pogroms against the Jews and got Lenin, Stalin and 70 years of Communism.  Eastern Europe’s cruel treatment of the Jews gave them decades of oppression under Communism.

Actions have consequences; no doubt about it.  Some way, some day, payment is due.

Yassir Arafat told the women of Palestine to bear twelve sons, giving ten to the cause and keeping two for themselves.  The resulting increase in the birthrate in Palestine and elsewhere throughout the Moslem lands has led to a tremendous surplus of well-educated but unemployed young men who you have been seen on the daily news protesting in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and it could sink the Arab ship.

Beware Moslems!  As Santayana said: “Those who do not know history will be condemned to relive it.” The Jews are God’s chosen people, no doubt about it.  Heed St. Isidore.

Actions Count

In 07 Observations on 2011/04/08 at 4:51 PM

“Every considerate, dignified and just act renders peoples and nations prosperous; every senseless, unjust, unrealistic act destroys them.” — Romano Guardini