Thursday, January 28, 2016

Missed it by that much...

ἁμαρτάνω – hamartanó, a Greek verb used in archery meaning to miss the mark. It is more commonly known as the word “sin”. Our target in life is to have a perfect, communal relationship with God. When we sin we miss the mark or, we do something that damages that relationship with God. In essence, we fail.

When God made man he made him perfect. He wanted for nothing. He didn’t hunger. He didn’t thirst. God gave him dominion over all of the beasts of the land, the birds of the air, and the fish in the sea. It was man’s responsibility to care for the garden.

In the center of the garden God planted the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. God gave man only one rule – don’t eat from this tree. If man ate from this tree he would surely die. Satan tempted man and got him to eat from the tree. Death entered the world and man did die. This was the original sin.

God is omnipotent, he knows all. If he knows all he knew man would fail and eat from the tree. If he knew man would fail why would he plant the tree in the garden in the first place? Surprisingly, God planted the tree so that love could exist. For love to exist there has to be a choice. Love cannot be forced on anyone and you cannot force anyone to love you in return. If God provided for every need of man, man couldn’t possibly love God in return. As long as there is a choice love can exist. Do I love God and show that love for him by being obedient or do I choose my desires over God?

The root of all sin is selfishness, taking for the self. The sin of Eve was the sin of greed. I want for myself that which God does not wish to give. How many ways do we commit this same sin today? In vitro fertilization, consulting physics, reading horoscopes, Ouija boards, and the like are all examples of where we are trying to take for ourselves that which God does not wish to give. I want a baby and can’t get pregnant. I want to know what tomorrow will bring. I want to talk to a departed loved one. We commit this sin when we turn to extraordinary means when ordinary means don’t work or aren’t available.

There are two types of sin – mortal and venial. Mortal sin will kill you, venial sin will not. Mortal sin is a sin so great that it completely destroys your relationship with God. Venial sin damages that relationship but does not sever it completely. Put into a medical analogy; mortal sin is a cancer that will leave you dead. Venial sin is a sore on the skin. Think of how lepers were described in the bible. They were unclean people with sores covering their body. Body parts would rot off and fall away. They were cast out of society. Even their families wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

Only God can forgive sins. Despite the beliefs of some of our non-Catholic brothers this is not an automatic thing. Jesus did die for our sins and the divine blood he shed paid the price of death for all humans who would accept him. Accept him as what? Accept him as Lord and savior. You see, we are all slaves, δοῦλος, doulos in Greek. We all have a master. None of us created ourselves and therefore we do not have rights to our bodies or souls. Through sin death entered the world and Satan became our master. Jesus paid that ransom with his own blood and bought us back from the devil. Redeem means to buy back.

Because God loves us and gave us a free will he respects that will above all else. Even though he paid the price for us he will not force us to leave our master to be his slave if we do not wish to. This is why we have to accept him, accept him as our new Lord and master. Likewise, God is willing to forgive us our sins but he will not force his forgiveness on to us. We have to seek it. We have to ask for it. We have to accept it when it is given. If we never ask for forgiveness he will not give it to us and the wage for sin is death. We go back to being slaves of the devil. At the end of time the devil will rule in hell and all who are his slaves will be cast into hell with him. Do you wish to spend eternity in friendship with God in heaven or slaves to the devil in hell? That is a choice only you can make.

So how does forgiveness work? That’s what we will explore next.

Be a blessing to all you know and allow them to be a blessing to you.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Under Attack

The evil one both hates and loves ordained men. He hates the ones who truly serve God and loves the ones he can corrupt. We were warned about this when we were in the pre-aspirancy to the diaconate. The men in the formation classes ahead of mine and ordained friends I have talked to all attest to this being true. The devil and his minions love to attack these men because they either hope to discourage them away from their vocations or they wish to corrupt them into being bad servants. A bad shepherd corrupts the entire flock.

I knew that this would be something I would have to contend with at some point. I did not expect to have to wage this war so soon. Satan is a cunning, sneaky master of deceit. He is the father of lies and extremely skillful at his craft. I came very close to walking away from the diaconate over our holiday break before I recognized his handiwork. Now that I am aware of what his manipulation feels like I know that I have felt it for as long as I have also felt God’s call to serve.

A good friend could sense the struggle I was having and gave me a call. He reminded me that the devil doesn’t attack those he already has. He also doesn’t attack those who have no influence over others. Those who can do him the most damage get the worst attacks. If I were being attacked it must mean I am doing something right or stand to be an adversary in the future. He was an encouraging light for a soul in the shadows.

Now that I know what Satan’s hand in my life feels like I can look back and see the effects he has over me. I can clearly see now that the moment he got what he was trying to accomplish his presence would live me as quickly as it came to me. It is eerie when you can feel the darkness suddenly leave you. Now that I can recognize it I can try to do a better job at combating it. At least I hope I can. May God be my shield and sword.

I cannot imagine how badly some of our holy men and women get attacked. There is a growing darkness in this world feeding hate. Satan is sowing the seeds of deceit, hate, and chaos and his garden is growing rapidly.

Pray for your bishops, priests, deacons, and those who have chosen religious life. Pray for our Pope. Pray for them to be holy men and women for they do battle with evil every day.

Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” – Matthew 26: 31.

Father, send down the Holy Spirit unto those you have called to inspire and guide them to always be good and holy people who will lead your people closer to you.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen

And please pray for me and my brothers in diaconate formation; that we may stay strong and not give into the attacks that await us.

Be a blessing to everyone you meet and allow them to be a blessing to you.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Let's Talk About Sex Baby...

A friend asked a group of people if they thought he were gay by choice or by birth. Everyone in the group, being sympathetic to his struggle, told him he has born that way and to be proud. For me the source of his same sex attraction does not matter. His real choice is in how he responds to it. Having same sex attraction is not a sin. Acting on it is. Having a strong desire for something does not justify embracing the desire and it does not matter if you were born with the desire or if it developed from an experience.

There is a perceived notion by some that the Catholic Church hates people with same sex attraction. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Because every human is fallen every human has been given a cross they have to bear in this life. The Church does not hate someone just because of the cross they have been given to bear. In fact the Church is more like Simon the Cyrene, the man who helped Jesus carry his cross to Calvary. The Church is made up of sinners, each with their own crosses. The Church loves sinners and stands ready to help every sinner bear their cross in this life. There is no cross the Church is not ready to help a sinner carry. One needs only to ask.

The root of the problem with same sex attraction is when one uses their desires as justification to engage in sexual activity. God created sex to be part of a fruitful marriage. Its first purpose is procreative. Pro-creative = For-creation= to bring about new life. The second purpose of sex is to strengthen the bond between husband and wife. The family is the foundation of all society. Family is the rock that human interaction is built upon. Destroy the family and you destroy society.

Sex was never intended to be about personal pleasure. The road to heaven is selflessness – giving to another. The road to hell is selfishness – taking for one’s self. When sex is done for selfish pleasure it leads towards hell. It does not glorify God or honor his design and intent.

Any sex done outside of the bonds of one man, one woman marriage is therefore sinful. It does not matter if it is between people of the same sex, unmarried people of the opposite sex, those cohabitating, or even masturbation. Even sex between married couples that intentionally ends in a way that is not open to life is sinful.

I have a theory that the forbidden fruit mentioned in the first book of the bible was actually sex. Adam and Eve were naked and innocent and did not know each other. The devil tempted Eve into having sex with him and she in turn then had sex with Adam. Their eyes were opened and they were ashamed. The union with the devil could have possibly conceived Cain and this is how evil entered into human nature. Adam’s greatest sin was in not protecting his wife in the garden. This is just something to ponder.

Sex is serious stuff simply because sex is holy. It is through the act of sex that man was given something the angels weren’t. God shared with man the ability to create life. The devil cannot create life, he can only corrupt it. That is something he has been doing since Adam and Eve were placed in the garden. The devil has convinced man that sex is for personal gratification. He has gotten us to sacrifice our children to him. He has gotten us to believe that contraception is a good thing. Contra-ception = against conception = to stop life. Contraception has led to sterile, fruitless marriages.  It has weakened the bonds of marriage to the point that many no longer find a reason to be married. People now come together for what they can get for the self and not what they can give to the other. Once they stop getting it is time to move on. This in turn has destroyed the family. Once the foundation of a house has been destroyed the house falls. Society is in a death spiral. Most of the civilized world is below replacement rate – the rate of birth needed to just break even in the population. There are places in Europe where entire towns have closed simply because there is no one left to maintain them.

Through all of this the devil is laughing.

Death came into this world through selfishness in a garden.

Life was restored to the world through a garden by a celibate man born of a virgin woman.

Sex is holy and should only be used as it was designed.

Be a blessing to everyone you meet and allow them to be a blessing to you.