Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Tag Archives: Sin

I Dreamed a Dream…

The Church today celebrates the Memorial of St. John Bosco. This poor farm boy turned priest became the founder of the Salesians named for St. Francis deSales. The Salesian order is dedicated to the education of street kids. To date, the Salesian order is the second largest religious order in the world serving in 128 countries.

Don Bosco, as he was known by his waifs, was also known for his Words of Knowledge and prophetic dreams. In art, the street kids are always seen in hats or caps to hid their foreheads. Why? Well, because Don Bosco had the gift of reading hearts and he used to tell them he saw their sins written on their foreheads of course!

There are several volumes of his dreams, but the following dream is the most famous. Many see a connection between this dream and the Servant of God Pope John Paul II…but we will let you judge. Call on Don Bosco’s intercession if you work with the youth; you may never know what will happen with your dreams.

THE VISION OF THE TWO COLUMNS

On May 30, 1862 , Don Bosco recounted that in a dream he had seen an immense sea on which a great many ships were arranged for battle against a larger and taller ship. He also saw others which were defending the tall ship. Here are his words:

“In the midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky. One is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, at whose feet a large inscriptions reads:” ‘Auxilium Christianorum’ (‘Help of Christians’) . The other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size, and bears beneath it the inscription: ‘Salus credentium’ (‘Salvation of believers’).

“The flagship commander – the Roman Pontiff- standing at the helm, strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns, from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains. The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on it course. At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

“Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up; firearms and beaks fall to pieces; ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury, the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing seeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope’s death coincides with that of his successor’s election. The enemy’s self-assurance wanes.

“Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.

“Some auxiliary ships, which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship, are the first to tie up at the two columns. Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea. ” (memoirs, Vol. VII. Pages 107-108).


Published in the Internet on Saturday, April 20, 2002. U.S.A.

St. John Bosco, ora pro nobis!

Research to Support Structures of Sin

Warning!! This Blog post is meant for adults only or parents with their teens. Contains information inappropriate for our youth.

Institutionalized Structures of Sin

In his Apostolic Letter Evangelii Nuntiandi, Pope Paul VI stated that in society there are some sins that are so entrenched in the culture that they become part of the fabric and structure of the society. John Paul II continued this discussion of institutionalized societal sin in his encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis which called for Christians to come together in solidarity to overcome and evangelize these structures.

One of the many modern deep-seated structures of sin in our country is contraception. In 1930, Pope Pius XI promulgated the encyclical Casti Connubii which also prophesied the intrinsic link between contraception and abortion. Unfortunately, the statistics have proven him accurate. Yesterday, the Washington Post brought to our attention the recently published 118-page report: National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) in its article, The Checkup – Survey reveals America’s Sexual Activity, Condom Use. The good news is that it was impartially funded (note the sarcasm in Q’s typing) by Church & Dwight Co. Inc., maker of Trojan® brand sexual health products There were a number of co-authors that included Stephanie Sanders of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and the Department of Gender Studies at IU (to see the full list of co-authors go to the NSSBH web site provided above). We MUST take note of this study and be familiar with its findings. Not because we agree with it but because it will influence our public health policy for several generations:

This survey is one of the most expansive nationally representative studies of sexual behavior and condom use ever conducted, given the 80-year span of ages,” said Michael Reece, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion. “These data about sexual behaviors and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and unintended pregnancy. (Source: Washington Post)

The study had a number of key findings but recognizing that your time is precious, let me highlight four using the following direct quotes from the introduction to the study on the NSSBH Web site:

  • According to the study’s findings, 1 of 4 acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. (1 in 3 among singles)
  • [F]indings show that condoms are used twice as often with casual sexual partners as with relationship partners, a trend that is consistent for both men and women across age groups that span 50 years.
  • When it comes to responsible sexual behaviors, condom use is higher among black and Hispanic Americans than among white Americans and those from other racial groups.
  • Many surveys of adolescent sexual behavior create an impression that adolescents are becoming sexually active at younger ages, and that most teens are sexually active,” said Dr. Fortenberry. “Our data show that partnered sexual behaviors are important but by no means pervasive aspects of adolescents’ lives. In fact, many contemporary adolescents are being responsible by abstaining or by using condoms when having sex.

Reflection

Bullet 1

We should note that the first bullet illustrates a seemly low use of contraceptives -specifically condoms. Two important points. The first and most important observation is that the study finds usage of condoms an unacceptably low percentage:

These data about sexual behaviors and condom use in contemporary America are critically needed by medical and public health professionals who are on the front lines addressing issues such as HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and unintended pregnancy. (Emphasis mine)

because,

This data, when compared to other studies in the recent past, suggest that although condom use has increased among some groups, efforts to promote the use of condoms to sexually active individuals should remain a public health priority.

The study also seems to indicate that it is evidently critical that among the terrible diseases that ravage the human person listed (usually contracted through intimate relations), pregnancy should be included. I am reminded that when my oldest was born in 1995, I was unable to get insurance coverage when I changed jobs. The insurance company determined that the pregnancy was a preexisting condition sharing the same status as cancer (which is also wrong to deny coverage). While too late for me, thankfully, the laws changed in June 1995. Or, even more serious, when my wife and I were overjoyed finding out that she was pregnant with our fourth, the doctors, nurses, phlebotomy technicians and even admin assistants continued to ask her if she wants to keep the child since we already had three (Did I move to China?). Needless to say, Kaiser Permanente in Fairfax, VA received a number of phone calls with documented abuses of HIPAA and conduct unbecoming. More to the point, the researchers in their analysis, extrapolate that obviously we need to promote better the use of condoms and it must remain a public health priority. I don’t want to be cynical (yes, I do) but could the need for increased awareness be that Trojan is the principle funder of the study? I work for an advertising company and I believe that we call this “increasing your market share” – just thinking out loud.

The second point is when you weed through the research you find that condom use is considerably higher for the most vulnerable – just not for vaginal intercourse AND for those over the age of 25. Among our youth it is 79.1 percent for men and 58.1 percent for women between the ages of 14-17 (See Condom Use Graph). Our young adults between 18-24: 45.0 (m) and 38.7 (f). Across all age-groups, the average percentage is closer to 33 percent for men and 29 percent for women. For your reading pleasure, notice the statistics are much higher for non-vaginal intercourse.

Bullet 2

The fact that condom use among causal partners than those with “relationship partners” – whatever that means – is twice as high in not encouraging. This should really point out to us that there is a whole population out there that is starving for love. As odd as what I am about to state sounds, it is secondary to a rampant trend that my wife and I have observed among the young adults and youth. We are growing a society of users. While being very efficient and profitable for a business the damage that is done emotionally, physically and relationally can only be described as epic. What we see in relationships (not sexual or among dating but familial and even in business) is a take-what-fulfills-my-need and then discard. I guess we are greener than we thought, recycling all the time- even people. A corollary to this is that our young adults and youth are not forming relationships that are healthy and beneficial. What do I mean? True friends and family are not meant to give you what you want or make you feel good about yourself all the time. They and give  you what you need. This poor self-image society first must embrace the good, bad and the ugly about themselves in order to become who God has created them to be.

Bullet 3

Well, how is not forming permanent relationships that tell the truth -verbally and with your body – responsible. As we know (for those who have never considered this before), the very act of intimacy says I give my myself totally and completely to you, without reservation. Contraception says, I give myself totally and completely to you, except…We are lying with our bodies. I wonder why the study did not point out that Health and Human Services as well as USAID (on an international level) have always targeted minority populations. Sounds a little Margaret Sanger to me.

Bullet 4

On the positive side (yep, I found something), the study does use the word abstinence. It even links it to the words responsible and condom (Shoots! I was being positive). Well, I am glad that among our youth there are those who are abstaining. That being said, it is irresponsible for our youth to be sexually active. That does not make them adults, it makes them starved for attention and love. It also is a great indicator that we are failing them and they are being catechized in the art of sexual usury. Where is the prime source of catechesis – arguably, entertainment. I could lay out a case for this but it seems among all the topics we Catholics want to confront, we remain cowards when it pertains to our television, movie and music habits. For some reason, we believe that once we hit a certain age, the images and music no longer affect us. I think that if this is the case, then let the two-year old watch, listen, say and do what they want – we are just arguing about age not holiness.

Looking to the Future

I highly encourage everyone to read, digest and make an active choice to respond to this study. It will shape our health and education policy for years to come. As Catholic Christians we need push back, re-educate and evangelize. The truth is resplendent – but we first need to embody it. Cultures are changed one person at a time and sometimes we have sweeping changes through politics and great moves of God. Do your part. The lines have been drawn and the battle has begun. So, where are you going to start?

Witness to Holiness…First in Speech

We are all called to be witnesses for the Gospel, it is the Gospel mandate. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) in paragraph 2472 says it this way:

The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds. Witness is an act of justice that establishes the truth or makes it known.

All Christians by the example of their lives and the witness of their word, wherever they live, have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit by whom they were strengthened at Confirmation.

As I continue to prepare for my God-willing Diaconate ordination, I am drawn to meditate on the following prayer that the Bishop admonishes the newly ordained Deacons to incarnate as he hands on the Book of the Gospel to them:

Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become.

Believe what you read,

teach what you believe,

and practice what you teach.

I think this admonishment is something we all need to inculcate into our daily lives. At the core of the prayer is the simple demand of becoming who we profess to be. St. Paul even gives a blueprint for success to the young (I pray I am still considered that):

Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Hopefully, we remember that St. Timothy was about 17 when this was written to him. So, we could say that he is a young adult or adult due to the culture and time in which he lived. The first step towards become a witness to those around us, according to St. Paul, is speech. St. James in his epistle, rather pointedly shares with us the importance of our speech:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. (James 1:13)

In fact, because of the sins of speech, he actively discourages those who want (or quickly volunteer) to be teachers (verbal witnesses) by proclaiming that if you cannot control your tongue, then you have no hope of controlling the rest of your conduct (Notice speech precedes and drives conduct):

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies. It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes. In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions. Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna. (James 3:1-6)

Most of us think that this is just what we say. As every saint has taught, sins of omission are usually worse than sins of commission. This reminds me of Edmund Burke who once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We need to speak up,

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Today’s society uses words as  a tool. The very fact we have the sayings, “Words are cheap” or “I’ll believe it  when I see it” should scandalize the Christian. Remember what Michael Card wrote in his song, The Final Word?

When the Father wanted to communicate His love, He expressed it in one final word. The Final Word was Jesus, He needed no other one…

We live in a world of broken promises, trite comments and conversations that really communicate nothing. Oddly enough, the only words we typically trust in are those in our music. For some reason we many times allow them to manipulate our emotions into believing that somehow the artist understands us, what we are feeling, or where we are – I thought that was the definition of friends and family. From the beginning, the Lord intended words or speech to express who we are and to communicate His holiness and presence.

The greatest offenses of speech today is blasphemy. The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines blasphemy as:

Speaking against God in a contemptuous, scornful, or abusive manner. Included under blasphemy are offenses committed by thought, word, or action. Serious contemptuous ridicule of the saints, sacred objects, or of persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is indirectly attacked. Blasphemy is a grave violation of charity toward God. Its gravity may be judged by the capital punishment in the Old Testament, severe penalties of the Church, and in many cases also of the State for blasphemous speech or conduct. In order for a person to sin gravely in this manner, he must use blasphemous expressions and realize the contemptuous meaning of what he says or does.

To toss our Lord’s name around casually, or using His name as an exclamation in a text or IM would be grounds for being stoned in the Old Testament. Today, the penalty is well, hell (deliver us oh Lord!). We also need to remember that we participate in another person’s sin by choosing to ignore, confirm and/or allow the sin to continue. In other words, we incur the guilt as well. Example, what was the language like in the last movie or television show you watched? Did you encourage others to watch it and tell them it was a good/great movie if you just “overlook the language?” As a good priest friend also shared with me, being desensitized is not an excuse. It just means you choose to live with terminal cancer unless, of course, you take radical action.  For those who have no idea how to discover what is in a movie before you contribute to the profit: Screenit.com – fantastic service.

Let’s commit ourselves to recovering holy speech. To help us this Friday in our meditation on the Passion, the following is a quick list of offenses against truth that deal with speech- CCC 2463-2487.

Offenses against truthfulness:

  • False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness.276 When it is under oath, it is perjury.
  • [R]ash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor
  • [D]etraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them
  • [C]alumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
  • Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct.
    • Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another’s vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.
  • Boasting or bragging is an offense against truth. So is irony aimed at disparaging someone by maliciously caricaturing some aspect of his behavior.
  • [L]ie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.
    • Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

Have a great weekend and may the Lord bless you and your endeavors in recovering, rediscovering and building a Catholic culture for the glory of His name.


The Scandal of Amazing Grace

This week at my parish, Fr. Larry Richards is leading our mission. The week has been filled with so many graces it has been overwhelming. For all of his missions, Wednesday is dedicated to the Passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ…Blessed be His Name! In tandem with the evening’s presentation, confession is offered to all those present.

Last night I watched a scandalous event take place. Before you panic, no worries, Fr. Larry was fantastic and there was nothing improper. So, the question is, “What was so scandalous?” I am so glad you asked!

I watched a teen non-Catholic young lady  stand in a long confession line for an hour and a half to confess her sins. All the while, knowing full well that absolution was not likely to be offered since she is not Catholic. Watching her was amazing. She approached with a yearning confidence somehow recognizing that our Lord had empowered the priest to absolve her of her sins.

I have no idea what she was thinking. I have no clue whether a grace-filled indult was granted and absolution extended. I have no idea whether the heroic exterior was a mask for a trembling conscience. I do not even know if she smiled afterward with some consolation. What I do know is that she did what many Catholics take for granted or refuse to do. And here my friends is the scandal.

The scandal is not that the confession lines are short while a non-Catholic is willing to stand waiting for an hour for her confession to be heard. It is not even the fact that many of us trust in the ritual instead of the Father’s love, mercy and grace that our Lord wants to give. The scandal is she had the courage to look directly into the face of the redeemer, face her faults and sins with a maturity that few adults dare to dream of. The scandal is that we are comfortable where we are in our spiritual life while she who is uncatechized said to our Lord, “I thirst.”

How do we ante up? We first commit to scrutiny. Most think that it is the job of the priest or preacher to address the sin in our lives. But this is not true. It is actually more the responsibility of the family and community. Now, the natural response is that we tell our family or friends to stop judging us or to look at themselves. St. John of the Cross says that the rebuttal against judging is the primary sign of pride. St. Thomas explains that telling the other to look at themselves is sure evidence of vanity. We need repent for rejecting the grace of repentance poured out by the Holy Spirit for our salvation and holiness.

Secondly, we need to stop looking at just the top ten. Many of us think we are doing great by avoiding the top ten while embracing the culture lock, stock and barrel. Yep, that’s right. We need to judge (which means to decide by the way God measures) what we listen to, the activities we choose to partake in and our integrity at work. EVERYTHING is free game before the Lord.

This should not overwhelm us but cause us to give thanks to God for His gracious mercy while desiring to fill ALL of our life with His holiness. Tonight my family and I are back at the mission. My prayer for myself and my family is that the Holy Spirit has its way with us and to not allow us to get away with just listening to a mission. We want to be a scandelon too but for the glory of His Name and mercy.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and faithfulness! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases. (Psalm 115:1-3)

Broken Shells and Broken Hearts

As my kids and I were walking on the beach last night collecting sea shells, my youngest daughter ran up and said, “Daddy look! Isn’t it pretty? It’s a little broken but it is still pretty.” Her simple statement carried me into dreamland just pondering this insight.

At Franciscan University, a musical group had been formed dedicated to sing about the atrocities of abortion called, Little Grace. One of my good friends, Eric Hendry (extremely talented musician – TX make him sing for you!) used to sing a song called Broken Hearted. This is what put me to sleep last night. The words that stood out included:

For He loves the brokenhearted, for He was broken too. The work in you He started is no where near to being through. So, don’t give up hope…

We seem to need to believe that we are perfect (or have it all together) and that we are independent – we do not need help. The exception? Maybe our really close friends who we vent or cry with and then we quickly compose ourselves and move on with life. We have truly perfected the art of unhealthy living.

I wanted just to encourage everyone today that my kids and I prefer broken shells, those that are rough around the edges or have been worn-away by the ocean. They possess a simple beauty about them. Not because they are broken but because they are what they are and do not pretend to be anything else. In their humility of accepting whatever has eroded, tossed or even buffeted them on the bottom of the seafloor they have been shaped into the perfect collectible to be admired for its beauty.

We too need to present ourselves just as we are. My dad gave me a button when I was much younger that says, “God loves you as you are and sees you as you will be.” It is true. We are not the same person that we were yesterday or will be tomorrow. The Father has sent various experiences that will shape us into the the persons He desires us to be. As we face our challenges and combat the areas of sin in our lives the pain, toil and anguish will pay off. Just not today. Don’t stop struggling, let us help you share that burden but don’t get upset because we are not mind-readers. Oh, and if you run away from all those struggles and bury yourself in the sand to you cannot be broken. Sorry, you are already broken but can no longer be collected and admired for your beauty…my kids will be so disappointed.

Now, least we forget, the Father never wishes evil and yet it happens. He does, however, provide us with the grace to smooth out that grain of sand under pressure to form the pearl. Our hope should continue to be in the Lord who loves us simply, just as we are, but gives us the grace and strength to become what we must be…His Beloved.

As you continue through your day, I hope you will remember the words to this simple song,

For He loves the brokenhearted, for He was broken too. The work in you He started is no where near to being through. So, don’t give up hope…

Teen sex not always bad for school performance

WARNING! THIS WILL BE A HIGHLY SARCASTIC POST!

Well, it seems that the American Psychological Association (APA) is having another Forrest Gump moment. You know, “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Except the APA’s box has been sitting outside in the 100 degree Atlanta heat and has melted into utter oblivion. Another way to say it, in Forrest Gump vernacular, “Stupid is as stupid does.” You may be asking, “What is he ranting about today!” Great question, glad you asked.

This morning, the Washington Post published a story entitled, Teen sex not always bad for school performance. To summarize, the APA states that their latest study shows that committed sexual relationships among high school teens does not adversely affect their GPA.  Additionally, those who are in uncommitted sexual relationships or just “hook up” have a slightly worse GPA than those who practice abstinence. Based on this evidence, there is a call to reform the sex ed programs to reflect this new found knowledge and to put the hearts and minds of our teens at ease by telling them it is okay to have marital relations with someone you are not married to while you are in high school.

Initial thoughts

Sooooo, if I want my teen to improve their GPAs I should encourage a committed sexual relationship? Or maybe, “Hey fill in the name of your son and/or daughter here, if you have relations with your date tonight, make sure you two are committed or your grades could go down!” Last but not least, “Mom and Dad, do not tell me that I cannot have relations with my date.  The APA says that if it is within a committed relationship, my GPA could be greater than those who abstain. PLEASE!! I am trying to get into college!”

Serious thoughts

While the APA and other media outlets are campaigning to change our mindsets and steal our teens’ virtue, the Church continues to spread the good news that in Christ there is freedom. The Church is not against the marital act…it encourages the free, faithful, fruitful and total mutual self-giving of persons within the context of a marriage.

It is not like this government-endorsed hedonism is new to the Church. Remember Rome? I find it funny that University of Southern California sociologist Julie Albright or Marie Harvey, professor of public health at Oregon State University think that teens are stupid. Lacking prudence, life experience and adequate control over their hormones…yes.  But they can think and they are observant.  You think they haven’t noticed the disastrous effects of the sexual revolution or that mom and dad switch out marriage partners more often that Paris Hilton changes clothes? I think they are observant and the following statistics are encouraging:

  • 54% of high school students are virgins.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2002). Youth risk behavior surveillance.
  • 58% on teens surveyed recently said sexual activity for high school-age teens is not acceptable, even if precautions are taken against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
    National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2000). The Cautious Generation? Teens Tell Us About Sex, Virginity, and “The Talk”. Washington, DC: Author.
  • 82% of teens desire to have one marriage partner for life.
    Barna Research, 1998
  • 87% of teens do not think it is embarrassing for teens to say that they are virgins.
    National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2000). The cautious generation? Teens tell us about sex, virginity and “the talk.” Washington, DC: Author.
  • 63% of teens who have had sexual intercourse said they wish they had waited.
    National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (2000). Not Just Another Thing to Do: Teens Talk About Sex, Regret, and the Influence of Their Parents. Washington, DC: Author.

While these numbers are encouraging there is room for improvement. We need them to hear that the Gospel brings freedom in every area of our lives.  That modesty is not just about clothes but about speech and media too. For those of us who work with the youth, we need to show them first. Our living one way and teaching another compromises our witness…whether we believe it or not.

Some final snark

I thought I would end with a few reflections:

I wonder if our students test scores would improve if we spent more time teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic than how to put a prophylactic on a banana or a cucumber. I mean, I need an editor for my blog because writing and editing are not among my gifts (As Chris in a comment helped remind me – thanks Chris for the correction). Or maybe, that dating means I am ready for marriage and that committed till-death-do-us-part relations are vital to our national economic welfare (See the outstanding research presented by Dr. Patrick Fagan at the Family Research Council on this topic). Frankly, I am looking to marry off my kids one day and I need someone that they are worthy of or are worthy of them (BTW, just a note for the future, my best friend has a 9mm).

To my fellow parents, catechists and youth leaders.  How are you educating? Remember that every word, movie/television/music choice and or reference; every giggle or joke about the gift or sexuality, every fashion choice we make is being scrutinized by our children and students. FAITH IS MORE CAUGHT THAN TAUGHT. I am sure you are doing a great job since it is not only our soul but the souls of all who have been entrusted to us that are hanging in the balance. Of course, if we do not know how we are doing, we will at the general judgment when all our sins and meritorious choices will be revealed to all in the light of God’s grace.

To the those at the Washington Post who agree with this report and all the sociologists and sex ed teachers who are looking to warp our virtue: Go back to school, you learned nothing based on your comments. Oh, and demand a refund from your alma mater, you were cheated. Just sayn…

Vengence is mine says the Lord (Rm. 12:19)

We always hear that there are certain sins that cry out for vengeance from the Lord. These sins are particularly grievous because they offend or are directly contrary to our nature. Scripture lists these sins as those sins that immediate inflame the anger of God.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1867 states:

The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are “sins that cry to heaven”: the blood of Abel,[1] the sin of the Sodomites,[2] the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt,[3] the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan,[4] injustice to the wage earner.[5]

They can be summarized as such:

  1. Willful murder
  2. Sins against nature
  3. Oppression of the poor
  4. Oppression of the alien, widow and the orphan
  5. Injustice to the wage earner or defrauding laborers of their just wages

Q: Do you see any parallels with our current economic state and number 5?


[1] Gen 4:10.

[2] Gen 18:20; 19:13.

[3] Ex 3:7-10.

[4] Ex 20:20-22.

[5] Deut 24:14-15; Jas 5:4.

Sins against the Holy Spirit

The Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 1864 sites Mark 3:29 and then explains that the mercy of God has no limits save hardness of heart which ultimately does not acknowledge sin and thus need for repentance.  This is a rejection of salvation and a direct sin against the Holy Spirit.  It says:

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”[1] There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit.[2] Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss.

Traditionally, six sins are attributed to sinning against the Holy Spirit.  They include:

  1. Despair of one’s salvation (of God’s mercy)
  2. Presumption of saving oneself without merit
  3. Resisting the known truth
  4. Envy of the graces received by others
  5. Obstinacy in one’s sins
  6. Final impenitence

May Justice guard our hearts from these sins so we may always yield to the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, send your Spirit of Repentance that we may be transformed into the image of your love.


[1] Mt 12:31; cf. Mk 3:29; Lk 12:10.

[2] Cf. John Paul II, DeV 46.