Weeks 421-430

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 421: Human Pride: A Reflection on John 5:31-47

If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.  Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. (John 5:31-47)

 “I do not accept human testimony…I do not accept human praise.” These are two statements that Jesus makes in the Gospel. And if we look at Jesus throughout the Gospels, we see he’s telling the truth. Jesus NEVER accepts human testimony or praise. Take two examples (there are many others).

A man ran up to Jesus, knelt at his feet and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call ME good? No one is good but God alone.”

A woman in the crowd cried out, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you.” Jesus answered her, “Blessed still are the ones who hear the word of God and keep it.”

Every time someone praises Jesus, he gives that praise back to the Father. Mary does the exact same thing. When Mary visits Elizabeth after the incarnation, John the Baptist, still a fetus, leaps in his mother’s womb, and Elizabeth filled with Holy Spirit says, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But how is it that the mother of my Lord has come to me?” And Mary responds to Elizabeth’s praise of her by saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord! My spirit exalts in God my savior, for he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. The ALMIGHTY has done great things for me, and holy is HIS name.” Mary takes Elizabeth’s praise of her and gives it BACK to the Father.

Why do both Jesus and Mary do this? Because pride is the deadliest of all sins. Pride is the sin that all other sins stem from. Why do we commit all those other sins? Because somewhere in our hearts we’ve convinced ourselves that we’ve earned it, or we deserve it. Pride. I have a right to this.

I saw a meme on Facebook of a woman with a pro-abortion sign, and she was saying, “I have the right to decide what to do with MY body.” And the pro-life response was, “It’s not YOUR body. If it were, YOU’D be the one who dies, not the baby.” Pride. My body. I have the right. Humility by contrast submits itself to the good of others and the glory of God.

People get confused by parts of the Bible. The Israelites made a golden calf while Moses in on top of the mountain, receiving the Ten Commandments from God, and God is ready to annihilate them in the desert for it, and Moses talks God out of it. Many people use this passage as a means to discredit scripture or Judeo-Christianity in general. If God is perfect, how can he change his mind? If God changes his mind, he’s not omnipotent and therefore can’t be God.

God is doing this to test Moses. The Israelites have just proven THEY’RE not worthy of the covenant by worshiping the golden calf, but is Moses worthy of it? So, God tests Moses by saying he’s going to wipe out the Israelites and start all over again with YOU, Moses! I’ll raise up a mighty nation from YOUR seed! Pretty impressive offer! The twelve tribes of Moses! Yet how does Moses respond? He begs for the lives of the people; submitting himself for the good of others. AND for the glory of God. What argument does Moses use? “You can’t break your promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You MUST be true to your word because you’re God! And you don’t want the Egyptians saying, ‘Look! It was with evil intent that the Lord led them into the desert so he could destroy them!’ Because then you’re going to validate the awful way they treated the Israelites, and your name will be sullied because of it.” Moses was seeking the glory of God, not the glory of Moses. That’s humility. And God responds to Moses’ humility.

Because pride is insidious, Jesus and Mary take any human praise directed toward them and give it back to the Father. You don’t want to give pride any foothold in your soul, and the easiest way to accomplish that is by acknowledging that any good thing in us, or any good thing we do, comes from God. Blessed be God forever. –Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: The proud person is like a grain of wheat thrown into water: it swells, it gets big. Expose that grain to the fire: it dries up, it burns. The humble soul is like a grain of wheat thrown into the earth: it descends, it hides itself, it disappears, it dies; but to revive in heaven. --Bl Mary of Jesus Crucified "The Little Arab"

Prayer: (From the Litany of Humility)

 

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,

 

 Questions for Reflection:

  1. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Why?

  2. Pray the Litany of Humility. Copies are available to pray daily from the CFP Holy Angels Gift Shop (cfpholyangels.com)

  3. Find a few more passages in the Gospels where Jesus does not accept human praise.

  4. If you are praised, what can you say to refer the praise to God the Father?

  5. Discuss the quote from Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified.

  6. Find some incidents in modern life which show pride. What would be the humble response?

  7. Humility is acknowledging that God is everything good and we are nothing good.

  8. Discuss this passage from the Book of Job: God is more glorious than the moon; he shines brighter than the stars. In comparison, people are maggots; we mortals are mere worms. (Job 25:5-6)

  9. Read the entire passage from John in today’s Oratory. How can we testify to God?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 422: Keep Me Save, O God: A Reflection on Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, you are my Lord, you are my only good. As for the holy ones who are in the land, they are noble, in whom is all my delight. They multiply their sorrows who court other gods. Blood libations to them I will not pour out, nor will I take their names upon my lips. LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure. Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance. I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me. I keep the LORD always before me; with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken. Therefore, my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (Psalm 16)

“Keep me safe O God; you are my hope.” This is a responsorial response based on Psalm 16. Note that the original Psalm reads Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge while the response for the Responsorial Psalm reads Keep me safe O God; you are my hope. We can hope to take refuge in God. In fact, that is where we SHOULD take refuge. Our hope is that God will protect us.

How often do you pray for your protection? What do you need protection from?

Pray for protection from sickness and disease? You can. I wouldn’t. Because what if that’s the cross I need to carry for my salvation?

Well, certainly pray for protection against poverty so that I can have a means to survive. But what if that poverty is keeping me from becoming proud, or selfish, or greedy?

It must be OK to pray for protection against those who would do us violence. Absolutely it’s OK, but keep in mind that those Christians who have died around the world for their faith are now martyrs. For them is reserved one of the best spots in heaven. Not a bad trade.

Well, then, what should we pray to be kept safe from? Those things that would destroy our souls.

Pray for protection against false teachings.

Pray not to be seduced by the promises of the world.

Pray for protection against cynicism, and despair.

In other words, pray not to be led into temptation.

Now that is one of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, sure enough. So, every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are including that petition to be protected. However, on top of praying the Lord’s Prayer, I would advise us every day to actively and consciously pray that God keep us safe from evil.

This is the reason I tagged the Saint Michael prayer onto the end of Mass every day. The Church did this for years, and when we stopped, everything started coming unraveled. We need to pray for protection.

When the Lord does keep us safe, we come to realize the second part of that response. “You are my hope.” Hope is based on the promise of something that hasn’t happened yet. Hope gives us joy, because we know that, at some future time, something tremendous is waiting for us, but if we’re in bondage to sin, we have no joy because we cripple the effects of hope. Sin makes us grow in cynicism where we always look for the negative around us and even focus on the negative IN us. Even when we recognize the sin that  we’re in bondage to, when we don’t have hope, we don’t even try to oppose it.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, I know I have this fault, but it’s just who I am. I am who I am.” Isn’t ironic that the words that God used to identify himself to Moses, “I am who I am,” are the same EXACT words that people use to justify their sin? Why is this? Because in their hearts, that’s exactly what they’ve done – they have made themselves God.

I decide right and wrong for myself. I am my own magisterium. Look around. You see a LOT of that going around these days. These are people without hope. These are people without joy. Pray against these temptations every day, so you can have joy in your heart today, and hope for something better tomorrow.

 

Blessed be God forever. –Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: We must never get into the habit of being preoccupied with the future. There is no reason to do so. God is there. Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am Your humble servant. I come before you today in need of hope. There are times when I feel helpless; there are times when I feel weak. I pray for hope. I need hope for a better future. I need hope for a better life. I need hope for love and kindness. Some say that the sky is at its darkest just before the dawn. I pray that this is true, for all seems dark. I need Your light, Lord, in every way. I pray to be filled with Your light from head to toe. To bask in Your glory. To know that all will be made right in the world and that You always bring good out of evil. Nothing escapes Your plan. Help me to walk in Your light and live my life in faith and glory. In Your name I pray, Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What is the difference between “in You I take refuge” and “You are my hope”? What is similar about each of these petitions?

  2. Father Sisco mentions that people pray for protection, but often from the wrong things. Why might sickness be to our benefit? What might poverty teach us? How does God bring good out of evil done by one person to another?

  3. Should we pray to end evil and injustice? Why or why not?

  4. Some people say that God permits evil so that good can come from it. Do you believe this is true? Why or why not?

  5. Does saying, “This is just how I am,” excuse us from taking responsibility for our behavior?

  6. How do people make themselves into gods today? Give at least 3 examples.

  7. How are we to determine what is right and what is wrong?

  8. Why is it a mistake to think that each person can decide right or wrong for himself or herself?

  9. One priest says that the moral confusion in society is from taking the idea of democracy too far. Discuss this.

  10. Discuss the quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta.

  11. Why is hope one of the cardinal virtues?

  12. The other cardinal virtues are faith and love. Why would faith, hope, and love be considered the cardinal (main) virtues?

  13. Write your own prayer for hope.

  14. How can you minister to someone who feels hopeless?

  15. Discuss Fr. Sisco’s insight: if we’re in bondage to sin, we have no joy because we cripple the effects of hope. Sin makes us grow in cynicism where we always look for the negative around us and even focus on the negative IN us. Even when we recognize the sin that we’re in bondage to, when we don’t have hope, we don’t even try to oppose it.

  16. How does cynicism affect today’s society? Is it due to lack of hope?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 423: Remain in My Love: A Reflection on John 15:9-12

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15: 9-12)

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.”

Did you notice the condition in that statement? IF you keep my commandments, you WILL remain in my love.

Now in days of old people feared God, and the image they had of God was that of the hanging judge, the judge that always gave the maximum sentence for even the smallest infraction of the law, and God was just watching us through a magnifying glass, waiting for us to just step out of line, just a bit, so he could send his wrath crashing down on us. That image was very obviously skewed.

But the image people have of God today is equally skewed. Today, people imagine God to be the grandfatherly old man, and Jesus is his hippie, flower child son, who’d never hold us accountable to ANY sin, other than that of being intolerant of other people who are sinning and just don’t care. So let’s look closely at this.

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” How does the Father love the Son? Completely. Sacrificially. To the point where the Father has given all authority and power and glory to the Son. How does the Son love us? Completely. Sacrificially. The Son loves us to the point where he was willing to have his flesh ripped from his body one little piece at a time to demonstrate that love. Both the Father and the Son love by giving themselves completely in love to others.

“Remain in my love.” How? “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.” So what commandments has Jesus given us? “My commandment to you is this; love one another as I have loved you.” We love by imitating his love, completely, sacrificially. And there is no way around this. We cannot remain in the love of God if we cannot love others completely and sacrificially. This is what we have to challenge ourselves to daily.

Father Bob Burns, a retired priest, always had a guideline when one of his young, assistant pastors wanted to do something in the parish, or try something innovative with the Mass. He would always say, “Does it serve you, or does it serve the people? Is it for your glory, or is it for God’s glory?” Good guidelines, for all of us.

When we gossip, who is it serving? God? Others? No. It serves us. We run others down ultimately to prop ourselves up. You see this in all sin. Sin serves the self, not God or others. That’s why it is sin. Love extends outward. Love isn’t just giving. It’s giving till it hurts. It’s giving until we can’t give anymore.

Now, honestly, we all fall short of that mark, myself included. But that’s the goal we have to strive for every day. This is what we have to challenge ourselves to become; to love greater, to sin less, by emptying out our egos, to make more room for his love, so we can remain in his love, both now and in eternity.

Blessed be God forever. -- Fr. Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." --Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Prayer: Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of those whom I have injured. Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How do you abide in God’s love? Give concrete examples.

  2. Discuss the two images of God—the wrathful one waiting for us to trip up and the all loving God who dismisses sin and indulges us. Where in today’s world do you see instances of belief in a wrathful God? Where in an indulgent God?

  3. What are the dangers to society if it believes in a wrathful God?

  4. What are the dangers to society if it believes in an all indulgent God?

  5. How does the Father love the Son? How does the Son love the Father? Discuss each of these ways: Sacrificially. Completely.

  6. Is it possible to love others sacrificially and completely? Give examples. What are the joys and difficulties of doing this?

  7. What is the proper concept of God, as taught by the Catholic Church and revealed in Scripture?

  8. How can we follow Mother Teresa’s advice to never let anyone leave us without feeling better or happier? Give concrete examples of how to do this.

  9. How can we be living expressions of God’s kindness? What does kindness in our face look like? What does kindness in our eyes look like? How can we have a kind smile? An unkind smile? What makes a greeting kind and genuine?

  10. Do you ever pray an act of love? Should you?

  11. Jesus said, “IF you keep my commandments, you WILL REMAIN in my love.” Discuss this. Is the reverse true? If we do NOT keep God’s commandments, are we, therefore, out of God’s love? Give reasons for your answer.

  12. Discuss this as a guideline for making decisions and getting involved with projects: “Does it serve you, or does it serve the people? Is it for your glory, or is it for God’s glory?”

  13. Father Sisco shows how gossip serves self. Take some other sins and discuss how they serve self. If you needs a starting point, try these: lying –

  14.  

  15. Go over the commandments one at a time. How can you keep them? Are there any you break habitually? How can you keep from doing that?

  16. Using Mother Teresa’s reflection, tell how you would do what she suggests about spreading love: Give concrete examples of how you would spread love:

    • In your house?

    • To your wife or husband

    • To your children

    • To a next door neighbor

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 425: Do You Love Me More than These?: A Reflection on John 21: 15-19

 

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ (John 21: 15-19)

 

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

 

Have you ever wondered who are "these"? Who is Jesus asking Peter to compare his love with? Why, his other disciples, of course. The ones who went fishing with him. That's the answer most people would give. And it's the wrong answer.

 

Well, then, who is Jesus asking Peter to compare his love with? Not who. WHAT? WHAT is Jesus asking Peter to compare his love to? And the answer is, everything.

 

Jesus is really asking, "Simon, son of John, do you love me MORE than ANYTHING else?" THAT’S what Jesus is asking Peter. Am I at the top of your priority list? And this is the same question Jesus asks us every single day of our lives. “I realize that you LOVE many things. I realize that you LOVE many people. But do you love me MORE than these things? Do you love me MORE than these people?”

 

What if there is a conflict between loving ME, and loving THESE? Who wins? This is in keeping with the rest of scripture.

 

What’s the Shema, the heart of the Mosaic Law? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

 

What’s the first of the Ten Commandments? “I am the Lord your God, who led you out of the land of Egypt; you shall not have any other gods before me.”

 

What’s the first of the beatitudes? “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Why? Because poor people HAVE to rely on God for their very survival.

 

I’ve said before, love begins when we WANT what’s best for another, it grows when we DO what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to SACRIFICE for what’s best for another. What was Jesus calling Peter to sacrifice to show his love? Himself. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Lay yourself down in service to others. Teach them. Minister to them. Make my family grow. THAT was his sacrifice. And we are all called to share in that sacrifice in some small way. What Jesus called Peter to do he calls us all to do. We are all called to teach others through our example. We are all called to minister to others through our works of charity; the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. And in so doing we will make the family of God grow.

 

The problem these days is that people confuse love with license. Modern thought thinks that love means letting anybody do what they want, when they want, how they want. Modern thought thinks that love means tolerating sin. No. That isn’t love, in fact that’s detrimental to love. Letting someone continue to do what we KNOW will damage their souls is indifference, which like hate, is the opposite of love.

 

“Well FATHER, Jesus loved the sinners!” Yes he did, and he told us to do the same. But Jesus didn’t condone sin. He FORGAVE people’s sins, and then said, “Don’t DO this anymore!” Jesus put the truth out there and, when people wanted to walk away, he LET them walk away, because loving people also means letting them choose their own path.

 

But that doesn’t mean we can just keep our mouths shut and not give them the opportunity to choose. We still have to put the message out there. Whoever wants it can accept it. Whoever doesn’t want it can walk away. The Church's job is not to make people feel good. The role of the Church is to point the way to heaven. Do these things, and don’t do those things, and your salvation is guaranteed. My brothers and sisters, pray with me today that all people, including our own fellow Catholics, love God more than these.

 

And blessed be God forever.--Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: “No one should follow what he considers to be good for himself, but rather what seems good for another. Let them put Christ before all else; and may he lead us all to everlasting life.” --  St. Benedict

Prayer: God, my Father, may I love You in all things and above all things. May I reach the joy which You have prepared for me in Heaven. Nothing is good that is against Your Will, and all that is good comes from Your Hand. Place in my heart a desire to please You and fill my mind with thoughts of Your Love, so that I may grow in Your Wisdom and enjoy Your Peace. Amen.

 

Questions for Reflection:

 

  1. Make a list of the things and people you love. Now order them with the person or thing you love the most at the top. Evaluate your list. What does it tell you about your loves? About your priorities? Do you need any adjustment?

  2. Is it possible to love God above everything else or anyone else? Why or why not?

  3. Discuss the following from Saint Augustine: What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.

  4. Father Sisco says that it is loving to tell people when they are sinning. Do you agree? Why or why not?

  5. Is it possible to correct the sinner while still assuring him or her that you still love them? How does one do this?

  6. Discuss this: I’ve said before, love begins when we WANT what’s best for another, it grows when we DO what’s best for another, but love reaches perfection when we’re willing to SACRIFICE for what’s best for another.

  7. What is God calling you to sacrifice for another? Have you made the sacrifice? Can you?

  8. What is easiest to sacrifice for you? What is most difficult for you to sacrifice? Is there anything you think you could not sacrifice for God? What is it? Why do you feel that you could not give this up for God’s sake?

  9. Discuss the quote from St. Benedict and how it relates to sacrifice.

  10. Pray the above prayer. Does it make sense to you/ Do you see anything questionable about it? Discuss.

  11. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Our Lord. How many times has God asked you that question? What is the basis of your answer?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 426: Wolves Leading the Sheep: A Reflection on Acts 20: 28-31

“Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Some even from your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them. 31Therefore be alert . . . “(Acts 20:28-31)

“And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth…”

What is Paul talking about in the Acts of the Apostles? Paul is addressing the presbyters, the priests of Ephesus, as he is being prepared to be taken away by ship to Rome, and trial, and most likely his execution. And in his farewell address to the priests of Ephesus, he warns them, after I leave, savage wolves will come forward and attempt to destroy the flock. And THEN he says, “and from your OWN group, men will come forward perverting the truth.”

“Well, wait a minute, Father. You just said Paul was talking to the priests of the Church in Ephesus.” That’s right. I did. Right from the apostolic age of the Church we have had a problem with priests who teach their OWN gospel, instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bishop Tobin is in the crossfire again over a tweet in which he told Roman Catholics that they should not participate in the Gay Pride events that are coming up. Here is the Tweet: “A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” Some priests have joined the hurricane of criticisms being hurled at the Bishop. I was not one of them. I defended the Bishop on my Facebook page, and caught some flack for it myself. I had some people unfriend me…again. In fact, I think I’m just going to have a contest with myself, ‘How many people can I get to drop me from their friend list THIS week?!’

But my whole premise was, the Bishop has every right to advise his flock what is conducive and what is NOT conducive to the Catholic faith. He didn’t say that if anyone went to a gay pride event they’d get kicked out of the Church. Nor did he say anyone is kicked out of the Church for being gay. So what’s wrong with event? It’s right in the name. Gay pride. We should never take pride in the fact we’re sinning.

Quoting Bishop Sheen, “The only difference between a sinner and a saint is found in their attitude toward their sin—one is persisting in them, and one is weeping bitterly.” And therein lies the problem. People don’t want to call any sexual behavior sinful anymore; and unless it’s between a man and a woman, in a marriage, who aren’t doing anything to block conception, it is sinful. Anything else reduces sex to gratification only, and that is a sinful misuse of the gift.

“Well, everybody sins sexually in some way!” That doesn’t make it NOT a sin though. If EVERYBODY does indeed sin sexually in some way than EVERYBODY should be coming to confession a lot more frequently than they do.

"Well, I know gay people and they’re very nice!" I know gay people too and I agree! But I also know a lot of nice people who are smokers, and when I see them go for a cigarette, I remind them, ‘You should really try to quit that you know,’ because I know it’s bad for them. NO ONE has ever given up smoking because I said that to them, but I’m going to keep saying it, because if you love someone you don’t want to see them do something that will damage themselves physically or spiritually.

“Not everyone believes what we believe.” Granted. No one HAS to. No one should be bullied or ostracized for who they are or what they believe! Agreed! Neither should the Bishop! Bishop Tobin shouldn’t be bullied for who he is. Catholics shouldn’t be bullied for what we believe.

And the Bishop of the Diocese of Providence has every right to tell Catholics living in Rhode Island, what is conducive and what is not conducive to the Catholic faith. If people strongly disagree and want to leave the Catholic faith, they can. If people want to ignore the bishop and go support the Pride events anyway, they can. But don’t get mad at the doctor because he tells you something you like may be bad for your health. Many wolves are out there who will give you a message contrary to one I just did. And be advised, some of them wear Roman collars. --Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: You must all follow the lead of the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed that of the Father; follow the presbytery as you would the Apostles; reverence the deacons as you would God's commandment. -- Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Prayer: CHAPLET OF REPARATION FOR PRIESTS (To be prayed on the rosary)

Incline (+) unto my aid, O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,world without end.

(On each of the Our Father beads): Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Thy Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish or spot, in reparation for my sins and for the sins of all Thy priests.

(On each of the Hail Mary beads ): By Thy Precious Blood, O Jesus, purify and sanctify thy priests.

(In place of the Glory be to the Father): O Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth is named, have mercy on all Thy priests, and wash them in the Blood of the Lamb.

-Adapted from In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart, Ignatius Press Available on prayer card from Confraternity of Penitents Holy Angels Gift Shop.
 

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Take the following arguments and discuss them:

    • Well, everybody sins sexually in some way.

    • Well, I know gay people and they’re very nice!

    • Not everyone believes what we believe

  2. Discuss the quote from St. Ignatius of Antioch, in light of this Oratory reflection.

  3. Pray the Chaplet for your priest and/or bishop.

  4. What does one do if attracted to sexual sin? How is it possible to remain chaste?

  5. What’s the difference between being a homosexual and practicing homosexuality?

  6. What’s the difference between being a homosexual and promoting gay pride?

  7. The Catholic Church, following ancient teachings, persists in stating that homosexual activity is disordered and should be avoided. But homosexuals may be part of the Catholic Church, although the Church admonishes them to remain chaste. How can you reconcile these two facts?

  8. What does the Catholic Church find wrong with the practice of homosexuality?

  9. Is it possible to be a chaste homosexual? Chaste in any situation where sexually tempted?

  10. Discuss the response Bishop Tobin received to his tweet. Do you ever commend your Bishop for taking a firm stand on Catholic moral teaching?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 427: Treasures on Earth: A Reflection on Matthew 6:19-21

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “ (Matthew 6:19-21)

But whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. (2 Corinthians 11:21-30)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up treasure in heaven.”

Well, THERE it is, my brothers and sisters -- the sum of our struggle on earth.

We want to go to heaven, but we also want to enjoy the goods of this world. So what treasures of the world CAN we legitimately enjoy, without jeopardizing the treasures of heaven? That seems to be the question that plagues most people.

And BOY is THAT a difficult balance to find, and truth be told, I haven’t found it yet. Look at the all the things that Saint Paul suffered for the gospel--imprisonments, beatings, brushes with death, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, deprived of food and water. I have not suffered a single one of those things for the faith, and I’m wagering neither have you. And that’s OK. What Paul is describing here is heroic virtue. And while heroic virtue is morally commendable, it’s not necessary for salvation.

But I look at Paul’s list, and I look at myself, and ask, am I really even doing what’s necessary? Paul underwent starvation and dehydration, and looking at myself, I clearly don’t deprive myself of food in any way, shape or form. I KNOW I should fast more. I KNOW I have an unholy attachment to an earthly treasure, food. My unholy attachment contributes to my health problems, like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which make me less effective in serving you. I am sinning through my earthly attachment. I KNOW I’m sinning, yet am I trying hard enough to divest myself of this earthly treasure, for the sake of a heavenly one?

I have a good work ethic. I always have. My parents bought an ice cream store before the summer I was in sixth grade, and I said goodbye to summer vacations and weekends forever. I’ve been working since I was eleven years old. I do an average of a twelve hour work day here in the parish. During Advent and Lent it goes up to fourteen hours. In the summer it goes down to 8. That’s one of the reasons why I love summer. The school is out of session, most of the committee’s and organizations don’t meet, and the parish slows way down. So I use the summer to decompress and reenergize for the other ten months I run around like a crazy man in this place, and I have no guilt about that.

 But what I do I DO with that extra down time? Every summer I tell myself I’m going to use that extra time to do spiritual reading, and extra prayer, so I can be a more effective shepherd. Yet, inevitably, what I end up doing, is watching TV, listening to music, playing a computer game, or going to see the Paw Sox at McCoy. Nothing sinful! But definitely reaching for earthly treasures, before heavenly ones.

So I still struggle to find that balance my brothers and sisters, between doing what I want to do, and knowing what I should do. So I invite us all to examine our lives today, and see what our earthly treasures are, and what treasures we’ve stored for heaven, and discern if that ratio is well balanced.

--Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: There are three things which I am not able to do without: food, clothing and sleep; but I can restrict them to some extent. - St. Poemen

Prayer: Prayer to Remove What Keeps Me from God: I beg of you, my Lord, to remove anything which separates me from you, and you from me. Remove anything that makes me unworthy of your sight, your control, your approval; of your speech and conversation, of your benevolence and love. Cast from me every evil that stands in the way of my seeing you, hearing, savoring, and touching you; fearing and being mindful of you; knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you; being conscious of your presence and, as far as may be, enjoying you. This is what I ask for myself and earnestly desire from you. Amen. —Saint Peter Faber SJ (available in print from cfpholyangels.com)

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What is keeping you from God? List at least 5 things. Now order them from the most difficult to deal with to the least. What can you do to control these things? Make a list of at least 3 things you can do to control each of your five deterrents.

  2. Consider the quote from St. Poemen. Discuss what things we need. Discuss how we can control them. Discuss how we can let them control us.

  3. Pray the prayer from St. Peter Faber. Can you sincerely pray this and mean it? What are you asking of God in this prayer?

  4. Father Sisco mentions how he uses his down time. How do you use yours? Is the use wise? If not, what can you do to improve?

  5. How much recreation so you need? Can recreation become addictive? Can work become addictive? What can we do to strike the proper balance?

  6. Father Sisco mentions several negative results of is being undisciplined in certain areas. Where you undisciplined? What are the negative results of this lack of discipline?

  7. Father Sisco says that our struggle on earth is summed up in us storing up earthly rather than heavenly treasure. Would you agree? Why or why not?

  8. Father Sisco states that St. Paul’s long list of his sufferings indicates his heroic virtue. Do you know anyone who has displayed heroic virtue in face of suffering? Who is that? What is their suffering? Why would you claim that they have heroic virtue?

  9. Father Sisco says that we do not need heroic virtue for salvation, but we do need virtue. What virtues are prevalent today? What seem to be lacking? Which virtues are easiest for you to practice? Which more difficult? Are some virtues more important than others? Give reasons for your response.

  10. What treasures do you have? Or what do you treasure? How can those things lead you to God? How can they impede your relationship with God? What can you do about the latter?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 428: Giving Generously: Reflection on 2 Cor. 9:6-15 and Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

 

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, ‘He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us;(2 Corinthians 9:6-11)

 

Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven… But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee… But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee… But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee. (Taken from MT6: 1-6, 16-18)

 

Saint Paul in our first reading from his second letter to the Corinthians, is talking about the importance of spreading our faith. “Moreover, God is able to make every Grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” So, Paul is saying that God supplies everything we need, but not to make our own lives comfortable, but rather so we can do good for others.

 

Now there are some who would say that the message in our first reading and the message in our gospel contradict each other. Paul is talking about the importance of spreading our faith by our charitable deeds and Jesus seems to be telling us NOT to do things publicly.

 

First of all, take note that Jesus does NOT say, DON’T pray, DON’T fast, and DON’T give alms. In fact, Jesus takes for granted that we ARE doing those things. Jesus says, “WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast, WHEN you give alms…” Those statements assume that we’re doing them.

 

But Paul and Jesus are not contradicting each other. They are, in fact, complimenting one another. Both of them are pointing out that God’s gifts are not intended for us to glorify ourselves, rather they are given to us by God to glorify Him, and help others. That is the intention of every Grace given to us by God, that it be used to glorify Him and help others. That is why we exist. We exist to glorify God and help others. That is the mission of the Church, to glorify God and help others.

 

Charity cannot be self-serving. Charity is not for us to receive the Nobel Prize, or the

Guggenheim fellowship, or even our picture in the newspaper. Now with that said, for charity to be true charity it does NOT have to be strictly anonymous. The person we’re helping SHOULD know we’re helping them. Why? Because that’s our opportunity to glorify God. I’m helping you because I’m a Christian. I’m doing this because Jesus Christ tells us to. So hopefully the person we’re extending charity to, also thanks God and glorifies God by benefitting from our example.

 

THAT’S the ultimate purpose of charity. First, charity increases the love of the person DOING the charitable deed, for God and for others. Second, charity increases the faith of the RECIPIENT of the charitable deed, by helping them appreciate their own self-worth--‘Someone out there thinks I’m worth helping’--and hopefully inspires them to be thankful to God, get back on their feet, and push on for another day. So, true charity glorifies God because it helps us see God in others and hopefully helps them see God in us.

 

And this doesn’t just apply to physical charity but also spiritual charity. We call that forgiveness. When we bear wrongs patiently and forgive others for wrongs that they have committed against us, that’s also a grace from God, because Jesus forgave everyone, even his executioners who nailed him to the cross. So, when we practice forgiveness and patience, our hearts are being molded to resemble God’s, and again, hopefully the person we’re extending forgiveness to recognizes his or her wrong and repents of it, and extends the charity of forgiveness to others who have wronged them. And in so doing, the family of God grows

.

I firmly believe that charity is the most effective tool of evangelization at our disposal. May we always be mindful to look for every opportunity to practice it physically, and spiritually.

 -- Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. -this version is credited to Mother Teresa

Prayer: Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve You as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I am doing Your will. Amen. – Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Consider the quote from Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Have you experienced any of the obstacles to charity which she mentions? How can you overcome these obstacles in the future?

  2. What is the typical motive behind your charitable actions? Are these motives truly God-centered?

  3. Are there any areas in my life in which I use my gifts to glorify myself rather than God?

  4. Have you experienced someone else’s charity toward you cause you to experience gratitude or an increase in faith?

  5. Father Sisco mentions specifically forgiveness as an important spiritual work of mercy. How can you better practice forgiveness in your life? Do you have anyone in your life whom you are struggling to forgive?

  6. Consider the prayer by St. Ignatius. Do you often find yourself counting the cost of your service to God and others? Do you trust that God will provide everything, spiritual and material, that you need to persevere in God’s service?

  7. Father Sisco wrote, “Jesus says, “WHEN you pray, WHEN you fast, WHEN you give alms…” Those statements assume that we’re doing them. “  Are you doing them? Are you doing them well? Should you be doing them better?

  8. How do you reconcile the Gospel passage about doing alms in secret with letting people know you are giving alms as a follower of Jesus?

  9. Are you sowing sparingly or bountifully? If not bountifully enough, what can you to do be a more bountiful sower?

-- Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 429: Tough Love: A Reflection on 2 Corinthians 11: 1-15

“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11: 1-15)

“But the truth of Christ in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced…. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!” Why is Paul writing this to the Corinthians? Paul has just gotten done reprimanding them for a whole bunch of things they’re doing wrong, and he TRIES to do it gently, but there’s no getting around it -- his criticism is harsh, and he needs to be harsh to shake them out of their wrong behavior.

And now Paul is trying to justify his reprimand, and he justifies it by these statements. “The truth of Christ is in me.” Paul was an apostle. He was NOT one of the twelve. He never knew the earthly Jesus of Nazareth, but he encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus while he was a persecutor of the Church. The encounter, though brief, has a life changing effect. Paul never learned the gospel from Jesus. He learned it from the apostles. In one passage he states, after this encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he spent three years living among the apostles. That’s what Paul was doing for those three years, learning the gospel, going to seminary! So because Paul had an encounter of the risen Christ and learned the gospel right from the apostles, he can make that claim, “the truth of Christ is in me.” I KNOW what I’m telling you is the authentic teaching of Jesus Christ.

“This boast of mine shall not be silenced.” Because of Paul’s encounter with Christ, he is undaunted in his task to spread this message, no matter what the cost. Interesting, before his encounter with the risen Christ, Paul’s name was Saul. The name Saul means, ‘asked of God,’ meaning the one God asks to do something. After he becomes a Christian and is baptized, Saul changes his name to Paul. The name Paul means, small, humble. There is nothing more personal to us than our names. Our names don’t simply identify us, they connect us to our families and to our past. By Saul changing his name to Paul, he is saying that God has changed me from the very core of my being. I am a completely new man. This is why Paul couldn’t be silent. He had been so changed by his encounter with Christ, it compelled him to devote all of his energy to spreading this message, even at great personal cost; being mocked, whipped, beaten with sticks, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked. And he endured all of this because he was no longer the self assured, arrogant Pharisee, but rather he longed to be humble.

So Paul is reminding the Corinthians, I’m not getting anything out of preaching this gospel. There is no personal gain in my motivation. So what is his motivation? “Because I do not love you? God knows that I do!" THIS is Paul’s motivation. Because if you love someone you don’t want to see them do anything that will hurt themselves. THIS is why the Church pushes so hard on moral issues. We don’t want to see anyone lost in sin and so ruin their chances at eternal life. And this has to be our motivation as well. When we see immorality, we have an obligation to speak out against it. Why? Because we know that the truth of Christ is in the Church, because the Church has built her teachings on the words of Christ and the witness of the apostles. And we CAN’T keep quiet, because just sitting back and watching people set themselves up for their own destruction sins against love. And we are called to love all people, everywhere. That means loving their souls, and not just acquiescing to everything they want.  Blessed be God forever. Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint: We must all try to be preachers through our deeds. -- Saint Teresa of Ávila

Prayer: Heavenly Father, pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture. Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.   Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.  Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.  In moments of hesitation, remind me: If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel? If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed? If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?

God, our Father, I pray that through the Holy Spirit I might hear the call of the New Evangelization to deepen my faith, grow in confidence to proclaim the Gospel and boldly witness to the saving grace of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What should be our reward for proclaiming the Gospel? What might actually happen? If we receive negativity, how should we deal with that?

  2. Pray the prayer for the new evangelization. Do you feel God is calling you to be His witness?

  3. Discuss the quote from Teresa of Avila. Compare it to Fr. Sisco’s statements that “we CAN’T keep quiet.”

  4. How do you deal with people who you are know are in self-destructive lifestyles?

  5. How does correcting or admonishing or advising show love?

  6. Do you ever feel inferior to someone else in the faith? Describe the person who seems to excel you. What makes you feel inferior? What might you excel in?

  7. Saul changed his name to Paul. What does your name mean? If you wanted to change it, what would you change it to? What qualities would you like your name to reflect?

  8. Paul talks about a divine jealousy for the Corinthians. What does he mean by that? If jealousy is a sin, is divine jealousy also a sin or might it be a virtue? Why or why not?

  9. Fr. Sisco likens the three years Paul spent with the disciples as being in seminary. Is there anyone who you feel has taught you more about the faith than anyone else? Who was that? How did they teach you? If you had to teach someone about Jesus, how would you begin?

--Madeline Pecora Nugent, CFP

Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 430: Least in the Kingdom of God: Reflection on MT 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples:  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven." (MT 5: 17-19)

What would you say is the most common sin among Roman Catholics today?

I’m sure we could come up with a variety of responses to that question. I think the answer to that question lies right in the words of today’s Gospel. “Therefore, whoever breaks one of these least commandments, and teaches others to do so, will be called least in the kingdom of God.”

Catholics today have now surpassed being tolerant of sin and have begun to be permissive of sin.

In the controversy started by Bishop Tobin’s tweet about Catholics not attending the gay pride events, one news story quoted a statistic that said 63% of all Catholics support gay marriage. I believe that statistic is accurate, because that’s about the same percentage of Catholics who don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but rather think the Eucharist is symbolic. So 63% of all Catholics are teaching others either directly, or by keeping silent, to break God’s commandments, and therefore will be called least in the kingdom of God. 

And I even heard from faithful Catholics, even some of my brother priests say, “Well, why did the Bishop have to say anything at all? Why couldn’t he have just kept quiet? He must have KNOWN this was a losing battle.”  Of course, he knew he would never win this battle. He did his job.

He warned people that participating in this event was NOT conducive to the Catholic faith because taking PRIDE in the fact you’re sinning commits another sin! Catholics aren’t called to take pride in their sins, OR the sins of others. And that’s just one issue.

What about abortion? Our numbers are a little better there; about 50/50. Half of Catholics support abortion. Half don’t.

Contraception?  Forget about it; we get buried. 90% of Catholics have no problem with contraception.

How many other sins? Many people believe that pornography is a victimless sin. There’s no such thing as a victimless sin.

What about lying and gossip? Right now, our parish school has been the victim of slander AGAIN. Again, the rumor got circulated that our school is closing to discourage the children from the recently closed Woodlawn Regional Catholic School from coming here. There were also personal attacks made against our principal, Mary Tetzner, who has done a wonderful job for us here at Saint Cecilia.

And these lies were put forth by other Catholics, allegedly practicing Catholics, for no other reason than personal gain. What do these people think they’re going to say when they stand before the judgment seat of God? How are they going to convince him that they tried to love their enemies when they viciously slander their brothers and sisters down the street?

I complain downtown and nothing gets done. I complain to my brother priests who have the ability to rectify the situation and nothing gets done. So I guess like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we just have to patiently suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

It all comes down to this, my brothers and sisters: Do you believe that Bible is the inspired word of God or not? 

Do you believe that Jesus is God or not?

Do you believe that Jesus passed his authority onto his apostles or not?

And do you believe that the Bishops are the successors to the apostles or not?

The answers to those questions determine if you’re Catholic or not. Catholics are not to commit, encourage, or condone sin. So if you’re Catholic, be Catholic. –Father Michael Anthony Sisco

Quote from a Saint:

"He who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon.” -Saint Augustine

Prayer:

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life. Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult, of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killed by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. -- St. John Paul II, from Evangelium Vitae

Questions:

 

1. What is the difference between patient endurance or tolerance of sin and being permissive of sin?

2. Do you think that there is a link between lack of faith in the Eucharist and permissiveness toward the other major sins mentioned in this reflection? Why?

3. The original text of Bishop Tobin’s tweet is: “A reminder that Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.” About this quote Fr. Sisco says, “[Bishop Tobin] did his job.” How can you in your state in life promote true Gospel values, especially regarding these controversial sins?

4. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” As happened to Bishop Tobin, authentically living Jesus’ message, passed down through the Apostles and their successors, often causes us to be persecuted. How can you respond charitably and faithfully in time of persecution?

5. Father’s reflection focuses on the big sins of our time, but Jesus speaks also of the “least of these commandments.” What lesser sins are perhaps ignored by most people today?

6. Saint Augustine encourages us to acknowledge our sins that we may be pardoned. Pride in one’s sin is the opposite of acknowledging it.  How can we move from pride in our sins to acknowledging them?

7. What are some other examples from the Gospels of Jesus condemning sin, in general or particular?

8. What is sinful about contraception? What is the difference between contraception and natural family planning which the Church permits? If you don’t know the difference, do some research and find out.

9. How is pornography never a victimless sin?

10. Can lying and gossip be on the same level of evil as pornography, abortion, and sexual sins? What is the basis of your answer?

11. Is it charitable to discuss sin at all these days? How can we teach the truth in modern society?

– Erin Wells

Oratory of Divine Love Weekly Bible Study, c/o Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN 46803 USA  OratoryDivineLove@gmail.com   260-739-6882