Is It Okay To Sin?

03/21/2016

Do you suppose Jesus was surprised that Judas was stealing from the treasury?

Or do you think He knew it all along?

I’m pretty sure He knew.

So… let’s say Jesus did know. Why didn’t he stop Judas from stealing? Isn’t that one of the profound mysteries of our life?

Of all our lives?

Does Jesus know that you sin? Or are you doing a better job of hiding it from Him?

Why doesn’t He prevent you from doing it?

Same profound mystery.

God gave each of us free will. Along with Original Sin.

Oh, great… so He punishes us by making us sinful.

No. He gave us freedom of choice. Freedom to choose right or wrong. So we control our own eternal destiny.

But wait. If we’re born with Original Sin, aren’t we doomed to hell right off the bat?

Again, no. Because we are free to choose right from wrong.

Original Sin means we have the propensity to sin.

Original Sin means we are not perfect.

Only our Heavenly Father is perfect.

Original Sin means we are likely to suffer at the hands of other human beings or some other force of nature.

Original Sin means we are subject to the risks of the Earth.

Original Sin means we need to be perfected.

Original Sin means we have choices to make which will either draw us closer to God and heaven or separate us farther from Him.

Bottom line: Jesus knows that we sin. And he accepts that. Because we are human.

That doesn’t mean our sins are acceptable.

But it does make us eligible to receive God’s endless mercy.

And that’s what our journey through life, this profound mystery that’s unique to each person, teaches us.

We continue toward Calvary. Happy Monday of Holy Week.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

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Your Annoying Little Brother

07/09/2015

“Dad! They’re mocking you behind your back.”

“I’m Dad’s favorite.”

Wouldn’t you like to slug him?

Maybe you didn’t have a little brother. Maybe you had a little sister like this. Or maybe it wasn’t a sibling, but a friend. Or an acquaintance.  Maybe it was a co-worker who was this annoying.

Whoever, I’ll bet you’ve had personal experience with somebody in your life who annoyed you to the point of… oh, maybe wanting to strangle them.

Or just… witness some minor mishap befall them. Just to see them squirm a little.

That’s okay. That’s human nature.

It’s not right. It’s a fault. It’s a sin we need to confess.

But we’re human. We have thoughts like these.

Have you ever read or listened to the Genesis account of Joseph — yeah, the Technicolor Dreamcoat guy; that Joseph — and thought of him like that?

We’re reading the Genesis account of Joseph and his brothers this week at Daily Mass. Father Mitch Pacwa described Joseph like this yesterday during his homily on EWTN.

I had never heard that description before.

So what do we do with a person like Joseph? That annoying person in your life?

It’s really simple.

Jesus spells it out for us in the Gospels. But there’s a more recent admonition from him.

When He appeared to Sister Maria Faustina, Jesus told her — told us — that He demands from us deeds of mercy toward our neighbors.

That’s it. That simple.

He said:

“I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it.

“I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor: the first — by deed, the second — by word, the third — by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy.”

   –   Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (paragraph 742), Marian Press, 2009

So what do we do with all of this?

Next time we have these very human thoughts, maybe we think twice.

Make no mistake. We will have those thoughts. We are human. What matters is what we do with them.

That’s it.

It’s that simple.

And that challenging.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read my thoughts. My intention, beginning Friday, April 17, 2015, is to post a brief, daily meditation based on the readings from the day’s Catholic liturgy. I would appreciate your help and encouragement. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating. And for not posting a meditation daily.

 

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Would You Die For What You Believe In?

01/16/2015

Would you die for what you believed?

Could you?

I’ve told you before that I listen to at least a portion of the Mass on EWTN almost every day (TV when I can and radio when I’m on the road). Today, I listened on the radio as I drove to my next appointment.

Today is a feast day for the Franciscans, honoring five early followers of Saint Francis who martyred themselves instead of renouncing their faith.  Father Leonard Mary celebrated Mass today. He used his homily to give a brief history of the martyrs and how they were tempted by their captors before being killed. Father Leonard then mentioned something called White Martyrdom. White Martyrdom is not a physical death, he explained, but a dying to oneself.

The comparison was clear. How can we martyr ourselves in our everyday lives?

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Later this morning, sitting in Panera before my next personal training session, I overheard a gentleman telling his companion how Catholics had … oh… let’s call it, “a damaging way” of looking at sin, and how sharing that perspective with others is harmful to the way other people live their lives.

What?!?

I couldn’t get my headphones shoved into my ears fast enough. I needed music. Loud music. I didn’t want to listen to what this man was saying, kind and soft-spoken though he was. Despite his demeanor, his opinion — at least on this matter — didn’t strike me as kind and gentle, but rather reckless and damaging. I wasn’t angry, but I was upset at what I perceived as some egregious misconceptions.

I was trading text messages with my son, Stephen, at the time that I happened to overhear this conversation. I fired off a text message to him, expressing my exasperation over what I heard.

After I sent it, I decided that my words were so clever, I had to post them to Facebook.

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I’m a member of a small, Christian Facebook group whose purpose is to “uplift and encourage (others) through the Gospel of Christ” (that’s a paraphrase of the mission statement). Today, the founder of the group, Mariane, continued and concluded a series of reflections on moving “from darkness to light:”

“I wish that we were all full of light and love and good works always. But no, we’re still sinners, imperfect, we’re still influenced by our flesh, the world and the voice of Satan…

“… there is the aspect of free will. We need to say YES to Jesus and God’s will and say no to the devil and our flesh every day. We need to die in our flesh every day (1 Cor 15:31).”

I read Mariane’s words just after my “clever” text to Stephen. Before I almost posted my “clever” words to my Facebook page.

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I briefly thought about speaking up. But what would I have said? Would my “clever” words to the gentleman have been constructive? Or provocative? Would I have properly seized the moment, as Saint Paul preached, and attempted to “walk into the light?” Or would my response, in that awkward, uncomfortable moment, have demonstrated to the world that I have not — yet again — died to the flesh?

Shoving the earbuds against my skull proved to be the more prudent, if only merely accidental, course of action.

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Father Leonard is right. White Martyrdom is possible. Any day. Every day.

Consider how challenging it is to die to the flesh at any given moment.

Then contemplate the lives — and deaths — of those who make the ultimate Earthly sacrifice.


Sleeping Late, Feeding the Cats, Sin, and Love

01/10/2015

I feel so sorry for our poor cats. Weekends are a real crapshoot. During the week, they’re used to eating between 5:15 and 5:30 in the morning.

Last night, I watched the nightmare from Edmonton others would refer to as a hockey game. It wasn’t over until 11:30 or so.

(Well, some would argue it was over long before that…)

I cannot just turn off the television after watching the Blackhawks play – especially when they lose so decisively – meander into the bedroom, plop myself down, and fall peacefully to sleep. No. There’s a certain ‘unwind time’ necessary for this hysterically casual observer.

Plus, there’s always some reason to sneak into wake up every cat as I walk into the kitchen, even it’s only to shut off the lights over the sink and stove.

Well… last night was no exception. Lady Jay led the charge, looking at me hopefully with those sad green eyes, groaning a raspy meow. Did I bother to give her a morsel of food? HAH! Not me! Their unthoughtful Daddy squeezed his way through the feline masses and left them all on the edge of starvation.

Despite the fact that multiple bowls of dry food were a mere inches (okay, okay… a couple of feet) away.

Before dawn, I woke up, got up to check the clock. 6:30. Fleeting thoughts of staying up and starting the day crossed my mind.

Naw. Too many nights of four and five hour sleep this week laid their grip on me. I crawled back under the covers.

Two hours later, the sun – which actually decided to make a brief appearance this morning – nailed me straight in the eyes. I stirred and made an effort to get out of bed. That woke Kathy, who looked at the clock (I can’t see more than a foot in front of me without my contacts or glasses) and remarked at how nice it was that we both slept until 8:30.

EIGHT THIRTY?!?

Half my morning was over! Forget the cats, I’m usually either done with my second breakfast or desperately seeking the nearest morsel of food by 8:30.

I was definitely “behind my time,” to quote Bob Cratchit. And the cats knew it.

Part of my morning ritual is to pray. That usually occurs, in part, while I’m feeding my little babies.

Weekends are a little different. EWTN is a Catholic television network. Morning Mass is generally offered every morning at 7:00. I try to watch the Mass both Saturday and Sunday.

Before I went to bed, I changed the channel to Comcast 119. In the morning, I could either watch live or rewind and watch later. EWTN broadcasts in low definition digital, not HD, so you can rewind the DVR for a couple of hours without formally recording the program, versus the 30 minutes of live TV that’s ordinarily captured from the typical DVR.

Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Divine Mercy has been saying Mass all week while the Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word were on retreat.

Fr. Wade gives a most powerful homily, or sermon. He is blunt, direct, matter of fact.. he quotes scripture or the Catechism and tells it like it is. He pulls no punches. But make no mistake, he is a delightful human being.

Today’s first reading was the end of the First Letter of St. John. In his homily, Fr. Wade discussed John’s emphasis on love in his first epistle. He discussed how the Ten Commandments emphasize love of God (the first three commandments) and love of neighbor (the final seven commandments). He examined sin and its relationship to the love of God. He discussed the differences between mortal and venial sin and the benefits of frequent reception of the sacrament of confession.

Certain thoughts resonated:

  • Sin destroys or wounds love, our love for God and love between human beings.
  • Sin injures man and wounds human solidarity.
  • Frequent confession increases one’s humility, tends to help control bad habits, and leads to greater self control in daily living.

When Fr. Wade said that both venial and mortal sins can be forgiven by confession, it made me cry. It made me realize the overwhelming love of God for each and every one of us.

At the beginning of Mass, the people participate in a Penitential Rite, a form of contrition for our sins. One of the optional prayers begins “I confess to almighty God, and to you my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned…”

And then I spontaneously blurted “sometimes I like to, sometimes I want to, and sometimes I can’t help myself.”

And that’s precisely why frequent confession is so essential. We sin all the time. All day every day. It’s part of the human condition.

Does that mean we are bad? No. It simply means we are human. We are not God or gods. We are poor sinners. Sinners who need the mercy of our loving God. To repair our relationship with love.

So as I listened and performed my weekend morning ritual, I finally finished repairing my relationship with the cats. They got their food around 9:20. Yeah, I tend to get distracted.

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Learn more about Father Wade at http://fathersofmercy.com/priests/fr-wade-menezes/ and more archives of his work at http://fathersofmercy.com/author/fr-wade-menezes/


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