A World Without God is Hell on Earth

clock November 14, 2012 15:14 by author John |

HellThere are many people who would like nothing better than to eliminate the faith of believing Christians. Call them secular progressives, call them atheists, or call them communists. Just don’t call them prophetic or wise. These folks have been vociferous of late, as victory emboldens the brazen. It seems that the noise coming from secularists has been amplified and focused at those things which the faithful hold most dear: family, morality, and religious liberty.

They began the attack years ago by calling for tolerance and separation of Church and State. Slowly, they moved God out of the public square. They acclimated people to immoral lifestyles by showcasing them on primetime television, books, and magazines. They promoted tolerance as a virtue, when in actuality it is antithetical to the spiritual works of mercy. We are called to instruct the ignorant and rebuke the sinner. As Christians, tolerance is not an end in itself. Tolerance implies living with evil or imperfection without attempting to change it. Clearly, this is not the call Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations

We have been coaxed into accepting immorality and amorality in our world as a condition of quiet coexistence. This has led to the situation we now find ourselves in. God is slowly being pushed out of our public lives, which ultimately results in God being pushed out of our private lives. We are seeing a slow transformation of our world into a world without god.

Hell is an eternity spent in the absence of the wonder and glory of God. God does not send us to hell so much as we choose to go there ourselves by hating God and pushing Him out of our life and grace out of our soul. An eternity in hell is one spent lamenting the decisions we made that excluded God or outright rejected Him. We are collectively pushing God out of our society. In doing so, we are only bringing sadness and hardship upon ourselves. A world without God is a Hell on Earth.

In the absence of God, evil fills the vacuum. Is it a coincidence that in our society as secularism rises, with it comes the evils of abortion, sexual depravity, and recently an uptick in religious persecution? I don’t see a coincidence. I see causality. Indifference toward evil begets acceptance of it. Acceptance of evil begets commission of evil.

There is hope for us.  Jesus gave us the assurance that evil would not triumph against the Church in Matthew 16:18:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

That is not to say that times will not be difficult or that evil will never get the upper hand for a time. Quite to the contrary, being a Christian is not going to be a walk in the park. Throughout history the Church has undergone persecution. As Tertullian famously said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of faith.”

We have much work to do and so little time upon this earth to do it. We must transform the culture. We must bring Christ back into our society. It will not be an easy task. If you participate in it, you will be persecuted in some way, great or small. It is only through genuine love of God and with the assistance of His grace that we will be able to take up this task and bring it to fruition. Love demands sacrifice. God loves us enough to be crucified for our iniquities. Do we love Him enough to face the same fate? Do you love Him enough to transform yourself first? Conversion of the world begins with the conversion of yourself.

10 Things Catholics Must Do Now in the Face of the Next Great Persecution

clock November 7, 2012 14:40 by author John |

Prepare yourself. This might just be the most uncomfortable article you read today, and with the help of Divine Grace, I hope it is uncomfortable in a good way. On this day after the reelection of President Obama, the most pro-death president to govern this land, faithful Catholics are feeling defeated. On Twitter and around the Catholic blogosphere, I am witnessing despair, anger, and sadness over the results of the election, the state of our nation, and the unexpected and disappointing answer that was given to so many earnest and sincere prayers. So many masses, novenas, rosaries, and acts of sacrifice were offered for the election of a leader sympathetic if not invested in the common good. To many, it appears that those prayers have been left unanswered. They were answered, but perhaps not in the way most of us wished.

In the typical human way, people are dwelling on the problems. They are replaying the last few months in their heads. “What went wrong? How did this happen?” They are looking ahead to a future that doesn’t seem bright or welcoming. The unknown lies before us. How the President and the secular progressives will treat the faithful in the next four years is yet to be seen, but that uncertainty is part of the problem. We just don’t know what will become of us in the near future and it scares the daylights out of us.

Many of us are embodying the cliché “People spend 90% of their time worrying and 10% of their time finding solutions.” We of course need to reverse those percentages in order to solve the problems before us. I will attempt to do that as I lay out for you a roadmap to be used in reversing the avalanche of evil and ignorance that is bearing down on us and in some cases crushing us. Here are 10 steps to saving yourself, your family and your culture.

1. Identify the Problem

In the past 18 months, the elections have dominated our news coverage, conversations, and daily life. We have been inundated with statistics, talking points and negative advertising. In a sense, we have been played. We have become spectators. We have allowed the media and politicians to feed us our beliefs. Let’s face the hard reality. A man was elected yesterday who has failed in every major area of social and economic policy from an authentic Catholic perspective. He won roughly half the Catholic vote. If you are not puking right now, perhaps it is because reality hasn’t set in. Take the time now to let it sink in and grab a bucket.

Think about it. This man launched a direct attack on the Catholic Church and half of Catholics willingly and happily supported it. The Catholic citizenry of this nation is in a state of disgrace right now. Shame on those Catholics who abandoned their faith through ignorance in forming their conscience or willful disregard of it.

This is a problem, but it is not the root of the problem. The problem is not the culture. I mean it. The problem is not the culture. Sure the culture is corrupt, ignorant, intolerant of Truth and beauty, and increasingly hostile to our beliefs, but I mean it when I say that the problem is not the culture.

The problem is us, the 20% of Catholics who attend mass each week and even the 4% of Catholics who regularly attend confession. We have failed in our duties. We have not evangelized, catechized, rebuked, and prayed enough. We have let the culture dictate terms to us. We have let our fellow Catholics, Church-going or not live in ignorance and disobedience without fraternal correction. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this: “Have I done everything I possibly could to convert the culture?” I will answer that question for you: “No”. You are a human. You are not God. You are imperfect. You have failed in some way.

2. Contemplate the Problem and React Passionately to it

Now that we have identified the problem, our focus naturally shifts toward a solution. I propose that we first spend a little time dwelling on it. A little righteous indignation is useful and warranted. Allow the sting of this election, of this cultural rebuke of our faith and our God to sink in. Remember this day. Remember how you feel. Think about the choices we were given in this election. Neither man truly represented an authentic moral ethic. The man who lost was likely the lesser of two evils, but what does it say about our culture that the best two men we could produce to lead this country represent merely 2 evils? Think about the unknown that lies before us. Does it scare you? It scares me and that is alright with me.

God has given us passions. They are a gift to us that when used appropriately are powerful tools which motivate and energize us. If God didn’t intend for you to experience the emotions, He wouldn’t have given them to you. He also gave you a will and an intellect. In the perfect order of things, the passions are subordinate to the will and the intellect. That does not mean that they are useless.

We must use the will and the intellect to drive and direct the passions. Working together, the will, the intellect and the passions are the tools we use to achieve greatness. They propel us toward perfection, which is God. Channel the emotions, the passions, and the pain you may feel right now. Use those passions to drive you toward changing the culture, starting with yourself.

3. Pray for Fortitude

The task ahead of us is not easy. You may be passionate about changing the culture, but once you begin to engage the culture, you will soon meet with resistance. Immediately, in fact. When someone doesn’t like your message, they will attack you. How will you respond? People admire conviction, but they lash out when your conviction compels them to reevaluate their life.

Keep that in the back of your mind. You will need courage when facing the culture, but an even more challenging obstacle lies in your immediate path.  Before you can effectively engage the culture, you must prepare yourself by identifying your own sinfulness and failures. This is the step at which most people turn back. In this step, we perhaps see how we are not so different from those in the culture that personify the moral collapse we are witnessing around us. I am not giving in to moral equivocation here; I am simply telling you that the first step toward purification of the culture is purification of your soul, which I will address in the next item.

Fortitude is part resolve, a product of the will, and part grace, a product of the Holy Spirit. Direct your will to be resolute, unflinching in the face of adversity. Pray for fortitude. You will need it when facing the culture, but it is more warranted when facing your soul. Don’t just pray generally for courage. Pray for the infusion of the Holy Spirit’s most valuable gift: grace. Pray directly to the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God, which came down upon the apostles and empowered them to carry out the same mission you now face. As He enkindled in them the fire, pray that He will ignite your heart to carry out your mission.

4. Clean your soul

The first target of a sinful culture is a hypocrite. Look at the way the culture attacks the Church over the abuse crisis. Do you think abuse is limited to the Catholic Church? No. There are plenty of organizations that have experienced the same failure. The Church was attacked because of the hypocrisy of proclaiming purity while its priests lived in defiance of that call. Do not attempt to convert the culture before you have converted yourself. You cannot give that which you do not have. If you do not have grace in your soul, you cannot work as effectively for the conversion of others. A clean conscience and a spotless soul give you the freedom to proclaim the gospel to others.

Be sure that you have prayed for fortitude because this is the most difficult step in the process. You must be forthright and examine your conscience. Clean your soul. Be ruthless. Be thorough. Many times people will confess a few sins, but out of embarrassment or pride leave out sins that they allow to linger in their lives and which weigh on their consciences. This is a burden these people carry around with them day in and day out. Confess everything. Just do it. Go to another priest for confession if you are embarrassed to confess something troubling to your priest. Go to another parish. Go to another state if you want to. Just confess everything. Make a clean start.

An earnest prayer to the Holy Spirit before a difficult confession will give you the strength you need to make a good confession. Sometimes it is only by this grace that you will be able to truly be free of your sins.

5. Learn your faith

That which you do not have cannot be given. Your knowledge of the faith will be put to the test as you engage people who do not understand Jesus and His Church. Daily reading of spiritual works in necessary to grow your faith and strengthen your understanding of the many difficult requirements of being a faithful Catholic. Do not take this as a suggestion. This is an order. Actively learn the faith daily.

When I say daily, I mean it. Just as your body needs daily nourishment to function properly, so too does your mind need daily nourishment in the ways of the faith to function properly. Without refreshment of the concepts of the faith, the demands of life begin to crowd out the light of spiritual knowledge. Knowledge begets understanding and acceptance of the Truth.

Knowledge provides the foundation upon which we can make our appeal to others. The light of truth can be made known in many ways to people, but essential in any appeal, whether to reason or the emotions, is a firm understanding of the truths of the faith. If you know the faith, its transmission will come more easily.

6. Put God and your faith first

You hear this slogan often. Take it to heart. Our culture is perfectly tuned to place entertainment and work between you and God. If you have a full-time job, it likely takes at least 8 hours – one third of your day. When you factor in a commute, preparing and eating meals, taking care of children, meeting with friends and relatives, hardly any time is left over. The demands on our time do not stop there, however. We have still to satisfy the requirements of entertainment. 

The average household has the TV on in the background for more than 7 hours per day. Where, then is the time for God? How many of us, tired from working sit down after dinner and watch television for several hours, rise exhausted from our chair and go straight to bed, repeating platitudes about just not having the time for anything? We have no time for God because we do not make time for God.

We must place God first. We must make time for Him. I’m not talking about a quick prayer before bed or grace before meals. These are the bare minimum. Make abundant time for Him each day. We must not fear the impression people get when we limit the start of our day at work so that we can go to mass. Who is more important – your boss or the omnipotent and just God? Can you not make time to go to mass at 6:00 in the morning, or during your lunch, or after work each day? It isn’t convenient if you don’t make it convenient. It doesn’t have to be convenient in the first place. God should not be a convenience. He should be the first priority.

Don’t set aside time for God after work. This is the wrong approach. Set aside every other concern and pray to Him with your family. Don’t worry about time constraints, allotting God 15 or 30 minutes each day. Pray to Him and forget about everything until you are satisfied with your prayer; that you have conversed appropriately with Him. Do spiritual reading every day. Read from the Bible, the Catechism, the writings of the Saints, the Liturgy of the Hours. Give God primacy of your time.

You don’t have to give God most of your time, but you should make the time with him first and foremost. Who cares if that means you can’t make an early morning meeting. If your employer can’t respect your time, you have the option of finding another employer who will. Don’t answer calls from work while you are praying. The matter cannot be as important as your relationship with God. Don’t structure your prayer life around work or household responsibilities. Structure your responsibilities around your time for God, leaving adequate buffer so that you don’t feel rushed in your prayer.

7. Get Used to Discomfort and Make Sacrifices

Do you love God? The answer should be yes, and if it is, then you must be willing to sacrifice for Him. Love without sacrifice is shallow. Would you claim to love your spouse, your parents, or friends but refuse to help them in need? Of course not. Love demands placing the object of your love before yourself. God asks us to do difficult things in our lives. You cannot truly love God without sacrificing for Him. A virtuous life requires the pain of sacrifice.

Take sacrifice and discomfort on yourself. Perform works of mercy regularly for others. Pray whether it is convenient or not. Give alms to help the Church and those in need. Fast on a regular basis, not just when the Church mandates it. These things strengthen the will against the urges. If our urges are disproportionate to our will, we become slaves to them. Strengthen your will by making voluntary sacrifices so that when sacrifices are demanded of us, they are but an ordinary part of our life.

If you are not willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is your very life, you are not yet perfected in the training and strengthening of your will. Of course not everyone is at the point where they can offer their lives for God, but it should be a goal of ours to perfect our will so that we one day will have that courage necessary to offer it willingly. God loved you enough to be tortured and Crucified for your sins. You should be willing to endure the same for Him. Your reward will not be on this Earth, but in the joy of eternal happiness in Heaven among the angels and saints. Let us hope that it will not come to that in this country in our lifetimes. On the other hand, don’t think it could not happen both here and now. In every age and in every nation of the Church, men and women of faith have been persecuted for their love of God. Why should our age and our nation be any different? Cardinal George, who is a scholar of history, has said,

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

8. Be Cheerful and Optimistic

Building on the resolve which results from self-denial, we can find everyday sacrifices to be ordinary, and in time, they can even be a joy to us as we realize the benefits of grace. As we grow in virtue, we can even meet extraordinary sacrifices with peace and acceptance. Our sacrifices should never be evident on our faces. We should be cheerful and optimistic to everyone we encounter, as we bring the joy of Christ to them.

This is perhaps a bit of a superficial effort at first, as it takes time to become accustomed to it. After time, true joy will spring up in us as we feed off the reactions of others to simple things like a smile or a positive response to a difficult task.  We should seek to enjoy our reward in Heaven, and by keeping this in mind: that every good deed will be rewarded, every challenge acknowledged, and every wrong righted in this life or the next; we will be disposed to bring joy to every situation.

If given the grace, even the grim foreboding of a religious persecution can be met with composure and dignity. Using the saints as our guide, we can accept the opportunity to sacrifice for God:

Perpetua and Felicitas were exposed to a mad heifer. Perpetua was tossed first and fell on her back, but raised herself and gathered her torn tunic modestly about her; then, after fastening up her hair, lest she look as if she were in mourning, she rose and went to help Felicitas, who had been badly hurt by the animal. Side by side they stood, expecting another assault, but the sated audience cried out that it was enough. They were therefore led to the gate Sanevivaria, where victims who had not been killed in the arena were dispatched by gladiators. Here Perpetua seemed to arouse herself from an ecstasy and could not believe that she had already been exposed to a mad heifer until she saw the marks of her injuries. She then called out to her brother and to the catechumen: "Stand fast in the faith, and love one another. Do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you." By this time the fickle populace was clamoring for the women to come back into the open. This they did willingly, and after giving each other the kiss of peace, they were killed by the gladiators. Perpetua had to guide the sword of the nervous executioner to her throat. – From the book, "Lives of the saints, with excerpts from their writings: selected and illustrated" by Joseph Vann, Thomas Bernard Plassmann

9. Be a Saint

By any realistic measure, these works are difficult and fraught with failure. We are prone to error and sin. Our motivation will at times wane. We have competing desires and responsibilities. We must acknowledge our frailties, imperfections, and mistakes. We must constantly evaluate our lives and reorient ourselves toward the right path.

Frequent confession and the daily exercises of prayer, reception of the Eucharist, examination of conscience, acts of contrition, and sacrifices will help us to stay focused on Jesus and promoting His Church. In short, we must be saints. We are all called to it and we must all respond to that call.

10. Evangelize

If we ever expect our culture to improve, if we hope to prevent the next great persecution, we must evangelize the culture. John Paul II called us all to be agents of the New Evangelization. We must take this call as a serious and personal challenge. We must not be afraid to offend people by our beliefs. Their offense is not a result of the truth we convey, but of the improper disposition they maintain toward that which is right and just. We do not have to chastise at every opportunity, but we must teach, catechize and encourage virtue and truth. On an individual level, once a person understands the truth, we can charitably correct them.

This task is not easy. It is not a simple process of spewing facts of the faith and then rebuking someone. It is an iterative process whereby we are constantly teaching, encouraging, loving, and correcting with joy and truth.

Start Today

Start this process today. Do not wait for a convenient moment. Do not wait for someone to invite you. The stakes are high. You do not know what tomorrow holds for you or your ability to practice the faith. Prayer, fasting, penance, sacrifice, and evangelization are our only hope to change the culture and bring about a nation where our beliefs and freedoms are cherished and protected. No one will do this work for you. Take it upon yourself today to change the culture starting with your own soul.

The Truth will be made known to all one way or another. Throughout history, God has allowed tribulations to bring His people back into the fold. Let us work together now so that our culture does not require such stern correction and reminding of the realities of truth and justice.

Matthew 10 and a Kick in the Pants for Soldiers of the New Evangelization

clock October 13, 2012 13:26 by author John |

Here is the latest step toward a dictatorship of relativism - St. Michael the ArchangelPro-abortion Protesters Storm Church, Chant “If Mary had known about abortion, we wouldn’t have this nonsense”

War is coming. The culture is growing more calloused, despising truth, beauty and goodness. Immorality is being trumpeted as virtue, sin is being given primacy over conscience. Increasingly over the last 5 centuries, the Catholic Church has been mocked and attacked. Today we are seeing the results as the energy of this movement has amplified over time, growing larger and more dangerous, like a small spark that started a great forest fire. Evil spreads and consumes, leaving ash and desolation in its wake.

On the other hand, we are seeing a revival in the Catholic Church. Good solid priests and nuns are answering the call to serve Christ and His Church. Faithful priests are becoming bishops. The Church has launched a Year of Faith in which multitudes of believers will come to better understand what they believe and what that belief requires of them. The liturgy is being strengthened, thereby strengthening the faithful.

What do these two movements mean? How will the growing distinction between the people of God and the people of the world play out? Only God knows the answer to what will happen in the future, but reason and a solid understanding of history can give us some indications. If history is a guide, we will see a conflict between these two movements. Evil cannot tolerate good, and people are quickly realizing that good cannot tolerate evil. Archbishop Chaput addressed this reality:

My point is this: Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it. So it always has been. So it always will be. And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God.

We are at war. This war is being fought over souls. The devil is fighting against humanity with an intensity that has not been seen in ages. Protesting and neutrality are not viable options. Everyone is drawn into this war whether they willingly enlist or not. We only have the option to choose a side. It may come to pass that the spiritual war will manifest itself in a physical war pitting countries, countrymen, neighbors, or even family members against one another. Let us hope it does not come to that, but at the rate things are progressing, it seems to be only a matter of time.

Jesus gave one of his longest discourses on this theme. Commanding his disciples to travel light, be courageous, strong and resolute, he warned them about the reactions to their ministry. Our culture is currently treating us the same way. Read this charge from Our Lord and internalize it. Remember it as you battle with the forces that the devil has raised against us.

These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor'rah than for that town."

"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel, before the Son of man comes."

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master; it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Be-el'zebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."

"So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it."

"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward."

Matthew 10:5-42

Top 10 Emotional Reasons People Don’t Go to Confession (and Why You Should Consider it Anyway)

clock September 27, 2012 20:49 by author John |

Recently I stumbled upon a forum on a secular wedding website that was discussing preparations before marriage. The topic of confession came up, as did several candid opinions on the topic. There were a few people that mentioned being nervous, unsure how to confess, or embarrassed.

This made me ponder why many people don’t go to confession. I frequently assumed (probably incorrectly) that it was a defiant thing. I thought most people just didn’t agree with the practice. I decided to do a little unscientific research on the topic. I combed the Internet looking for the various emotional/non-defiant reasons people listed for not making use of the Sacrament of Penance. Here is the list in no particular order, with a few points to consider if this reason applies to you.

1. It has been too long (or never) since I have gone to confession, and I am afraid of that first part (It has been _______ since my last confession).

This was one of the reasons I saw over and over again. It seems many people are just plain afraid of telling someone that they haven’t been to confession in a long time (or never). If you have been struggling with this, know that the priest is acting in “In Persona Christi”, which means in the Person of Christ. Jesus wants you to come to Him no matter how long you have been away from Him.

Remember the story of the prodigal son? The son took all of his inheritance and left his father’s house to live a depraved life, wasting the inheritance. The son returned looking for a job from his father. The father welcomed him back home and treated him like a king, forgiving the son and rejoicing that he returned. Jesus is the same way. He will always accept you with open and welcoming arms. The priest will mirror this. While he might remind you that it is important to confess regularly, he will gladly hear your confession because he wants you to rebuild your relationship with Christ.

Be at peace, no matter how long you have been away, it is always better to return as soon as you can. The priest will not judge you for being away. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You aren’t the only one with this dilemma, and you probably won’t be the person who has been away the longest that the priest has ever heard. Even if you are, that will most likely mean that the priest will give even more thanks to God for having the opportunity to welcome you back into the fold.

2. I know the priest and he knows me – I don’t want him to know my sins.

This is a common feeling, even for people that confess their sins monthly or more. We all have secrets, “skeletons in the closet”. It is reasonable for you to feel this way. After all, priests are people, just like you and me. It is embarrassing for someone you see on a regular basis to know your struggles and failings.

There is the option of going to a priest at a neighboring parish. This may not be the best choice in the long run, but there is nothing explicitly prohibiting you from choosing where you go to confession. There is a benefit to developing a relationship with your confessor so that he knows your struggles and can suggest ways for you to overcome them. Also, you may find that you have a “louder conscience” if you know that you will have to tell the priest about the sin later. This may help you avoid the sin in the first place.

3. I don’t know the “formula” to use when I go, and I don’t want to “mess anything up”.

I was a bit surprised when I saw this one. I didn’t realize people had this fear. I suppose it could be a bit awkward if you are not familiar with how confession works to just walk into the confessional and not know what to say. While there is a formula for people that frequent the sacrament, it is really just a guide to help the confession go smoothly. If you are totally clueless about what to say, have no anxiety about this one. Just let him know that you are not really sure how to proceed. The priest is ready and willing to guide you through the confession. You should at least have an idea of what your sins are before you go into the confessional. An examination of conscience will be a big help in getting you ready in that area.

4. I have done some really bad things and I am embarrassed.

Here’s the deal with this one: let’s use murder as an example, because that is one of the biggies. First of all, it is entirely possible that the priest has heard this sin before, but it is probably a safe bet that he doesn’t hear it every day. Rest assured that he will not freak out. Keep in mind that he is bound under a strict seal not to reveal your sins, no matter how terrible to another living soul ever. (See #10 for more on this point)

You should also keep in mind that the priest is not allowed to require you to turn yourself in. He may suggest it for the good of society or for your own good, but he cannot require it.

You have the right to anonymity in your confession. You can choose to go to a priest you have never met and sit behind a screen so he can’t see you. Given that you have so many safeguards to protect your anonymity and reputation, you shouldn’t worry about that.

Now, the embarrassment is a terrible feeling. Rather than being afraid of it, embrace it. The embarrassment is a good thing. It is guilt, and no matter how much the culture tries to get rid of it, guilt will never go away until you confess your sins. Your guilt is a gift from God; it is His grace working in you. It encourages you to change your life and come back to Him. Once you have confessed your sins, you will feel like a truckload of bricks has been lifted off of your back. It is liberating, refreshing, and you will probably walk out of the confessional with a smile on your face just from the feeling of relief.

5. I feel awkward telling my sins to someone else.

This is also a very typical and normal feeling. As with the embarrassment mentioned in the previous item, embrace the uncomfortable feeling. If confession was an easy thing to do, we would be more likely to sin. It is too easy to tell your sins to Jesus and not have true sorrow for them. Telling your sins to the priest ensures that you think twice about your sins.

The feeling of dread in telling your sins to someone else is a powerful motivator to avoid sinning in the future so that you don’t have to mention those bad things you have done any more. Rest assured that the priest is not there to judge, condemn, or belittle you, though you should be open to taking constructive criticism or correction – it will help you.

He can’t tell your sins to anyone else, and he genuinely wants to help you. This is the way Jesus wanted confession. Telling your sins directly to Jesus is a good thing to do on a daily basis. It shows that you are sorry for them, but the way God established this sacrament is confession to a priest. That is the only way we know of to be assured that your sins will be forgiven.

6. I’m afraid someone outside the confessional will hear me.

Some confessionals are more secluded and private than others. In general, it is best to speak in a gentle and soft, but still audible voice. Something you may not know is that people who overhear something from somebody else’s confession are bound under the same seal of secrecy as the priest. They are not allowed to divulge anything they overhear from a confession.

That being said, it is best to take some precautions if you think that sound may travel far enough to be heard. First, if you can hear someone else’s confession, it is generally expected that you will move out of hearing range or in the worst case scenario, just cover your ears and hum a tune. If you think someone may overhear you, you can always ask them to take a few steps back so as to protect your anonymity. Any reasonable person would agree to this. If not, you can always offer to trade places with them in line and just let them go first, backing off yourself so that people behind you get the clue.

7. I don’t want to go face-to-face and my church doesn’t have a screen.

You have the right to a screen between you and the priest to protect your anonymity. If your church does not offer one, bring it up with the pastor. If he still refuses, then you can certainly look for another parish that respects this mandate and offers a screen.

There can be some benefits to going face-to-face, if you are open to it. You may find that it helps to have a good relationship with your confessor. He can help you through your struggles and identify weaknesses you didn’t realize you had. 

8. A priest was angry/judgmental/rude to me last time.

This is inexcusable and just plain wrong. A priest should be gentle yet firm with a penitent. He has no right to be angry or rude (at least outwardly) with you. If you feel that the priest was out of line, you can mention it to the pastor of the parish (if the priest is not the pastor), or you can bring it up with the bishop’s office, which might have received other similar complaints and can correct him if necessary.

You should keep in mind, however that correction is not necessarily anger, judgment, or rudeness. Consider if you perceive honest and firm correction as something more than it is simply because it implicates you or you disagree with it. Sometimes we have a tendency to take things the wrong way. This is not always the case, but it does happen.

9. I’m not really sorry for my sins, and/or I don’t intent on changing, so what’s the point?

The point is that you are taking a step in the right direction. It is legitimate to stay away from confession if you feel that you have no intention of changing. Perhaps you should take a step back from yourself and think about what this type of a statement means. By saying this, you acknowledge that you are sinning, so that is a good first step.

What does it say though if you really don’t want to change? Well, to be honest, it says that you are rejecting God’s love and grace. God has given you the grace to accuse yourself of your sins. Why reject his grace, which might help you overcome them and be a better person? Your life will be better if you make the active and sometimes difficult decision to try to follow Him.

Sometimes the fear of doing something difficult or uncomfortable keeps us from making the right choice. We all make mistakes and most of the time we make those mistakes repeatedly. We all struggle with sins – each and every day. That is why confession is available to us in the first place.

There is no requirement that you expect to be perfect after confession. There is only the expectation that you will try. Let’s be realistic, we already know that you and everyone else in this world will fail at some point. The important thing is to get back up, dust yourself off, get to confession, and try again.

10. I know the priest is supposed to keep my confession a secret, but I think he might tell someone my sins.

The priest is forbidden from revealing your sins to anyone ever. He is not even allowed to reveal that he heard your confession at all. He is not allowed to record it or to let the police listen in. There are laws that protect the priest-penitent privilege. In the US, and most other countries, anything said in confession is not admissible evidence in a trial.

The church would treat a breach of this seal more harshly than your worst sin. The priest would be immediately excommunicated by breaking the seal. The penitent is placing incredible trust in the priest to keep this secret. Priests have given their life to protect this trust. I would go so far as to guess that more priests have been martyred protecting the seal of confession than have broken it. That is how serious this is. God gives the priests special graces to be able to forget confessions and helps them in this sacred duty of secrecy.


Other Articles You May Like:

A Thorough Catholic Examination of Conscience
How to Make a Good Catholic Confession
What is Mortal Sin (The Catholic Definition)
What is Venial Sin (The Catholic Definition)
Top 10 Emotional Reasons People Don't Go to Confession (and Why You Should Consider it Anyway)
What Does it Mean to Mention Sins in "Number and Kind" in Confession

Boko Haram: Deafening Silence from the Media While Christians are Slaughtered in Nigeria

clock September 22, 2012 20:45 by author John |

Boko Haram, officially known as People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad is a militant Jihadist group bent on forcing Sharia Law on the country of Nigeria. Thousands of people have been killed by this group in the last 3-4 years in Nigeria. Many of the victims have been Christians simply practicing their religion.

While we have heard about the conflicts in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere on a regular basis through the mainstream media, relatively little time is dedicated to the continual violence in Nigeria. Why is this? The answer is simple: it is Christians who are being killed. Violence in many other areas in the Mideast and in North Africa has been primarily political and indifferent to Christians, yet those are the stories we are seeing daily in the news.

A Brief History of the Boko Haram
The group was organized some time in or before 1995 under the name Shabaab, Muslim Youth Organization. At that time, Mallam Lawal was its leader. Lawal left the group and Mohammed Yusuf took control. Yusuf officially established the group in 2002 in the city of Maiduguri. His goal was to establish Sharia Law in the Borno State in Nigeria. Under the guise of educating children from poor Muslim families from across Nigeria, and providing a mosque for these Muslims, the institution was actually recruiting and training these children to fight as jihadists.

In 2009, the Nigerian government began investigating the group after suspicions arose that they were becoming militant and acquiring weapons. When the government finally arrested several members of the group, Boko Haram became violent and attacked the Nigerian security forces. This event became known as the 2009 Boko Haram Uprising. While most report claim that the violence was political only, there were many people killed because they refused to convert to Islam. All told, including those from both sides in the conflict, over 1000 people are believed to have been killed in the violence during this uprising.  The group’s leader, Yusuf, was killed in this conflict. It seems that after Yusuf’s death, Abubakar Shekau assumed leadership of the group.

A Sample of Recent Boko Haram Attacks

  • On September 7, 2010, about 50 Boko Haram gunmen launched an attack on a prison in the city of Bauchi. 5 people were killed in the violence, 6 injured, and 721 prisoners escaped – 150 or so belonging to Boko Haram.
  • On New Year’s Eve, 2010, Boko Haram bombed a military barracks in Abuja, Nigeria, killing 5 people including a pregnant woman and her unborn child. All of the dead were civilians.
  • Another jailbreak was carried out on April 22, 2011 freeing 14 prisoners.
  • On the 29th of May, 2011 7 separate bombs were detonated across northern Nigeria, killing 15 and injuring 55. All were attributed to Boko Haram.
  • As many as 6 people were killed on June 16, 2011 when a suicide bomber drove a car bomb into Police headquarters in the city of Abuja.
  • 10 days later, a bombing was carried out on a beer garden in Maiduguri, killing 25 and injuring around 30.
  • On July 10, 2011, a member of Boko Haram threw a bomb into the All Christian Fellowship Mission Church in Suleja, Nigeria.
  • On November 4, 2011 between 100 and 150 people were killed in coordinated attacks on Police stations, 6 Churches, Mosques and banks by Boko Haram in the city of Damaturu. These attacks involved car bombings, shootings, and suicide bombings.
  • On Christmas Day, 2011, at least 41 Christians were killed and more than 57 injured in coordinated attacks in 4 towns in north and Central Nigeria. 37 of the dead and more than 50 of the injured were Catholics attending Christmas Mass at St. Theresa Catholic Church in the town of Madalla.
  • On January 2, 2012, Boko Haram issued an ultimatum, giving Christians 3 days to leave the northern part of Nigeria or they will be attacked.
  • On January 6th, militants armed with automatic weapons stormed a town hall in Mubi where Christians were assembled to mourn 3 of their own that were killed the previous day. At least 18 were killed in the second attack. Another ambush left 8 more Christians dead in Yola. 6 People were killed during a church service in Gombi and a Christian couple was gunned down in Maiduguri.
  • On January 20, 185 people including 150 civilians were killed in the city of Kano. Security forces announced that they had found 10 unexploded car bombs and nearly 300 smaller bombs around the city.
  • On June 17, 2012, the group conducted the suicide bombings of three churches in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing more than 50 people.
  • Also on June 17, 130 bodies were found in Plateau State. It is presumed they were killed by Boko Haram members
  • In August 2012, Boko Haram opened fire inside an evangelical church during a service in the northern State of Kogi, killing 19

To make matters worse, this group has affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence urged the Obama Administration and U.S. intelligence community in November 2011 to focus on Boko Haram as a potential threat to United States territory.

In light of all of this, how much did you know about Boko Haram before this? Not much? The media is dropping the ball on this. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria are faced with the very real threat to their lives just for stepping into a Church or trying to bury their dead. We need to pray for them urgently.

Catholic Bishops of Illinois to Produce Bulletin Inserts for Upcoming Election Season

clock September 19, 2012 11:02 by author John |

The Catholic bishops of Illinois will be distributing 4 bulletin inserts on the Sundays leading up to the election. Looking at the introductory insert, it appears the inserts will be rather clear and speak in unmistakable terms about the upcoming election and the importance of not supporting a candidate who is pro-choice, anti-traditional marriage, and anti-religious freedom.

Some bishops have already been using very clear language about the elections, including Bishop Robert Morlino (link to mp3 download of Morlino on the Drew Mariani show), Archbishop Chaput,  and Archbishop Lori.   So the question will then come down to a basic question: How many people will follow these principles? Few will be able to claim ignorance on this one.

Hobby Lobby Sues the Government of the United States of Obama Over HHS Mandate

clock September 12, 2012 13:42 by author John |

The arts and crafts supply store Hobby Lobby is suing the government over the HHS mandate. While they do not object to contraceptives, they do object to abortion-inducing drugs, as a matter of religious principle. It is good to see another business, particularly a large one jump into the ring to fight the draconian Obama administration over this attack on religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Read more...

On His Own Now

clock September 10, 2012 18:10 by author John |

 This summer we signed the 2 older boys up for soccer. It was a great experience and we had a lot of fun. The kids liked it too. Well, the four year old did. He loved it. Not only did he get to score goals and practice his trapping, passing and baby touches (dribbling), but the park where they had practice was about 50 yards from the train tracks, so about 4 times a practice the drills would have to stop so everyone could wave to the train going by.

The three year old wasn’t so inclined to participate. He has this genetic condition known as shyness. He gets it from my side of the family. His cousin had it for about a year, and his father (me) had it for about all of my life. Anyway, he decided that even though he and his brother make up 40% of the team, he was too shy to participate. It wasn’t because he didn’t know how to play soccer, either. I think that surprisingly, he is as good at soccer as his brother who has a year on him.

Anyway, he sat out the first practice (that’s all they do at this age apparently - practice). The next week I encouraged my wife to lure him onto the field by promising to hold his hand. Not only did it work, but my wife got to practice for free! Over the next 3 practices, she got pretty good, and he actually participated most of the time.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly on the second to last practice, he decided that he didn’t need to hold her hand anymore. He ran off to get a soccer ball and my wife just sort of shrugged her shoulders and slowly walked back to join me on the sideline with the 2 younger kids. The three year old didn’t even notice that mommy wasn’t there anymore. If he did, it was the way he wanted it anyway. He came up to me at the end of practice and told me all the cool things he did, like scoring a goal and passing the ball. We all celebrated the occasion with a tall glass of chocolate milk when we got home.

I didn’t get out of things quite as easily as I had hoped. Unbeknownst to me, the last soccer practice was actually a scrimmage against the parents. I dutifully participated, and I didn’t even have to hold anyone’s hand (most of the time). We did lose 7-1 however. Yes, that’s right one of the parents scored a goal. He claims it was an accident. I’m not so convinced.


clock September 9, 2012 18:22 by author John |

Shortly before His death, Jesus prophesied two different episodes of betrayal by His disciples.

When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, "Tell us who it is of whom he speaks." So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. (John 13:21-26)

Jesus goes on to tell Judas “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Later in the same chapter,

Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus answered, "Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward." Peter said to him, "Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times." (John 13:36-38)

Imagine the tension as Jesus calls out these two followers. Though not all of the disciples may have known what was happening with Judas, John must have known because he asked Jesus who was to hand Him over. What must have the disciples thought after hearing of the betrayal? There must have been anger, confusion, and despair. After Jesus called out Peter, the others in the room must have been thinking “Don’t make eye contact. He might call me out next”.

So often we are well intentioned, but when someone challenges our faith or disparages our beliefs, we lose our courage and remain silent. What we may not realize is that this not only is a betrayal of our Lord, but it also empowers the aggressor, making him think that he is right or at least entitled to continue attacking. People will sense weakness and use it against us. I do not mean that we should go looking for fights, but a well-placed rebuke or counterargument goes a long way in defending our religious freedoms, whether individual or societal.

We too can witness to others about the Lord, our Savior, but do we? Let us take every opportunity to bring Jesus to others, even if we will be ridiculed, persecuted or cast out for our beliefs. Our message will be heard if we have conviction and confidence in our words. We must not allow ourselves to betray our Lord the way Peter did, or worse still, as Judas did. Pray for strength, that we may not withhold our witness to Christ.

“All that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” – anonymous