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Roots of and Remedies for Sin

Sin in the World Today

 So what’s wrong with the world today? Everything seems to be in such a mess.

 We turn on the TV and everyday things seem to be a little worse. What went wrong? The easy answer to that question is sin. Sin went wrong. And sin continues to disrupt our relationship to God and one another. Sin blocks Grace, and Grace is what is needed for creation to be in harmony. The more sin is embraced by the world, the farther we push God away from us.

 Actually, that’s the good news, because if the problem is sin and the effects of sin, then God has given us everything we need to combat the problem, and succeed. Oh, that’s great, Father Sisco! Thanks for THAT news flash!

 Sure the problem is sin. Everybody knows that! But sin has got such a hold on things now, the problem is SO overwhelming, where do we start? (Glad you asked.)


Three Roots of All Sin

 From what I have observed over my now 12 years of priesthood, I have found three primary causes…three roots of temptation. If you look at any sin, they tend to fall into one or more of these three categories.

 First Root: Fear

 Category one; fear. Many sins are rooted in fear. Every time I have talked to a woman who’s confessed the sin of abortion it always went back to fear. “I was afraid to tell my parents. I was afraid my boy friend would leave me. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to take care of a baby.”

 Kids are having sex now younger and younger. Now the average age kids lose their virginity is in Junior High. Twelve and thirteen years old. Why? Why so young? Well, their hormones are raging! Hormones have been raging in kids for centuries. Why did they up and start to have sex in Junior High now? I used to attribute it to unholy curiosity. They watch sex on TV, movies, the internet. They hear their friends talking about sex. Then their curiosity gets the best of them and they buckle. OK But what is unholy curiosity rooted in? Fear. Fear I’m going to miss out. Fear that I’m going to be looked down upon. Fear that I’ll never find someone to love me.

 You know I’ve worked in youth ministry since 1990, twenty years now, and that is the most common fear I hear from young people. It used to only be high school, and college kids, but now it’s trickled down to Junior High. I’m afraid I’m never going to find someone to love me. Twelve and thirteen year olds thinking of this.

 Why are people materialistic or greedy? Fear there won’t be enough for me.

 Second Root: Self-Loathing

 The second root of temptation is sin that can be put in the category of self loathing. Many sins are committed because people hate themselves, and so they subconsciously punish themselves, sabotage themselves, to justify their negative feelings. Any kind of addictive behavior; eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, addictions to pornography.

 And what about control freaks! Anyone know a control freak? Why are some people obsessed with controlling all the circumstances in their lives? One possibility is fear. Fear of the unknown. But it could also be self loathing. I have to control everything to overcompensate for the fact that I feel inadequate about myself. If I’m in control of everything no one will notice my inadequacy.

 People who are generally mean, who say cruel or derogatory things, often suffer from self loathing. A close cousin to this sin is gossip. I’ve heard in the confessional, “Oh Father, it’s just a little harmless gossip.” Brothers and sisters, I hate to break it to you but there’s nothing harmless about gossip. Why do we gossip? What are we doing when we gossip? I have found that gossip has more to do with the person doing the gossiping than the person being gossiped about. Here’s how that works:

 I suffer from self loathing. There are things I don’t like about me.   So I’m going to put negative attention on you, because if I can keep negative attention focused on YOU, maybe people won’t notice the defects in me. It’s a defense mechanism. We don’t love ourselves. We don’t see the unique gift God has made in us, so we’re vulnerable to sin. When we sin, we feel worse about ourselves, we are re-affirmed in our feelings of worthlessness, and so we gossip more, we attack. It’s a vicious circle.

 How many children have been abused because a perpetrator has felt he or she has no control or limited control over the circumstances in their lives, so they try to control another person, a vulnerable person, on the most intimate level they can. That’s rooted in self loathing.

 Third Root: Unforgiveness

 The third root of temptation is sin that can be put into the category of unforgiveness. Now as an Italian I know a lot about this one, because no one can hold a grudge like an Italian. As my pastor Father Zinno is fond of saying, “Italians forgive, but they never forget!” For Pete sake! Let it go already. How many sins are rooted in unforgiveness?

 Look at the continual violence in the Holy Land, because sides have refused to forgive for generations.

 How about something that hits a little closer to home. Being passive aggressive. Know what passive aggressive is? It’s when we’re mad at someone, but we don’t really tell them we’re mad, but because we are mad we say little things or do little things that we know will annoy the HECK out of them. Ever done THAT before? Come on now! Be honest, married folks! Married couples are notorious for this one! That’s a sin rooted in unforgiveness.

 How about impatience? Believe it or not, that’s rooted in unforgiveness also. Why do we get impatient? Because I have a plan in my head of how everything should be going, and you’re not cooperating in my plan. And you idiot! Can’t you see that my plan is obviously better than your plan! And we get angry. We don’t forgive people for not seeing things our way. The way to combat that is every morning get up and say, “Not my plan today, God, but YOUR plan. I trust everything that happens to me today is part of your plan. The good things are your blessings to me, and the difficulties are you trying to teach me some lesson or grow in some virtue.”

 While all these roots are dangerous, unforgiveness is probably the deadliest of all, first because it’s built on a foundation of pride. How could they do that to me? How dare they say that to me? I deserve better than that! It’s all pride. And I say unforgiveness is the deadliest because unforgiveness is a choice. Unforgiveness is a deliberate choice not to love someone, and that’s in direct conflict to the gospel.

 Fear is a primal reaction. We let something stew in our minds and it gets bigger and bigger in our imagination until we give into it.

 Self loathing comes from human weakness. It something that starts forming in us from our childhood and snowballs over the course of years.

So fear and self loathing start patterns of behavior, a series of actions and reactions we may not even be aware of.

But unforgiveness is a choice. Again, that’s good news. Because if unforgiveness is more damaging than the other two roots, and unforgiveness, more than the other two roots, hinges on a conscious choice, than unforgiveness should be the easiest for us to get rid of.

 First Source of Sin: The World

 Now we all learned in our catechism days what are the three sources of sin?

 First, the world. What do we get from the world? Fear! I don’t know we call it the news. Why don’t we just be honest and call it ‘the bad news.’

 “Good evening everyone. It’s six o’clock and time for the bad news. Here’s who died. This is how they died. We have no freaking idea who killed them, but we THINK it someone living in your neighborhood. Now here’s Bob with the bad weather report. Bob.”

 “Sure thing, Tom. Eight tropical depressions warming up in the Caribbean…no, a tropical depression can’t hurt you, but they’ll all probably turn into hurricanes and annihilate the east coast. Back to you Tom.”

 “Thanks Bob! Now here’s Linda with the bad traffic report…Linda.”

 “Thanks Tom. No one has died in a burning, twisted, agonizing, gasoline consumed car wreck yet, but the evening commute is still young, and don’t even think of getting home in time for dinner tonight. Back to you Tom.”

 “Thanks Linda. Now let’s check in with Fred and the bad sports report!

 “Thanks Tom. If you’re a Patriots fan…bad news”

 All we will get from the world is bad news, because the world’s consistent message is BE AFRAID, because you’re gonna die! One of these days one of those terrorists will get you and YOU’RE GONNA DIE! GLOBAL WARMING! BE AFRAID of global warming! Tsunami’s, force five hurricanes, massive floods all because the ocean warmed one degree! And Global Warming’s gonna get you too, and YOU’RE GONNA DIE! Remember the bird flu a few years back? Yes, before there was the swine flu, it was the bird flu that got all the press. The bird flu was going to be the bubonic plague of the 21stcentury. It was supposed to be this colossal pandemic. So if Tweety sneezes in his cage, run out of the house fast, because if you get bird flu, YOU’RE GONNA DIE! Well here we all are, years later. Have you noticed every year the flu virus THIS year is going to be the worst one since the dawn of civilization? So get your flu shot, or you’re gonna DIE!

 Folks I hate to break it to you, but people have been dying for centuries. We’re all going to die of something someday, because nothing in this world was created to be permanent. So don’t sweat it. The world’s message is; “You’re gonna die, so be afraid.” Jesus’ message is, “You’re going to die, but do not be afraid. I have conquered death. You’re going to die but don’t be afraid. I go before you always. Follow me, and I will give you rest.”

 “The world will hate you, but do not be afraid, because it hated me first.”

 “Do not be afraid, my Father’s house has many dwellings, and I’m going to prepare a place for you.”

 Fear comes from the world. Faith comes from God. What do I have faith in? That Jesus is Lord and he is true to his promises, so I have nothing to be afraid of. Every fear that leads us to sin is ultimately a denial of that truth.

 Second Source of Sin: The Flesh

 OK, we all learned in CCD that the first source of sin is the world, and from the world we get fear. The second source of sin is the flesh. What do we get from the flesh? Self loathing. Self loathing is an over obsession with what I am not, rather than what I am. Pride is the exact opposite. Pride is the over obsession with what I am, and forgets what I am not, namely God. But both of them share a common flaw--they’re far too focused on me.

 Several years ago now, a Protestant minister, Rev Rick Warren, wrote a very fine book for relationship building with God called “The Purpose Driven Life.” As a Catholic priest there are a few passages I would take issue with Rev. Warren over, but overall a book well worth reading. I thought the first line of the book alone was a stroke of genius. (remember?) “Life’s not about you.” It’s not about you! Get over yourself!

 Life is about HIM, about GOD. Life is about what he has given, what he continues to offer, and what he wants me to give to everyone around me. In this symphony God is composing that we call creation, he has given all of us an opportunity to contribute a verse. This realization dispels self loathing because it takes the pressure off me to be something I’m not. Rather I have to focus on discovering who he is, and let him show me who I am and the unique gift I have to offer to everyone else.

 From the flesh we get self loathing. So what does God do? He gives us hope by allowing his flesh to be torn away from him. To heal our self loathing he becomes on the cross something to be loathed, so he could prove to us our worth.

 Can anyone look at a crucifix, a real crucifix, not the sanitized versions we often see, but a bloody, torn, and tortured Jesus on the cross and say to him, “You wasted your time, because I’m not worth it?”

 Can anyone watch the “Passion of the Christ,” and not be moved when confronted with the reality that he loves ME that much, and even if I was the only person who needed it, he still would have gone through that for me?

 From the flesh we get self loathing. From the cross we get hope.

 Third Source of Sin: The Devil

 So the first source of sin we learned in CCD was the world, the second is the flesh, and the third is…the devil. What do we get from the devil? Unforgiveness. Why does the devil hate us so much? Because God chose us over him! Because he couldn’t stand the thought of beings made up of both flesh and spirit, sharing the same heaven as him, he refuses to forgive God, and he refuses to forgive us. That is in essence the only significant difference between an angel and a demon in regards to their nature. Demons are completely incapable of forgiveness. Do you know anybody consumed with unforgiveness, consumed with hatred for someone? Nothing makes them happy! They’re miserable.

 From the devil we get unforgiveness. From the incarnation we get love. In his letter to the Philippians St. Paul writes, “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and became a slave.” He emptied himself. That’s what love is. Love is the willingness to empty yourself for the sake of another.

 Faith combats fear. Hope combats self loathing. Love combats unforgiveness. “Now abide these three, faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

 May God grant us all three virtues in great measure!

 Mary: Woman, Model

 Both in the wedding at Cana, and on the cross, Jesus refers to his mother as “woman.” To our ear it sounds disrespectful, but it’s not. Jesus calls her woman because Mary is everything woman is. Mary is mother, yet Mary is also virgin. Mary is the widow of Joseph the carpenter, yet Mary is spouse of the Holy Spirit. Mary is handmaid of the Lord, and also Mary is queen of heaven and earth.

 Three Ways to Come to the Lord: Service, Prayer, and Redemptive Suffering

 In the gospels we meet three siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. And really, the three siblings represent the three ways we come to the Lord.

 Martha represents service. It’s Martha who initially invites Jesus and the disciples to their home. Without Martha there’s no invitation! It’s Martha who waits on them, making sure everyone has a second helping of food, making sure everyone’s cup is full. She represents service. She represents charity.

 Martha’s sister Mary, in the meantime, is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach, which is totally inappropriate for a woman of Jesus’ day to be doing. And to beat all, she’s taken the best seat in the house! Mary represents contemplative prayer. She just sits in the presence of the Lord and soaks it all in.

 Lazarus represents redemptive suffering. Remember it’s Lazarus who dies and is four days in the tomb before Jesus resurrects him. When Lazarus initially gets sick, Jesus says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but so God may be glorified.” Through Lazarus’ death and rising from the dead, many come to believe in Jesus. So when we suffer for the sake of holiness, people come to believe through us, because strength like that has to come from the Holy Spirit.

 The Blessed Mother is the sum of all three of those siblings.

 Mary: Model of Service

 Like Martha, the Blessed Mother is also a representative of service. Mary is the handmaid of the Lord. And her service is apparent in so many ways. The most obvious is her willingness to say “yes” to the Archangel Gabriel. Imagine this for a moment. Tradition holds that Mary is only thirteen years old when Gabriel appears to her, and fourteen when she gives birth to Jesus. Imagine what it must have been like for this thirteen year old kid, a child herself, being confronted with this angel of the Lord who makes this proposal to her. What must have been going through her mind?

 How am I ever going to explain this to my parents? Will Joseph understand? What happens when I can’t conceal I’m pregnant?          Will I be accused of adultery and stoned?

 Did she even consider saying, “No, I don’t want to do this. Ask someone else?” Or was there never any question in her mind?

 Did she even understand that these events were going to happen immediately? Maybe when she asked Gabriel, “How can this be since I’m a virgin?” And Gabriel responded, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you so this child will called son of the most high,” did Mary think ‘Oh, that’ll happen after Joseph and I are officially married.” It is one of those questions I’m just busting to ask when I get to the other side! When Gabriel said that you were the chosen one, what was going through your mind?

 All of this is, of course superfluous, since Mary did indeed say “yes.” She said “yes” to serve. She said “yes” to be the gift God had created her to be. She said “yes” despite the fact she didn’t know how all of this was going to unfold and that took courage!

 And that’s what service does. Service builds courage. Service takes a willingness to step out in faith. Service takes faith, and service strengthens faith, so service combats fear. What are people afraid of? Being inadequate. Other people. Death and suffering (because suffering is death by installments). People are afraid of loneliness, of being forgotten, of being irrelevant, of being unloved. Those are the boogie men that haunt the dark corners of our minds.

 Service disarms all those fears, because when we serve, we start to build self confidence. We serve with and for other people so we don’t get lonely or feel unloved. We know we’re serving something worthwhile so we don’t feel irrelevant. And we know we’re serving for the glory of God so we not only stop fearing death, we actually start to look forward to it. (Me? I can’t WAIT to get to the other side!)

 Mary: Model of Prayer

Like Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the Blessed Mother is also a model of contemplative prayer. Whenever we see the Blessed Mother in scripture, she’s always contemplating. Whenever somebody says something of Jesus or Jesus says something, Scripture says, “and Mary held these things in her heart and contemplated them.” That’s what prayer is, a contemplation of God.

 The Rosary is a prayer that contemplates the mysteries of Jesus’ life death and resurrection. The Rosary is NOT an endless train of Ave’s and Paters. The purpose of the Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s is to slow your mind and body down so you can reflect on the events of Christ’s life.

 Rev. Rick Warren in the book, “The Purpose Driven Life” had one of the best explanations of meditative prayer I had ever read. He said, worrying is thinking about a problem over and over again. Meditating is thinking about God, or an aspect of God, or a line of scripture over and over again. So if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate, just shift the focus! I thought that was so simple it was brilliant! And we need to do that, because prayer combats self loathing.

 What is self loathing? Self loathing is an over obsession with what I am not. Prayer is not about God gimme! Many people reduce prayer to that. We’ve got to break that trend. Prayer is about God show me. Prayer is a voyage of discovery. It’s a discovery about who God is and by extension it’s also a discovery of who I am. Because as I learn more and more about God, he also reveals more and more of me to me.

 God is love as Saint John tells us, and God teaches us how to love ourselves and others. Through prayer God reveals to me the gift he has made in me. We pray to conform our will to God’s will, and for God to, in turn, reveal himself to us.

 With this said, there is a danger that we need to be aware of. I am a big fan of the Steubenville East youth conferences. I have always gone on the conferences and with the exception of last year I’ve always been with a group of youth. This year it was held at the first time at URI, and it was one of the best conferences thus far. I love the conferences for a couple of reasons; first, I hear the best confessions of the year at the Steubenville East Youth conference. I get many teenagers go to confession who haven’t been since they made their First Communion.

 Second, it’s a great shot in the arm for many teenagers. They get excited about their faith. There’s a big emotional outpouring. They laugh, they cry. Many of them are deeply spiritually moved for the first time in their lives on Saturday night when the Blessed Sacrament is processed around the stadium in silence. It’s great.

 The pitfall with that is, sometimes their faith never gets off that level. Steubenville East is a great way to whet the appetite of many youth to want the spiritual in their lives, but it then becomes the responsibility of the priest, youth minister, and parish to nurture that faith and take it deeper. If the priest, youth minister and parish fail to do that, it may actually do more damage than good in the long run, because then they will limit faith to the experiential. Faith is about what I feel. God is what makes me feel good. And that becomes a new form of idolatry. Idolatry is when we create God in our image, and fail to let him recreate us in his.

 This is a very real danger and it’s growing in our society at an alarming rate. People become their own little magisteriums, disregarding what the Church has been handed down from antiquity, from the apostles, and their disciplesm the Church Father’s, and so call fair and foul on their own terms.

 Archbishop Pearce is a retired Archbishop living in our diocese. I was once at a priest gathering where we were sitting and discussing together and he said, “I find that most people who intellectually dissent from the Church, are thinking more with what’s below their belts than what’s above their shoulders.” I don’t think I can say it any better than that! And being the Catholic chaplain at Roger Williams University for a year now, I’d say the good Archbishop nailed it right on the head. It’s all about license to do what I want to do, and so you get Catholics making statements like, “Well, the Jesus I believe in would never condemn anyone for what they do.” Well that’s all fine and dandy, but what makes you so sure that “your” Jesus exists? That’s the trap.

 If we limit our relationship to prayer that involves no study, no theological foundation, if our relationship with God is limited to the experiential, or if we focus on one image of Jesus, or aspect of Jesus, to the exclusion of the other aspects of Christ, we run the risk of not worshipping the Jesus that exists in reality, but rather we end up worshipping Jesus, my imaginary friend. Remember, if the devil cannot convert you, he will attempt to divert you. Therefore I encourage you to accompany your prayer with some spiritual reading, particularly the scriptures, and the especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you haven’t read the Catechism yet, start! Read just one page a day, but read it. If you don’t understand something, skip it and ask your priest when you get a chance.

 Prayer, coupled with a strong theological foundation, gives us hope, because as God reveals himself to us, and reveals to us more of ourselves, it keeps us focused on the goal of eternity.

 Mary: Model of Redemptive Suffering

 And finally, like Lazarus, Mary is a model of redemptive suffering. She accomplishes this by sharing Calvary with her son. Redemptive suffering combats unforgiveness. As I said before, unforgiveness turns all attention in on me. Redemptive suffering, by its very nature, sacrifices me for someone else’s benefit.

 When I would visit elderly in the nursing homes the common complaint I heard from them was, “I’m no more use anymore. I can’t do anything.” And I would tell them, “Are you kidding?! You probably have the most important job of your life right now! You’ve got to offer up all your pains, and sufferings, and disappointments for the conversion of sinners, the salvation of the world, growth of the priesthood. God needs people like you right now more than he needs people like me!”

 When I worked for two years as hospital chaplain at Rhode Island hospital, I can’t count the number of times people who were dying slowly said to me, “I don’t know why God is punishing me.” And I’d tell them, “God isn’t punishing you. He’s making you into a saint. He’s giving you an opportunity to join your sufferings to his. He’s detaching you from your last early possession, your own flesh, like he did on Calvary, and getting you ready to join him in heaven.”

 Redemptive suffering forces us to grow in humility because we have to rely on the mercy of others. The book of Job in the Bible is all about the mystery of suffering. Job is a man of wealth and privilege and is described as a man of perfect integrity who fears God and avoids evil. Job has land. Job has flocks and herds. Job has lots of children. Job has servants. Job has every standard of wealth by ancient standards.

 So the devil approaches the Lord and challenges God to let him test Job. God agrees, and in a day Job loses everything. But he doesn’t curse God. The next day the devil attacks Job with a disfiguring disease, but he doesn’t curse God. Then Job’s three friends hear of his calamities and seek him out, and they begin this discussion on the nature of God.

 Maybe God is mean. Maybe God is fickle. Maybe God is crazy. Maybe God just doesn’t care. Job rejects all of their explanations.

 Then they start on Job. “You must have done something to get God mad at you.” Job maintains his innocence. Then they start badgering him. “Oh, right, Job has never sinned!” “Well alright, everybody sins, but I certainly didn’t do anything that deserves this!”

 So then they say, “Well look, maybe you’re right, but just pretend to be sorry and make some kind of sacrifice to God, and maybe he’ll give you your stuff back.” But because Job is a man of integrity, he can’t do that. He can’t fake repentance. And then Job does a sort of examination of conscience. “Never have I looked at a maid with lust in my eye. Haven’t I always been generous to the poor, the widows, the orphans? Haven’t I always rendered what is right and just to my neighbor?

 But as Job’s friends keep badgering him, his sin comes out. He gets angry. And his anger is not only at his friends, which wouldn’t have been sinful because that was justified. Job gets angry at everyone. He gets paranoid. He suddenly thinks everyone is conspiring against him. He talks about the elders in town and says I should have treated them like my dogs!

 No one is conspiring against him. Unforgiveness. Pride. I don’t deserve this. And then his pride takes him a step further and he challenges God to a showdown, where Job claims he’ll prove he’s right and God is wrong. And God responds to the challenge.

 And God puts Job in his place. “So you weren’t so pure and spotless as you thought you were?” Job was so scrupulous in following the Lord that Job was prideful in it. And when the Lord confronts him with that, he repents. At the end of the story God restores to Job everything that he lost, and then some, but the real reward was that, through his suffering, Job came to a better understanding of the nature of God and himself. His suffering also enabled him to intercede on behalf of his three friends to have their sins forgiven.

 Let’s compare that with another suffering story, the story of the prophet Jonah.

 Many people mistakenly think this story is about Jonah’s disobedience. God tells Jonah to go preach in Nineveh and he runs away. No. Jonah’s disobedience is only a backdrop. This story is really about Jonah’s hatred. Jonah HATES the Ninevites, and he has good reasons. Nineveh was the capitol of the Assyrian Empire, and when the Assyrians conquered Israel, they were savage to the Jews. Jonah wants them dead. So when God gives Jonah the command to go to Nineveh he runs away. Note, that as soon as Jonah decides to disobey the Lord he begins to descend. The scripture say he went DOWN to Joppa. From Joppa, Jonah goes DOWN to the shore. From the shore, Jonah goes DOWN into the hold of the ship. From there DOWN into the belly of the fish, and DOWN to the bottom of the sea. And from the bottom of the sea Jonah repents, and the fish vomits Jonah up on the shores of Nineveh.

 Jonah preaches this time, “Forty days more and the Lord will destroy Nineveh.” When Jonah has gone only half way through the citym, the entire population repents. They cover even the animals in sack cloth. One would think this would make a prophet happy. No. Jonah leaves the city, goes up on a hill and waits to see if the Lord will destroy them. When it’s obvious that isn’t happening Jonah gets so angry he prays for death. It’s in the desert. It gets hot. The Lord makes a giant plant grow overnight next to Jonah to shade Jonah. Jonah is happy because of the plant. But then the Lord sends a worm to destroy the plant overnight, and Jonah is angry and prays for death a second time. God confronts him.

 Are you angry over the plant? YES! Angry enough to die!

 You have no right to be angry. You didn’t plant it or invest any effort in it. It was mine to give and mine to take, just like the people of Nineveh. I created them, and I had the right to spare them when they repented.

 Now here’s the irony of ironies--God tries to convert his own prophet and FAILS! Jonah won’t forgive the Ninevites. He won’t let go of his anger. And so God can’t do anything with him. The story ends rather darkly. The Lord just leaves Jonah to his bitterness.

 But wait a minute. This ain’t right! Jonah suffered for the Lord! He got swallowed by a giant fish. Had to preach to a potentially hostile crowd. Had to endure the discomfort of the desert and then the only shade he had dying. But were these crosses the Lord gave Jonah, or were these crosses that Jonah gave himself? Jonah suffers because he insists on doing things his way.

 So we need to look at that in our own lives. Is my suffering the result of my own stubborn will?

 Redemptive suffering trains us to see the importance of others. It trains us to see the frailty in ourselves. And it trains us to see the dominion of God, by reminding us that God is always in control.

 Redemptive suffering is the highest form of love. So when Paul says “abide these three; faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love,” why is love the greatest? Because true love requires the greatest deal of self sacrifice.

 Holiness: What the World Needs

 All of this together; faith, hope, and love; service, prayer, and redemptive suffering, can all be boiled into one word; holiness. That is what the world needs right now, holiness. And we’ve just heard the formula to do it.

 But Father, even if I could do all this it won’t change anything!

 Sure it will. One holy person can change the world. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was one holy person. John Paul II was one holy person. The Blessed Mother was one holy person. They changed the world.

 And even if we never reach their state of notoriety, even if you don’t change the whole world, but just your little corner of it, and made it a better place, through your service, through your prayer, and through your sacrificial sufferings, youve done good.

 Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.

 Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake, watch over us as we sleep, so that, awake, we might live with Christ, and, asleep, rest in his peace. Amen.


Father Michael Anthony Sisco, Visitor

Confraternity of Penitents

Day of Recollection

Queenship of Mary

August 22, 2009

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