Tag Archives: concept

“My Toe Has Sinned, But My Nose Is Clean!”-†


“In the solemn celebration of Pentecost we are invited to profess our faith in the presence and in the action of the Holy Spirit and to invoke his outpouring upon us, upon the Church and upon the whole world. Let us make our own, and with special intensity, the Church’s invocation: ‘Veni, Sancte Spiritus!’ ” Pope Benedict XVI Homily of Pentecost 2010
     

Today in Catholic History:

† 1601 – Birth of Antoine Daniel, Jesuit missionary and martyr (d. 1648)
† 1651 – Birth of Louis-Antoine, Cardinal de Noailles, French cardinal (d. 1729)
† Feast Days in the Church: Augustine of Canterbury, Venerable Bede, Saint Julius the Veteran, Pope John I, Hildebert, Bruno, Bishop of Würzburg, Eutropius, Mother’s Day in Bolivia (Día de la Madre) and Sweden (Mors Dag), Children’s Day in Nigeria
    

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

The difficulty does not arise so much from the mere fact that good and evil are mingled in roughly equal proportions; it arises chiefly from the fact that men always differ about what parts are good and what parts are evil.  – G.K. Chesterton

Today’s reflection is:

Why does all personal sin have social consequences?  Do I think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?

     

Sin and its consequence on society: what an interesting subject.  I guess the first thing to discuss is what exactly is “sin” and “evil.”    Catholic resources say that is a “moral evil.”  Now we have to determine what is meant by evil and in particular moral evil.  It seems Catholic Theologians like to make things fairly difficult for other Catholics to understand at times.

So, being a good Catholic, I stopped with the religious resources at this point, and went to the secular dictionary instead.  A much easier definition of sin is:

“A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when it is a deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.  Sin causes a condition of estrangement from God as a result of this disobedience.  Sin is usually something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.”

Evil is defined as:

Something morally bad or wrong, or wicked; causing ruin, injury, pain, or some other type of harm.  Evil implies a deficiency in perfection, hence it cannot exist in God who is by nature, “all good.”  

On earth, only the human race can display moral evil, as we are the only intelligent beings.  Animals and plant life have no capabilities to be intrinsically evil.  Animals and plants are only respondents to nature, and do not have “free-will.”

God gave free-will to only two of His creations: humans and angels.  This grace of free-will is a two edged sword.  One side brings us just this much closer to the divinity of God than all other creation, but its other side takes one away from God in the belief they ARE “gods” also!

Free-will is a concept and action of how we internalize and conform to right and wrong.  We either agree and conform, or disagree and do not conform to the natural and divine laws of God.

The angels were the first to fall on this sword, when a third of the angels tore themselves away from God, and were doomed to Hell.  As God is pure good and perfect in all ways; these “fallen angels” now have no good in them, and are pure evil.

Adam and Eve were made perfect and good by God because God cannot make anything other than good.  Adam and Eve’s own free-will led them to sin.  With that first sinful act, humanity lost all hope of perfection since non-perfect people simply cannot make perfect offspring.  Makes me wonder what would have happened if Cain and Abel were born prior to the “apple” incident?

When humans and angels know of God and His law, and then deliberately refuse to obey, “moral evil” results.  Sin is nothing more than a morally bad act; an act not in accordance with reason as informed by the divine law, and which is known to us by the dictates of our own conscience (angel on one shoulder, and devil on the other).

In every sinful act two things must be considered, the substance of the act and the want of conformity.  The Catholic Church has divided sin into two fundamental categories: “venial” and “mortal” sins.  Venial sins are relatively minor and could be forgiven through sacramentals or sacraments of the church.  For those Catholics that “do” go to church, this is done at the very beginning of each and every mass.  Mortal sin destroys grace, and separates the soul from God.  Mortal sin creates a threat of eternal damnation for the individual unless absolved through the “Sacrament of Penance.”

The most objectionable sins (vices) are called the “Seven Deadly Sins,” also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins.  They are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Now that we know what sin and evil are, we can discuss how ones personal sins have consequences on groups such as family, community, and society as a whole.

All Catholics are part of a community.  If one part fails, it has a direct result on the other parts.  If you stub you toe, your entire body suffers.  The brain has trouble concentrating for a short time, and you body has trouble walking or hopping for a period of time as well.  This is the same for the Church community also.  Any injury to one part injures all.

The body can be healed.  We have medicines, Band-Aids, and even physical therapy to help us heal in body; but what about our soul?  It can be healed as well.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation needs to be looked as the “healing” sacrament it is, instead of as punishment for our transgressions.  We did away with cod liver oil decades ago, and in the church we have also done away with the medieval attitudes and practices associated with having our sins forgiven. 

Confession (yes, I’m an old-timer) is a very pleasant experience.  I nearly laugh as I watch people walk into the “confessional” looking like they are about to get a prostate exam, and exiting as if they had won a large and priceless prize.  In actuality, they did!  They won the prize of being sinless and nearer to God, and assured (if only temporarily) of a place in eternal oneness with God in heaven.  The act of confessing sins to Christ (in the person of the Priest) is a very open and fluid experience now.  There is a formula, but the priest will easily help you through the process.  It is truly NON-painful, and makes one so happy inside and out.  I have actually laughed “in the confessional,” over the exchange between the priest and I (my childhood St. Joseph Nuns are turning over in their graves at the thought of humor involved in confession).  If you haven’t gone in a while, you honestly do not know what you are missing: a pleasant experience; and eternity in heaven!

 “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”

     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605?)
    

In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless.

Augustine again set out and this time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester.

Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors

Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Truly Augustine of Canterbury can be called the “Apostle of England.”

. (From http://www.americancatholic.orgwebsite)

 

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
   

All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.

Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).

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♬“If I Could Talk To The Animals; Just Imagine It!”♬ – St. Francis Did!†


It is a beautifully “WET” Thursday is Hazelwood (St. Louis) Missouri today.  The fresh air, the birds singing in the distance, and the lack of the pitter-patter (actually it is “thump-thump”) of my teenage children’s feet as they are now in school makes for an awesome day.  Three more days left of Eastertide and till the birthday of the Catholic Church.

 

Today in Catholic History:
† 325 – The First Council of Nicaea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church – is held.
† 1277 – Death of Pope John XXI (b. 1215)
† 1470 – Birth of Pietro Bembo, Italian cardinal (d. 1547)
† 1593 – Birth of Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
† 1825 – Death of Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
† 1927 – Birth of Franciszek Macharski, Polish Cardinal
† Feast and Memorials: Saint Bernardine of Siena, Saint Lucifer, Saint Austregisilus, Saint Ivo of Chartres, Abercius and Helena

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains un-awakened.
     

Today’s reflection:
    

What is the difference between showing respect for animals and treating them as if they are humans?  Do humans and animals have equal rights?
   

Probably the one big thing all people remember about St. Francis is that he was around animals.  If there is a statue of St. Francis in your garden or on your stoop, it probably has him with birds, deer, a wolf, or other animals surrounding him.  There are even many great stories about St. Francis’ encounters directly or indirectly, with animals found in nature.

It is true he loved animals.  He was even known to feed them with food literally out of his own mouth.   Our Seraphic Father (St. Francis) considered all creation, including people, animals,  flowers and trees, and even the various weather patterns as divine gifts from God, for us to enjoy, use, and to care for.

Secular Franciscans Rule # 20 states to “respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.”  Let’s tear this rule down to its elements.

We, as Christians, MUST respect all creation that lives, or inspires us to live.  Sounds simple, but the rule also says inanimate, meaning creation not in a physically live state; or not active, energetic, or lively.  To me this means to respect everything God has created, and God doesn’t make anything bad: it becomes bad only because of free-will and choosing that path of life.

Weather; rain as an example, is a good thing for us and the earth.  It cleans and refreshes the ground.  It gives us the necessary resources we need to survive.  Sometimes lightening occurs with the rain, and people see this as bad.  Lightening burns the ground, and scourges the earth.  It is a destroyer of the flora and fauna of an area.  We need to remember that with this death, comes a new life.  An area destroyed, within a few years, is thriving with a new growth of trees, grasses, and animal life.

It is everyone’s responsibility to remember that God gave us special gifts He did not give to any other earthly creation: a soul, and the responsibility to care for His creations.  We are to be good stewards of this planet.  Exploiting our resources is not only wrong: it is against God’s role for us, and is a sin against nature and divinity.

Does this mean we need to treat all creation as divine and Godly?  Absolutely NOT!  Only the Trinitarian God is divine, and deserves our worship.  But God’s creation does need to be respected, and appreciated for what they are:  God’s creation, for us to use and enjoy wisely.  Our Catechism of the Catholic Church even covers many aspects of animal rights, and proper use of earthly resources.  I will only print two for this article: #323- Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.  And In 2416 –  Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

Call to mind a time when you were outside, and felt the presence of God in the beauty of His awesome creations.  I believe we all need to take time out from our busy schedules, and renew our appreciation of our earth.  Go outside, sit in a chair, and put yourself in God’s presence.  Reflect not only on the beauty and wonder of nature, but reflect on your responsibility as God’s instrument on earth.

In the 1970’s, there was a famous commercial saying, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!”  Then came the famous and still frequently used, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!”  I think all of us know what the proper things are to help the world, and each other.  We just have to realize that ecology, recycling, and resource management MUST be a priority.  For those that pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer in it says, “Come let us worship God who holds the world and its wonders in his creating hand.”

Instead of a closing prayer, I would like to offer this little known poem from St. Francis of Assisi:
    

Not To Hurt

“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals)
Is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.
We have a higher mission:
To be of service to them whenever they require it. ”
   

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bernardin of Siena 1380-1444
 

St. Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, begins the biography of Bernardin with the words, “The grace of God, Our Saviour, has appeared in His servant Bernardin, who shone like a bright star in a dark night, and with the heavenly brilliance of his virtue and doctrine frightened away the darkness.”

The great saint descended from the old knightly family of the Albizeschi of Siena, and was born on September 8, 1380, in the town of Massa, a dependency of Siena, where his father was governor. When Bernardin was only 7 years old, he had lost both his parents, but he was reared in the fear of God by devout relatives. He evinced a great love for the poor, with whom, as a little boy, he gladly shared his food. He attended divine services with the most edifying devotion, and listened to sermons with such attention that he could repeat them to his companions.

He loved purity above all the virtues. While he attended the secondary school in Siena, he could not hear an unbecoming word without blushing for shame, so that those who spoken it themselves blushed. When any indecent conversation was going on among his companions, they stopped as soon as they saw him coming. “Be still,” they said, “Bernardin is coming.”

While the holy youth was otherwise very meek, he was friendly to all, he could nevertheless grow extremely angry if decency was violated. A prominent citizen once purposely told him something indecent in the open market place. Bernardin gave him a resounding slap in the face, and amid the laughter of the bystanders the disgraced citizen had to withdraw.

With his great love for purity, Bernardin united a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he used to call his beloved. Out of devotion to her he daily visited an image of Mary just outside the town of Siena; he prayed there especially to learn his vocation. The Mother of Grace, who had protected him in the world, now led him to the sanctuary of the convent. In the quiet little convent of St. Mary Colombaio, which St. Francis himself had founded. Bernardin received the holy habit on the feast of the Nativity of Mary in the year 1402. On the same feast in the following year, he made his profession, and after he was ordained and appointed to preach, he also gave his first sermon on the feast of Mary’s nativity.

Since, however, Bernardin’s voice was very weak and hoarse, he seemed ill-fitted for the office of a preacher. Yet here, too, his beloved Mother helped him. AT her intercession his voice suddenly became so powerful and melodious that he became one of the most distinguished missionaries.

Now he journeyed all over Italy in order to announce to the people the virtues and vices, and the reward of the former and punishment of the latter. In many places such depravity existed that he found it necessary to preach sermons which he himself called sermons for heathens. The effects, however, were so astounding that Pope Pius II compared him with the Apostle of the Gentiles and called him a second Paul. After he had shaken their truths, he poured into them the soothing oil of the sweet name of Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, and preached on Mary, the Mother of Mercy.

His blessed ministry induced many towns to seek him as their bishop. This Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino petitioned in turn for this privilege, and the pope offered Bernardin the episcopal dignity. But with unchanging humility, he declined every time. He remained among his religious brethren whom he encouraged in religious perfection.

Rich in merits and virtue he died at Aquila on May 20, 1944, Pope Nicholas V canonized him 6 years later, whereupon the citizens of Aquila built to his honor a beautiful church with a magnificent marble tomb.

 (From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #20:
    

The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.