Friday, January 30, 2009

My Conversion... "Hot or cold or I will SPEW you out of My Mouth."


I have to say I have pretty much been a LUKEWARM Catholic for good portion of my life. I mean when I was younger, I really loved God and loved Jesus too. I remember going to Catholic grade school and going to Mass and I KNEW Jesus was in the Eucharist and that He wanted to make HIS HOME in me. I also used to pray before the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and would talk with her from my heart. I used to talk with God every day too.

But, as I grew up, our family stopped going to Mass regularly. I started to learn formal prayer (prayers written by others) and found it boring. I thought my old way of praying was just make-believe and eventually I just slowly but surely started to lose my Faith altogether. I would still go to Mass because I had to and because I wanted to go to Heaven but nothing more... I then later didn't even care too much about Heaven either.

In high school, I used studied hard and really didn't have too many friends. Towards my junior year, I wanted to have more of a social life so I started to go to parties and started drinking. In my senior year, I started doing Exstacy and going to clubs in downtown Houston. I started to listen to more hard core alternative music and getting towards the darker side of life. I remember one club in particular called "Numbers" where I would be dancing to what I now realize was satanic music and in the music videos on the TV monitors they would be blowing up live animals and everyone didn't really care. Another club my sister went to had someone dressed up as Jesus hanging upside down on the Cross and someone else playing as a "slutty" Blessed Virgin Mary and everyone just kept dancing to the music with no care in the world that they were blaspheming God directly... and neither did I.

On the weekends I would get drunk or do Exstacy with all my buddies and we would go to clubs looking to have sex with women. I would even go to Mass with my parents on the following Sunday all hung-over and sick and would still receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. One Sunday Mass I was so sick and hung-over, after receiving Holy Communion I ran outside the front of the church and puked out the Body and Blood of Our Lord. I just covered up the Eucharist with dirt, and walked back into Mass next to my parents and didn't think anything of it. It is amazing to me that Jesus says: "Hot or cold, or I will spew you out of My Mouth!" because, I realized He doesn't have to do it to us, we do it to HIM.

In college, the darkness grew even colder and darker in my life. I started getting depressed and didn't care about my studies anymore. I got a job at Outback Steakhouse and was moving towards management (just when it was starting to expand out of Florida and had the first store in Texas in my hometown). I was geared towards a degree in International Business and Marketing. Just about that time, Outback went onto the stock-market and all those involved with starting the company were instant millionaires. The owner of the story I was working for was headed to Colorado to be a district manager for the area stores and he wanted me to work with him. I was headed for great success in the world.

My situation continued to get worse... I moved away from home and stopped going to Mass altogether. My roommate at the time was a cocaine dealer and I actually went on a run with him to sell an 8-ball. We partied every night and got drunk...and the darkness was pulling me down even more. I started to feel it in me. Well, one night I really had a lot to drink at the local bar we used to hang out in after work. I remember getting into my car and starting it... but nothing more....

I woke up in my room on the floor in a pool of my own vomit with the keys to the car in my hand and wondering how in the heck I got home. But, then I realized I still had the keys to the car in my hand.I walked outside to see if anything happened and I saw the car (my dad's minivan by the way) was all smashed in on the passenger side in the front all the way to the engine. I don't see how I could ever have driven it after wrecking it.


I retraced my path (after a few flashbacks in memory) and realized, thankfully, I didn't hit any other car or person... I hit a huge garbage bin which was just outside of the parking lot at the bar I was at the night before. Next to the garbage bin was a huge electric pole and on the other side was a huge ditch. If I had swerved just a little more to either side of the garbage bin, I would not be living. Also, I was more than thankful I didn't kill or even hit anyone else on the road. I still have no clue how I could have missed anyone on the road... but I guess I will have to leave that to my Guardian Angel (Nathaniel) and his protection over me and everyone else on the road that night.


Well, I knew that if I had died that night where I was headed... and it wasn't Heaven or even Purgatory. I KNEW I would have gone to HELL. No Doubt. It scared the Hell out of me (literally)! I got on my knees and knew that I wanted to go HOME to Heaven and the road I was taking in life was headed in the opposite direction. I told God that for the rest of my life, I just wanted to be headed Home and knew that I had to have a REAL relationship with Him in my life and I also had a deep desire to help everyone else that was lukewarm like me to come back to Our Lord.


I went to Confession with a priest I knew back at home with my parents, and started going back to Mass on Sundays (without missing... because I DID NOT want to MISS HEAVEN). I eventually started to pray the Rosary every day (as Our Lady asks of us as her children) and even started going to daily Mass. It was soon afterward that I received my calling in the Priesthood… but that is a whole other story.

From the voice of demon at an exorcism:


"The Devil fears the Virgin Mary more, not only than men and angels but, in a certain sense, than God himself. It is not that the wrath, the power and the hatred of God are not infinitely greater than those of the Blessed Virgin, since Mary's perfections are limited: it is because, in the first place, Satan, being proud, suffers infinitely more from being overcome and punished by the little, humble servant of God, her humility humiliating him more than the divine power; and secondly, because God has given Mary such great power over devils that, as they have often been obliged to admit, in spite of themselves, through the mouths of possessed persons, they are more afraid of one of her sighs of grief over some poor soul, than of the prayers of the saints, and more daunted by a single threat from her than by all their other torments." (Resource - Evidence of Satan in the Modern World by Monsignor Leon Cristiani, Roman Catholic Priest)

Monday, January 26, 2009

DOUBTS... about Faith and God


I find it helpful to begin with the fundamentals/foundation of where you do not have any doubts and build up your faith from this. If you have at least a foundation, the rest makes perfect sense and the doubts can easily be removed. This is partly why Our Lord says, "Resist the devil solid in your Faith."

Do you believe you have an eternal soul? If you can at least believe this, all the other doubts can easily be removed. If you do not, then we have a problem.

"I keep going back to the fact that I am a soul within a body and I am incapable of fathoming myself as solely a biological being."

Because you at least have a foundation based upon knowledge that you have a soul, I can help build your faith back up that I think will make all of your doubts crumble.

You have an eternal soul. But there is a problem, isn't there? Something is not quite right... something is broken inside you. You understand what I am saying. This is the result of SIN which is a rupture between the union that is supposed to exist between our soul and God who created us. You were made for the Light... and yet you remain in darkness, fear and doubt. Why is this? The answer has a name and it is already on your lips.

If you look out into the world, you notice something is terribly wrong. People are killing one another, in fact, we have come to the point in society where we make it lawful to literally murder an innocent child (both in the womb and outside of it...) when it is so helpless and vulnerable. We are supposed to safeguard and protect the most helpless and innocent in our society, and yet we are literally HELL bent in destroying this life. Something isn't just WRONG... It is terribly, horrifically wrong. How can this be fixed???

This is where God steps into the picture. We are broken, weak, sick and something is wrong inside of us... so we CANNOT fix it. How can we have a sick surgeon who is blind and lame fix somthing broken? Not only will we fail to fix it, we will inevitablly make the problem worse. God is the Divine Physician... He comes to heal the sick, to proclaim liberty to captives, to give sight to the blind, to cure the lame, to literally bring the dead back to Life.

But how does He do this? To fix something broke, to heal, to restore... there has to be price paid... a sacrifice. A fall from God who created us demands a heavy price. Do you know how much your soul is worth in God's eyes? The price paid is the Blood of His only Son. This is how much was paid for our debt. And yes, God who created you as His child, loves you so much that He did send His only Son to die for you so that you may have Life.

We broke it but could not fix or pay the debt in our human nature. Human nature was responsible, but there is nothing we can do to repair it as the amount is incalcuable. Only something infinite..without limit could pay it... repair it... again we are dealing with a broken eternal soul that has been left in darkness as a result of sin.

Again, this is where God steps into the picture. God the Father sends His only Son to "take upon Himself" our broken and sick human nature. He "robes Himself" in flesh in order to pay the debt that we owe. He did suffer, die, and was buried. God pays the debt that we owe and pays it back with the same instrument that orginally caused this great, Hell-bent destruction within each one of us... our human nature... with His own Blood.

Please listen to the words of the Prophet Isaiah God sent among us way before this plan came to be fulfilled:

"And he shall grow up as a tender plant before him, and as a root out of a thirsty ground: there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness: and we have seen him, and there was no sightliness, that we should be desirous of him: Despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity: and his look was as it were hidden and despised, whereupon we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, every one hath turned aside into his own way: and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. And the Lord was pleased to bruise him in infirmity: if he shall lay down his life for sin..." (Isaiah 53:2-6,10a)

I think your eyes have been opened enough by now to see with the eyes of Faith. The rest of your Catholic Faith lies upon this foundation. God is very real... and your state of sin and darkness of soul can detect this now. If not... you are doomed.

"Every one that cometh to Me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep, and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and it could not shake it; for it was founded on a rock. But he that heareth, and doth not, is like to a man building his house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat vehemently, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great." (Luke 6:47-49)

I think the above will shake your doubts to the core and make you realize that logic can only go so far... there is something else that has to take you out into the Deep. It is called Faith.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

COMING BACK TO CHURCH...

HE MEANS IT.

A friend of mine recently asked me: "I have to admit I have I have been away from the church for a long time. My family and I are looking to start going to church again. Any suggestions?"
Just a fair warning... I don't hold any punches. lol
I am not only going to give you suggestions, but I am also going to give you reasons why you really need to "RUN" back as soon as you can and NEVER let go.
When we begin to turn away from the Church, we actually begin to lose touch with reality. We lose sight of the price that was paid for our eternal and immortal soul and what exactly it was paid with. You really need to come back to this reality. Jesus takes the salvation of your soul (and your childrens' and your wife's that He created in the womb, called by name, and gave to you to care and protect as the head of the family...) very seriously and He knows exaclty how much it would cost Him. God your Father also knows how much you will lose if you don't respond, if we choose not to seriously turn back to Him and repent what we have done... FOREVER and EVER and EVER...... is a very, very, very long time and it won't end.
The questions you need to ask yourself are these: Do I really want to go to Heaven? Do I really want to say that this is "my true home"? Do I really want this for my family even if I do not care enough to go?
"1 Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be. 4 And whither I go you know, and the way you know. 5 Thomas saith to him: Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me." (Holy Gospel According to St. John Ch.14)
How do I get there?
"21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity. 24 Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these my words, and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof. (Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew Ch.7)
There are alot of other realities you need to take into consideration but these need to be the foundation for how you are going to live for the rest of your life.
So, you need to start taking God's will in your life VERY SERIOUSLY. It isn't just a matter of going back to Church as if all you need to do is go to Confession and all will be wiped away... and then start receiving Holy Communion again. That is a shallow way to have a relationship with God who created you, calls you by name and does indeed love you as His son and child. In other words, you need to realize WHO YOU ARE in God's eyes and His love for you. You also need to seriously begin to take the time to LISTEN TO HIS VOICE in your daily life.
Here are my suggestions on how to get this in your life:
1) Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation...and continue going regularly. I would recommend at least once every other week. Why? If you could see with the eyes of your soul at what one sin does to the image and likeness of God within you, you would not need to even ask. Get rid of this crap as soon as you can. The longer you hold on to it, the more you become disfigured. Think of Smiegal in the "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King". In the beginning of the movie Smiegal was an innocent child, playful and loving... but he wanted a ring that did not belong to him... and the longer he held on to it the more he became disfigured and distorted until he finally lost his "true identity". Sin DOES this to the soul.
Approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation like this:
Then He said to his disciples:
“There was a man who had two sons.
The younger one said to his father,
“Father, let me have the share of the inheritance that will come to me.”
So the father divided his property between them.
A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had
and left for a distant country
where he squandered his money on a life of corruption.
“When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine,
and now he began to feel the pinch;
so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants
who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.
And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating on
but no would let him have them.
Then he came to his senses and said,
“How many of my father’s hired men have all the food they want and more,
but here I am dying of hunger.
I will leave this place and go to my Father and say:
“Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
Treat me as one of your hired servants.”
So he left that place and went back to His Father.
While he was still a long way off, His Father caught site of him and was moved with pity.
He ran to the boy, embraced him in his arms and kissed him.
Then his son said, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you…
I no longer deserve to be called your son.”
But the Father said to his servants,
“Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we will celebrate by having a feast.
Because this son of mine was lost and now is found,”
And they began to celebrate.
From the Holy Gospel According to St. Luke 15:11-23
Your Heavenly Father loves you no matter what you have done in your past.... don't keep Him waiting!!!
So, when you go to confession, realize and confess all the ways you have turned away from God who loves you, how you have lost sight of your inheritance and squandered it... and how you did this. Don't hold anything back... let it all go. As I say to a lot of those who come to me... "Vomit it out of your mouth... just spew it out. It is making you sick and God wants to heal you."
2) When you go to receive Holy Communion, you need to realize that unless you "REMAIN" united to Christ in the Eucharist you do not have LIFE within you. Jesus tells you this very clearly:
"Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you." (John 6:54)
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine: you the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing."
(John 15:4-5)
3) We pray in the "Our Father" that we want God to "give us this day our Daily Bread."This is the Bread of Life which came down from Heaven. Jesus says "I am the Bread of Life". Seek Jesus in the Eucharist DAILY or whenever possible. Why do you need to go daily? Well, what can you really do on daily basis without God literally dwelling within you? Can you do the work of God daily without Him giving you the strength to do it? Think about it.
4) You really need to start bearing the FRUIT OF GOD in your daily life and you need to take this seriously. Jesus means it...
"I am the true vine; and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me, that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean by reason of the word, which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine: you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and case him into the fire, and be burneth." (John 15:1-6)
Learn the lesson of the fig tree which is a parable of your soul which God comes to seeking His fruit in your daily life:
"And when he had seen afar off a fig tree having leaves, he came if perhaps he might find any thing on it. And when he was come to it, he found nothing but leaves. For it was not the time for figs. And answering he said to it: May no man hereafter eat fruit of thee any more for ever. And his disciples heard it... And when they passed by in the morning they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter remembering, said to him: Rabbi, behold the fig tree, which thou didst curse, is withered away." (Mark 11:13-14,20-21)
5) As I said before, you also need to seriously begin to take the time to LISTEN TO HIS VOICE in your daily life. There are many different ways that God speaks to our soul. Take up the Scriptures, especially the Gospels and listen to what Jesus is saying to YOU. You are His disciple (follower)... and when Jesus speaks to His disciples He is teaching you. If you are not His disciple, if you do not consider yourself one of His sheep that He leads by His Voice, you can just skip this whole note, skip all of the Bible... and go to Hell, because this is what, in essence, you are doing to yourself.
"My sheep hear My Voice: and I know them, and they follow Me." (John 10:27)
"Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me." (Rev.3:20)
"Every one that cometh to me, and heareth my words, and doth them, I will show you to whom he is like." (Luke 6:47)
Jesus spoke for a reason and it is necessary that you know that. He speaks to you... when I read Scripture, I close my eyes and picture myself at His Feet. When He speaks in the Bible, I listen because I know these words are coming from Him to me.
You also need to begin listening to God's Voice in daily prayer. Turn off your phone, cell phone, TV, and radio... there is nothing more important or any other person more important in your life than LISTENING TO HIM. Many don't think God will speak. It is not that God doesn't want to speak... people are afraid to listen because they don't want to change. If you do listen, your life will change.
6) Take time to go to Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist. I have so many people say that they go to Adoration, spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, and don't get anything out of it... that nothing is happening. I reply with this simple fact... lets say you are sitting before an atomic bomb and it goes off. Even though you may not "feel" like anything is happening to you, do you really believe that it won't effect your life in a very dramatic way? When you come before Our Lord in His True Presence, you are literally sitting before the most powerful force in the Universe... in fact God created it... remember? You are literally sitting face-to-face before God who created you, gave you life, and calls you by name. Remember what happened to Moses when he went into the tent of the Meeting Place where God's presence was. He went in there to speak to God and listen to Him. When He came out of the tent, people hid their face from Moses because his face was so bright with the Light of God. Moses didn't know this happened to him, but others did. The same holds true when you go to Adoration. Go once a week for an hour. Within a month's time, I guarantee you will be changed... literally. You may not notice the difference but others will. God's presence will shine upon you.
"And when Moses went forth to the tabernacle, all the people rose up, and every one stood in the door of his pavilion, and they beheld the back of Moses, till he went into the tabernacle. nd when he was gone into the tabernacle of the covenant, the pillar of the cloud came down, and stood at the door, and he spoke with Moses. And all saw that the pillar of the cloud stood at the door of the tabernacle. And they stood, and worshipped at the doors of their tents. And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man is wont to speak to his friend...And when Moses came down from the mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned {shining with rays of light comng forth from it} from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near." (Exodus 33:8-11, 34:29-30)
7) Root out, dig out, and put an axe to things in your life that are blocking the life of God out of it:
"And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: Where there worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off. It is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting, than having two feet, to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished." (Mark 9:42-47)
"The sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And other some fell upon a rock: and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And other some fell among thorns, and the thorns growing up with it, choked it. And other some fell upon good ground; and being sprung up, yielded fruit a hundredfold. Saying these things, he cried out: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And they by the way side are they that hear; then the devil cometh, and taketh the word out of their heart, lest believing they should be saved. Now they upon the rock, are they who when they hear, receive the word with joy: and these have no roots; for they believe for a while, and in time of temptation, they fall away. And that which fell among thorns, are they who have heard, and going their way, are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and yield no fruit. But that on the good ground, are they who in a good and perfect heart, hearing the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit in patience." (Luke 8:5-8,11-15)
8) Remember your Baptismal Promises... you cannot be a child of Light if you accept darkness into your life:
Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God's children?
I do.
Do you reject the glamor of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?
I do.
Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?
I do.
9) Forgive and do not judge. If you choose not to forgive everyone... God will hold you accountable for all of your sins down to the last penny. If you do not judge... you will not be judged by God... this is His Promise.
"For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences." (Matthew 6:14-15)
"Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts." (Matthew 18:32-35)
"Judge not, that you may not be judged, For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. Any why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)
10) Remember Our Lord's new Commandment and take it seriously:
"This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you." (John 15:12)
WARNING... this WILL happen when you are judged by Our Lord when He comes:
"And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me. And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting."
(Matthew 25:31-46)

Friday, January 23, 2009

MY LITTLE MARIPOSA By Christy Wall


The technician's hand is poised over my swollen belly like a child standing with a net, waiting to catch the butterfly. The baby flutters and turns in the warm water, I can almost see her pretty face laughing. There is a wild trail of goo on my skin marking the dance of my daughter as she cavorts within my womb. I am breathless with her beauty. My daughter. My daughter, Clara. It is music to my ears to say her name. She pauses for a moment and the technician starts measuring with clicks and whirls of the machine. I am so enamored with her pretty little round head that I do not see the horrendous cysts taking up the space where her brain ought to be. Her arms wave in front of the camera like a sweet greeting and my heart swells with love, but I do not see that the other one lies floating in sea, for it has no bones. The misty floaty thing, the technician says to me, as I admire her curved spine, is her bowels. I can not even process this information, for she has taken off again in a flight of fancy, swirling and leaping in joy. And finally, the technician mentions the heart that is doing nothing because it is broken. I look at the technician with wide eyes "But my heart is all she needs." "Yes", she agrees slowly. "But your baby will die once she leaves your womb." Tears well up and in a moment I am sobbing. I am overwhelmed. My little daughter is alive and rejoicing in life. She knows my voice, the beating of my heart, the measure of my step. She knows the deep voice of her father, the laughing voices of her nine brother and sisters. She is home and has a family. My womb gives her the only life she will ever know. Every moment within my womb is a moment of joy and love and comfort that she would not otherwise have. Because the minute she is born, the world will kill her. What mother does not wish to protect her child with her very body? And I am given the unique privilege of giving her the only life and protection she will ever know. But there is more. With God's grace, I will carry this baby in my womb for 20 more weeks. 20 weeks to know her better, for the children to talk to her, for her to kick with her two good strong legs, for her to laugh as she plays in the waters which belie her floating intestines and arm, for her to love because she does not need a brain to love. And after that, I will bring a priest and the family to the hospital. And I will deliver this baby into the arms of the priest who will baptize her. She will be born into Life, then. Eternal life. What greater blessing can a parent know?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Father, forgive me!!!


Great for a monthly examination of conscience and for a yearly general confession:


THE 10 COMMANDMENTS:~


“Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable (cannot be changed), and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.” (CCC#2072)~


“Jesus summed up man’s duties toward God in this saying: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This immediately echoes the solemn call: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is the one Lord.”God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the Ten Commandments. The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.” (CCC#2083)


THE LOVE OF GOD

1ST Commandment: “I am the Lord your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.” {Love of God}~ You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.

~ …It follows that we must necessarily accept His words and have complete faith in Him and acknowledge His authority.


FAITH: Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all He has said and revealed to us, and the Holy Church proposes for our belief, because He is truth itself. (CCC#1814)

~ The 1st Commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

~ Neglect of our faith is a sin against the 1st Commandment (not taking time to know our Catholic Faith, reading the Bible, studying the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not living the faith through prayer and going to Mass and Confession regularly).

Voluntary doubt: about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. (example: rejecting a teaching of the Church or of Jesus).

Involuntary doubt: refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the refusal to assent to it.

Heresy: is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and Catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same. (example: denial of the Immaculate Conception of Mary that she was conceived in the womb without sin).

Apostasy: is the total rejection of the Christian faith. (example: leaving the Christian faith and joining a non-Christian church).

Schism: is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff (the Pope) or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him. (example: Lefeberist Church)


HOPE: is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. (CCC#1817)

~When god reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment. (CCC#2090)

Despair: is when man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to His justice~ for the Lord is faithful to His promises~ and to His mercy. (suicide is a sin of despair of God).

Presumption: There are two kinds of sins of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities (hoping to be able to save himself without the help of God) or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or His mercy (hoping to obtain God’s forgiveness without conversion from sin and glory without ever changing one’s life).


CHARITY: is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. (CCC#1822)

Indifference: is the refusing to reflect on the existence of God’s goodness and the power of God’s love (example: not caring about Jesus’ suffering and dying for us on the Cross and not caring to follow Him and change one’s life).

Acadia (complacency): is refusing to accept the joy that comes from God or being repelled by God’s goodness. Basically, the person guilty of spiritual sloth is too lazy to return God’s love.

Lukewarmness: is hesitation or neglect to respond to God’s love. “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)

Hatred of God: is denying God’s love out of pride and cursing God for forbidding sin and inflicting punishment due to one’s sin. This is one that will damn a person who fails to repent.

Ingratitude: is the failure to acknowledge God’s love and return it. When you receive a gift from someone, there is an obligation to thank the person who gave it. (Example… not going to Mass which means “thanksgiving” to God for all He has given us and giving back to Him in return).


VIRTUE OF RELIGION: requires us to give to God the worship, honor, devotion, and service He deserves from us who were created and are loved by Him. We fulfill this virtue when we do those things (Confession, Mass, Adoration, Prayer, reading the Bible) formally directed to worshipping God. The virtue of religion also includes rendering honor to Mary and the saints, as well as venerating sacred images.

Idolatry: putting a thing or person in the place of God. Idolatry includes honoring Satan, pleasure, power, money, the state, or drugs and alcohol in place of God (example: going to the casino or bingo but not to Sunday Mass or watching a football game/going hunting instead of going to Mass… when doing this, we make these other things/activities more important than being with God and worshipping Him).

Superstition: attributing magical power to certain created things or practices. It includes belief in and use of so-called “good luck charms,” such as rabbits’ feet, chain letter prayers that claim to bind God to an answer, and similar practices.

Divination: the attempt to predict the future based on the assistance of Satan or the dead. It also includes belief in the power of horoscopes, fortunetellers/palm readers, astrology, ouija boards, and omens. These are false attempts to control one’s future and deny the power of God to care for us directly.

Magic: the desire to know and control demonic powers in order to place them at one’s service. Attempting to make a deal with the devil or asking a demon’s help in order to place a curse on someone are examples. Though sometimes called magic, slight-of-hand and card tricks do not apply here.

Irreligion: disrespect for God or sacred things. Examples are testing God in word or deed, like asking God to condemn a person… or sacrilege, which is the disrespect for sacred persons, places, or things (like when Sinead O’Conner ripped up a picture of Pope John Paul II). This includes disrespect for Mary, the saints, sacred images, and places of worship.

Simony: the buying or selling of spiritual powers or works of God.Atheism: the denial or rejection of the existence of God.



2nd Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” {Love of God}

~ The Second Commandment prohibits taking God’s name in vain, forbidding it’s use for irreverent purposes- such as calling upon God to damn a person- while at the same time requiring us to speak with reverence of God, the saints, and holy things.

~ A persons name contains his very identity, and therefore, the meaning of his life. This means that if someone reveals his name to you, he is partly revealing who he really is to you. Blasphemy: consists in uttering against God- inwardly or outwardly- words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward Him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name. The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s Church, the saints, and sacred things.

~The Second Commandment forbids false oaths. Taking an oath or swearing is to take God as witness to what one affirms. It is to invoke the divine truthfulness as a pledge of one’s own truthfulness. An oath engages the Lord’s name. A person commits perjury when he makes a promise under oath with no intention of keeping it, or when after promising an oath he does not keep it. Pledging oneself by oath to commit an evil deed is contrary to the holiness of the divine name.



3rd Commandment: “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.” {Love of God}

~ Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest with God. (CCC#2175)

~ The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship “as a sign of His universal goodness to all.” (CCC#2176)

~ The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and His Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life. “Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal church.”“

Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas Mass on December 25th), the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), the feast of Mary the Mother of God (January 1st), her Immaculate Conception (December 8th), her Assumption (August 15th), the feast of St. Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints (November 1st).” (CCC#2177)

The Sunday Obligation: The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.” (CCC#2180)

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (CCC#2181)

Sunday as a day of Rest: On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs or important social service (for example a police officer, fire department, hospital) can legitimately excuse one from the obligation of Sunday rest. The faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits harmful to religion, family life, and health. (CCC#2185)

Care for those less fortunate and the poor: Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety (goodness) to good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly. Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life. (CCC#2186)

Avoid making unnecessary demands on others: Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from observing the Lord’s Day (for example: making others work for you, going shopping). Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.), and social necessities (public services, etc.) require some people to work on Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar obligation toward their employees. (CCC#2187)


THE LOVE OF NEIGHBOR

Jesus said to His disciples: “Love one another even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)


4th Commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” {Love of others}

~ God has willed that, after Him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with His authority. (CCC#2197)

~ The Fourth Commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude towards elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties to the duties to pupils to teachers, to employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer and govern it.

~This Commandment includes and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community of persons. (CCC 2199)

The Christian Family: The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task. (CCC # 2205)

The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It then passes on to other persons, other families and society to provide for their needs. (CCC# 2208)

The Respect Due to Each Person: The Fourth Commandment illuminates other relationships in society. In our brother and sisters we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors; in our fellow citizens, the children of our country; n the baptized, the children of our mother the Church; in every human person, a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called “our Father.” In this way our relationships with our neighbors are recognized as personal in character. The neighbor is not a “unit” in the human collective; he is “someone” who by his known origins deserves particular attention and respect. (CCC# 2212)Duties of Children: Respect for parents derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. “With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?” (CCC# 2215)

Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience.As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him (apart from sin) when it is for his good or that of the family. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Children should also obey the reasonable directions of their teachers and all to whom their parents have entrusted them. But if a child is convinced in conscience that it would be morally wrong to obey a particular order, he must not do so. As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions (warnings). Obedience toward parents ceases with the releasing of the children from the home; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Obligations of grown adults to parents: The Fourth Commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents. As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress. Jesus calls this duty of gratitude.“O son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if he is lacking in understanding, show patience and restraint; in all your strength do not despise him… Whoever forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is cursed by the Lord.” (CCC#2218)

~ This commandment also concerns relationships between brothers and sisters.Duties of Parents: The fruitfulness of intimate love of spouses cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. “The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (CCC#2221)

~ Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law. (CCC#2222)

~ Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for the education in the virtues. This requires training in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery- the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the “material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.” Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will better able to guide and correct them:“He who loves his son will not spare the rod… He who disciplines his son will profit by him.” (Sirach 30:1-2)“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) (CCC#2223)

~ Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life. (CCC#2225)

~ Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechism precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents. (CCC#2226)

~ Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offences, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it. (CCC# 2227)

~ Parents should provide their children through care and attention for their physical and spiritual needs.

~ Parents are the first ones responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions… As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators. (CCC# 2229)

~ When they become adults, children have the right and duty to choose their profession and state of life. They should assume their new responsibilities within a trusting relationship with their parents, willingly asking and receiving their advice and counsel. Parents should be careful not to exert pressure on their children either in the choice of their profession or in that of a spouse. This necessary constraint does not prevent them- quite the contrary- from giving their children judicious advice, particularly when they are planning to start a family. (CCC# 2230)

The Family and the Kingdom of God: Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation to the Christian is to follow Jesus: “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.” (CCC#2232)

~ Becoming a disciple of Jesus means accepting the invitation to belong to God’s family, to live in conformity with HIS way of life. “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”Parents should welcome and respect with joy and thanksgiving the Lord’s call to one of their children to follow Him in virginity for the sake of the Kingdom in the consecrated life or in priestly ministry.

~ This Commandment also covers those who exercise authority as civil authorities. (See Catechism)

~ Duties of Citizens: Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of His gifts. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution…” (CCC#2238)

~It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community. (CCC# 2239)

~Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country: “Pay to all them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to those whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.” (CCC#2240)

~ The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel (example: in China, parents are required to abort some of their children… this directive of the government cannot be followed). Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” “We must obey God rather than men.” (CCC# 2242)


5th Commandment: “You shall not kill.” {Love of others}

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end: no one can under any circumstances claim for himself the right to directly destroy an innocent human being. (CCC#2258)

“For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning… Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in His own image.” (Genesis 9:5-6)Anger, hatred, and vengeance: In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, “You shall not kill,” and adds to it the prescription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks His disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend Himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath. (CCC#2262)

Legitimate defense: The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double-effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor… The one is intended, the other is not.” (CCC#2263)

Love of oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect of one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow… (CCC# 2264)

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good (for example, military or police) requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility. (CCC# 2265)

Death penalty: Assuming the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete decisions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.Today, if fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm- without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself- the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.” (CCC#2267)

The Fifth Commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. (CCC# 2268)The Fifth Commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger. (CCC# 2269)

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so (for example, drunk driving).(CCC#2269)

Abortion: Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the first moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. (CCC#2270)

Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense (helping someone else to get an abortion). The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. (CCC#2272)

Euthanasia: …direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of the handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.(CCC# 2277)

Suicide: Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. (CCC# 2280)

Scandal: is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense by itself by deed (what we do) or omission (what we fail to do), another is deliberately led into a grave offense. (CCC#2284)Respect for health: Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them…

Idolization of the body is an evil. Idolizing physical perfection and success at sports (CCC#2289). Abuses of excess of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness of a love of speed, endanger their own and other’s safety on the road, sea, or in the air. (CCC#2290)

The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense.(CCC#2291)

Also covered under this Commandment are: The respect of the person and scientific research

Kidnapping, torture, terrorism.Respect for the dead,Anger and revenge.Deliberate hatred. Need to maintain peace.Avoidance of war.


6th Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.” {Love of others}

“You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt.5:27-28)

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift. (CCC# 2337)

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. “Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he passes forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end. (CCC# 2339)

Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes. (CCC# 2351)

Masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church and in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” (CCC# 2352)

Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young. (CCC# 2353)

Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. (CCC# 2354)

Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Prostitution is a social scourge. (CCC# 2355)

Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the children entrusted to them. (CCC# 2356)

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (CCC#2357)

Love for husband and wife, faithfulness in marriage, the gift of a child, artificial insemination and fertilization are all covered under this Commandment.

Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another person, have sexual relations- even brief ones- they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of desire. (CCC# 2380)

Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents’ stable union. (CCC# 2381)

Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery. (CCC#2384)

Incest (intimate relations between relatives or in-laws) and sexual abuse also fall under this Commandment.In a so-called free-union, a man and a woman refuse to give juridical and public form to a liaison involving sexual intimacy. The expression covers a number of different situations: concubinage, rejection of marriage as such, or inability to make long-term commitments. All these situations offend against the dignity of marriage; they destroy the very idea of the family; they weaken the sense of fidelity. They are contrary to the moral law. The sexual act must take place exclusively within marriage. Outside of marriage it always constitutes a grave sin and excludes one from sacramental communion. (CCC# 2390)


7th Commandment: “You shall not steal.” {Love of others}

The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity. (CCC# 2401) Also under this commandment falls the need to care for the poor and the needy. (CCC#2443)The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is not theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing…) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others. (CCC# 2408)

What is also covered under STEALING: deliberate holding on to goods lent or of objects lost, business fraud, paying unjust wages, forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another, work done poorly, tax evasion, forgery of checks and invoices, excessive expenses and waste, willfully damaging private or public property. (CCC# 2409)

There is a need to pay back what is owed and return that what was stolen, or make restitution in proportion to that what was taken.Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant. (CCC# 2413)

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. (CCC# 2416)

God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom He created in His own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. (CCC#2417)

It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer and die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons. (CCC#2418)


8th Commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” {Love of others}

The Eighth Commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God, and in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. (CCC# 2464)

Man tends by nature toward the truth. He is obliged to honor and bear witness to it: “It is in accordance with their dignity that all men, because they are persons…are both impelled by their nature and bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth once they come to know it and direct their whole lives in accordance with the demands of truth.” (CCC# 2467)

False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness. When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused. They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions. (CCC# 2476)

Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

~ of rash judgment who, even unspokenly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

~of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them (for example, gossiping about the faults of others);

~of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them. (CCC#2477)

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:“Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if that person understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.” (CCC#2478)

Boasting or bragging is an offense against the truth. So is irony aimed at disapproving someone by malicious mimicking some aspect of his behavior. (CCC#2481)

A lie consists in speaking falsehood with the intention of deceiving. The Lord renounces lying as the work of the devil: “You are of your father the devil…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (CCC# 2482)

The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity. (CCC#2484)

Every offense committed against justice and charity entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven (for example, telling the truth to the person lied to). When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience. (CCC#2487)

Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information and communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict carefulness in speaking. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it. (CCC# 2489)

The secret of the sacrament of reconciliation is sacred, and cannot be violated under any pretext. “The sacramental seal is unbreakable; therefore, it is a crime for a confessor in any way to betray the penitent by word or in any other manner or for any reason.” (CCC#2490)Professional secrets- for example, those of political office holders, soldiers, physicians, and lawyers- or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, except in particular cases where the keeping the secret is bound to cause every grave harm to the one who reveals it, to the one who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information damaging to another is not to be revealed without a grave and proportionate reason. (CCC# 2491)

The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain submissiveness among users, making them less than watchful consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences. (CCC# 2496)


9th Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife/husband.” {Love of others}

“Everyone who looks at a woman [or man] lustfully has already committed adultery with her [him] in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)

The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” “Pure in heart” refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity; chastity or sexual morality; love of truth and orthodoxy of faith. There is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith: “The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying they may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.” (CCC#2518)

Battle for purity: Baptism confers on its recipient the grace of purification from all sins. But the baptized must continue to struggle against concupiscence (any intense form of human desire) of the flesh and disordered desires. With God’s grace he will prevail:

~ by the virtue and gift of chastity, for chastity lets us love with upright and undivided heart;~ by purity of intention which consists in seeking the true end of man: with simplicity of vision, the baptized person seeks to find and to fulfill God’s will in everything;

~ by purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all involvement in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God’s commandments: “Appearance arouses yearning in fools”;

~ by prayer: “I thought that continence arose from one’s own prayers, which I did not recognize in myself. I was fooling enough not to know…that no one can be continent unless You grant it. For You would surely have granted it if my inner groaning had reached Your ears and I with firm faith had cast my cares on You.” (CCC# 2520)

Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves towards them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their harmony. (CCC# 2521)

Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet. (CCC# 2520)

There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies. (CCC#2523)


10th Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” {Love of others}

The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the ninth, which is concerned with concupiscence of the flesh. It forbids coveting the goods of another, as the root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the seventh commandment forbids. “Lust of the eyes” leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the fifth commandment. Avarice (greed), like fornication, originates in the idolatry forbidden by the first three prescriptions of the Law. The tenth commandment concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth, it summarizes all the precepts of the Law. (CCC# 2534)

The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, for example, the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but when they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him. (CCC# 2535)

The tenth commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods: “When the Law says, “You shall not covet,” these words mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does not belong to us. Our thirst for another’s goods is immense, infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: “He who loves money never has money enough.”” (CCC#2536)

Envy is a capital sin. It refers to the sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin. (CCC# 2539)

Jesus enjoins His disciples to prefer Him to everything and everyone, and bids them “renounce all that they have” for His sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before His passion He gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven. (CCC# 2544)

It remains for the holy people to struggle, with grace from on high, to obtain the good things God promises. In order to possess and contemplate God, Christ’s faithful mortify their cravings and, with the grace of God, prevail over the seductions of pleasure and power. (CCC#2549)


My Relationship to God

"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart. "

1. - Is my whole life directed toward loving God and seeking his Kingdom and plan for humanity?. Or are personal greed and the things of this world my basic object of devotion?

2. - Do I accept with my whole heart the revelation of God's love through Jesus and do I respond fully to the call of his Spirit in my life?

3. - Do I pray sufficiently each day and seek to have a continuous spirit of prayer? Do I turn to God in good times and bad and in times of temptation? Do I listen with an open and humble heart and am I ready to accept the inner conversion to which he invites me? Do I praise and thank him for his gifts?

4. - Do 1 worship God as an active member of the faith community that Christ founded, the Church? Am I conscious of and responsive to the Body of Christ, local and universal? Do I participate fully in the Mass each Sunday and in the whole sacramental life of the Church? Do I accept Church teaching and authority in a spirit of faith and cooperation?

5. - Do I take steps to deepen and increase my understanding of the faith? Do I profess and live it courageously?

6. - Have 1 shown reverence for God in my speech and in my attitude toward religious symbols? Have I elevated things like money, status, superstition or occult practices to the level of false gods?

7. - Do I give thanks to God by making an offering back to Him according to what He has given to me in regards to my time (serving), treasure (support of the Church and the works of Christ in His Church), and talent?


My Relationship to Others

"Love one another as l have loved you. "

1. - Do I truly love my neighbors-as myself? Do I aid or obstruct their progress toward God and fuller life? Have I used or exploited others for my own selfish interests?

2. - Am I caring toward my family? Do I show fidelity, patience, reverence and love to my spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters? Have I shown good example? Fulfilled my respective role?

3. - Do I deal honestly and truthfully with others? Have 1 harmed anyone by deceit, rash judgment, detraction, calumny or broken agreements? Have I worked honestly, upheld contracts, paid fair wages?

4. - Have my relations to others been faithful and chaste? Have I sexually exploited or demeaned another? Am I guilty of such violations of chastity as adultery, fornication, or conversation that is indecent or cheapens human dignity?

5. - Have I hated others, shown prejudice or discrimination toward them? Have I stolen or damaged the property of others? Have I returned or paid for stolen or damaged goods? Do I share what God has given me with those in need?

6. - Have I injured the life, limb or reputation of others? Have 1 upheld and protected the right to life at all levels? Have I procured or cooperated in abortion or not revered the human dignity of the aged, the retarded, deformed or mentally ill? Am I violent? Do I strive to reduce violence around me?

7. - Do I bring the good news of the gospel to others? Do I promote Christian values and the life of the Church on all levels of human society? Do I work and pray for Christian unity? Do I try to heal the wounds of the Church or do I inflame them? Do I support and involve myself in the Christian community or parish to which I belong?

8. - Do I obey legitimate authority? Do I exercise leadership and authority in a spirit of Christian service?

9. - Do I work for the betterment of human society? Do I try to be informed and actively concerned about social and political issues that affect the common good whether on the local, national or global level.

10. - According to my role in life, do I seek to eliminate from the world whatever keeps my brothers and sisters from the full human development intended by their creator: poverty, disease, hunger, injustice, discrimination, oppressive laws and structures, unequal distribution of world resources? Am I-is my country-wasteful or using up an unjust amount of the world's resources (food, fuel, minerals, etc.)? Do I support according to my means and abilities, organizations which work for social improvement?


My Personal Growth in Christ "Be perfect as your Father is perfect."

1. - Is Christ and his way of living the basic goal of my life? What inclinations and attitudes within me are hindrances to my growth and development as God's son or daughter? Am Itoo self-centered? Do 1 work on controlling dangerous attitudes like pride, arrogance, jealousy, avarice, lust, intemperance, self-sufficiency, prejudice? Do I explore my motives and overall pattern of conduct? Do I make full use of my talents and gifts?

2. - Do I try to keep a cheerful, positive disposition? Do I give in to depression and self-pity? Do I put myself down? Do I let unfounded fears limit my potential and personal freedom? Have I let fear prevent me from following my conscience? Do I seek counseling, spiritual direction and other aids to personal growth, when needed? Do I take care of my health? Overeat, over-drink, take harmful drugs?

3. - Do I have a wholesome attitude toward my own sexuality? Have I willfully indulged in thoughts, actions, reading, entertainment that are contrary to the dignity and proper meaning of sex?

4. - Do 1 take time .for my spiritual growth? Do I have a wholesome spirit of penance and self-denial as taught by Jesus? Do I observe the days of penance established by the Church? Is personal renewal and on-going inner conversion a priority in my life? Am I open to change and the call to fuller life prompted by God's Spirit in my heart?


PARTICULAR EXAMEN ON THE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

Before applying the particular examen to my own spiritual life, it is well to first ask myself, "What are the virtues that I know from experience I most need to develop?" The reason why this question should first be answered is that no two of us are equally prone to commit the same kind of sins. Nor are we personally always tempted in the same direction. There is wisdom in first knowing enough about myself, to be able to get to the root of my own moral weakness. Otherwise, I may be ignoring what really needs attention in my spiritual life and concentrating on what is not so necessary for me at this time in my service of God. Moreover, it would be a mistake to suppose that by attending to my moral failings, I am being "negative" in my pursuit of holiness. On the contrary. In God's providence, He allows us to fail in those areas in which He especially wants us to grow in virtue. We can fail in the practice of these virtues either by commission, omission, or by tepidity, in not acting as generously as we might in responding to the grace we have received from God.


FAITH

1 Do I make an honest effort to grow in the virtue of faith by daily mental prayer on the mysteries of the faith as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ?

2. Do I make at least a short act of faith every day?

3 Do I pray daily for an increase of faith?

4 Do I ever tempt God by relying on my own strength to cope with the trials in my life?

5 Do I unnecessarily read or listen to those who oppose or belittle what I know are truths of my Catholic faith?

6 What have I done today to externally profess my faith?

7 Have I allowed human respect to keep me from giving expression to my faith?

8. Do I make a serious effort to resolve difficulties that may arise about my faith?

9 Do I ever defend my faith, prudently and charitably, when someone says something contrary to what I know is to be believed?

10. Have I helped someone overcome a difficulty against the faith?


HOPE

1 Do I immediately say a short prayer when I find myself getting discouraged?

2 Do I daily say a short act of hope?

3 Do I dwell on my worries instead of dismissing them from my mind?

4 Do I fail in the virtue of hope by my attachment to the things of this world?

5 Do I try to see God's providence in everything that "happens" in my life?

6 Do I try to see everything from the viewpoint of eternity?

7 Am I confident that, with God's grace, I will be saved?

8 Do I allow myself to worry about my past life and thus weaken my hope in God's mercy?

9. Do I try to combine every fully deliberate action with at least a momentary prayer for divine help?

10. How often today have I complained, even internally?


CHARITY

1 Have I told God today that I love Him?

2 Do I tell Jesus that I love Him with my whole heart?

3 Do I take the occasion to tell God that I love Him whenever I experience something I naturally dislike?

4 Have I capitalized on the difficulties today to tell God that I love Him just because He sent me the trial or misunderstanding?

5 Do I see God's love for me in allowing me to prove my love for Him in the crosses He sent me today?

6 Have I seen God's grace to prove my love for Him in every person whom I met today?

7. Have I failed in charity by speaking unkindly about others?

8 Have I dwelt on what I considered someone's unkindness toward me today?

9. Is there someone that I consciously avoid because I dislike the person?

10. Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?

11. Have I been stubborn in asserting my own will?

12. How thoughtful have I been today in doing some small favor for someone?

13. Have I allowed my mood to prevent me from being thoughtful of others today?

14. Am I given to dwelling on other people's weaknesses or faults?

15. Have I been cheerful today in my dealings with others?

16. Do I control my uncharitable thoughts as soon as they arise in my mind?

17. Did I pray for others today?

18. Have I written any letters today?

19. Have I controlled my emotions when someone irritated me?

20. Have I performed any sacrifice today for someone?