Tag: Jesus

Ecumenism Without Compromise (last part #7)

Spiritual Gravity

God pulled them out of a Catholic Church and put them into a Protestant sect because God is spiritual gravity and God pulls us towards Himself, like a massive sun.  If His rays are blocked in one place, we must go elsewhere to find them, for find them we must!  They draw us, they give us life.  They are a matter of life or death, not a religious shopping mart.  You may think this God-Gravity somewhat speculative, but why should God have less gravity than the sun?  Why should there be less gravity in grace than in nature?  Why should the spiritual universe be less united by gravity than the physical universe?  The parallel works perfectly.

Look at physical gravity carefully.  It’s like love.  It brings together.  Time and space are principles of dispersion, separation that prevent complete union.  Time disperses our being out into past and future.  Space disperses matter out into various places.  Those two dispersions make death possible.  Time and space enable death to insert its destructive sword between one year, when you live and one year, when you die.  And between one material part of you, let’s say your head, and another, your body.

Yet, despite these dispersions, the physical universe is still united by a universal, gravitational attraction which is a real force of love and union.  A non-random, directed, purposive movement or tendency towards all other matter.  All matter is in love with all other matter.  That is, the universe wants to return to the big bang unity, the one divine source of the many.  In the act of creation, the physical universe runs by the love of God.  “The love that moves the sun and all the stars,” in Dante’s words.

For gravity is not just like love, but gravity is love on a material level.  In fact, it has two movements: one is towards union, back to the center, the big bang, the past by gravity.  And the other is to give itself out to all other beings, out into the future, the expanding universe, by energy, and by entropy, which is energy giving itself out to the empty places.  Aquinas says, “The good is diffusive of itself.”  On every level, from the Trinity to subatomic particles.

Thus the light that leaves the star goes everywhere in the universe forever.  A dropped rock on earth goes to the moon and makes the rocks on the moon shudder just a little.  We can calculate how much, it’s a function of the two variables of mass and distance.  Every mass at any distance exerts some gravity.  When I drop a pebble into a pool, I make ripples all the way to the shore.  And when I drop a good deed into another person’s life, those ripples, tiny and imperceptible though they may be, do not stop short of the shore of death.  And even then, they proceed on to the “third and fourth generation of those who hate God and goodness onto thousands of generations of those who love God and keep His commandments.”

God is the source of all spiritual gravity and God touches us only through Christ.  “No one can come to the Father but by me.”  Thus all spiritual gravity, including ecumenical gravity is through Christ.  All return, all homecoming, all reconciliation, all mutual understanding, all healing of wounds in the body of Christ, is through the gravity of grace in the body of Christ.  Now this is a largely unconscious and invisible thing, this gravity of grace.  We don’t see it and we don’t even know what is happening when our spirit is drawn, just as we don’t know when our body falls.  It’s not our conscious knowledge that is the prime mover of spiritual events.

When the human race first learned the law of gravity through Newton, it was a scientific and technological revolution.  When we will learn the law of spiritual gravity, when we learn that it is a person and His name is Jesus, there will be a greater revolution.  He promised that revolution.  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men to myself.”  “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”  Those are divine promises.  Why do we limit them to what we have already seen, or to what we can imagine or comprehend?

All God’s deeds transcend our vision, our imagination, and our comprehension.  Christ is the golden key to all of history and therefore, to future ecumenism.  Let us not dare to cut down the full Christ into understandable and predictable pieces.  That’s exactly what all the heresies tried to do.

I think this ecumenical unity must wait until Christ in Protestants and Christ in Catholics see each other.  That is, until they see the same Christ, until you have what you might call “evangelical intimacy.”  And see more Christ in the other.  The same is true of Eastern Orthodox.  They must see the adoration and the beauty of Christ in us or else reunion will be a watering down.  And with the Jews!  The Jews must see us as more Jewish, more faithful, more martyrs, than the Jews.  The same with the Muslims.  They must see their “islam,” their absolute submission to God in us, and their spiritual warfare, their right jihad.  And the Buddhist must see in us a greater peace, a greater mindfulness.  And even the worldings and sex maniacs.  They must see in us the joy that they’re seeking and not finding.

That’s necessary, that’s not an option, not an ideal, it’s necessary because of gravity.  There’s not choice, it’s the nature of things.  Like physical gravity.  It can be impeded, just as gravity can be impeded by a hand catching a falling apple, but only temporarily.  Art can’t change the nature of things, nature always take over eventually.  Grass grows through abandoned buildings, and Christ is more like grass than like buildings.  So let’s not limit His growth.

Those are some bold and speculative thoughts, and I would appreciate your reactions to them in questions.

“Ecumenism Without Compromise” by Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism without Compromise (part 5)

Why Not Now?

Well, if God can do this, if God can effect an ecumenical reunion, why not now?  Why does he delay?  God never delays.  Well then if the teachings of the Church are true, why doesn’t God convince Protestants of those truths?  I think the reason is spiritual and personal, more than theological.

Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics!  How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less!  When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants!

When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized.  But not before!  Evangelizing comes first.

So I think we Catholics have to change first.  But that change involves not the slightest compromising with anything Catholic: no dumbing down of the faith and no addition from without, no paganization nor secularization nor negation not weakening.  Only a rediscovery of our own essence from within.  Frankly, it is the Protestants who are going to have to add to the doctrines they rejected by seeing them differently.  What we have to add, or rather, rediscover is something even more important then doctrines: namely the relationship that we have neglected.  A truer relationship with a person is even more important than a truer concept about him.  So that point will probably make many Protestants cheer.

But any good Protestant who is hearing this ought to protest one thing I said a few moments ago: namely that Protestantism is essentially a protest movement, essentially negative.  Protestants defend Protestantism as essentially positive.  Why?  Not because it doesn’t have a pope or Transubstantiation or purgatory or rosary, that is negative.  But because it knows Christ, because its essence is the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ.

But that means that good Protestants are Protestants for exactly the same good reason that good Catholics are Catholic: out of fidelity to Christ.  So if the Protestant and the Catholic are both totally sincere about this Christocentrism, If both sections of Christ’s orchestra want only to follow the baton of Christ the one conductor, and if they never yield on this holy fanaticism of love and loyalty to Christ, then they will play in harmony.  For we know that Christ’s will is harmony, and unity.  Look at that most intimate glimpse of the inner life of the Trinity that we have in Scripture: Christ’s high priestly prayer to His Father just before His death in John 17.  Unity is central to it.  Departure from Christ was the fundamental cause of the Church’s tragic divisions in the first place.  Another word for departure from Christ is “sin.”  Therefore, return to Christ will be the cause of the Church’s return to unity.  That is simple logic.  I could put that into a syllogism.  It is also simple sanity and sanctity.  Another word for “return to Christ” is “sanctity.”

When bishops and theologians become saints, then Catholics will become Evangelicals and Evangelicals will become Catholics.  When both Protestants and Catholics become saints they will become one.  For a saint means only an “alter Christos,” another Christ, a little Christ, and Christ is not divided.  Christ’s body is not divided.  When Christ comes at the end of the world to marry His Church, He will not be a polygamist.  The Church will not be His harem.

“Ecumenism without Compromise ” by Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 4)

A Surprising Clue

But reunion without compromise between Catholics and Protestants still seems impossible.  Yet, here’s a surprising clue that it may be possible after all: the main point of what I said in the last few minutes “Jesus only,” “the all sufficiency of Christ,” that’s the essential Protestant point and it was just made by me, a Catholic.

That point seems to be an essential dividing point for Catholicism seems to Protestants to violate that point.  Catholicism seems to Protestants to be “Christ plus paganism,” “the Ark plus the barnacles,” or “Christ plus many human traditions and historical accretions,” “Christ plus the pope,” “Christ plus Mary,” whatever.  The most serious Protestant objection to Catholicism as a religion, not just as a theology, is that it violates the scriptural teaching of the all sufficiency of Christ, the teaching that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

To Protestants, Catholicism seems to add other mediaries, other intermediaries between man and Christ: Mary, the saints, the Church, Sacraments, priests, human traditions.

But I suggest that if Protestants make just one single adjustment in their vision, they will see the possibility of reunion.  Not just theologically, but more deeply religiously and spiritually, without any compromise at all.  And that one adjustment is not to see Christ in any different way at all, but to see the Church in a different way.  Not as an obstacle between us and Christ, not even as an intermediary between us and Christ, but as the very body of Christ Himself.

And why would they make that adjustment?  Well, which of these two concepts of the Church is the scriptural way of seeing it?  Come on, answer honestly.  You read the Bible and isn’t the Bible the supreme authority for any Protestant?  Once Protestants see the Church’s identity, they can love her instead of fearing her because the body of Christ is Christ as your body is you.  It’s not an alien, it’s not an obstacle.  How can your own body be an obstacle?  How Gnostic!  The body is not your prison house, or your coffin, or your punishment.  It’s not even your tool, or your clothing, or your house.  It’s not This Old House.  It’s you.  Although it’s not the whole you.  It’s not your head, or your soul.  The same is true of Christ’s body which is what the New Testament calls the Church.

It is Christ.  Though it’s not the whole Christ.  He is her head.  And the Holy Spirit is her soul.

Protestants will not and should not stop protesting against the Catholic Church until they see the totally Christocentric character of her and all her teachings.  Sometimes, the understanding of the Church’s Christocentrism can be the key to understanding the Christocentric nature of each of the Church’s teachings.  And sometimes, it works the other way around.  Doctrine by doctrine, yielding its Christocentric treasure at the heart as it is more deeply explored and understood.  As Christ the teacher appears at the heart of each of the Church’s teachings.  I know a number of Protestants who have read the Church’s new Catechism and had been amazed at how consistently Christocentric everything in it is.  And unless Protestants see this, how could they think of reunion with Catholics?  And how can they see this, unless Catholics show it to them?  And how can Catholics show it to them, unless they see it themselves?  And how can they see it, unless they have a teacher, a preacher?  As it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the good news.”

In this light, it seems to me, clearly Providential that God has raised up for our time, the time of the end of the second millennium, the millennium of Christian disunity, and the beginning of the third millennium, hopefully the millennium of Christian re-unity, has raised up John Paul the Great.  The most Christocentric pope of modern times, probably of all times.  The most ecumenical pope of all times, and yet one who is totally and traditionally and enthusiastically Catholic.  Is the pope Catholic?  There have been times in the Church’s dark history when that joke was not funny.  Today it’s funny.

Ecumenism without Compromise – Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 2)

The Golden Key

There is a golden key!  His name is Jesus Christ.  We can’t do it.  And He can.  We must be very clear about those two truths.  The main reason it hasn’t happened is that we do not fully believe both those two truths.

Christ Himself is the most powerful source of reunion in the world because it comes not from the world but from Heaven.  And He will have His way with us sooner or later, one way or another.  We don’t know whether it’s going to be sooner or later, and we don’t know if it will come by one way or by another.  But we do know that it will come because it is his will.  We don’t know when and we don’t know how, but we know who.

Pope John Paul II has voiced the bold hope that as the first thousand years of Christian history were the millennium of Christian unity, and the second thousand years were the millennium of Christian disunity, 1054, 1517, and the over twenty-thousand denominations that came from 1517, so the third thousand years may be the millennium of Christian re-unity, reunification.

But how?  The deepest division is obviously between Catholics and Protestants, for the Eastern Orthodox Churches have all remained one, not split into twenty-thousand in creed, code, or cult.  They have preserved the fullness of Catholic faith.  Except for universal papal authority, but that has changed its form quite a bit throughout Christian history, though not its reality, and it can change again.  The pope himself explicitly said that in Ut Unum Sint.  But how can Catholics and Protestants achieve reunion?  I will prescind entirely from the question whether Anglicans are Catholics, Protestants, both, or neither.  Well it cannot be by yielding or weakening or compromising one iota of divinely revealed truth!

All the serious differences between Protestants and Catholics concern how much territory this category of divinely revealed truth covers.  For instance, the Church’s doctrines about Mary, and the saints, and the seven Sacraments, and Transubstantiation, and purgatory, Catholics accept them because they believe they are true and divinely revealed.  Protestants reject them because they believe they are not true and not divinely revealed.  Protestants say Catholics believe too much.  Catholics say Protestants believe too little.  Protestants say the Church added to Christ’s original, pure and simple revelation in the New Testament.  Protestantism is thus Catholicism stripped down: the Catholic Ark with what Protestants claim are the non-scriptural barnacles scraped off of it.

When I was at Calvin College and investigating things Catholic and falling in love with them and feeling guilty about it, because this was the wrong church, I took a course in church history to try to get things clear.  And the very first day of the course, the wise-old professor said, “What is the Church?”  And we were all just freshman, we didn’t know for nothing so nobody answered.  So he said, “Well, you’re going to meet a Roman Catholic someday and he’s going to say, ‘You’re in the wrong church!  You’re a Calvinist, you’re in the church John Calvin founded 500 years ago.  We’re in the church Jesus Christ founded 2000 years ago.’  What do you say to him?”  Nobody had an answer.  I said to myself, “I’m in the right class.”

He said, “Well, here’s what the Catholics will say: the church today is a great big thing and it looks very different from the simple thing you read about in the New Testament, but it’s the same just as that oak tree is the same organism as that little acorn.  What’s wrong with that picture?  The Catholic will say that Luther and Calvin broke off some branches of the church because it was really rotten and they tried to start a new one, but that can’t be done cause there’s only one Jesus.  And therefore, only one church.  What’s your answer to that?  What’s wrong with that picture?”  And nobody had an answer.  I said to myself, “I’m in the right class!”

And he said, “Well, here’s what’s wrong with that pictures, here’s what happened: Jesus founded one church indeed and it is the church described in the New Testament, and it’s like Noah’s Ark, and it did get rotten, and Luther and Calvin and Knox and others said, ‘Gee, this Ark is sinking!  We gotta scrape the barnacles off!’  So they scraped the barnacles off and restored it to its simple, pure, primitive, New Testament essence.  So we’re in the right church!  It’s the Catholics who are the upstarts.  They’re the ones who added all those pagan barnacles.”  I said, “Oh that makes me feel good.”  I remember asking a question, I said, “Professor, do you mean to tell me that, if my Catholic neighbor and I both found a time machine and went back to the first century,”  I still remember his look, “What’s this guy, a weirdo?  Science fiction?”  “…and worshipped together, that I as a Protestant would feel more at home in that church than he as a Catholic would?”  And then he smiled.  He said, “That’s exactly what I’m saying.”  I said to myself, “Good, that means that I don’t have to be a great theologian to figure out who’s right.  All I have to do is read the Church Fathers to prove to myself that they were all Calvinists.”  Well, I read the Church Fathers and proved to myself they were all Catholics, so that’s why I’m here.

But the very word “Protestant” means protesting, refusing some of the Catholic whole because they think it’s anti-scriptural and unscriptural barnacles added to what Christ gave us.  While the very word “Catholic” means universal, or whole.  The whole deal.  So this has a problem, apparently without a possible solution because no faithful Catholic could dream of unity with Protestants except on Catholic grounds.  For to be a Catholic is to believe that those grounds are holy grounds, divinely revealed.  It is the Protestants who must remove their shoes.  Catholics cannot negotiate away any of the deposit of faith because it is not theirs, it is Christ’s!  The divinely appointed mail carriers may not edit God’s mail.

Ecumenism without Compromise – Peter Kreeft

Ecumenism Without Compromise (part 1)

In essentials, unity;

in non-essentials, liberty;

in all things, charity.

St. Augustine said these words, long before schisms, disunity and denominational claims and clashes took place among Christians. Below is the first part of the best lecture I have ever heard on the possibility of Christian (Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant) reunion without compromise. It was done by Peter Kreeft, a former Calvinist who grew up in a strong evangelical Protestant family, converted to Catholicism, became an apologist, and is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. Here is the first part from the whole article titled Ecumenism Without Compromise”:

Introduction

I’d like to give a fairly short, fairly formal semi-lecture followed by an interesting discussion about ecumenism.  If we are to witness to the world, the problem is not only the world, the problem is in us.  And the problem in us is not just that we are wicked and foolish, that’s always the case.  We are also split, we’re divided.  We can ignore that, we can be dishonest and compromise our convictions, but obviously that’s not going to do any good.

Is there any hope for reunion?  I am increasingly convinced that there is much more hope than most of us think.  And my hope is based most fundamentally on the fact that the most passionate ecumenist in all of existence is Jesus Christ.  We all know His prayer to His Father just before His Crucifixion in John 17, “That they may be one even as Thou the Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe.”  He explicitly connects apologetics and ecumenism.  “I in them and Thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that Thou has sent me and has loved them even Thou hast loved me.”

If you read the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians, you will see that denominationalism was not just a scandal, but absolutely unthinkable and intolerable to St. Paul.  Because denominationalism is not the multiplying of subdivisions in an organization, it’s the amputation of limbs from an organism.  Just as no sane person loves war, so no sane Christian loves the war among Christians that so scandalizes the world and weakens our witness to it.  How could a divided church unify a divided world?  No more than an infected physician can heal himself.  But our divisions seem as intractable as war!

Here are 9 grounds for hope for ecumenical reunion that are commonly given, and not a one of them has worked:

  1. Reasonable compromises.
  2. Understanding and education: the hope that deep down, we’ll find that we don’t really disagree.  That we’re all saying the same thing in different words but just misunderstanding each other.
  3. Mystical experience: if you only have one, you’ll see that the previous point is true.
  4. Tolerance:  like a mutual non-aggression pact.  Why can’t we just get along?
  5. Subjectivism: reduction of THE Truth to “my truth” or “your truth” or “our truth.”
  6. Skepticism:  no one knows the truth anyway.
  7. Rational argument: perhaps we can persuade each other as in a scientific laboratory.
  8. A vague optimism:  Dickon’s Mr. McColbers, “Something will turn up!”
  9. Merely a temporary tactical and pragmatic union to fight a common enemy: an ecumenical jihad.  Good but not enough.  None of these is the golden key to reunion.

What’s wrong with the world?

G.K. Chesterson answered it with two short words:

“I am.”

To admit that the decision to sin is mine alone, and to do this – as best I can – without excuses, disclaimers, or euphemisms; that is the essence of confession. What’s wrong with the world? I am, because I sin, and my sins well up from the darkness in my own heart. Sin is not out there; it’s deep inside me.

“To those who have been far away from the sacrament of Reconciliation and forgiving love, I make this appeal: Come back to this source of grace; do not be afraid! Christ himself is waiting for you. He will heal you, and you will be at peace with God!” – Pope John Paul II

This afternoon, I had a two hour appointment with my confessor/priest to make my first confession of every mortal sin I could recollect. I told him EVERYTHING. No stone was left unturned and nothing was hidden. It was just Keith in the raw. We both wept.

I spent weeks trying to recall my sins and examine my conscience, I asked myself what have I done with full knowledge and full consent against God’s commandments. To prepare for my confession, I used the following examinations that Scott Hahn recommended for me from the Handbook of Prayers, edited by Fr. James Socias.

The First Commandment

  • Have I performed my duties toward God reluctantly or grudgingly?
  • Did I neglect my prayer life? Did I recite my usual prayers?
  • Did I receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin or without the necessary preparation?
  • Did I violate the one-hour Eucharistic fast?
  • Did I fail to mention some grave sin in my previous confessions?
  • Did I seriously believe in something superstitious or engage in a superstitious practice (palm-reading or fortune telling for instance)?
  • Did I seriously doubt a matter of Faith?
  • Did I put my faith in danger-without a good reason-by reading a book, pamphlet, or magazine that contains material contrary to Catholic faith or morals?
  • Did I endanger my faith by joining or attending meetings of organizations opposed to the Catholic faith (non-catholic services, the Communist Party, Freemasonry, “new age” cults, or other religions)? Did I take part in one of its activities?
  • Have I committed the sin of sacrilege (profanation of a sacred person, place or thing)?

The Second Commandment

  • Did I fail to try my best to fulfill the promises and resolutions that I made to God?
  • Did I take the name of God in vain? Did I make use of God’s name mockingly, jokingly, angrily, or in any other irreverent manner?
  • Did I make use of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s name or another saint’s name mockingly, jokingly, angrily, or in any other irreverent manner?
  • Have I been a sponsor in Baptism or participate actively in other ceremonies outside the Catholic Church?
  • Did I tell a lie under oath?
  • Did I break (private or public) vows?

The Third Commandment

  • Did I miss Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation?
  • Did I fail to dress appropriately for Mass?
  • Have I, without sufficient reason, arrived at Mass so late that I failed to fulfill the Sunday or holy Day of obligation?
  • Did I allow myself to be distracted during Mass, by not paying attention, looking around out of curiosity, etc.?
  • Did I cause another to be distracted?
  • Have I performed any work or business activity that would inhibit the worship due to God, the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, or the appropriate relaxation of mind and body, on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation?
  • Did I fail to generously help the Church in her necessities to the extent that I am able?
  • Did I fail to fast or abstain on a day prescribed by the Church?

The Fourth Commandment

(For Parents)

  • Have I neglected to teach my children their prayers, send them to church, or give them a Christian education?
  • Have I given them bad example?
  • Have I neglected to watch over my children, to monitor their companions, the books they read, the movies and TV shows they watch?
  • Have I failed to see to it that my child made the First Confession and First Communion?
  • Have I failed to see to it that my children have received the sacrament of Confirmation?

(For Children)

  • Was I disobedient toward my parents?
  • Did I neglect to help my parents when my help was needed?
  • Did I treat my parents with little affection or respect?
  • Did I react proudly when I was corrected by my parents?
  • Did I have a disordered desire for independence?
  • Did I do my chores?

The Fifth Commandment

  • Did I easily get angry or lose my temper?
  • Was I envious or jealous of others?
  • Did I injure or take the life of anyone? Was I ever reckless in driving?
  • Was I an occasion of sin for others by way of conversation, the telling of jokes religiously, racially, or sexually offensive, my way of dressing, inviting somebody to attend certain shows, lending harmful books or magazines, helping someone to steal, etc.? Did I try to repair the scandal done?
  • How many persons did I lead to sin? What sin or sins were involved?
  • Did I neglect my health? Did I attempt to take my life?
  • Have I mutilated myself or another?
  • Did I get drunk or use prohibited drugs?
  • Did I eat or drink more than a sufficient amount, allowing myself to get carried away by gluttony?
  • Did I participate in any form of physical violence?
  • Did I consent to or actively take part in direct sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy, etc.)? Do I realize that this will have a permanent effect on my married life and that I will have to answer to God for its consequences?
  • Did I consent to, advise, or actively take part in an abortion? Was I aware that the Church punishes with automatic excommunication those who procure and achieve abortion? Do I realize that this is a very grave crime?
  • Did I cause harm to anyone with my words or actions?
  • Did I desire revenge or harbor enmity, hatred, or ill-feelings when someone offended me?
  • Did I ask pardon whenever I offended anyone?
  • Did I insult or offensively tease others?
  • Did I quarrel with one of my brothers or sisters?

The Sixth and Ninth Commandments

  • Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts?
  • Did I consent to evil desires against the virtue of purity, even though I may not have carried them out? Were there any circumstances that aggravated the sin: affinity (relationship by marriage), consanguinity (blood relationship), either the married state or the consecration to God of a person involved?
  • Did I engage in impure conversations? Did I start them?
  • Did I look for fun in forms of entertainment that placed me in proximate occasions of sin, such as certain dances, movies, shows, or books with immoral contents? Did I frequent houses of ill-repute or keep bad company?
  • Did I realize that I might already have been committing a sin by placing myself in a proximate occasion of sin, such as sharing a room with a person I find sexually attractive, or being alone with such a person in circumstances that could lead to sin?
  • Did I fail to take care of those details of modesty and decency that are the safeguards of purity?
  • Did I fail, before going to a show or reading a book, to find out its moral implications, so as not to put myself in immediate danger of sinning and in order to avoid distorting my conscience?
  • Did I willfully look at an indecent picture or cast an immodest look upon myself or another? Did I willfully desire to commit such a sin?
  • Did I lead others to sins of impurity or immodesty? What sins?
  • Did I commit an impure act? By myself, through masturbation (which is objectively a mortal sin)? With someone else? How many times? With someone of the same or opposite sex? Was there any circumstance of relationship (such as affinity) that could have given the sin special gravity? Did this illicit relationship result in pregnancy? Did I do anything to prevent or end that pregnancy?
  • Do I have friendships that are habitual occasions of sexual sins? Am I prepared to end them?
  • In courtship, is true love my fundamental reason for wanting to be with the other person? Do I live the constant and cheerful sacrifice of not putting the person I love in danger of sinning? Do I degrade human love by confusing it with selfishness or mere pleasure?
  • Did I engage in acts such as “petting,” “necking,” passionate kisses, or prolonged embraces?

(For married people)

  • Did I, without serious reason, deprive my spouse of the marital right? Did I claim my own rights in a way which showed no concern for my spouse’s state of mind or health? Did I betray conjugal fidelity in desire or in deed?
  • Did I take “the pill” or use any other artificial birth control de vice before or after new life had already been conceived?
  • Did I without grave reason, with the intention of avoiding conception, make use of marriage on only those days when offspring would not likely be engendered?
  • Did I suggest to another person the use of birth-control pills or another artificial method of preventing pregnancy (like condoms)?
  • Did I have a hand in contributing to the contraceptive mentality by my advice, jokes, or attitudes?
  • (On abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc., see also The Fifth Commandment).

The Seventh and Tenth Commandments

  • Did I steal? How much money? Or how much was the object worth? Did I give it back, or at least have the intention of doing so?
  • Have I done or caused damage to another person’s property? To what extent?
  • Did I harm anyone by deception, fraud, or coercion in business contracts or transactions?
  • Did I unnecessarily spend beyond my means? Do I spend too much money because of vanity, or caprice?
  • Do I give alms according to my capacity?
  • Was I envious of my neighbor’s goods?
  • Did I neglect to pay my debts?
  • Did I knowingly accept stolen goods?
  • Did I desire to steal?
  • Did I give in to laziness or love of comfort rather than diligently work or study?
  • Was I greedy? Do I have an excessively materialistic view of life?

The Eighth Commandment

  • Did I tell lies? Did I repair any damage that may have resulted as a consequence of this?
  • Have I unjustly or rashly accused others?
  • Did I sin by detraction, that is, by telling the faults of another person without necessity?
  • Did I sin by calumny, that is, by telling derogatory lies about another person?
  • Did I engage in gossip, backbiting, or spreading false stories?
  • Did I reveal a secret without due cause?

More will be written about this sacrament as I have more time to process my experience today.

Day 39: Finding God after a Long Search

Augustine, wanted to be a committed Christian, but he couldn’t get to resolve one issue in his life, which was the lust of the flesh. He was determined to leave his mistress, and to start a fully Christian life for some time, but he did not know how to break with this sin, which was captivating his life.

One day, Anthony’s friend, Simplicianus, came to visit, and shared a story about a famous Roman philosopher, Victorianus, who converted to Christianity, and publically acknowledged it. This impacted his life strongly, as some of the Christians in higher ranks of society were not public about their faith, fearing being ridiculed.

Soon afterwards another friend visited him, Ponticianus, who was a high official in the emperor’s court, a Christian. Seeing the apostle Paul’s writings on Augustine’s desk, he shared with Augustine news about Anthony, the Egyptian monk, who lived in a solitude in the desert and many others were following his lifestyle of prayer and fasting. He told him about two of his friends, “secret service agents” from the emperor’s court, who visited a Christian house and found a book talking about life of Anthony. Upon reading the stories form that book, they wondered:

“Tell me, I beg you, what goal are we seeking in all these toils of ours? What is that we desire?…Can our hopes in the court rise higher than to be ‘friends of the emperor’? …But if I choose to become a friend of God, see, I can become one now.”

They were so touched and changed just by reading this testimony of a hermit, that one of them exclaimed:

“… I enter into that service from this hour in this place.”

While Ponticianus was talking, Augustine felt an unusual urge to reconsider his life. He was fighting within himself, remembering his prayers and suffering. He somehow tried to compose himself by rejecting the grace which was falling upon him, but after Ponticianus’ departure, he went to his other friend and exclaimed:

“What is the matter with us? What is this? What did you hear? The uninstructed start up and take heaven, and we – with all our learning but so little heart – see how we follow in flesh and blood!!!”

He went outside to a garden and his soul was struggling within him to say the final FIAT to God, started to cry with tears and with his voice:

“Will You be angry forever? How long? How long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?”

Suddenly he heard a voice of a child chanting over and over:

“Pick it up, read it”.

Quickly he opened apostles Paul’s writings and his eyes fell on the passage:

“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.”

He was freed instantly. And that’s how the saint was born, know today as St. Augustine, one of the brightest minds and hearts of human kind.

Prayer on Finding God after a Long Search

by Augustine

Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient, O Beauty so new. Too late have I loved you! You were within me but I was outside myself, and there I sought you! In my weakness I ran after the beauty of the things you have made. You were with me, and I was not with you. The things you have made kept me from you – the things which would have no being unless they existed in you! You have called, you have cried, and you have pierced my deafness. You have radiated forth, you have shined out brightly, and you have dispelled my blindness. You have sent forth your fragrance, and I have breathed it in, and I long for you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you. You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

all citations from “Confessions” by St. Augustine