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Month: August 2018

Be careful how you live

Be careful how you live

“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise.” (Eph. 5:15)

School is starting.  College students will soon be going off on their own, and they will need to watch carefully how they live, by making good choices.  As the year gets busy with all kinds of sports and extracurricular activities, it is easy for families to get immersed in the activity without keeping priorities.  Soon the family suffers and their spiritual life weakens.

 “Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16).  How can we watch carefully?  St. Paul urges us to “watch carefully . . . because the days are evil.”

First, realize that there is a larger battle in life, between the Evil One and God.

Every day I am dealing with forces larger than my heart and will.  Every day I am dealing with more than the other person who does wrong to me.  The battle to be a good person is not just between me and other people.  It involves larger spiritual forces.  This is essential to remember in little daily decisions, as well as when we face epic spiritual battles, like clergy sexual abuse.  If we forget this dimension of life, then we are susceptible to tragic sin.

As Jesus began his public ministry, he began with confronting the devil.  The temptations in the desert set the context for the larger battle.  He does not do battle only with the Jewish leaders, or Judas who betrays, or the Romans who crucify him.  His main battle was with the Evil One.

After the temptations in the desert, Luke says,“Having exhausted every way of putting him to the test, the devil left him, until the opportune moment.” (Lk. 4:13)

The larger battle in life is between the Evil One and God. We have to keep that in mind in our daily journey.  We must remember this as a Church.  “Watch carefully how you live . . . because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16).  Or as St. Paul says in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey.  We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”  Parents, are raising your children as spiritual beings?

Attend to the ‘spiritual.’  People are good at exercising their bodies.  This generation works at physical fitness, but often ignores spiritual fitness.  Do you have a spiritual fitness plan for your life?

Start by realizing that there is a larger battle in life, between the Evil One and God.  Next, remember that we need God’s help for this battle.  So we need to pray daily.  And the center of prayer is to do God’s will.  Paul says, “Do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of God.” (Eph. 5:17).

The best way to know God’s will is to say every day, “What do you want, Lord?”

  • What do you want as I start a new day in high school or college?
  • What do you want for my family, as I seek to be a good parent?
  • What do you want in this relationship?

If I am going to know the Lord’s will, then I have to know the LORD.  Reading the Bible is the best way to know God.  Every day take a few minutes with the Gospel so that you know how Jesus speaks and acts.  When you come to Mass, ask God to give you a word that strikes your heart.

Sometimes sports on the weekends leads a family to missing Sunday Mass.  Then sports become idols.  Then two commandments are broken:  Not keeping God above other gods.  Not keeping the Lord’s Day.

We let that happen … because we do not realize that we are spiritual beings … because we fail to understand that the larger battle is between the Evil One and God … because we do not realize that we need God’s help.

Jesus gives us his own strength as he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56).  Another translation says, “lives in me and I live in him.”  The word translated as remains or lives is literally to dwell, like dwelling in a house.  This is the goal of spiritual beings who are on a human journey.”  We are created to dwell in God.

“Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil. . . . be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:15-16, 18).

Responding to Sexual Abuse

Responding to Sexual Abuse

People are struggling with the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.  Perhaps the most disturbing thing is how Church leaders failed to deal with priests who were abusing.

Cardinal DiNardo described the situation as “morally reprehensible.”  The Vatican issued a public statement, saying that the abuse is best described with two words, “shame and sorrow” and called the abuse “criminally and morally reprehensible.”

What should be ‘next steps’ for the Church?  First, bishops need to focus on the survivors of abuse, not on our reputation.  One thing that contributed to the mishandling of abuse cases in the past was that we were too self-focused on the institution of the Church.  One of greatest moral failures has been our neglect of victims.  We have improved, but we must do better.  This is especially true for the bishops, but it applies to the Church at-large.  Pope Francis responded to the report by telling the victims that he is “on their side.”

Second, we need to acknowledge the wrongs that have been done, and not go on the “defensive,” which, at times, has been our first reaction.  As bishops, we need to listen to the pain of the people in the pew.  Conversion is only possible when we admit our sin.

Yet, a balanced perspective is essential.  Since the Dallas Charter in 2002, much has changed.  This was shown in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which revealed very few new instances of sexual abuse since 2002.  Our manner of responding to allegations of sexual abuse has changed drastically.  We should not be discouraged and lament that nothing has changed.

Also, the response to allegations has been different in every diocese.  In one of the media reports, it was stated the what happened in Pennsylvania is true for every diocese in every state.  That is false.  It is a gross generalization that the facts will show to be incorrect.  Some bishops were getting this right well before 2002.

Next, the Bishops need to invite qualified lay people to scrutinize the issues with impartiality. Bishop Scharfenberger of Albany has called for a commission of lay people to investigate claims of abuse and misconduct against bishops. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo has announced that the bishops will take up a comprehensive plan to address these issues in their November meeting.

These are a few places to start.  Also, I am writing about this situation in the September issue of the Wyoming Catholic Register.  In the meantime, remember all the good and faithful priests who are serving so well each day.  Find hope in their sacrifices and fidelity.  Together let us pray for the Church and work hard to address our sins.