Forgiveness A Conversation On Reconciliation With Abbot Matthew
Abbot Matthew Leavy, O.S.B. has been a Benedictine
monk for 40 years, and the abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey for the past 20 years. A
native of the Bronx, he has lived out his monastic vocation in California and New
Hampshire. He earned his doctorate in Formative
Spirituality at DuquesneUniversity and before
becoming abbot served as a teacher, campus minister, residence director,
vocation director and prior at Saint Anselm. Besides speaking fluent Hungarian,
Abbot Matthew does passably well in French and Italian, and his hiking log
records that he has climbed to the top of thirty-nine of New Hampshire’s
forty-eight 4,000 foot mountains. Some day we will learn all about those hikes,
as well as what it takes to be a monk and an abbot, but in this season of Lent,
Parable came to the abbot to talk about reconciliation. His responses were so
compelling that we decided to simply let our readers listen in on this
PARABLE: Why does so much of your pastoral work
center on reconciliation?
Abbot Matthew: I suppose because we all live in
relationship with one another — with spouses, family, friends, professional
associates, neighbors, organizations, and institutions. Love is at the center
of many of these relationships, but because our love is imperfect, we all
encounter occasional, or sometimes enduring misunderstanding, hurt, or
betrayal. Just as essential to the human condition as relationship, therefore,
is the need for forgiveness.
PARABLE: What exactly is forgiveness?
Abbot Matthew: Forgiveness is an act of the
will prompted and sustained by grace. PARABLE: An act of the will? So, forgiveness is
something we decide to do?
Abbot Matthew: Right, and it’s one of the most
important decisions we can make.
PARABLE: So, why do you think people have such
a hard time forgiving?
Abbot Matthew: For one thing many people have a
real misunderstanding about what forgiveness is. They’ve heard things like “to
forgive is to forget.” That’s a nice thought, but it is not true
psychologically or spiritually. Forgiving someone who has done us wrong and
forgetting what that person did are two very different things. We tend to
believe that if our forgiveness is genuine, forgetting should follow
immediately, but it’s a mistake to use our memory as a barometer of our
forgiveness. The Christian act of forgiveness is not a memory alteration that
obliterates the past or brings about selective amnesia.
PARABLE: So even after we decide to forgive we
may still carry the hurt we experienced?
Abbot Matthew: Well, just as the Christian act
of forgiveness does not bring about forgetfulness, it is also not a mood
altering substance, which immediately changes our feelings. Having forgiven
someone, we can, and likely will, still hurt. If we wait for the feeling of
forgiveness to come upon us, or if we wait until the memory of the hurt is dim
or vanished, we will likely never forgive another person.
PARABLE: Many people might ask: “If I’m still
going to hurt then why bother?”
Abbot Matthew: We should bother because it is
our life, and everything in our life has meaning, even the pain, perhaps
especially the pain. None of us can change the facts of our history. But we can
change the meaning of that history. Time and grace have a way of putting past
hurts into a new light, sometimes allowing us to forget, but more often
enabling us to find new meaning. We can find paschal and redemptive meaning in
past wounds, difficulties and relationships.
PARABLE: Often people won’t forgive because
they feel that the person or organization that hurt them doesn’t deserve to be
Abbot Matthew: In a sense they’re right. The
person or organization probably doesn’t deserve forgiveness. Which of us does?
Forgiveness is like love. It isn’t something we can earn. It’s a gift. If we
wait until a person deserves our forgiveness, it will probably never happen,
and our very act of holding someone bound to our anger is a misunderstanding of
forgiveness itself, because, truth be told, none of us deserves forgiveness.
And yet, God gives it to us with this instruction: I will forgive you though
you do not deserve it; you do the same for others.
PARABLE: But when I forgive someone, am I not
letting them off the hook, or approving of what they’ve done?
Abbot Matthew: Yes, you are letting them off of
the hook of your anger and resentment. I don’t know if that metaphor refers to
fishing or medieval torture, but either way it’s very powerful, isn’t it? Do
any of us really want to drag someone through life on hooks? Do any of us hope
to arrive at the Kingdom
of God carrying someone
on a hook? At the same time, we should understand that forgiveness is not
approval. What is wrong remains wrong. Forgiving someone does not mean that you
are condoning what was done.
PARABLE: So why should people forgive?
Abbot Matthew: First of all, because Jesus did
and commanded us to do likewise. Besides, from a strictly human point of view, forgiveness
is good for us. All experts agree on that. Our relationships, our work, our
thought processes, our prayer lives, even our physical health is impacted
negatively by the bitterness that results from a harbored grudge. Forgiveness
frees us from that suffering. When we forgive, it affects others; but more
significantly, it affects us by freeing us of frustration, resentment and
anger. These poisons drain out of the wound, as it were, so that we can begin
Abbot Matthew: Yes, resentments and anger can
become corrosive to our very person. One spiritual counselor I know observes
that in prolonged anger we “are mixing a cocktail of poison for our enemy that
we end up drinking ourselves.”
PARABLE: As Christians, must we forgive
Abbot Matthew: Yes, if we desire to follow in
the footsteps of Christ. This is the most obvious and persuasive reason to
forgive others. When we forgive someone, we are imitating Christ, whose first
and last acts on earth were acts of reconciliation.
PARABLE: So, for the Christian, there’s more at
stake than just psychological healing?
Abbot Matthew: Of course. Simply stated,
forgiveness is redemptive. It is unlikely that the skies will open up the
moment that we decide to forgive, but the very act of forgiveness sets in
motion the redemptive change to which Christ calls us. Though there are a
variety of spiritual truths articulated in the Our Father, perhaps none is more
profound, more difficult and more essential to our well being than forgiveness.
Forgiveness is at the very core of God’s relationship with us, and therefore at
the very core of our relationship with one another.
PARABLE: You speak with a certain urgency about
Abbot Matthew: Yes, probably because I have
seen so much hurt over the years in so many people holding on to one kind of a
grudge or another, unable or unwilling to forgive themselves or others. I have
come to understand that a commitment to forgive and to seek forgiveness is
nothing less than a radical and restorative act by which we determine to put
right the relationships in our lives. Nothing could be more important, more
healing or more profound. And there is nothing to which God calls us with
greater urgency and promise than to forgive others as he has forgiven us.
There was a group of women in a Bible study on the
book of Malachi. As they
were studying Chapter Three, they came across Verse Three which says:
will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver". This verse puzzled the
and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature
of God. One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining
silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.
That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to
watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her
interest in silver beyond her curiosity about the process of refining
silver. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the
fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to
hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest so
as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us
in such a hot spot. Then she thought again about the verse, that says, "He
sits as a refiner and purifier of silver". She asked the silversmith if it
was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the
silver was being refined.
The man answered, that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver,
but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the
fire. For if the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it
would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the
silver smith, how do you know when the silver is fully refined? He smiled at
her and answered, "Oh, that's the easy part-when I see
my image reflected
If, today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His
eye on you and will keep His hand on you and watch over you until He sees
His image in you.
I know that many people are also blaming
homosexuality for the abuse going on in the church. Know that being homosexual
does not make you a pedophile. Although I believe that not all those who live
homosexual lives were actually born that way but for some reason or other they
chose that lifestyle. Being born homosexual is no more a sin then being a diabetic.
God loves homosexuals as much as He loves heterosexuals. The SIN is in the
homosexual act itself as it is in the heterosexual act if it is performed
before marriage. There is a lot of pre-marital sexual sin going on in
this world (homosexual and heterosexual). As far as I know the Catholic
Church has not accepted married gays, therefore this is a CROSS that they
must carry. I know many people who are homosexual and although I do not
approve of their lifestyle, I believe that some are very good people.
Some may even be very good priests, as long as they are CELIBATE and do not
promote the lifestyle. In my opinion, I think that most people who discover
they are gay would rather not be. It is a very heavy CROSS to bear, an adverse
condition, a chemical condition or whatever but the result of the
sinfulness of the world. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SINFULNESS OF THE
WORLD. Hey, that sin could even include hating gays.
I think that maybe the leaders (I’m not talking about
the Pope) of the Catholic Church have turned into an “Old Boys Club” and
that women would not have swept the abuse under the rug. I do not believe
that women should be priests, I think their talents are better used elsewhere. I think if God wanted women to become priests, the Blessed Mother would have been one.
I believe that Jesus chose men to run the church and although some do not
fulfill this task as they should, for the most part the Church is wonderful. I
believe in the Sacraments and all that the Church teaches. When in doubt, we
should always ask What would Jesus do and what does the BIBLE say?
God must be looking down at us and shaking His
I understand that many people blame all the abuse that has been going on
all over the world but especially in the states, on the issue of celibacy.
Well sexual abuse has nothing to do with celibacy. It has to do with control and
abnormal tendencies. It is a great sin and we are all suffering because of it.
We're blaming the church, the church officials, the Pope and anyone we can.
Unfortunately, the church is made up of ordinary human beings who make
mistakes, (let he who is without sin.) but there are no errors in the teachings
of Jesus, the teachings of Jesus Christ will never change and we
are to be obedient to these teachings to the end. We are to be well rooted in
The life of a priest is not easy. It is sacrifice after sacrifice. It is a life
devoted to the service of God. A priest should know before entering the priesthood
what is expected of him. He should know that it is a life of sacrifice and
self-deprivation. It is lonely and thankless. It is a life of Celibacy!!! Their
main duties are to preach the Gospel, to administer the Sacraments and to
visit the sick and the dying.
I would rather my priest not be married. I feel that there would be a conflict of interest. If totally devoted and married to the church, how could he be totally devoted to his wife and family. I don't
want him to love one person more then another, because then that would take him
away from his duties as a priest. I want him to be married to the Church, to
concentrate on being the best priest he can be, to embrace the life of
sacrifice and to help his parish people become holy people by becoming holy
My thinking is... let's say that a priest is married, ( I do realize that there are married priests in the Eastern Rite and I am sure they are very good and they do the best they can. )
I would like to know how he can take time away from his family to devote time to his church and how he can take time away from the church to spend time with his family. Either way, one of these will suffer.
What if a priest would have to spend time with a dying person, for the sacraments, for the comfort of the family etc...and at the same time a family crises occurs in his family. How could he possibly choose where he needs to be. To me it would be more simple if he needs to focus on one thing.
Having said all this, I must ask these questions. How often are we praying for our clergy? Do we support
them in daily prayer? Are we doing everything we can to help them in their ministry?
Do we have them so occupied with administrative work that they do not have time
to get closer to God by prayer, adoration and fasting?
Evil is everywhere, yes even in the church. Pray for our priests, that they be
holy, that they get close to God by prayer, adoration and fasting. This fasting
should include celibacy!!!
I would like to speak about the New Age movement,
which is a very popular concept nowadays. Some people say that these concepts
bring them closer to God. Be aware that these ideas, as attractive as they are,
eat away at the Divinity of Jesus Christ and focus more on the self and the
inner being. Its ideas and concepts are subtle and attractive to many people.
It offers somewhat logical answers to questions many of us are searching. I know
many spiritual and prayerful people who have been led astray by the New Age
Movement. I will touch briefly on a few of these subjects.
The concept of feeling at peace inside and opening
your heart to the excitement of life and all that is here, given to us,
connecting with Gaia ( Mother Earth), the planet that we have chosen at this
time as our focus for life. We gather and live together in harmony with all
that is in our environment. The concept that love, harmony, balance, wholeness
will manifest itself within the physical body.
A method of healing based on the application of
Universal Life Force Energy, using specific hand placements over the body and
transferring energies from one place to another. ( Not known to work unless it
is paid for.)
A procedure said to enliven an awareness of energy,
creativity and intelligence that lies within a person, bringing them to
fullness of life, health and happiness, a life absent of problems. It involves
emptying your mind to allow your sub conscience to develop these states of
Some believe in using crystals and gemstones to heal
and for well being. Healers, witch doctors, soothsayers, therapists and
channelers all use crystals for divination and/or healing purposes. Some
believe that crystals reduce stress and tension and bring serenity in times of
The New Age Movement may have some people convinced
that they are getting closer to their Creator but beware of these concepts
which focus on self and self image and self power. These can actually bring
temporary feelings of healing and well being but they never last, they are
false pagan teachings. They never mention Jesus or the Holy Spirit. They all
have pagan origins.
If you empty your mind, you’d better ask God to fill
it with the Holy Spirit because an empty mind is Satan’s playground.
Remember, we are nothing without God. If you think
that you can heal somebody or that somebody can heal you… You are dead
wrong!... Only God heals!
Be aware that Yoga, Tai Chi, and many other practices have hidden consequences. The positions one takes in these are the same positions as the buddists monks. These are optimal positions to open you souls to pagan spirits. They say that they cleanse your chakras and mantras, Beware! It's like opening your innermost being to all spirits, including evil spirits.
Be aware of all these self-help concepts, ideas and
books. The only sure way to heal and to grow spiritually is to go to God
through His Son Jesus! You don’t even have to look very far… He’s not hiding.
When they speak of the Immaculate
Conception, they are talking about the conception of Mary in St. Anne's womb.
God had chosen Mary from the beginning of time to become His Mother, He would
not allow her to be born with the original sin in her soul and so The
Immaculate Conception is the day to celebrate the pureness of Mary... the
Mother of Jesus and consequently the Mother of God!
Many people receive emails
containing pre-requisites about sending it to a certain amount of people in a
certain amount of time and to see what wonderful thing can happen and that if
you don't send it something terrible may happen. I would like to make it very
clear to everyone that God does not work like that. This is total bologna. I
receive these like all of you and sometimes I forward these but please, please
know that nothing bad will happen if you do not forward them. This surely
doesn't come from me. I do enjoy some of these little stories and believe me, I
receive many. Forward the ones you want and delete the rest. God is way bigger
then that and He doesn't resort to tactics such as these.
Also know that internet petitions are completely worthless!
The Archangels (Sept. 29,2001)
Today is the feast day of the archangels.
St. Michael... The protector, (God's right hand man) He escorted Lucifer out of
heaven, he protects us from spiritual and physical dangers. St. Gabriel... (
God is my strength) The messenger, He brought Mary the message from God that
she would be the mother of the savior. He also told Zacharias of the birth of
John the Baptist. He is the patron of communications. St. Raphael... (
God has healed ) The healer, he is mentioned in the Book of Tobit where
he teaches Tobias about medicine. He eases pain and is considered the patron of
sciences, medicine, of the blind and of travelers.
October 2. Today is the feast of
all guardian angels. We should be thankful for our guardian angels, they
protect us, guide us and pray for us. Thank you Lord for these special angels.
I wonder where we are at when it comes to
reverence. I see people coming into the church and not genuflecting, ( of
course it's hard to genuflect when the tabernacle is not in the church), some
are chewing gum, some are wearing beach clothes. I've noticed that for lots of
people, it's a time to visit. Those who are trying to pray can hear
chit-chatting throughout the church. It's very disturbing. Of
course some say it's good because we think of Jesus as our friend. Well this is
all fine and dandy! He is our friend but He is also our GOD who deserves
all the reverence we can give Him! It seems to me that our reverence has been
substituted with familiarity and I don't believe this is a good thing. They
take the kneelers out of the churches so that our choice to kneel is gone.
Where has the reverence gone? Why do we go to church? To ask forgiveness
for our sins, to hear the Word Of God, to pray for our intentions, to offer all
that we have to God, to adore and welcome Jesus into our lives and our church
through the consecration and Eucharistic prayers and to receive Him into our
very soul in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to receive a blessing and to
proclaim the good word to all that Jesus is our Savior until the next time we
come to mass. We go in THANKSGIVING to God for all He does for us. All
these things should be done as reverently as possible as a community! It has
always seemed to me that sitting is a good position to reflect, to listen and
to think, standing has always been a sign of respect and honor, but when I want
to adore... I want to kneel, kneeling may not even be enough, I want to
prostrate myself in front of Jesus! Our very demeanor has become
disrespectful. When one goes to receive communion they should not be chewing
gum, how disrespectful have we become? We should be dressed modestly. We
should conduct ourselves with utmost respect toward Jesus and we should teach
our children to do the same. Lord Have Mercy on all of us!
We Have a Responsibility Sept 26 2001
I recently spoke to a teacher who was telling me what's been going on in the
high schools in this very city. We have these Catholic schools with all the
latest equipment to teach all the right stuff but one. The teachers are
being told that they cannot talk to students about sin or Satan or hell.
They can only talk about love things; that God is love and forgiving and
everything is beautiful and that if they mention anything, it will scare the
students and have a negative effect.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
Students are learning that there is no sin, everything is permissible, that
Satan doesn't exist. What about the 10 commandments? God gave us
commandments as a guide to follow so that we can attain eternal happiness.
Jesus said " pick up your cross and follow me." God did not promise
happiness on earth...
If we teach falsehoods, we will be judged on that. If we don't teach our
children about SIN and its consequence, about HELL and how it's all it's
cracked up to be, about SATAN and how many disguises he has and how
conniving he can be and that his greatest accomplishment is to make people
think he doesn't exist; then we will be held accountable for our neglect and
partly accountable for their future sinfulness! Ain't that a kicker!
We have to be aware of the "New Age Ideas" that are out there.
that we can find the power within ourselves, that God is everywhere, in the
rocks and the trees... and so we don't really need to go to church...(
going to church on Sunday is a very grave sin! )
New Age takes away from the Holy Trinity
( God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit)
and focuses on the unholy trinity...(Me Myself and I.)
Hurting others by gossip is a sin. Lying, stealing, cheating and disrespect
is a sin and if we have premarital sex or sex outside your marriage, it is a
SIN! Telling dirty jokes, watching pornography, and filling our heads with
all types of perversions is a SIN! If we think we can live our lives without
God, this is a very grave SIN! If we do not ask forgiveness and repent for
these sins, we will suffer the consequences!
One of these consequences could be eternal damnation in HELL! I guarantee
you that if you sin, do not ask forgiveness for that sin, do not repent for that sin, someone will suffer for that sin, it may be you... (in this life, definitely in the next) or it may be your mother, your sibling or
your child, but someone will suffer! A sin is a sin, is a sin, is a sin! Sin
is exactly that, we can sugar coat it until it looks good to us, but God can
see through all the whitewash. I am afraid of what He sees when He looks at
the teachings we give to our young people. We must pray for our priests and
teachers so that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit and not whitewash
the evils of the world. Lord, Have Mercy on us!
In light of the shootings in
let's see, I think it started when Madeline Murray O'Hare complained she didn't
want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK.
Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school.... the Bible
that says thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as
yourself. And we said, OK. Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our
children when they misbehave because their little personalities would be warped
and we might damage their self-esteem. And we said, an expert should know what
he's talking about so we said OK, we won't spank them anymore. Then someone
said teachers and principals better not
discipline our children when they misbehave. And the school administrators
said no faculty member in this school better touch a student when they
misbehave because we don't want any bad publicity, and we surely don't want to
be sued. (There's a big difference between disciplining and touching,
beating, smacking, humiliating, kicking, etc. And we accepted their
Then some of our top elected officials said it doesn't matter what we do
in private as long as we do our job! s. And agreeing with them, we said it
doesn't matter to me what anyone, including the President, does in private as
long as I have a job and the economy is good. And then someone said
let's print magazines with pictures of nude women and call it wholesome,
down-to-earth appreciation for the beauty of the female body. And we said we
have no problem with that. And someone else took that appreciation a step
further and published pictures of nude children and then stepped further still
by making them available on the internet. And we said they're entitled to their
free speech. And! the entertainment industry said, let's make TV shows and
movies that promote profanity, violence, and illicit sex.
And let's record music that encourages rape, drugs, murder, suicide, and
satanic themes. And we said it's just entertainment, it has no adverse effect, and
nobody takes it seriously anyway, so go right ahead Now we're asking
ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from
wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and
themselves. Probably, if we think about it
long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal
do with "WE REAP WHAT WE SOW."
Why didn't you save the kids in California?
AND THE REPLY
Dear Concerned Student,
I am not allowed in schools.
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
world's going to hell.
Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible
Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to
believe, think, say, or do anything the Bible says.
Funny how someone can say, "I believe in God" but still follow Satan
who, by the way, also "believes" in God.
Funny how we are quick to judge but not to be judged.
Funny how you can send a thousand 'jokes' through e-mail and they
spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the
Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how the lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene pass freely through
Cyberspace, but the public discussion of Jesus is suppressed in the school and
workplace. Funny how someone can be so fired up for Christ on Sunday, but
be an invisible Christian the rest of the week.
Funny how when you go to forward this message, you will not send it to
many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe,
or what they will think of you for sending it to them.
Funny how I can be more worried about what other people think of me
than what God thinks of me.
> > > > > Are you thinking?
Although I know that many people don't
believe in reconciliation, I would like to say that I have seen the Mercy of
God and I believe that if you ask forgiveness for your sins, your sins are
forgiven. To say any less would undermine God's Awesome Mercy. When we go to
confession, the sins are unimportant, God already knows our sins. What is
important is the humility with which we approach this sacrament and the grace
we receive as we receive Absolution. This GRACE is an invisible help from God
which we all desperately need. We should be receiving the Sacrament of
Reconciliation at least once or twice a month. Some people believe that their
sins are so bad that God would not be able to forgive them. This is pride. Who
do we think we are, are we so special that God would forgive everybody else but
us? We are the ones who are unable to forgive ourselves. God is so Merciful, He
forgives the darkest of sins. Our sins are like a drop in God's Ocean of Mercy!
Some people find it very hard to forgive
even the littlest of offences. It has been my experience that one cannot
forgive without the help of Jesus. One must start by saying " I want to
forgive this person" then get used to the idea of forgiveness. Ask Jesus
for the grace to forgive; soon the desire to forgive will be real. Continue to
pray and ask Jesus daily to help you forgive. Pray for the person you need to
forgive and soon the pain of the offence will become smaller. Forgiveness
will have occurred without your knowledge of it.
One should also say 'I'm sorry' to those
they may have offended. Be repentant of your transgressions.
The burden of unforgiveness and
unrepentence is heavy and gets heavier as the years go by. Friends and family
members refuse to speak to each other and on their death bed ( and I have seen
this often as a nurse) they don't know how to say "I forgive you" and
I'm sorry." . If Jesus was unforgiving what would we do? We would be
doomed. How can we expect to be forgiven if we refuse to forgive others!
Today is the Feast of the Birth of the
Blessed Virgin Mary. Many wonder why we think Mary is so important. I think
Mary is important because her blood flows through the body of Jesus Christ.
When we get close to Her we are close to Jesus because She brings us closer to
Him. Her intercessions are more powerful than anyone else's. How can Jesus
refuse the requests of His own Mother. We do not adore Her as so many people
think, we honor Her for the role She played in bringing Jesus into the world.
Think of her obedience to God as The Archangel Gabriel asked her to be the
Mother of our Savior and the humility with which She undertook her task.
Somehow I think Jesus wants to share with His Holy Mother, in the Redemption of
the world. She is the most important after the Holy Trinity.
Ask her intercession through Her Holy Tears, Jesus cannot refuse his Mother's requests. How could any good son refuse his mother were she crying?
Know that there are things in this world
that are not from God. The bible teaches us to stay away from such things as
the occult, tarot cards, psychic predictions, astrology, ouiji boards,
witchcraft, voodoo, contacting the dead through channeling, séances, crystal
balls and all these things that are pagan. These are open invitations for Satan
to enter into your homes. Such things have been glamorized on TV shows
(Charmed, Sabrina, even Bewitched) on movies( Blaire Witch), books (Harry
Potter) games (Pokemon) in the paper (Daily Horoscopes) enough that we
and our children are becoming desensitized to the true evils of the world. We
do not recognize Satan anymore. He has hidden himself in things that have
become not only acceptable but desirable to our families especially our
children. ( His greatest accomplishment) I believe that Satan's biggest feat is
to make people think He doesn't exist. That there is no sin. That everything is
acceptable. ( If everybody does it, it must be okay) We do not recognize sin
anymore. We are being led down a path of destruction. Re-evaluate those things
you have in your home. Throw out or burn anything that may have negative
influences on you and your family ( especially those things I mentioned
before). This would include all pornographic literature and movies. Remember we
are our brother's keeper and so partly responsible for the sins incurred by us.
( even indirectly)
Some wonder how come some people seem to
have more faith than others. They think that they would never be able to get as
close to God as these people who seem to be so in tune with Jesus. The desire
is there but they don't know how to do it. Some will even go as far as turning
the other way or they ridicule the faithful one. I believe that Faith is a gift
from God, it starts out very small. It needs to be cultured, fed and nurtured
so that it will become larger. You feed your faith by prayer: by staying
in a state of grace, by receiving the sacraments especially the Holy
Eucharist and Reconciliation. By attending Mass as frequently as possible. By
participating fully in the Celebration of the Mass. By self sacrifice (fasting
from food, TV, shopping or any pleasures...) By trying to see Jesus in everyone
you meet. By treating them as you would Jesus. By giving of yourself to your
family, church and your community. By not allowing anything to come between you
and your relationship with God. By self mortification (kneeling during prayer
with arms outstretched, going hungry sometimes, suffering with a headache
without medication...) By standing firm in your convictions as long as they are
rooted in the true teachings of Christ. By educating yourselves ( bible study etc...) By joining regular prayer meetings, prayer lines. By putting
God first. By evangelizing whenever possible. When one does these things,
their faith grows and grows because God will never be outdone, He will send His
Holy Spirit to help you. When you live in God's Will you become liberated. The
truth shall set you free. The Holy Spirit will empower you. One cannot achieve
true happiness if they are not living the Will of God. We are all called to
become holy people, God's faith-filled people, and we should make every
effort to do so. The rewards are incredible!
Today is a sad day for all of North America. The terrorist attacks on the United States
have brought us to our knees in prayer; to pray for the innocent victims, the
families of these victims and to pray for WORLD PEACE. When will it ever end?
Violence is not the answer. If there is retaliation, it will only feed the hate
that is already out there. Hate is what caused this; hate of democracy,
capitalism, military power and control! Please join me in prayer for all the
people of New York and Washington, that their grief, their
sadness, their sorrow, their pain and their anger will be lessened and that
Jesus will replace it with His love and His peace. We should pray for the
leaders of all countries especially the President, for discernment, so that the
Holy Spirit will inspire their decisions. Let us pray for world peace!
Security is not the absence of danger,
but the presence of God, no matter what the danger!
"Where is your God today?"
I had a very dear friend question my faith in God right after the
attack on America.
Her question was simply put, "Where is your God
She was very hurt, as all Americans were, so I tried not to react
defensively. Since that moment I have prayed and grieved over the
disastrous events. However, I believe I have the answer. I know
where my God was the morning of September 11, 2001! He was very busy.
First of all, he was trying to discourage anyone from taking this flight.
Those four flights together held over 1000 passengers and there was
only 266 aboard.
He was on 4 commercial flights
giving terrified passengers the ability
to stay calm. Not one of the family members who was called by a loved
one on one of the high-jacked planes said that passengers were screaming in
the background. On one of the flights he was giving strength to
to try to overtake the high-jackers.
He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World TradeCenter.
After all only around 20,000 were at the towers when the
first jet hit. Since the buildings hold over 50,000 workers, this was a
in itself. How many of the people who were employed at the WTC told
media that they were late for work or they had traffic delays.
He was holding up 2-110 story buildings so that 2/3 of the workers
could get out. I was so amazed that the top of the towers didn't topple
the jets impacted.
Although this is without a doubt the
worst thing I have seen in my
I can see God's miracles in every bit of it. I keep thinking about
friend and praying for her every chance I have. I can't imagine
through such a difficult time and not believing in God.
Life would be hopeless.
Subject: Where was God in all of this?
As I, like most other Americans and people World-Wide, was watching
and listening to the horror that took place on the East Coast, I heard
many people ask the question posed in the subject line. I was reminded of
an interview with a Holocaust survivor that was asked the same question.
response inspired the following words.
Where was God in all of this?
God was in the rescue workers who were running into the buildings as
most people were running out.
God was in the flight attendant who called her husband as her plane
was being hijacked to tell him that she loved him.
God was in the two men who carried a wheelchair-bound woman down 70
of stairs to safety.
God was in the people who stood bleeding, in line to give blood.
God was in the strangers in cars, picking up strangers stranded in the
city and taking them home to their families.
God is in the people who are begging to volunteer, to do anything to
God is in the thousands, if not millions who are flooding blood banks
thousands of miles away to help people they have never met.
God is in the people who are comforting someone even when they don't know
what to say.
God is in the people who watched and cried for people who may remain
anonymous in name, but never in their sacrifice.
God is in my neighborhood where I see flags waving from every home.
God is in the men and women, looking at 110 stories of rubble, and
seeing only the opportunity to find survivors.
God is with the heroes, most of whom will never be on the news, whose
stories will only be told to their closest friends and family; but who
someone's mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, husband,
wife, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, cousin, lover, colleague,
acquaintance, teacher, mentor or friend with a single act of kindness,
compassion and bravery.
God was not in the hearts of the people that caused these inhumane
However, God was indeed there, where he was needed the most.
I have a Marian Cenacle in my home each
Tuesday evening. As many as 60-70 people come
together to pray the Holy Rosary. In Feb. of 2001, as I was praying my
rosary at St Paul's
Cathedral, my rosary turned from silver to gold. I had heard about this but I
was amazed that this would happen and asked many people what it meant. Since
then 15 of my rosaries have changed or started to change from silver to gold.
The people who attend my weekly prayer meeting have also seen this happen. As
many as 40 people who attend regularly have noticed that their rosaries have
also changed color. This summer it came to my attention that according to the
visionaries in Medjugorje; the Blessed Mother said that: "Golden rosaries
and medallions are a sign that prayer changes human hearts, human circumstances
and human endeavors." So let us continue to pray the rosary, it is a very
powerful prayer. It is a powerful weapon to use against Satan( who seems to be
ravaging the earth.)
An Examination of Conscience
A CHECK LIST OF SINS
The sins that cry to heaven for vengeance: (CCC
1867) 1. Murder (Gn 4:10), 2. Sodomy
(Gn 17:20-21), 3. Oppression of the poor (Ex
2:23), 4. Defrauding workers of their just wages (Jas
Seven Deadly Sins 1.
Pride 2. Greed 3.
Lust 4. Anger 5.
Gluttony 6. Envy 7. Sloth
Sins against the Holy Spirit: 1.
Despair, 2. Presumption, 3.
Envy, 4. Obstinacy in sin, 5. Final
impenitence, 6. Deliberate resistance to the known
Sins against faith: (CCC 2088-2089) 1. Hesitating
doubt – delaying the overcoming of doubts, difficulties, or objections due to
indifference or laziness 2. Voluntary doubt – disregarding
of the truth or on-going resistance to overcoming doubt. 3.
Incredulity – willful refusal to assent to revealed truths of the
faith. 4. Heresy – the choosing and over-emphasizing of
certain truths of the faith to the exclusion of others. 5.
Schism – Refusal of submission to the Pope or Catholic
communion. 6. Apostasy – Total repudiation of the Christian
Sins against God’s love: (CCC 2094) 1.
Indifference 2. Ingratitude 3.
Lukewarmness 4. Sloth – sorrow or aversion at the good
things offers to the soul 5. Hatred of God – usually rooted
in prideful notion that refuses to be second to God.
Sins against the Honor that is Due to God - (CCC
2111-2117) 1. Superstition – the elevation of certain
practices such that they are regarded as more important or powerful than prayer
or trust in God. 2. Idolatry – divinizing what is not God,
false worship, holding creatures more precious than the one Creator who is
God. 3. Divination – undertaking practices meant to
disclose the future, e.g. horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, recourse to
mediums etc. 4. Magic and spiritism – attempts to tame
occult powers and place them at our service, or to have power over others in
Sins of Irreligion: (CCC 2118-2128) 1. Tempting
God – Putting God to the test 2. Sacrilege – stealing
sacred things, profaning sacraments or liturgical actions, desecration or
speaking irreverently of sacred persons, places or things that are blessed or
consecrated to God. 3. Simony – Buying or selling spiritual
things, seeking to profit on them merely because they are
blessed. 4. Atheism – Denying the existence of God, to
include the practical atheism of materialism and utopian notions that man can
save himself. 5. Agnosticism – an indifference toward God
that refrains form formally denying his existence.
Sins against the name of God: (CCC 2142-2155) 1.
Promises – infidelity to promises or oaths made with God’s
name 2. Profanity – using God’s name in vain ways that do
not respect its sacred character, (e.g. empty expressions like “Oh my
God!” 3. Blasphemy – to speak ill of God, trivialize, curse
or ridicule him. By extension, to ridicule sacred things or the
Saints. 4. Swearing – calling God to witness in matters
that are trivial. Also swearing a false oath, committing perjury when under
oath. 5. Cursing – using God’s name to curse or call down
evil on others.
Sins against the Lord’s Day: (CCC 2185) 1.
Refusing the worship owed God 2. Refusing the joy proper to
the Lord’s day 3. Refusing the relaxation of mind and body
commanded on the Lord’s day. 4. Refusing reasonable works
of mercy proper to the Lord’s day.
Sins Against life: (CCC 2268-2283) 1.
Contraception – Sterilization (CC 2399) 2. Intentional
homicide – all unjust killing 3.
Abortion 4. Euthanasia 5.
Suicide 6. Acting with reckless disregard for the safety
and life of our self or others
Sins against Chastity: (CCC 2351-2357) 1. Lust –
willfully entertaining inordinate or disordered desires for sexual
pleasure 2. Masturbation 3.
Fornication 4. Adultery 5.
Pornography 6. Prostitution 7.
Rape 8. Homosexual Activity
Sins of Injustice and theft: (CCC 2409ff) 1.
Theft 2. Deliberately keeping lent
things 3. Damaging the goods of others without
restitution 4. Fraud 5. Paying unjust
wages 6. Forcing up prices 7. Refusing
to pay debts 8. Work poorly done 9.
Tax evasion 10. Forgery 11. Excessive
and wasteful practices 12.
Hoarding 13. Excessive and unnecessary exploitation of
natural resources 14. Refusing our legitimate obligations
to the community 15. Refusing our legitimate obligations to
Prayer before Confession
·Lord, Grant me light to see
myself as You see me and the grace to be truly contrite and repentant for my
sins. O Mary, help me to make a good confession.
Examination based on the
1. Have I ever failed to
confess a serious sin or disguised it?
2. Have I been guilty of
irreverence for the Sacrament of Reconciliation
a. By failing to do an
examination of conscience
b. By failing to do the penance
given to me by my confessor
c. By neglecting to do the
Easter Duty of receiving the Sacraments
of Reconciliation and The Eucharist
a. Am I ignorant of my
catechism ( Act of Contrition, Apostle’s Creed, The Ten Commandments, The Seven
Sacraments, the Our Father )?
b. Do I fail to teach my
children of the same?
c. Have I willingly doubted or
denied any of the teachings of the church?
d. Have I taken part in any
e. Have I practicedany superstitions( horoscopes, fortune
tellers, tarot cards, ouiji boards)?
1. Have I used God’s name in vain by way of
2. Have I complained against God?
3. Have I maligned priests or others
consecrated to God?
4. Have I sworn by God’s Name(oath) falsely
5.Have I broken any private vow?
1.Have I missed Mass on Sundays or holy days through my own fault?
2.Have I been inattentive during Mass or otherwise failed in reverence for
theMost Blessed Sacrament?
3.Have I done any unnecessary servile work (physical labor) or shopping
4.Have I failed to fast on required days (Good Friday or Ash Wednesday)?
1.Have I been disrespectful to my parents or neglected them?
2.Have I failed in obedience to authority?
3.Have I mistreated my spouse or my children?
4.Regarding my children:
a.Have I neglected for their material needs?
b.Have I failed to care for their early Baptism
or in their proper
c.Have I allowed them to neglect their religious duties?
d. Have I tolerated their
keeping questionable company or
e.Have I failed to discipline them?
f.Have I given them bad example?
g.Have I accepted any wrong actions in my home
( unwed couples sleeping together, dirty magazines, violent or pornographic
1.Have I quarreled with anyone?
2.Have I cursed anyone or otherwise wished evil on them?
3.Have I taken pleasure in anyone misfortune?
4.Is there anyone to whom I refuse to speak to or be reconciled?
5.Have I lied about anyone?
6.Have I rashly judged anyone of a serious sin?
7.Have I engaged in gossip or spread scandal?
8.Have I been eager to hear something scandalous about anyone?
9.Have I been envious or jealous of anyone?
Sixth & Ninth
1.Have I denied my spouse his or her marriage rights?
2.Have I practiced birth control?
3.Have I committed adultery or fornication?
4.Have I embraced or touched another impurely?
5.Have I sinned with others of the same sex?
6.Have I committed
masturbation or otherwise sinned impurely with
7.Have I harbored lustful desires for anyone?
8.Have I indulged in impure thoughts?
9.Have I failed to dress modestly?
10.Have I done anything to provoke impure thoughts in others?
11.Have I read indecent literature or looked at indecent pictures?
12.Have I watched suggestive films or programs?
13.Have I permitted my children or anyone in my charge to do the same?
14.Have I used indecent language or told indecent stories?
15.Have I willingly listened to
16.Have I boasted of such sins?
17.Have I sinned against chastity in any other
Seventh & Tenth
1. Have I stolen anything?
2. Have I damaged anyone’s
property through my own fault?
3. Have I cheated or defrauded
4. Have I refused or neglected
to pay my debts?
5. Have I neglected my duties
or been slothful in my work?
6. Have I refused or neglected
to help anyone in urgent need?
7. Have I failed to make
1. Have I knowingly caused
others to sin?
2. Have I cooperated in the
sins of others?
3. Have I sinned in gluttony?
4. Have I become intoxicated?
5. Have I used narcotics?
6. Have I been motivated by the
love of money (avarice)?
7. Have I indulged in boasting
8. Have I received Holy
Communion or other sacraments in the state of mortal sin?