Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

Examination of Conscience (for Grades 6, 7, & 8)

October 18, 2019


Jesus preached, “What man among you having 100 sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance.And Jesus also said, “I am the good shepherd… Do not be afraid any longer, little flock…
(See Luke 15:4-5, John 10:11, & Luke 12:32)

Downloadable Booklet Version

Sins against our God
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

  • Since my last, good confession, did I neglect daily prayer?
  • Did I reject God, the Lord Jesus Christ, or my Catholic Faith?
  • Did I receive the Holy Eucharist in a state of mortal sin?
  • Did I break the one-hour Eucharist fast and still receive Him?
  • Did I intentionally hold back from confessing my serious sins?
  • Did I put faith in magic, astrology, horoscopes, or superstitions?
  • Did I use the Lord’s name like a curse word?
  • Did I “swear to God” about something unimportant or untrue?
  • Did I ignore Friday as a special day for penance?
  • Did I ignore Sunday as a special day for worship and rest?
  • Did I act irreverently toward the Eucharist, holy persons or things?
  • Did I come late, leave early, or skip Sunday Mass by my own fault?
  • Did I attend Holy Mass irreverently or inattentively?
  • Did I make false gods (or idols) of delightful persons or things?
  • Did I stubbornly doubt God’s existence, goodness, or love for me?

Sins against our Parents & Teachers
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, that you may have a long life and that you may prosper…” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

  • Did I neglect to show my parents love and gratitude?
  • Did I disobey my parents or neglect my household chores?
  • Did I lie to my parents or hide things from them?
  • Did I manipulate my parents to get what I wanted?
  • Did I disrespect a parent, through sarcasm or back-talking?
  • Did I disobey or disrespect a teacher?
  • Did I cheat on tests, plagiarize for papers, or copy homework?
  • Did I choose not give my best effort at school, work, or home?
  • Did I purposely break any rules or laws?

Sins against Others
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)

  • Did I hate someone? (Is there anyone I am unwilling to pray for?)
  • Did I fight or quarrel with anyone?
  • Did I intentionally physically harm or kill someone?
  • Did I wish harm or revenge on someone?
  • Did I slander someone by spreading falsehoods about them?
  • Did I tell negative facts about someone for no good reason?
  • Did I judge others uncharitably or rashly?
  • Did I act as an unfaithful friend?
  • Did I tell any lies?
  • Did I steal or damage someone’s property on purpose?
  • Did I lead another person to sin by something I said or did?
  • Did I just stand by while another person did wrong?
  • Did I tell impure, mean, or offensive jokes?
  • Did I hurt someone by my teasing or prank?
  • Did I dress, speak, or behave immodestly?
  • Did I do sexual acts with another person?
  • Did I act selfish or phony in my relationships?
  • Did I manipulate someone to get want I wanted?
  • Did I act impatient, rude, envious, jealous, or indifferent toward others?

Sins misusing God’s Creation
God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

  • Did I get intoxicated with alcohol or use illegal drugs?
  • Did I smoke or vape?
  • Did I use steroids or misuse medications?
  • Did I overeat, starve myself, or “binge and purge”?
  • Did I intentionally do harm to my own body?
  • Did I plan or attempt suicide?
  • Did I mistreat animals or the environment?
  • Did I watch, read, or listen to something I shouldn’t?
  • Did I lust using media?
  • Did I use technology to send or receive bad images?
  • Did I disrespect someone by viewing them as an object?
  • Did I do sexually-immoral acts by myself or in fantasy?
  • Did I use any form of technology addictively?
  • Did I use entertainments or media in isolating ways?
  • Did I act greedy or ungenerous?
  • Did I act as if God would not take care of me?
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Examination of Conscience (for 2nd-5th Grade)

October 18, 2019

Christ with the Twelve Apostles by Tissot

On Easter evening, Jesus appeared to the Apostles in the upper room and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  (See John 20:19-23)

Downloadable Booklet Version

Sins against our God
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

  • Since my last, good confession, did I not pray daily?
  • Did I reject God, the Lord Jesus Christ, or my Catholic Faith?
  • Did I receive the Holy Eucharist in a state of mortal sin?
  • Did I break the one-hour Eucharist fast and still receive Him?
  • Did I hold back from confessing my serious sins on purpose?
  • Did I put faith in magic or superstitions?
  • Did I use the Lord’s name like a curse word?
  • Did I “swear to God” about something unimportant or untrue?
  • Did I ignore Friday as a special day for penance?
  • Did I ignore Sunday as a special day for worship and rest?
  • Did I act disrespectfully toward the Eucharist, holy persons or things?
  • Did I come late, leave early, or skip Sunday Mass by my own fault?
  • Did I behave disrespectfully or inattentively at Holy Mass?
  • Did I make false gods (or idols) of delightful persons or things?
  • Did I stubbornly doubt God’s existence, goodness, or love for me?

Sins against our Parents & Teachers
Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, that you may have a long life and that you may prosper…” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

  • Did I fail to show my parents love and thankfulness?
  • Did I disobey my parents or skip my household chores?
  • Did I lie to my parents or hide things from them?
  • Did I push or nag my parents to do what I wanted?
  • Did I disrespect a parent by being sassy or back-talking?
  • Did I disobey or disrespect a teacher?
  • Did I cheat on tests or copy homework?
  • Did I choose not to give my best effort at school or at home?
  • Did I purposely break any rules or laws?

Sins against Others
Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)

  • Did I hate someone? (Is there anyone I am unwilling to pray for?)
  • Did I wish harm or revenge on anyone?
  • Did I fight with anyone?
  • Did I physically harm someone on purpose?
  • Did I touch anyone in a bad or inappropriate way?
  • Did I use technology to hurt someone?
  • Did I spread untruths about someone on purpose?
  • Did I tell negative stories about someone for no good reason?
  • Did I judge others unfairly?
  • Did I act as an unfaithful friend?
  • Did I tell any lies?
  • Did I steal or damage someone’s property on purpose?
  • Did I try to get someone to do something wrong?
  • Did I lead another person to sin by something I said or did?
  • Did I just stand by while another person did wrong?
  • Did I tell mean or inappropriate jokes?
  • Did I hurt someone by my teasing or pranks?
  • Did I dress, speak, or behave inappropriately?
  • Did I act selfish or phony in my relationships?
  • Did I push or nag someone to get want I wanted?
  • Did I act unkind, impatient, rude, or jealous toward others?
  • Did I exclude other people?

Sins misusing God’s Creation
God looked at everything He had made, and found it very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

  • Did I abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs?
  • Did I smoke or vape?
  • Did I overeat, starve myself, or “binge and purge”?
  • Did I intentionally do harm to my own body?
  • Did I mistreat animals or the environment?
  • Did I watch, read, or listen to something I shouldn’t?
  • Did I use any form of technology addictively?
  • Did I use entertainments of media in isolating ways?
  • Did I act greedy or ungenerous?
  • Did I act as if God would not take care of me?

Three Parables for Us — 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C

September 14, 2019

It was not without design that Jesus, St. Luke, and the Holy Spirit place before us today a trio of Gospel parables: that of a sheep that strayed and was found, that of a coin that was lost and then recovered, and that of a son dead through sin but then returned to life. The lost sheep is joyfully brought back by the Shepherd. The missing coin (specifically a Greek silver drachma worth one day’s wage) is joyfully found by the woman. And the son, repenting of his sinful wandering, retraces his footsteps to his father and is joyfully embraced.

The Pharisees and scribes had complained about Jesus: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus replies with these three parables, three allegorical stories teaching spiritual truths about God, the Church, and us. So where are we symbolically in these parables? We are that sheep, we are that coin, and we are that prodigal son.

Who is the good shepherd in today’s parable? This Good Shepherd is Jesus Christ, who took upon Himself your sins and bears you upon His own Body because he treasures you. And who is the woman who has lost her silver coin, a coin perhaps from an ornamental belt which held her sentimentally-valuable marriage dowry? This woman, this bride, is the Church, who searches and longs for you, because you are precious to her. And who is the merciful father? The merciful father is God the Father, the Father who receives you back.

Consider how, amongst our Good Shepherd’s riches, we are but one one-hundredth portion. Besides us he has vast, sprawling flocks: the angels and archangels, thrones and dominions, and possesses in himself every divine attribute and glory. But he stepped away from these in a mysterious way to save us. In the words of St. Paul, ‘though was in the form of God, Jesus emptied himself, coming in human likeness; he humbled himself for us, even facing death.’ “I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. “A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Consider how that ancient drachma coin would bear an image, perhaps the likeness of a god or of the king who had minted it. In whose image are we minted?

God created mankind in his image;
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”

The Bride of Christ rejoices in every coin she picks up and holds, because each one bears an image of her beloved, uniquely shows his face, and enriches her all the more with him.

And consider how living in our Father’s house is better than life in a country distant from him. The word “prodigal” means to spend wastefully, and the son’s time spent away was truly wasted. After paying to enjoy sinful pleasures in the dark of night what did he have left to show for it in the new day’s light? But living in the Father’s household bears good fruit, “fruit that will remain.” And there is more than enough food to eat. “Whoever comes to me will never hunger,” Jesus says, “and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” And the joyful celebrations his Father’s house are not regretted after.

These three parables today are about us. We are the sheep; let us heed our Good Shepherd’s voice. We are precious coins; let us believe our great worth. And we are beloved children; let us live in our Father’s house.

How Many Will Be Saved? — 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C

August 25, 2019

Someone asks Jesus from the crowd, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” And Jesus replies, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Instead of quoting some particular figure, like ten thousand or ten billion souls, Jesus says, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate…” Jesus dodges the question. So we are left wondering: in the end, will the number of people saved be few or abundant?

In the Book of Revelation, St. John witnesses a vast number of saints worshiping God in heaven. He beholds “a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue.” Note that this ‘countless multitude’ is different and much larger than the “144,000 marked from every tribe of the Israelites” that John observes several verses before. Jesus came to save people not only from the twelve tribes of Israel, but from the whole world. As the Lord declares through the Prophet Isaiah in our first reading, “I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory.” Based on this, we can confidently say that a very large number will be saved.

On the other hand, in our gospel’s parallel passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” The ‘few’ who enter the narrow gate to life sounds like less than the ‘many’ who do not. From this, it would seem that the number saved will be comparatively small.

However, the words “few” and “many” are relative terms which depend upon the context. For example, nearly 19,000 medals have been awarded in the modern Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and that is indeed many. But how many Olympic gold, silver, or bronze medalists have you personally met? If any at all, probably only a few. In a more tragic example, around 130,000 Americans die each year in accidents, and that’s awfully many. But at the same time, roughly 99.96% of Americans do not die in accidents each year, making the 0.04% who do relatively few. The word “many” sometimes refers to a majority of people, but not always.

Jesus suffered, died, and rose to redeem all of mankind. Even if there had been only one sinner on earth in all of human history, it seems that Jesus would have become man in order to offer himself to save him or her, me or you. Suppose that the number of human souls condemned to Hell on Judgment Day turns out to be only a dozen. Knowing how much our Lord loves each and every person, will not those lost twelve feel like many in the heart of Jesus and those saved billions feel like few? In any case, Jesus never tells us whether the majority of the human race will be saved or lost. Either outcome is possible.

Why isn’t Jesus more clear about exactly how many people will be saved? Because Jesus knows how such knowledge would be harmful for us. If we were told that most people will be saved in the end, we would fall into dangerous presumption. We’d say to ourselves, “I haven’t robbed any banks or murdered anybody; I sure I’m good enough.” And if we were told that most people will be lost in the end, we would fall into poisonous despair. We’d say to ourselves, “With my sins, what’s the use in me even trying?” St. John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “did not need anyone to testify to him about human nature. He himself understood it well.” So, instead of giving us some precise statistic, some number or percentage about how many will be saved, Jesus gives us this much more beneficial advice: ‘Strive to enter through the narrow gate (for whether you are saved or not depends, in part, on you.)’

Almighty God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,” in the words of St. Paul, but upon coming to know that truth, the Lord requires our personal response. He respects our freedom, and we are free to ignore him, to our own harm. As Jesus tells us, after the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, you may stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us.” He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from.” (In other words, “You’re a stranger to me.”) And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets” (as happens at every Holy Mass.) Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!” In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.

For adults like you and me, entering through Jesus’ narrow door requires more than merely wishing or have vague aspirations about going to Heaven someday. Striving to enter through the narrow gate entails sacrifices and discipline. As our second reading tells us, to those who are trained by it, discipline brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness. “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet.” Consider:

What sacrifice does Jesus ask of you?
What is Jesus asking you to remove from your life?
What is Jesus asking you to add to your life?
What sin does he want you to cease?
What gift does he want you to give?
Think about it. Pray about it.
Jesus has answers for you.

Let us intentionally cooperate with God and his grace. Let us accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives, so that we may be numbered among ‘the few‘ who are saved in the end.

Lessons from the Sins of Simon Peter & Judas

April 9, 2019

After arresting [Jesus] they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest; Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them. … About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.” Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly.

– Luke 22:54-55,59-62

This threefold denial by Simon Peter was perhaps the most regretted moment of his life. He denied even knowing Jesus Christ, his teacher, friend, Lord, and God. How humble Peter was to share this story with the Early Church and how wonderful that the Holy Spirit inspired its inclusion in the Gospels! He shows us the fallen can get back up, wanderers can return, sinners can be forgiven, and even those who gravely sin can go on to become the greatest saints.

Jesus would go on to rehabilitate Peter after the Resurrection, alongside another charcoal fire by the Sea of Galilee. Mirroring the three denials, Jesus asks three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” and Jesus reinstates him as shepherd of his sheep and lambs. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Confession) is likewise a personal encounter with Jesus Christ where we re-profess our love for God and receive his restoring forgiveness through the ministry of his ordained priest.

Though Simon Peter’s sins were forgiven they were not without loss and opportunities squandered. During the Passion, as they led Jesus away, “they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” If Simon Peter had not sinned in denying Christ the night before he could have been there, ready and willing to get behind his Lord, pick up Jesus’ cross and follow him. How beautiful that would have been! But this opportunity fell to another Simon.

Thanks be to God, St. Peter went on to repent. He did not give up to despair like Judas Iscariot. When Judas saw Jesus condemned and on his way to execution he deeply regretted what he had done. (One theory for why Judas had sold Jesus out is he wanted to trigger a confrontation with the leaders of Israel which would force Jesus to wield his mighty powers and take the throne.) Judas tried to return the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They answered, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, Judas departed and went off and hanged himself.

What if instead, on Good Friday afternoon, Judas had immediately ran to Calvary Hill? What if he had thrown himself down before Christ hanging on the Cross and begged his forgiveness? What would Jesus have said? What would Jesus have done? I think we already know the answer, or could pretty closely guess. Jesus would have forgiven Judas.

So come to Jesus in sacramental Confession. Come sooner rather than later and more than just once or twice a year. And, once wonderfully absolved, resolve and strive to sin no more. Though sins can be forgiven, we see that every sin or delayed conversion entails some loss, an opportunity missed.

A True Story of Pain, Transformation, & Hope

August 20, 2015

My hometown friend, pro-life speaker Katie Stelter, spoke at our parish’s youth group this evening. Her story was made into this powerful docudrama, Metamorphosis:

Our Lady’s Wisconsin Message: The Meaning of the Two Trees

September 25, 2014

In the Garden of Eden, there were many fruit-bearing trees, but Genesis mentions only two by name: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. By partaking of the Tree of Life the human race could keep living forever, but the Lord warned that to eat from the other tree would mean our certain death. On October 9th, 1859, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared near Green Bay to a 28 year-old Belgian immigrant named Adele Brise while she was walking eleven miles home from Sunday Mass. Interestingly, Our Lady chose to appear to Adele not in a church, or a thousand other places, but between two trees: a Maple and a Hemlock.

Maple LeavesYou’re familiar with the beauty and goodness of the Maple. In the fall, its leaves turn the most striking colors, and in the spring its sap yields sweet syrup. But do you know about the Hemlock tree? The poison that the Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to drink came from this plant. Ingesting just six or eight fresh Hemlock leaves can kill a healthy adult. The Maple is a tree of life while the Hemlock is a tree of death. Mary, the New Eve, stood between the two.

Three Conium Maculatum (or Poison Hemlock), Cedar Bog, Champaign CoMary told Adele, “I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning, and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession, and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them.” Our Lady’s message between the two trees is akin the words of Moses, who told the Israelites: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land….

Peshtigo Fire MapApparently, Our Lady’s warnings were not sufficiently heeded. In October of 1871, exactly twelve years later, disaster came. Both in terms of size and number of lives lost, the Peshtigo Fire remains the worst recorded forest fire in U.S. history. Between 1,200 and 2,400 lives ended in that firestorm which saw, according to an eyewitness, “large wooden houses torn from their foundations and caught up like straws by two opposing currents of air which raised them till they came in contact with the stream of fire.” This seems to be the punishment due to sin that Mary spoke of, yet this does not mean that everyone who perished in that fire was condemned. We should remember that at harvest time, the wheat and the weeds are pulled up together in a moment, but their future fates are not the same. Once uprooted, the good are gathered and kept in the barn, while the bad are thrown away forever.

The firestorm came and surrounded the shrine of Our Lady, where hundreds had come for refuge with their families and herds, beseeching her intercession before God. As many as fled to her there were saved. The shrine’s consecrated earth was an emerald-green island in an ocean of smoldering ashes as far as eyes could see.

Mary, the Queen of Heaven, prays for the conversion of sinners and she wishes you to do the same. You receive Holy Communion, and that is well. But you must do more. Begin by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation regularly, because it is powerful for growing in holiness. The sinner whose conversion you are most responsible for is your own.

Our Lady’s Message in Wisconsin: Conversion & Catechesis

September 18, 2014

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 2010, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help located about sixteen miles northeast of Green Bay, Bishop David Ricken endorsed our country’s first Church-approved Marian apparition:

“I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.”

Crowned M - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WI155 years ago, a lovely blond-haired lady clothed in dazzling white, with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars around her head, appeared to a 28-year-old lay woman named Adele Brise. Adele asked the lady who she was and what she wanted. She answered, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received Holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation…”

This was the core of Mary’s message: for sinners to be converted and for children to be catechised. Yet Adele hesitated and asked how she was to teach the young when she knew so little herself. Mary replied, “Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.” After Adele’s encounter, her father built a small chapel on the site and Adele went about fulfilling her entrusted mission for the rest of her life. Exactly twelve years after Mary’s message came the terrible Peshtigo Fire which still ranks as the worst fire disaster in U.S. history. By a miracle, all who fled to Mary’s shrine for refuge were saved.

Our Mother, the Church, teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children in the Faith. This means that whether our kids go to CCD or Catholic school, family is the first and foremost teacher of life’s most important lessons. But how often do we talk to our children about Jesus and Mary, or teach them about what they should know for salvation? I suspect that many feel intimidated like Adele Brise was because they think they know too little. Yet Mary reassures us that anyone can begin teaching children the simple, precious lessons that will stay with them and bless them forever. As our children grow, we also must grow in the Faith, exploring the what’s and why’s of the Church’s teachings and living them out in our lives. Catechesis without conversion is in vain.

The Virgin Mary’s message to Adele Brise remains timely for us today: Pray for the conversion of sinners… Offer Communion for the conversion of sinners… Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation… Go and fear nothing, I will help you.”

Theological Gifts & Obligations — Tuesday, 15th Week of Ordinary Time

July 15, 2014

Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! … For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

In the visitation of Jesus Christ, Chorazin and Bethsaida had advantages that no people before them had ever enjoyed. The Word of God was before them, but they did not accept him. Incarnate love was among them, but they did not embrace him. The hope of the world was in their midst, but they did not change their ways.

Consider how much more understanding we have of Christ and his teachings than they, how much we have experienced the love of Christ and his people, how many prophesies of Christ we have seen fulfilled. How much more cause do we have to respond to him with faith, hope, and love; how much more of an obligation. As St. Bonaventure said:

“Three things are necessary to everyone regardless of status, sex, or age, i.e., truth of faith which brings understanding; love of Christ which brings compassion; endurance of hope which brings perseverance. No adult is in the state of salvation unless he has faithful understanding in his mind, loving compassion in his heart, and enduring perseverance in his actions.”

Peter & Judas — Wednesday, 14th Week of Ordinary Time—Year II

July 11, 2014

Judas Iscariot and the chief priests and elders at the temple, their money on the floor.Readings: Hosea 10, Matthew 10:1-7

The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter,  … and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.

What was the difference between Peter and Judas? Both were full-fledged apostles (although the Gospels always list the twelve apostles with Peter first and Judas last, much like how the Lord’s Prayer begins with “our Father” and ends with “the Evil One/evil.”) Was the difference that Peter believed Jesus was a good man and Judas did not? No, for Judas said after betraying Jesus, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” Was the difference that Judas was a sinner and Peter was not? No, for at one of their first encounters, Peter “fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'” In the Passion, Judas betrayed Jesus and while Peter denied him three times beside the charcoal fire in the high priest’s courtyard. The vital difference between Peter and Judas was in their ultimate responses to their sins.

Judas fled and fell into utter despair. Like those in our first reading who “cry out to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall upon us,’ Judas welcomed dark oblivion. After the resurrection, when Peter was fishing in his boat, Jesus appeared on the shore. Though Peter was lightly clad, he did not run and hide like Adam and Eve in shame, but swam to Jesus enthusiastically. At that second charcoal fire, Peter professed three times that he loved Jesus.

Let us follow Peter’s example rather than that of Judas and encounter Jesus in the confessional. For those who love Christ, hope in Christ, seek Christ, and run to Christ, will find his mercy.

Excuses Are Always Easy To Find — Thursday, 3rd Week of Lent

March 27, 2014

Readings: Jeremiah 7:23-28, Luke 11:14-23

One the easiest things in the world to find is an excuse. People can always find a seemingly good reason to do a bad thing, or a bad reason near at hand not to do something good. We like to rationalize and justify what we already desire.

Some in the crowd were made uncomfortable by Jesus, so they dismissed his obvious power to do good as a cunning trap of the devil: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord describes those too stubborn to turn to heed his voice or change their bad path as “stiffened-necked.”

Let us pray for those who “have stiffened their necks,” that they may have enlightened minds and open hearts, and for ourselves, to recognize and renounce our own weak excuses. “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Converting Sinners — Friday, 1st Week of Lent

March 14, 2014

Readings: Ezekiel 18:21-28, Matthew 5:20-26

Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?

Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.

The scribes and Pharisees wrote off the tax collectors and prostitutes as having no hope of salvation, yet Jesus pursued and prayed for these sinners. In the first century, one of the Church’s greatest persecutors became one of its greatest apostles, Saul of Tarsus, also known as St. Paul. In the last century, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who killed thousands as an abortionist and helped to mislead millions as a co-founder of NARAL, went on to become a powerful pro-life advocate. God still rejoices in sinners turning from their evil way, and for us today, part of surpassing the scribes and Pharisees in righteousness means praying for and pursuing the conversion of sinners.

Ninevites & Israelites — Wednesday, 1st Week of Lent

March 12, 2014

Readings: Jonah 3:1-10, Luke 11:29-32

Jonah did not care much for the Ninevites. He preached the simple message God had given him, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” but his heart was not really in it. Yet by the end of the first day of Jonah’s three walk through the city, his words had spread through the city like the rumor of a fire. Everyone, from the king to the cattle, repented and were saved. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, loved his people profoundly and spent three years preaching throughout Israel with a wisdom greater than Solomon’s, yet many Israelites disregarded him.

Are we being converted like the Ninevites Jonah preached to, or remaining unconverted like the Israelites Jesus criticized? The grace of conversion is indeed a grace, but we can ask God for this grace and be open to it. We are now in the midst of our forty days; let us heed and respond to Christ’s words.

The Meaning of Ashes — Ash Wednesday

March 6, 2014

Both the atheist and the Christian will agree on this: we came from dust and to dust we shall return. Apart from God we have no hope, for we are dust and ashes.

The ashes on our forehead are not a beauty mark. They point to the ugliness of the sins within us. Yet they are also an appeal to God that he would wash us clean.

Fire, like sin, consumes all it touches. Our ashes are a sign of all we have lost or harmed by sin. However, Old Testament sacrifices were also offered up to God by fire. Our ashes are also a sign of our desire to sacrifice ourselves entirely to him.

We receive ashes on our forehead in the shape of a cross; ashes because we are sinners, and a cross because we are Christ’s.

Penance Service Rosary Meditations

April 20, 2011

The First Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was a garden there and he and his disciples entered it. He took along Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, and began to experience sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My heart is nearly broken with sorrow. Remain here and stay awake with me.” He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” In his anguish he prayed with all the more intensity, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. Then he rose from prayer and came to his disciples, only to find them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? ”

When Peter, James and John fell asleep that hour in the garden, they let Jesus down, but Jesus still loved them. When we sin, we also let Jesus down, but Jesus still loves us, too. Let us all make good confessions, and pray attentively, in this hour with Jesus.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar

When it was morning, those who had arrested Jesus bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. Now for Passover, the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd one prisoner whom they wished. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, a revolutionary, a robber and a murderer, called Jesus Barabbas. (The name Barabbas means “son of the father.) When they had assembled, Pilate said to the crowd, “Which one do you want me to release to you, Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?” They answered, “Barabbas!” Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.

Whenever we sin, we choose a Barabbas instead of Christ. Jesus promises us that choosing Him will make us the most happy, but when we choose to do what’s wrong, we disbelieve Him, and choose someone or something else to make us happy. With our confession and these prayers, let us recommit ourselves to always choosing Jesus Christ, who suffered whips for love of us.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside of their fortress and gathered the whole army around him. They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him. Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

For as much as those soldiers mocked Jesus, let us now honor Jesus sincerely through this decade of the Rosary, with our hearts full of sorrow and thanks.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

They took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. As they led him away, they laid hold of a man named Simon who was coming in from the country. They put a crossbeam on Simon’s shoulder for him to carry behind Jesus. A great crowd of people followed him, including women who beat their breasts and lamented over him.

During this decade of the Rosary, let us imagine ourselves helping Jesus to carry His cross. By being with Him and knowing how He felt, this will help us to love Him more. And who knows, perhaps our prayer will travel through space and time to help lighten, even just a little, the burden that He carried.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion

They brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha (which is translated Place of the Skull) and crucified Him there. At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Finally, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

The forgiveness of our sins is so easy for us. When we go to confession and it is brief and painless. But let us always remember this: the forgiveness of our sins is so easy for us in the confessional because Jesus let the forgiveness of our sins be so hard on Him on the cross. Let us thank Him and honor Him for this great gift.