Sometimes the culture of relativism makes us think that matters pertaining to evil and the spiritual battle are nothing more than theoretical ideas. We start to believe that our sin is less and less serious.
“We must always be vigilant against the deception and seduction of the evil one….When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace….We can ask ourselves: Do I keep watch over myself? Do I guard my heart? My feelings? My thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I protect the Holy Spirit’s presence within me? Or so I leave everything as it is, secure, believing that everything is okay?” ~ Pope Francis, Homily in Santa Marta, October 11th of 2013
We invite you to meditate on some sinful habits to which we all too often consent, sins that take us away from God and from our happiness. Let’s examine our hearts and stay attentive so we can avoid falling into the the enemy’s hands.
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” ~ Mt. 5:22
Jesus raises the requirements of the commandment “you shall not murder,” transposing it to a spiritual level, teaching us that getting angry, insulting and treating others badly is also a way to murder. I invite you to ask yourselves: How many times have we murdered someone with our words, injuring them gravely? Maybe not only internally but also in the social and public sphere by criticizing. Those who listened to you and believed what you said are also implicated in these injuries.
“Do not hold a grudge against anyone, so you don´t keep unnecessary things in your heart” ~ Pope Francis/Twitter
How much extra baggage are you lugging through life? Very often we carry heavy emotional baggage through lack of forgiveness and resentment because of things that exist only in our imagination We enlarge and exaggerate situations, victimizing ourselves. It’s true, we get hurt many times a day, but it’s also true that we keep on feeding our resentful thoughts, planning our revenge, or preparing our speeches to attack our offender.
Certainly, one doesn’t always behave as the “employee of the month,” on the contrary, there are times when, if we were caught, we’d be the “unemployed of the month.”
At work, it’s not always easy to recognize our mediocrities, negligence and faults: those hours we waste, instead of advancing in our responsibilities and assuming them, spending our time on other things… That, in itself is grave. But lying to hide it is even worse. Let alone blaming others for our faults, detaching oneself from what we should do and blaming the system, the machines, or people that have nothing to do with our job duties. A good suggestion to avoid having to lie: do what you are supposed to do. Jesus is clear and tough on the matter, especially when He talks about the relation between lying and the devil, referring to him as the “father of lies” and to liars as his sons. God frees us from being that kind of son or daughter. We are children of God.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” ~ Jn. 8:44
Faith isn’t cowardly. Just ask the great majority of the third century saints: almost all were martyrs who lived their faith to the limit, assuming all the consequences, even giving their life. It’s well known that “no one lights a lamp and covers it with a bushel or puts it under a bed. Instead, he sets it on a lamp stand, so those who enter can see the light” (Lk. 8:16), but the truth is that today we have to take that lamp of faith outside. It’s not enough to only put it on the family dinner table, we have to go out with it to the street, since proclaim don’t enter the house anymore to enjoy the light.
“God did not give us a spirit of timidity. The spirit of timidity goes against the gift of faith, it doesn’t allow it to grow, to go forward, to become great. And shame is the sin of those who say: “Yes, I have faith, but I cover it up, so it isn’t plainly seen…” This is not faith: nor timidity nor shame. What is it? It’s a spirit of power and love and self-control. This is the faith.” ~ Pope Francis, Homily in Santa Marta, 25th January of 2015
Let us announce Jesus without fear or shame entering our hearts!
We know that the Lord commands us to ‘love thy neighbor’. That’s the key to everything. Talking about the errors of materialism would be to repeat all that’s been said on the subject. I want instead to talk about our faith-in-practice within the Church. Frequently, we Catholics love the institution (the Church) and her practices more than the people who comprise the Church. We love the Eucharist so much that if the priest is boring in his preaching or if the choir sings badly, we get mad at them; we get distracted and offended when there’s a bad service in something so sublime and beloved to us.
I leave you with this question. What do we love more? The people or the institution? Let alone if someone who doesn’t look like us finds our community. And don’t picture the tattooed, pierced or hair-dyed, rather think of someone with different political ideas, pastoral views contrary to ours, or more progressive liturgical notions. What do we love more? This new neighbor who joins our community full of energy and life, or the traditions we’ve performed for years and aren’t capable of changing? Let’s go back to the start: the new commandment spoken by Jesus Himself: Love your neighbor as yourself.
“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all“ ~ Mk. 9:35
It’s nice to be recognized, it’s great when people see you do things well, and when they publicly tell you so. It’s satisfying to enjoy the benefits of being number one and the most privileged. But, what good does it do to be number and all alone? Wanting to always stand out inevitably isolates you from the rest, marginalizes you and lures you into a very big sin, similar to the sin Satan fell into: thinking you’re superior and not seeing the good in others.
To feel that you do everything well, sooner or later, will make you feel superior and see others from the heights of your ego. It will make it hard to recognize others’ virtues and, most troublingly, will make it hard to love them. Be careful with the culture of merits: Jesus taught us the culture of gratitude, by which we’re loved irrespective of our achievements. We’re worthy of being loved, cared for, and recognized, for the sole fact of being God’s children.
Like we’ve said on various occasions, fighting against the sins of impurity is not easy, it’s frequently better to flee. Pleasure isn’t bad but the disordered search for it can cause us grave pain. How often do we consent to falls of impurity because we only think about ourselves, what we like and what we want in that moment! The greatest fight consists on letting God take up more and more space in our lives, so we can be strong and exile from our lives those habits that take us away from chastity. The goal is not to never be tempted, but to resist temptation with the strength and help of God’s grace.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” ~ Mt. 5:27-28
There’s nothing more damaging for you and for those around you, and nothing that takes you farther away from God’s will, than allowing negative emotions and feelings to fester: we share our grievances – large and small – on social media… we look for pity… we search through YouTube looking for melancholic songs which make us drown deeper in our sadness and make it harder to get out. This wouldn’t be a real problem if you lived in a world of solitude, but the truth is that you’re surrounded by others, and it’s probable that wallowing in discouragement and with negative feelings, your behavior before others won’t be the most appropriate. Even your answers before God can be completely different. A humble piece of advice: never make important decisions when you’re in a bad mood. Try to get out of there fast, hang on to the hope that faith gives us and embrace God’s promises, which sooner or later will be fulfilled. To open the doors of your heart to those sour feelings is, in the end, to open them to the devil and to close them to God. Courage!
“Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but from having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst; it is born from knowing that with him we are never alone, even at difficult moments” ~ Pope Francis, Palm Sunday 2013
This post originally appeared here for Catholic-Link Spanish. It has been translated into English by María Isabel Giraldo.
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