Realize that with actions that come from our passions we must treat them as a deep wound that take a long time to heal.

Sr. Lisa Marie Doty

Earlier today we talked about love is not going along with a sin by giving into what is called weaponized empathy because if a Christian does so and helps a person to eternal death you are actually doing the opposite of love.  One has to tell the truth about sin, or you can’t combat it.

But having acknowledging that one must always lead with truth brings up another point.  Once you’ve established truth, you have to follow-up with mercy.

The best way to explain it is to tell the story of how my parents quit smoking.

For those of you too young to remember there was a time when a cigarette in a person hand was as common as a smartphone, in fact even more so.  And when the surgeon general’s report on the link between cigarettes and cancer came out it was a long time before most people were able to walk away.

My father was not one of them.  Although he had smoked since he was a kid, as soon as he found out about the cancer risk, he took every single cigarette he had and tossed them.

My mother was a different story.

She had also smoked since her youth but she wasn’t as anxious to quit as my father, so after waiting a year he decided to motivate her.  Whenever he found her cigarettes he tossed them.  My mother being who she was responded by buying more and smoking them.

This went on for several years until my father went to my mother one day and said he gave up, if she wanted to smoke he wasn’t going to stop her.  The moment he said this she took every cigarette she had and tossed them herself.  It looked a lot like the big climax between John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man:

Now Dad was right in thinking that it would have been healthier for his wife to stop smoking at once.  He wasn’t pushing her to quit because he wanted to dominate her, because he thought himself better or smarter than her, he did what he did because he loved her and wanted to protect her and save her from something that was deadly.

But in his zeal to save her he attempted to impose his will and this is simply not the way to go.

This is the same principle when you’re dealing with someone trying to break the cycle of habitual sin.  If you’re going to be of any help you have to show mercy and patience.  Here are some excellent rules to remember along those line:

Everyone isn’t the same:

Some people can do things cold turkey, some have to do things gradually.  Some people will believe something they are told, some need time to process things. people can’t.  Some people have to work themselves toward a goal others can just dive in.  In terms of helping someone away from long term sin, as long as you aren’t either sinning yourself or encouraging others to do so, the method is less important than the goal.  Helping them along whatever path they take to conquer their sin, that’s mercy.  Forcing them along a particular path, that’s not.

It’s not about you:

Never forget that if you are helping someone away from long term sin it’s not about getting kudos for yourself as my 8th grade teacher Sr. Janet used to say: “Pin a rose on me”.  It’s about helping that other person.  The moment you make it so you become the Pharisee in the Temple:

He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 18:9-14

If you focus on helping them get through their issues, it’s about mercy.  If you make it about you then you jump into the sin of pride, and whose going to be there to help you out?

There are going to be failures along the way:

Any person who goes to confession knows that it’s not uncommon to be confessing the same sins over and over because those are the sins you are working on, vulnerable to, and tempted to.  A person working themselves away from serious sin is very likely to have setbacks.  You don’t toss out the person who has setbacks, you don’t excuse failure, you help someone overcome it.  That’s mercy.


In the end they have to make the choice:

Despite all the prayers, all the help and all the effort, all the doors the spirit opens and all the graces Jesus & Mary make available in the end a person has to exercise their free will, recognize the truth and accept the mercy Christ offers.   It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse, your kid, your friend, or a stranger no matter how much brush you clear away from the narrow path, they have to choose to walk it. 

Bottom line:  Truth without mercy is a trap both for the sinner and those counseling them.   For the Counselor, truth without Mercy leads not just to the same result of mercy without truth,  the sin of pride,  but what Screwtape describes as “that most beautiful of the vices” Spiritual Pride.  For the sinner in question it’s even worse.  While mercy without truth keeps a person in their sins, Truth without mercy has a great potential to lead to self loathing and despair.  A cycle as frightening as the base sin itself.  Remember part of forgiveness is being able to forgive oneself and that requires mercy from within which grows from mercy from without .

Or put simply  Truth + Mercy = Love.

That’s God all over.



Illinois LotteryBy John Ruberry

For over four months Illinois has operated without a budget. But the Prairie State continues function, not particularly well, as was the case when Illinois had a budget. Despite those budgets, the state’s pension fund is the worst-funded one in the nation. Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states–so it shouldn’t be shocking that Illinois, with a few exceptions here and there, continues to stumble along.

One of those exceptions is the Illinois Lottery. Payouts are limited to $600 until the budget impasse is resolved–if you win more you are the proud owner of an IOU, which is suitable for framing assuming that your artistic tastes are modest.

Ticket sales are way down, which is not surprising since Illinois’ two largest population centers, Chicago and Metro East, are near state borders. Who gets excited about an IOU? Wisconsin, Indiana, and Missouri pay out immediately.

Illinois Lottery officials are responding in they only way they know–they’re spending money that they shouldn’t. On Friday the Lottery took out a full-page Chicago Tribune ad apologizing for the IOUs and thanking those who still play its games in Illinois.

You can’t make this stuff up. Well, Jonathan Swift could, but I’m not him.

Fed up with years of fiscal insanity, Illinois voters elected Republican businessman and political newcomer Bruce Rauner as governor, sending hapless Chicago Democrat Pat Quinn into retirement. Rauner was the first gubernatorial candidate to win a majority of the Prairie State vote in twelve years, but because of the tyranny of legislative gerrymandering, no seats changed hand in the General Assembly, which have Democratic supermajorities.

Illinois has a backlog of $8.5 billion in unpaid bills. The state is sending IOUs to many of its lottery winners. Perhaps instead of the Land of Lincoln we should be calling Illinois the Land of the IOU.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

11th Doctor: You know, since we’re talking with mouths, not really an opportunity that comes along very often, I just want to say, you know, you have never been very reliable.
Idris (the TARDIS): And you have?
11th Doctor: You didn’t always take me where I wanted to go.
Idris (the TARDIS): No, but I always took you where you needed to go.

Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife 2011

Amy Pond: So, what’s wrong with me?
River Song: Nothing. You’re fine.
11th Doctor: Everything. You’re dying.
River: Doctor!
11th Doctor: Yes, you’re right. If we lie to her, she’ll get all better.

Doctor Who: Flesh and Stone 2010

One of the things about Christianity that is constantly mentioned is “Love”. There is love of God and there is love of neighbor.

There are long detailed theological definitions of love out there and Meriam Webster online offers nine definitions (two involving Tennis) of which #4 is the closest to the theology to Christian , but it’s still insufficient, because it talks only of the desire for good of another.

The reality of love is wanting the good for your neighbor as if your neighbor was yourself and acting accordingly , even if it causes you inconvenience, pain or death. As Christ put it himself:

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

And that’s the thing about love, when you love someone you are willing to accept grief, take for an example a listen to this speech from the Opiate awareness event held earlier this year in Fitchburg:

This lady is willing to take a lot of grief for the sake of loving someone.

And that brings us to Gay Marriage and the whole #lovewins bullshit.

One of the things you’ll find about a Christian is that while we are often accused of hate, the things we generally hate are not actually real individuals Sarah Hoyt put it well

It’s funny, as much as we get accused of “hating” the only things and people I’ve hated are historical people and regimes that have killed millions of their citizens. Yeah, yeah, I hate red and black fascism, aka Nazism and Communism like I hate hell, all Capulets and … well. Not thee. The other things I hate are more things I strongly dislike: Licorice, bad, preachy books, teachers who don’t do their job, cold days. I don’t spend my time sitting around and going “I hate you snow, I do.” I just mumble disconsolately about not being able to walk and my fingers hurting with cold even while inside.

But what happens when a Christian encounters an individual an actual soul the entire equation changes.  A person is not a theoretical construct, it’s a fellow soul, created in God’s image.  For example, one might oppose illegal immigration but if encountering a person who is an illegal immigrant one would not hesitate to help such a person in need.  That’s what Christianity done right does.

It’s similar to what C.S. Lewis Described in Screwtape 6

As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes. But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these people in real life-they are lay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers. The results of such fanciful hatred are often most disappointing, and of all humans the English are in this respect the most deplorable milksops. They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the first wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door.

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

Christians, those who actually believe rather than those who use the religion for fun or profit or power, will always direct their love toward people who actually exist while disliking things they may do or believe.

But love isn’t just giving people what they want and that’s the weapon the forces of Gay Marriage have used against some Christians, it’s what Hoyt called Weaponized Empathy:

This is why they constantly bleat out accusations of racism, sexism, etc… because the Left knows that Conservatives, Libertarians and other non-Progressives are generally pretty decent people and don’t want to feel as if they hurting people or doing a moral wrong. In simple terms, they propose to use our better natures against us.

In the recent Planned Parenthood scandal, Rebecca Watson released a video practically pleading her viewers to believe the entire thing was a lie. Take a look at this screencap.


You can see her pleading expression, the raised eyebrows, her almost innocent look, the locket, etc… Everything is designed to make you believe this woman is in earnest, and how could you possibly disagree with her? Why, you must be some kind of monster if you don’t believe her! This is a classic example of Weaponized Empathy. White Knights, eager to defend the downtrodden woman, eat this sort of thing up. Of course, where the empathy was on her side when babies (one still living) were cut up for parts, nobody seems to know.

Now of course with abortion the game is much easier to see through, there is a body, a baby once that exists that can’t be denied because it’s something you can see.

But unless you’ve had some sort of private revelation (which I suspect are more common that people think)it’s harder with gay marriage, one doesn’t see the cost directly in front of you, but if you take the Catholic Faith seriously the cost is there.

As I’ve said over and over again no amount of belief makes the Catholic faith true, but likewise no amount of disbelief makes it false and if you know it’s true.  If heaven and hell are not concepts but actual facts you also know the cost of unrepented mortal sin is everlasting death.

If you claim Christianity and you excuse mortal sin, or explain away mortal sin or justify it to a person who asks you to do so, then you are loving yourself, not someone else. If one doesn’t have the moral courage or the love, or one wants fame (read Anne Hathaway) one will give into the culture and be cheered for it, rejecting the faith because it will not accept the sins of a loved one.

And because we know this, we’re willing to take the barbs, we’re willing to take the insults, we’re willing to be called haters, willing to be harassed by the culture, by the media, by those on twitter and even in our communities.  We’re willing to be fined and even jailed in order to give the warning, mortal sin will destroy you.

We will endure all of those things in the hope of saving somebody anybody from the fire, a friend, an enemy or a stranger that might hear our argument and think.

That is what love is, being willing to endure these things for the good of another, and when even one person changes their path, or decides to appeal to God for help and you help them save themselves from eternal death, that’s when Love wins.



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