Mr. Scratch: A soul? A soul is nothing. Can you see it, smell it, touch it? 

The Devil and Daniel Webster 1941


Yesterday at the end of Mass our Pastor informed us of a special local event for the year of mercy. There will be a 24 day of prayer and mercy taking place at St. Joseph’s Church in Fitchburg stating at 3 PM EST including confessions being heard round the clock.

What jumped out at me about the announcement was the designation of St. Joseph’s as a place of pilgrimage for the holy year.  This means that if a person meets the usual conditions (1. receiving holy communion, 2. Praying for the Pope’s intentions, 3. Confession either within seven days before or after ) they can receive an indulgence which can be applied to themselves or someone who has died , by simply entering the church any time during the Holy Year. (A Full Plenary indulgence if you have no attachment to sin, a partial if you do)

It is quite possible or even probable that your local bishop has designated a place of pilgrimage in your area.  If he has then you will also have this opportunity to earn this indulgence regularly.

This should be cause for excitement & joy for faithful Catholics.  If it’s not then today’s first reading from morning’s mass about Naaman the Syrian is made for you:

Naaman, the army commander of the king of Aram, was highly esteemed and respected by his master, for through him the LORD had brought victory to Aram. But valiant as he was, the man was a leper.

Now the Arameans had captured from the land of Israel in a raid a little girl, who became the servant of Naaman’s wife.  “If only my master would present himself to the prophet in Samaria,” she said to her mistress, “he would cure him of his leprosy.” Naaman went and told his lord just what the slave girl from the land of Israel had said. “Go,” said the king of Aram. “I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman set out, taking along ten silver talents, six thousand gold pieces, and ten festal garments. To the king of Israel he brought the letter, which read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

When he read the letter, the king of Israel tore his garments and exclaimed: “Am I a god with power over life and death, that this man should send someone to me to be cured of leprosy? Take note! You can see he is only looking for a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his garments, he sent word to the king: “Why have you torn your garments? Let him come to me and find out that there is a prophet in Israel.” Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.”

But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left.

But his servants came up and reasoned with him. “My father,” they said, “if the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”

So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times at the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.

2 Kings 1-15AB

There are few things that better illustrate that most deadly sin of pride than this reading.

Consider Naaman.  Here is a guy who has come to Israel because he’s been told in such a way that he believes it, that he can be cured of his leprosy by this trip.  This is not an easy trip.  He is traveling by caravan from Damascus to the king of Israel with his servants and a bunch of valuable goods in an age when the fastest mode of land conveyance is a horse or camel, and he’s doing it at a time when even Roman roads are far in the future.

His party has to stop to eat, to water and rest their beasts of burden.  The closest thing they have to headlights are torches fueled by oil so they are likely only traveling by day.  Since they’re carrying valuables they have to post guards at night and depending on how many are in the caravan might even be securing their camp with stockade.

Maybe,  if they’re very lucky,  he’s averaging making 3-5 MPH during the travel time from Damascus to the Capital of Israel where he delivers his letter.  That’s 135 miles as the crow flies but God knows how many miles via the trails available at the time, 150 miles?  200 perhaps?

Given all that let’s say he and his people traveling 10 hours a day make the trip in 5 days to a week if nothing goes wrong.

After all that time, all that trouble to get down there in the hopes of being cured of this horrible disease, what does the  prophet do?  He tells him:  Go wash in the local river and you’ll be fine.

And that’s when Naaman gets pissed off!

How DARE he not have me go on a heroic quest.  How is it possible that I don’t have to slay a dragon, climb the highest mountain,  storm a heavily maned fortification through a rain of arrows or recover the lost Ark of the Covenant (rumor has it that’s it’s in a pit somewhere in Egypt)  Naaman the warrior is thinking:  Cripes If all it took is a bath I could have taken one back home and saved the trip.

Some thing never change.

Fast forward to today.  Think of the sacrament of confession.  All you have to do is show up, wait your turn (and it’s not a long wait these days) confess your sins, be sorry, do your penance,  usually just a few prayers and BOOM!  You’re forgiven!

You don’t even have to go to your own church if you’re embarrassed to do so, and in my experience most priests will consent to hear your confession outside the normal hours if you just ask.  How hard is that?  It’s a piece of cake!

So why don’t Catholics go?   The church and Christ offers them the gift of a clean soul practically any time a person wants it and most people don’t bother.  Yet if those same people were given a card unlimited washes at any car wash of their choice they’d be driving through once a day and twice on Sundays.

That’s what confession is, an unlimited car wash coupon for your soul people don’t use it, why?  Usually Pride, I don’t do anything that wrong, and anyways God will forgive me.  Why should I bother confessing to a priest?

Even though Christ tells his disciples directly in the Gospel of John :

“Receive the holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

It’s the same with the Holy Doors and the indulgence.   Even if you’re a person who only goes to Church on Sundays it means that once a week you can earn an indulgence to shorten or eliminate your time in purgatory either for yourself or a loved one , a parent, a friend, a spouse a child simply by taking the extra time to drive to a particular church and walk in?  Here is a chance to completely or partially remove the temporal punishment for forgiven sins and yet how many people are doing it?  I mean if a policeman said, all you have to do is walk though a door and you’d be excused of a Traffic ticket or fine you’d do it in a second.

We look at the story of Naaman and laugh at the idea that he is so offended by the simple task that Elisha give him to be cured.  Yet all over America Catholics are doing the same thing turning down the forgiveness of Christ out of pride.  And remember, if Naaman’s had refused Elisha generous offer the consequences for Naaman’s would have lasted a lifetime.  When you refuse Christ’s generous offer of forgiveness, the consequences.

Naaman was lucky he had servants with a lot of guts willing to challenge his pride saying to him in effect:  Cripes why are you upset that he’s making it easy for you?  Just do it!  Thanks to them he finally consents to bathing in the Jordan and washed clean of his illness.

When pride keeps us from accepting the mercy that Christ & his Holy Catholic Church offer, will we have the wisdom to hear the voice of those telling us, Just do it and have our souls washed clean of our sins?


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The MSM is breathless and laughing my head off:

I suspect Ed Morrissey has reached a point where this ignorance doesn’t phase him as much

none of this should be terribly newsworthy anyway. The Catholic Church teaches that all sins can be forgiven through Christ for those who truly repent and intend to refrain from that sin in the future. That’s true of murder, abortion, and all sorts of other sins. That does not alleviate people from the temporal consequences of sin, but it does allow the truly penitent to offer up their sins to Christ and rejoin the path of salvation. The sacrament of reconciliation exists to bring those who stray back into communion with the Church.

This isn’t just basic Christianity it’s Bible 101

(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:21-23


Ed Further notes in an update that this “big change” isn’t as big as you might think, particularly in the US

My friend Father Z’s post from June 2014 confirms that the procedural change on abortion is mostly an affirmation of what’s already taking place in all American dioceses, under a grant from St. John Paul II:

But the tone of the MSM suggest they are completely surprised that the sin of Abortion can be forgiven. This is this is such basic first grade knowledge that it prompted this tweet from Mollie Hemingway:

Yes Mollie they can in fact their ignorance and desire to support this meme causes them to miss the real groundbreaking news in this announcement, all that is except for John Allen who should hold a symposium for journalist so they can ask him questions about Christianity & the Catholic Church & he can educate them.

The pontiff also decided that any Catholic who confesses his or her sins during the year to a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist breakaway group not approved by Rome, will nevertheless be considered licitly forgiven.

Francis expressed hope on Tuesday that a rupture with the society may be overcome “in the near future,” seeming to style his opening as a prelude to broader reconciliation.

That is HUGE news and Father Z expands on it further (emphasis mine):

Along with this, the fact of Pope Francis’ move, together with the wording, confirms what I have been saying all along about the priests of the SSPX: they do not and have not had the faculty validly to absolve sins! The fact that this is being granted for the Year of Mercy bears out what I have been saying.

That said, if the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy? I would like to think so!

Next, this concession also underscores a point I have been making all along. If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX!


A million souls brought into full communion with the church? Sounds like a winning idea to me!

However I suspect that the media couldn’t tell the difference between the SSPX and the SPCA but if they did know it I suspect they would be horrified at the idea that the Pope is reaching out to them.

If you want to read the bulletin yourself (and you should) it is here, but there is one solid message vital to your eternal existence that the Pope is promulgating, a message that the media wants you to ignore:


Closing thought:

My protestant friends insist that there is no need or purpose for sacramental confession so I would ask them this:

 If Christ didn’t want us to seek forgiveness from within the church why did he explicitly give the Apostles as a whole the capacity to both forgive sins and to hold them bound?  Does that not suggest the need for someone to independently judge is one is truly contrite or just mouthing the words and the need for someone wracked with the guilt of sin to explicitly hear the words: “You are forgiven”?  

It’s one thing to believe you are forgiven, it’s another to hear it spoken aloud like this:

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

You can not comprehend the comfort those words bring to one who needs to hear them.


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I know you can get the MSM for nothing, but that’s pretty much what they’re good for.

Sheldon Cooper: The backwash into this glass is every pathogen that calls your mouth “home sweet home.” Not to mention the visitors who arrive on the dancing tongue of your subtropical girlfriend.
Raj Koothrappali: Hey! That’s my sister and my country you’re talking about! Leonard may have defiled one, but I won’t have you talking smack about the other!
  Bernadette Rostenkowski: You guys ready to order?
Sheldon Cooper: Yes. I’d like a seven-day course of penicillin, some syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting, and a mint.

The Big Bang Theory   The engagement reaction 2011


Saturday morning when I woke up I was brooding a bit.  Like all Christians of all denomination I have to deal with my personal sins and the temptations toward them and like everybody else there are particular sins that I’m inclined toward while there are others that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

The frustration comes when I consider that today I will go to confession and will find myself confessing similar sins to my last visit and while I remember what a priest once told me.  (“What do you want?  New sins?”)  It doesn’t decrease the embarrassment or the frustration.

But the more I think about it the more I realize that I’m falling into the Sheldon Cooper trap.

What does Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory have to do with sin?  It’s like this Sheldon has two types of issues compatible with sin.  One type where he has absolutely no concept that what he is doing is improper such as these two scenes from the episode the Egg Salad Equivalency (2013) First with his assistant Alex

and then with the HR department

Or when he asks Penny this during the episode The White Asparagus Triangulation 2008

In these situations Sheldon is doing something he should not be but he’s completely oblivious to what he’s doing, he doesn’t see what it’s any kind of big deal, in fact he sometimes takes joy in them

Leonard Hofstadter: Hey, where you been?
Sheldon Cooper: I’ll tell you where I’ve been. You boys may have had gelato with Stan Lee and gotten autographed comics, but I saw the inside of his house and got an autographed application for a restraining order.
Howard Wolowitz: [ with sarasiam] Sweet.
Sheldon Cooper: Plus, I get to hang out with him again… at the hearing. This is going to look great, hanging next to my restraining order from Leonard Nimoy.

The Excelsior Acquisition (2010)


The other half of the coin is Sheldon’s obsessive fears.  When something bothers hi, it drives him absolutely nuts

Leonard Hofstadter:Sheldon, let’s go!
Sheldon Cooper: To a hospital? Full of sick people? Oh, I don’t think so.
Penny:Okay, well, your friend and his mother are there. We’re going!
Sheldon Cooper:I can’t.
Penny:Oh, don’t tell me you’re afraid of germs.
Sheldon Cooper:Not all germs. Just the ones that will kill me. The same way I’m not afraid of all steak knives; just the ones that might be plunged in my thorax.

The Big Bang Theory   The engagement reaction 2011

For those of you still unaware  Sheldon Cooper is obsessively afraid of germs & illness as per this scene from the 2008 episode The Pancake Batter Anomaly.


And his fear crosses into every single aspect of his life:

Penny: If this takes off I won’t have to be a waitress anymore.
Sheldon Cooper: But then who will bring me my cheeseburger on Tuesday nights?
Penny: Another waitress?
Sheldon Cooper: What’s her name?
Penny: I don’t know.
Sheldon Cooper: And you’re going to let her handle my food?

The work song nanocluster 2009

And his fears beyond germs go to the point of comic absurdity

Leonard:Just till him to go home
Penny: He won’t leave, he says he’s afraid he’ll pass out on the bus and someone will harvest his organs.

The Pancake Batter Anomaly  2009

So Sheldon is an example of one who is either obsessed to the point of paranoia or oblivious to the point of destruction and there’s no better moment in the series that captures both of these points than the reaction to Penny’s dirty apartment in the 2007 episode The Big Bran Hypothesis.

Both the obliviousness to sin and the obsession with it are manifestations of the sin of pride (of which Sheldon has in abundance) , and  while it makes for emmy winning comedy in the Big Bang theory it also sums up the way Satan plays with sin in ourselves.

If we are oblivious to sin we are willing to commit it with reckless abandon:  it’s no big deal, it’s nothing to worry about, you can always go to confession , everybody sins, it’s just human nature and thus we minimize what we are doing, or we, like Sheldon did in the scene above, decide that our sins are actually a virtue (breaking into Penny’s apartment to clean it) either for a cause or for the good of others.

Then there is the other side of the coin where we obsess over our sins, where we let that obsession paralyze us, make us unable to function, Where we think our sins are so bad or so embarrassing that we don’t even want to confess them.  We may, even get to the point where we become so obsessed with Sin that we spend more time hitting others concerning their sin than worrying about our own.  Or we become obsessed with hiding our sin and become the Whitewashed tombs that Jesus compared the Pharisees to.

What is the answer?  It’s both simple and hard.  We acknowledge our sinfulness and strive to avoid committing it but remember that Jesus Christ had died for them and through the Church and the sacrament of confession they can be washed away.  The Apostle John put it quite well:

My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.  The way we may be sure 2 that we know him is to keep his commandments.

1 John 2:1-3

As has Pope Francis puts it almost as well (emphasis mine)

“‘Oh, Father, if you knew my life you wouldn’t say that.’ ‘Why? What have you done?’ ‘Oh, I’ve done bad things.’ ‘Good! Go to Jesus; He likes you to tell him these things. He forgets. He has the special ability to forget. He forgets them, kisses you, embraces you, and tells you only: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.’ He only gives you this counsel. A month later we are the same … We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because He never tires of forgiving us. Let us ask for this grace.”

That’s the ultimate manifestation of the sin of pride, that we see forgiveness it as an entitlement rather than the gift from God for the asking to the point were we consider the act of asking God for this great gift as a burden an imposition placed on us by God rather than the path to eternal life.

Don’t fall for either extreme, have a healthy respect for the temptations that lead to sin but couple that with the humility to seek the forgiveness freely offered in the confessional when you stumble.

You won’t win an emmy for it, but if you persevere you’ll come home with an even greater prize.


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I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson

Repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented

Jefferson Davis 1881.

What I have written is but a pale shadow of the things I saw [in Hell] . But I noticed one thing: That most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell.

The diary of Saint. Sr. Faustina Kowalska section 741


Yesterday I wrote about Divine Mercy and the sense of frustration that I suspect Christ feels at people refusing to accept the mercy that is offered.

The concept of Mercy is something that we are all familiar with.  In culture, books movies television & song mercy is a topic.  From our childhood  when we misbehaved & asked our parents for it, to the police officer that we hope will give us the warning instead of the ticket we all know about either asking for, or being asked to show mercy.

Mercy is considered a great virtue but in all cases there is one determining factor if it is appropriate, the concept of justice.

The  various moral laws and rules exist to encourage right behavior.  It is for the sake of Justice that a price is paid for violating those laws.  If mercy is granted without acknowledging justice then it is not mercy, it is licence and moreover its licence for things that are self-destructive to the individual, and to society.

The theme of Justice vs Mercy is again one that plays often in culture.  Sometimes leaning toward Mercy:

11th Doctor: But they coming back, don’t you see? Every time I negotiate, I try to understand. Well, not today. No. Today, I honour the victims first. His, the Master’s, the Dalek’s, all the people who died because of my mercy!

Amy: You see, this is what happens when you travel alone for too long. Well, listen to me, Doctor. We can’t be like him. We have to be better than him.

Doctor Who A Town Called Mercy 2012

and sometimes Justice:

Clara: Old friend, is she? If you have ever let this creature live, everything that happened today, is on you. All of it, on you. And you’re not going to let her live again.
12th Doctor: Clara, all I’m doing is not letting you kill her. I never said I was letting her live.
Clara:  Really?
12th Doctor:  If that’s the only thing that will stop you, yes.
Missy/The Master: Seriously. Oh, Doctor. To save her soul? But who, my dear, will save yours?

Doctor Who  Death in Heaven 2014

It can be a tough call, if a kid shoplifts and he doesn’t pay a price, will he be persuaded to stop shoplifting?  If your brother blows is money wastefully & you bail him out of his hole without cost, will he just blow his dough again?  If a boyfriend or spouse cheats and you instantly forgive without even a request why would they not break faith again?  If a gang member or a person of privilege a slap on the wrist will they every change their ways?

It’s the same dynamic with God.  He gives us, as a visiting priest to our parish once put it,  laws because they are good, not the other way around and if we live that way, loving God and neighbor our lives will be better, otherwise  not only will our lives and those around us will be worse, but justice demands a price be paid.

And that’s what those who say:  “I don’t believe a just God would allow the tortures of Hell.”  have it exactly backward.  In the same way life would be meaningless if we didn’t have free will to choose the right or not so would that choice between right and wrong be meaningless without consequence.

Without hell, man has a God of licence not justice.

Yet because God is in fact a God of justice he can also offer mercy.  Since that justice is heavy so too is the price to mitigate it ad it’s to pay that price that Christ became man, suffered and died.  He did the heavy lifting giving so even the worst of us could have the opportunity to receive mercy for even the most horrible of sins.

And with the heavy lifting done, all that’s left for us is the simple acknowledgement of said sacrifice by the act of baptism augmented  by the sacrament of confession which can be repeated as necessary over and over again no matter how many times we fail to obtain the mercy offered.

Yet just like Jeff Davis after the civil war who refused to apply for pardon the simple act of repentance,  that baptism or confession,  involves the acknowledgement of a reality that’s more than their pride can bear.

So while the God of mercy offers it at an astonishingly low price and even gives man their entire life to pay it, many, in fact most will exercise the choice that comes from their freedom and reject it until the time comes when it is too late.  Then they will discover once and for all that the free rejection of God’s mercy is the free acceptance of God’s justice.

There is a reason pride is the first of the deadly sins.

And that’s why you should pray so hard, especially at the hour of mercy (3 PM) for the salvation of souls, even the smallest one will make a difference.


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For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation;  but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation, on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:5b-6


On Monday I was reading a bit from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska.  The revelation to her has led to, not only the institution of Divine Mercy Sunday the week after Easter,  but the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Divine Mercy Chapels worldwide.  This is not only a spectacular triumph over the forces of evil but a great example of what can be done when one is willing to be dedicated to the words of Christ.

However considering the words of said diaries and the revelations therein that I’ve read thus far there is one thing  I’ve perceived that is absolutely painful to read.


The frustration is not so much that people are unaware of the Mercy of God, although St Sr. Faustina was specifically tasked to promote and propagate said mercy, it’s that so few people take advantage of it.

Here you have Christ, God himself,  while remaining fully God becoming man and suffering torture and death for the sins and people don’t bother to take advantage of that sacrifice to be forgiven.

And when Christ says he will forgive sins he means it.  It doesn’t matter what your sin is,  Mass Murder,  Genocide, Rape, Theft on a global scale that sin can be forgiven.  No sin is so large that the blood of Christ and the divine Mercy of God can not forgive it.

Yet people don’t bother.

And it’s not like it’s a difficult procedure either.  If you are a non-christian who has never been baptised it’s incredibly easy.   The act of baptism cleans  ANY & ALL sins from the soul, period!

Even if you are an ISIS terrorist who has been killing and raping his way across the Middle East.  Even if you are an Imam who has been calling for the murder and rape of infidels.  Even if you have spending your entire life doing all you can to disparage God and to persecute the church, the simple act of Baptism changes everything.  Every single sin you have committed to that point, from a simple white lie, to mass murder is washed away.  Forgiven, forgotten  forever.

If you have previously been baptised it’s not very hard either.  There are over 417,000 Priests and Bishops in the world.  Each and every one of them can administer the sacrament of Confession.

Thanks to the nature of the Sacrament of Confession said forgiveness is not even contingent on the perfect contrition for sins due to the love of God, even imperfect contrition due to the fear of hell is good enough to get you absolution.

Nor does committing the sin at a later time preclude you from absolution.  Temptation will always exist but as long as at the time of confession you sincerely regret your sin and intend to not commit it again you will be forgiven!

Two minutes of your life for complete forgiveness,  people spend more time that waiting in line for a coffee…and they don’t do it.

Every moment of life,  the hand of forgiveness is offered and every day people refuse it, ignore it or put it off.

I could be wrong but I think this is the greatest pain that Christ suffers.


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All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question “If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?” You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is!

C.S. Lewis The Screwtape letters

One of the clubs that’s frequently used to discount Christianity in general & Catholicism in particular is the “hypocrisy card” the idea that the commission of and struggles with sin are proof that the entire faith is somehow false and worthy of being dismissed.

Now while a society that does not have the understanding of basic Christianity that it once did,  said society might not realize the entire basis of Christianity is the need for the redemption of sinful man.

A practicing Christian of any denomination has no excuse for ignoring that vital fact and acting accordingly.

I’ve talked about courage as being a vital ingredient to Christian virtue.  To many that statement brings to mind facing an Islamist’s sword when being ordered to convert, facing a lawsuit when refusing to sin or being willing to loudly proclaim their faith in the church in public.

However sometimes a shortage of courage doesn’t involve such dramatic things, sometimes it involves something as small as like facing your priest when you need to confess a sin that’s embarrassing.

Christians sin, sometimes on great matters, sometimes on small matters and sometimes on matters that might to others seems small but still rise to the level of mortal sin or grave sin according to doctrine.  We all know this as rote

But what happens when that person is you.  What happens furthermore when you are a person who knows doctrine, attends daily mass, recognizes a temptation,  understand that temptation is to a grave sin, then commits it anyways?  That realization is an incredible burden.

Not so much for the slings and arrows of those who don’t believe or who dislike Christianity, frankly those are badges of honor and might actually provide relief and distraction from the state of one’s soul, that requires less courage than you might think.

But try facing a priest you know when you’ve committed a sin that embarrasses you.  That’s a different story.  You know in theory the priest doesn’t judge you but you say to yourself.  What must be going through his mind?  He sees you at mass, he sees you pray the rosary, he sees you do devotions, does he think you’re a phony?

And if that’s not complicated enough consider the guidelines for receiving communion per the USCCB (emphasis mine)

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

and remember “being embarrassed by your sin” does not constitute a “grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession”.

I found myself in that situation last week and found myself in a quandary.  I had been wrestling with sin and received confession but within a couple of days I was in the same boat.  Because I am familiar with the norms I couldn’t in good conscience receive communion but I still didn’t approach my priest, embarrassed not only by my sin but at how soon after confession I had fallen into it.

I found myself skipping communion one day,  then another.  I couldn’t bring myself to sit in my normal spot at Mass staying in the back.  I felt every eye was on me “Why isn’t HE going up for communion, what did he do?”  Oddly enough the temptation of the primary sin that put me in this mess was gone, it wasn’t needed, that introductory sin  had already roped me into the much more effective and deadly sin of pride which was rapidly joined to despair.  I found myself judging not the others but myself,  judging the sincerity of my own prayers condemning myself and tricking my way toward the only unforgivable sin not seeking and accepting forgiveness that was there for the asking.

It was a trap worthy of the master psychologist who set it for me:

In this state your patient will not omit, but he will increasingly dislike, his religious duties. He will think about them as little as he feels he decently can beforehand, and forget them as soon as possible when they are over. A few weeks ago you had to tempt him to unreality and inattention in his prayers: but now you will find him opening his arms to you and almost begging you to distract his purpose and benumb his heart. He will want his prayers to be unreal, for he will dread nothing so much as effective contact with the Enemy. His aim will be to let sleeping worms lie.

Then an interesting thing happened while I was at mass one morning I noted a person I had seen many times but I had never formally met.  It was a mother with young children.  I had often seen her at daily mass and admired her willingness to make mass daily with young (and sometimes difficult) children in tow.   I remembered how hard that was once a week so her ability to do it nearly daily really impressed me.  So when mass was over I introduced myself complemented her and thanked her for her example.  This  produced a welcome smile on her face as she did her best to control her rather active toddler.

At that point it hit me how small my worries were next to hers and approached the priest near the altar asking if he had time to hear my confession.  By an odd coincidence there was another woman ahead of me who was making the same request.  The priest told me that he would be happy to do so but there were two ahead of me so he suggested I wait in the back of the church till he had finished with his post mass duties and he would hear our confessions in order.

I went to a pew near the back of the church and knelt down in prayer waiting for the priest, a few minutes later started heading for the confessional in the back of the church.  I knew the woman next to me was ahead of me so I turned around to see who was first and that’s when I saw that pious young lady toddler in hand enter the confessional just behind the priest.

I laughed aloud and it was a laugh of relief  This young lady provided me with the final example I needed.  Here I was worrying about how going to confession a few days early would look and here was this woman whose piety I admired taking the sacrament with humility (it hit me that she also had skipped communion staying in the crying room but at the time I presumed it was due to the rambunctious child).  When I got into the confessional I poured out my sins, not just the base one that got the ball rolling but the pride and despair as well.

Father listened intently and gave me one other important perspective.

He talked of the great saints and how they attended confession but not just that they received the sacrament for the sake of receiving it but how they perceived their own sins and how those sins pressed upon them.  While others saw them as examples the more advanced they progressed in the faith, the better their understanding of God the more conscious they were of their own inadequacies and failures like a professional carpenter seeing a beam that’s a 1/32″ off line or a support that’s failing when  an untrained person or amateur eye might not see a thing.  To the casual observer they were the holiest of men and women, to themselves, experienced in the way of Christ & the Church they saw themselves as they were and did not hesitate to ask for the forgiveness and absolution that they needed to progress further.

It’s one thing to know something in your head, it’s another to have the understanding written on your soul.

I left that confessional in tears from the joy of absolution and with the knowledge that the relief & release I was feeling from my sins was the very same as the great saints whose path each one of us are called to follow and that young woman will likely never know how she helped me back on the path I needed to be.

Without question the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Imagine just for a second that the IRS is interested in you.

Imagine that you have not filed for years, have underpaid your taxes, have dodged taxes, owe back taxes or most serious of all, support conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular.

What if you were in any of those situations and the IRS said to you: “Tell you what, if you come into the office and say you’ll do your best to follow the tax laws they will not only leave you alone, but you wouldn’t even have to pay any money you owed back.

If you were convinced it wasn’t some kind of trap wouldn’t you jump on that kind of deal?

This is the question that my Parish Priest asked when it comes to confession.

As a sacrament Confession is amazing, the priest exercises the power Christ has given the apostles to forgive sins in his name even to a person who doesn’t have perfect contrition for said sins.

The forgiveness is free, all you have to do is come and get it, yet so many Catholics do not choose to take it.

Barring massive stupidity, one must conclude that a person who claims Catholic belief who is lying about belief who fails to take advantage of this sacrament of salvation has to have the worse case of the sin of pride there is.

There is a reason why the sin of pride is first on the list.

Never forget the one unforgivable sin, is to refuse forgiveness.


Olimometer 2.52

For the 2nd week in a row I’ve failed to make the weekly paycheck putting me on a pace to be over $400 shy of my mortgage payment this month.

One should whenever possible look at the positives, first of all the paycheck did much better than last week and more importantly this is the start of a new week so anything is possible.

At least it is if you decide it is.

I’ll do what I can to earn it.

Ok let’s start from the beginning.

After a tenacious effort on Stacy part Alyssa Milano gives Robert Stacy McCain a tweet.

Stacy being properly grateful remembers said re-tweet and in the middle of a rule five style post involving Ace chooses instead to defend her honor. At the end of an emotional day off the net I notice Stacy’s post, write a little something about honor and loyalty and bring up my own tweet from William Shatner.


Said tweet in the eyes of my sons and their college friends still producing a higher coolness factor in their eyes than 2 years on the radio and credentials for Presidential events and Scott Brown debates.

Stacy notices the post, and tweets out suggestions concerning bringing said fundraiser to a successful conclusion and said tweets end up generating his own tweet from William Shatner,


and a follow up post on the subject.

Now despite efforts from loyal readers early on (Thanks to all of you) and some pushing from Sissy Wills my fundraiser had been dead in the water for days. I’ve been wondering how I was going to pay a bill due Thursday.

When I woke up this morning on this twelfth day of Christmas with my wife at work I turned on the laptop and checked e-mail and found I had tip jar hits from Brendan, Tanjia, Two Roberts and Jeff which were enough to bring me over the top to solve my problem.

Before anything else let me thank them and all the others who kicked in to get to my $600 goal but lets look at the events one more time.

Alyssa Milano tweets Stacy, William Shatner Tweets me, Stacy put up a post defending Alyssa Milano, I post on Stacy Loyalty, Stacy notices my post, tweets out my fundraiser, Stacy is Tweeted by Shatner, Stacy posts on the Shatner Tweet, I wake up and my fundraiser is completed successfully.

Apparently without Alyssa Milano and William Shatner tweeting my friend Stacy, he doesn’t post on my fundraiser and it doesn’t end successfully, but there is one more event in this sequence I didn’t mention yet.

Although her funeral mass was yesterday, my mother died on Dec 13th. It had been a miserable Christmas for me and mine, we really didn’t celebrate and almost every family tradition from the open house on down was discarded this year and I did a horrible job of bringing the family out of a faithless funk of a Christmas Season.

I last went to confession the day before my mother died. Yesterday I finally went to confession again.

Within 24 hours of that confession Stacy Writes his post, I write mine, Shatner Tweets Stacy, Stacy Writes his follow up post and my fundraiser ends successfully.

My thanks to Stacy, Bill, Alyssa and all the tip jar hitters for their actions leading to these events, but I believe the first thanks goes to the one who provided the grace to allow these events to take place.

As a very Catholic Blogger you would think I wouldn’t need to be reminded of these things, but then again people forget that even the Pope has a confessor.

Father Larry Richards gave a talk on Confession that was both informative and funny:

He spoke on scripture and the need to read it

And on daily prayer:

And he spoke on Masturbation a subject that you don’t get a lot of talk at Church

He’s not taking excuses:

You can buy the entire speech from this link.

One of the side effects of the move of my show to Saturday Mornings has been a disruption in my faith life.

My parish has confession at noon on Saturdays. Since the show moved to 10 to noon I haven’t had the chance to go to confession there or at my normal backup confession spot.

During the time I missed confession I was in a car accident, I lost almost two weeks of door to door and ad sales for the show slumped despite the station’s acquisition of the Boston Red Sox and the fact that my show will be leading into it.

This week due to BC Basketball the show was preempted for one hour. Because of this I got home just before noon and decided to go to confession while I had the chance.

Since that day my car turned up ready 4 days early, my wife picked up a full-time job and I’m had more sales today than I had the entire month of March.

Make of that what you will.

I took confession with a different priest than I usually do this week. Although normally one doesn’t talk about said sacrament, he said something to about coping with adversity that is important to remember.

“You are going through your Good Friday”, he said to me, “But remember, every Good Friday has its Easter.”

These words really hit me, It reminded me that at any time Christ could have decided to take up the challenge to come down from the cross but did not because he knew the suffering of Good Friday would lead to the triumph of Easter.

It is a lesson I will endeavor to keep in my heart.

Welcome Anchoress readers: Check out my latest Examiner column on tea parties here . See why the Anglican church is dying here. See parallels to Egypt vs Coptics and Obama vs Catholics. And check back this afternoon for my take on the final episode of Saving Grace.

My son and I got to the men’s conference a bit before 7:30 a.m. There was already a small group of men who where there waiting at the doors which where shortly opened and a flow of men of all ages were quickly up the escalators and into the main exhibitor area. Where a plethora of Catholic books of all types and subjects awaited us. From the Saints, the popes, apologists of every type and historical books were available almost everywhere.

For people from my parish St. Anthony Di Padua you couldn’t help but notice the number of people you knew. St. Anthony parishioners were everywhere.

You bumped into them everywhere you went.

For myself I also recognized many fellow members of the Knights of Columbus. Three different tables where setup. One concerning Membership, one on our insurance program and a third on a new programs on Christian Fatherhood called Fathers for good.

We got ourselves into the main hall pretty quick but for some reason Danny grabbed seats toward the center of the room in the third batch of seats. I had figured on being a lot closer but as long as we could see and hear the speakers we were good. Last years crop was pretty good, we hoped to do as good this year, we weren’t disappointed.

The Opening Speaker was Michael Matthew Kelly who was absolutely fantastic. Kelly’s thesis was twofold, first that Catholics have forgotten our history reminding us that things such as education for the non noble and medical care such as hospitals came from the Church. He then gave a list of what he called the seven Pillars of the Church and he put them in order:

1. Confession. He argued that like any athlete we will do better with a coach who knows us (a confessor) and he reminded of the necessity of confession because of our capacity to create God in our image.

2. Daily Prayer He stressed the need for good habits to set the direction of our day saying that our actions will follow our thoughts and reminded us that the Saints are the most diverse group in history.

3. The Mass He suggested the goal to look for one thing from each mass by which we could become better (suggesting a journal) And reminded us that the first person in history to leave right after communion was Judas.

4. The Bible He reminded us to start with the Gospels to find out who Jesus was, stressing that Jesus proclaimed himself God not giving other choices. He stated we avoid scripture because we don’t want to change.

5. Fasting He suggested that it was spiritual discipline. And fasting can be as easy as wanting Steak and taking chicken, wanting coke and having juice.

6. Spiritual Reading He reminded us that he we become what we read. People who question us deserve answers and how can we provide them if we don’t study or faith?

7. The Rosary He made one of the best Marian arguments I’ve heard reminding us that we would not hesitate to pray for someone else if asked so why not ask Mary and the Saints to pray for us. Nobody see the life of the child like the mother.

He seemed a tough act to follow but Jessie Romero followed him and told of his time on the LA police force and his time as a “culturally Catholic Latino.

He told of what happened when he read the Gospels and realized who and what Jesus was. By his 35 miracles he demonstrated who and what he was. He broke Christians down into three groups.

Wishbones: One day I’ll be better
Jawbones: Those who talk the Talk and don’t walk the walk
Backbones: “I’ve got Jesus bring it on!”

He told spectacular tales of evangelicalism on the streets in LA to gang members and criminals of all types, packing his weapon, and his holy water.

He impressed me and I spoke to him afterward outside where I was given a box lunch along with the exibitors so I missed a good chunk of Msgr. Swetland’s talk on Confession. When I came back in he stressed the need for the sacrament and it’s biblical origins. At the conclusion of his talk came the time for confession and lunch. 50 priests were there including Bishop McManus. As an older priest who seemed very familiar sat next to me I decided I didn’t need to go to the Bishop who was free and stood where I am. At the end of confession the priest commented on my fedora approvingly. Thanking him I introduced myself asking who he was. He lifted the red cap on the chair next to him and that how I met Auxiliary Bishop George Rueger.