Thursday, February 26, 2009

Judging a book by it's cover...

I always do. Maybe it's the art lover inside me, or the hopeful artist that's been inside me for my entire life, but the cover of a book always speaks, no pun intended, volumes to me. I will reject a book by it's cover as readily as I will grab a book and peruse it's contents simply by the art on the cover, the jacket makes or breaks the attraction for me. So we're told not to judge a book by it's cover, meaning of course, no person should be 'judged' by their appearance, and that makes total sense, but a book? I've not found that to be the case at all.

That being said, what about actions of people? What about Catholics in OBVIOUS error, or sin, in the public eye, proudly voting FOR abortion to remain legal, and yet appearing with ashes on their forehead yesterday? I HOPE they repented of their sins, but yet, when they still promote the murder of babies, what do we as Christians, as faithful, ardent practicing Catholics do? What about our own brothers and sisters in our circle of friends, or our families? Do we keep silent and watch them wreck their lives? Is it more loving to avoid warning them than to actually speak up because of the love burning inside our hearts?

It is written, "They will know we are Christian by our love." Well, our "love" if it's being transformed into the love of Christ, will show and be noticed and "read" by others. They are to judge us as Christians by our love for each other. How have we failed in being that book that someone wants to grab and read? I've failed big remaining aloof when I should speak. By being to talkative when I should be silent. I pray this LENT to HEAR God as Mary did. To be 'RECEPTIVE' to that prompting of the Holy Spirit, and to yield my entire being to Him. I hope to 'smile' when I'd rather frown. To not be so quick to interrupt and insert my opinion on some topic in a conversation and prefer to defer to that still, small Voice, and remain silent. To speak up when I see a brother or sister going the wrong way, erring, 'leaning toward sin' and to speak a word of warning to them. I'm NOT judging their soul's destination, but for the love of Pete, what good am I if I don't let them know what's in store for them, if they continue on that broad and easy path? What if they've accepted a New Age lie and think it's God speaking in their life? Do I just 'let them go' on their merry and woefully wrong way? I hope not. For that is a "spiritual work of mercy" but one that I've been finding very hard to perform. We fail to warn others about sin, (they usually don't see, because sin has blinded them to some extent) because we know how easily we're tempted ourselves, so we remain silent. But just because we're tempted or have also fallen in the past, shouldn't keep us from 'admonishing' others... but of course doing so in and with GREAT LOVE.

What saddens me is that we don't get many 'admonishing' homilies these days. It's really bothering me that the word 'sin' isn't even mentioned except that we're "forgiven our sins." Jesus didn't fail to also warn about sin and the consequences and the destination of those who continually choose sin and do not's called Hell. And Hell is real. It's a real place. Heaven is real, Hell is real. But yet, because no one wants to offend anyone, (or to be thought of negatively) or to lose a member of a parish, we're told mostly of God's love. Of course, that Love is why we're breathing and why we're still all here. He does love us beyond all we can imagine. He lavishes abundant love in us and upon us every day. We ARE forgiven, but we do have to live like we are, right? Love never allows another to 'continue in sin' does not 'look the other way' and it does not 'shove it under the proverbial rug' letting it grow, fester, and ruin a soul. Go and sin no more. That's what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery. Yet nowadays, it's lost it's punch because we don't hear "GO and SIN no more." We instead hear, "Hey, it's ok. You're fine. You're loved. Everything's A-OK. The balance of warning and being gentle is off kilter. The pendulum has gone too far into 'nicey nice' and the warnings of leading a sinful life are hardly ever heard. Maybe it's just me, but is it only Father Corapi, that tells it like it is? No, Mark Mallett also 'gets it.' But what about our parish priests? Why are they so silent when it comes to uttering words of warning? Why? Pride? Ego? Fear? Offering basket? All of the above?

If they [our priests] don't warn us, who will? Isn't it part of their 'job description' anymore? We lay people are too busy with our own lives, family, jobs, to get too involved and risk losing a friend, so we keep mum. But is that what the Lord told us to do? If God's own priests are so fearful, where does that leave us? I think if I were to go to my parish priests, and request a homily on sin and it's consequences, I'd be "scolded" to some extent and reminded that God is love, so we must be kind. There in lies the rub. What is being kind? Is being kind always being comfortable?

I need to be purged of my sins. I don't want to stay attached to even venial sins. They block grace and affect my life keeping me self-absorbed and less attune to the needs of others. Even my own husband. But yet, I hear no warning at Mass. I hear not a word of admonishment uttered. What's up with that? Since when is "church" supposed to constantly make us 'feel good?' We've become so tolerant of everything and everyone, afraid to be honest, and thus we lose integrity, we lose the luster of real Love that "hates sin" yet loving the sinner. We 'love the sinner' more by not even bringing up their visibly obvious sin? How is that love? How do we learn to 'correct one another' in the lay community if our own priests are not attempting to correct us from the pulpit?

I've rattled on long enough. Love is never rude or imposing, and won't ever "push it's views" on another, but love is never silent where sin is concerned either.....or am I wrong?

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