In his column today, Pat Ludwa addresses something that seems to be misunderstood: scruples. Many mistake it as being overly cautious and seeing things that aren't there, seeing sin when there is none and presuming God will punish the person for the sin. That is one extreme. The other end of the spectrum is not worrying about anything at all, presuming God will forgive anything and everything. In today's column Pat points out that we need to find the middle road and encourages close scrutiny without dwelling on it for endless hours. He refers to "scrupulosity" as being careful and upright, not hesitant or being overly scrutinizing. And, backing it up with Scripture, shows that A little scrupulosity can be a good thing! in his column today. See VIEW FROM THE PEW
In other places, students are graduating from high school. As they enter college though, they find that they can't understand the text books. Their papers are being torn to pieces over grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and content. Employers are finding it difficult to find employees ready to enter the work place. Even in the military, officers are being given classes on basic English in their basic courses because of the rash of misspelled words, etc. What happened?
What happened is what has been happening in many parts of the world. Some are not enforcing the standards that do exist, and in other places, others are lowering the standards that do exist. In many parts of the US, educational profiency tests are showing that students are woefully lacking in basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. For many, this has called for them to call for a change of the tests, not a change in the educational system. If the tests shows that 50% of the kids can't read at the level they should, the problem is not with the kids or the system, but the test.
For others, the standards remain, but in order not to offend or damage a child's ego, they're allowed to continue as though nothing is wrong, until it's too late. Why? Are we telling our children that they're incapable of attaining a standard and holding to it? We're not only telling our children that in education but in life as well. In many states, the sex education classes are coming under fire. Many want a sex ed class that emphasizes abstinence, not prevention. Many call this absurd and dangerous. That some 60% of teens (according to some polls) are engaging in sex and therefore we need to teach them how to have sex while avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) as well as pregnancy. Are we telling our kids that they're too weak, too animalistic to control their sexual impulses? Many say that it's unrealistic to expect teens to control their sexual tensions until their wedding night. I wonder how they'd feel if their son's and/or daughter's were the object of someone's releasing their 'sexual tensions'?
But there is a standard that we are called to hold to.
Pretty tough to do, especially when we also read that: "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41).
We are called to perfection. We are called to live a life in accordance with God's will. But today, we hear of many saying that that's being too hard on ourselves; t hat we are being far too scrupulous. Basically, the term means to imagine that something is a sin, when, in fact, it isn't. Or a sin is venial, while one thinks it's mortal. However, today, many feel that being scrupulous means that we see anything as a sin. Recently, in the "Today" show, an author said that even the Pope said that there was no such thing as hell. (I seriously doubt that he quoted the Pope correctly) And that when we meet God that we'll be surprised that we worried about anything, worried about sin at all!
"Have fun, do what you like, when you like, how you like. God loves you too much to punish you."
Now obviously, the opposite can be bad as well. We read how people used to scourge themselves in atonement for sins. Where 'anything' done in pleasure, was a sin.
Either extreme is a sin of presumption. Presuming in God's mercy to the effect that we can do as we please without consequences, and presuming in God's punishment in condemning ourselves over the smallest of sins? Plain and simple, presumption is a sin.
I heard a homily where the priest recounted a confession he heard from child. Evidently, the child confesses to adultery. It was obvious that she didn't understand what adultery meant. But she obviously did something that caused her distress and guilt. Something she 'defined' as adultery. Maybe she snuck a cigarette or a sip of Dad's beer. Wrong? Yes. A serious sin? No. Did she get a correct teaching from her confessor? Or did he 'implicitly' ridicule her for her confession?
Is a "little scrupulosity" a bad thing? I don't think so. Better an error of commission than omission. I'd prefer to hear that I confessed a sin that wasn't a sin, than sin and dismiss it.
We all sin, we all fall. Some of our falls are minor, some are major. Some are habitual. But isn't it better to shoot for a higher set of standards rather than lower the standards to suit our needs and wants?
We try, we struggle toward perfection. Very few attain it, if any. In fact, if the lives of the saints are any indication, the closer we come to God, the more 'scrupulous' we become. Saints who we see as living perfect lives, considered themselves the worst sinners.
But we're telling our children, and ourselves, that this is an unattainable goal, an impossible standard. For us, it is, but not for God. Therefore, we 'work' toward that goal of perfection.
"Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:26-27).
If we don't try to holds to these standards, are we truly doing as God wants? Or are we doing what we want?
So, working toward the high standards God has given us, we know our weakness and acknowledge that.
So, we rely on the Lord to forgive us, strengthen us, and help us attain our goal.
So, with this new year just about three weeks old, let us strive toward perfection. Not relying on ourselves, but God. Not to our interests, but God's. Let us make a resolution to strive to be perfect, as our Father is perfect. Working out our salvation with fear and trembling and hoping in His love and grace to bring us to our goal. Perfect love and peace with God in Heaven.
Pax Christi, Pat
Today we continue with our new series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith, concentrating on the Books of the New Testament with today presenting the introduction to Paul's Letter to the Thessalonians. For the ninety-second installment, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH
While at Athens, Paul, fearing lest the persecution which continued against the Church at Thessalonica should cause his new converts to abandon the faith sent Timothy to ascertain conditions in the Church, and to confort and strengthen its members. Timothy reported to Paul at Corinth, bringing the cheering news of their constancy in the face of persecution. He likewise informed Paul that the Thessalonians required further instruction on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and this topic forms the main doctrinal subject of the Epistle, which was written shortly after Timonth's return from Thessalonica. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written soon after the First, and these two Epistles are generally regarded as the earliest of Paul's writings.
On this day six years ago the French Senate opened the floodgates for the culture of death by refusing to acknowledge that an embryo is a human being created by God. Despite vocal pleading by the Bishops of France, the blind legislatures turned their back on the Sanctity of Life and defeated the measure by a count of 294 to 21, thus giving rise to extensive embryionic experimentation and an encouragement of abortions in order to provide more embryos. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Death of Saint Sebastian, Martyr. For more on this extraordinary martyr, see DAILY LITURGY.
Death of Saint Neophytus, young teenage martyr who was murdered for his faith by the regime of the Roman Emperor Galerius at Niceae.
Death of Saint Euthymius the Great, Abbot. Every year as a priest, this Armenian-born holy man would retire to a mountain in total solitude to fast and pray from the feast of the Epiphany to Easter Sunday. He died in Palestine at the age of 95.
Election of Cardinal Giovanni de Sabina as Pope Sylvester III. His pontificate would last only twenty days. For a time he took the place of his predecessor and successor Pope Benedict IX who was elected Sovereign Pontiff three times. Sylvester was caught in the middle because of the factions known as the pro-papal Guelphs and the pro-monarchy Ghibellines. Even though Benedict would issue an interdict against Sylvester and proclaim the latter an antipope, Benedict did not have the authority at the time and it was never fully recognized by the Church. Therefore, Sylvester III remains a legitimate Pope, the 146th successor of Peter.
Death of Saint Eutochium Calafato a Poor Clare nun who envisioned Christ crucified in a mystical vision Who told her she needed to reform the laxity in the convents. She received permission to found a stricter convent and became its abbess. She died at the age of 35 as a victim soul. Two centuries after her death her body was exhumed in Messina and discovered to be incorrupt verifying her sanctity.
The death knell rings in France when the French Senate rejects a motion that would have asserted that an embryo is a human being. Because of this rejection it opened the door to extensive embryonic experimentation which the French Bishops lobbied so hard against.
Historical Events in Church Annals for January 20:
Death of Pope Saint Fabian, Martyr. For more on this 20th successor of Peter, see DAILY LITURGY.
288 A.D. Death of Saint Sebastian, Martyr. For more on this extraordinary martyr, see DAILY LITURGY.
310 A.D. Death of Saint Neophytus, young teenage martyr who was murdered for his faith by the regime of the Roman Emperor Galerius at Niceae.
473 A.D. Death of Saint Euthymius the Great, Abbot. Every year as a priest, this Armenian-born holy man would retire to a mountain in total solitude to fast and pray from the feast of the Epiphany to Easter Sunday. He died in Palestine at the age of 95.
1045 A.D. Election of Cardinal Giovanni de Sabina as Pope Sylvester III. His pontificate would last only twenty days. For a time he took the place of his predecessor and successor Pope Benedict IX who was elected Sovereign Pontiff three times. Sylvester was caught in the middle because of the factions known as the pro-papal Guelphs and the pro-monarchy Ghibellines. Even though Benedict would issue an interdict against Sylvester and proclaim the latter an antipope, Benedict did not have the authority at the time and it was never fully recognized by the Church. Therefore, Sylvester III remains a legitimate Pope, the 146th successor of Peter.
1458 A.D. Death of Saint Eutochium Calafato a Poor Clare nun who envisioned Christ crucified in a mystical vision Who told her she needed to reform the laxity in the convents. She received permission to found a stricter convent and became its abbess. She died at the age of 35 as a victim soul. Two centuries after her death her body was exhumed in Messina and discovered to be incorrupt verifying her sanctity.
1994 A.D. The death knell rings in France when the French Senate rejects a motion that would have asserted that an embryo is a human being. Because of this rejection it opened the door to extensive embryonic experimentation which the French Bishops lobbied so hard against.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"The world thinks that the highest things must be used for the lowest, for example, the intellect to make surplus wealth. The man of God believes that the lowest must be used for the highest, that is, money must be spent to help spread Divine Truth, to solace the afflicted and to cure the sick that their souls may be free to work out their salvation. The truest answer to 'You can't take it with you' is: 'You can, provided you give it away!' Then it is stored up as merit in the next life."
Today is the Second Thursday in Ordinary Time as well as the Feast of the early martyrs Pope Saint Fabian and Saint Sebastian while tomorrow we commemorate the Feast of another martyr - Saint Agnes. For the readings, liturgies, meditations, and the profile on these saint, see DAILY LITURGY.
St. Sebastian was born shortly after Pope Fabian's death. He became a Roman army officer and converted to Christianity, rescuing Christians who had been unjustly accused. He discovered that Christian twin brothers MarcusandMarcellinus, who had been imprisoned and tortured, were close to succumbing to the enticing offers of pagan relatives to give up their faith. Sebastian encouraged them to stand by Christ and die for Him if necessary. This was confirmed by a miraculous light shining about him as he spoke. Sebastian cured countless sick through prayer and, by his example, led many pagans to the true faith. He encouraged all to not be afraid to die for the faith for Heaven would be their reward for their loyalty to the Son of God. Sebastian even experienced a visit from one of his disciples who had been martyred. This disciple came back to tell him about Heaven and that his own time to die was at hand. Betrayed by a false disciple, he was condemned to death by the emperor Diocletian and shot with arrows. Left for dead, he miraculously was healed by Divine intervention and proceeded to go right back into the teeth of the enemy, pleading for Diocletian to stop the senseless slaughter of Christians. But the emperor's soul was already satan's and he sentenced Sebastian to be beaten to death by brutal clubbing. This saint holds the honor of a double martyrdom or "Martyr Extraordinaire."
"For He healed many, so that as many as had ailments were pressing upon Him to touch Him. And the unclean spirits, whenever they beheld Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, 'Thou art the Son of God.' And He charged them strictly not to make Him known."
NOTE: We respectfully recognize and accept the final authority regarding apparitions, locutions and prophecies presently being reported around the world rests with the Holy See of Rome and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to whose judjment we humbly and obediently submit.
Dear children! This is the time of grace. Little children, today in a special way with little Jesus, Whom I hold in my embrace, I am giving you the possibility to decide for peace.Through your 'yes' for peace and your decision for God, a new possibility for peace is opened. Only in this way, little children, this century will be for you a time of peace and well-being. Therefore, put little newborn Jesus in the first place in your life and He will lead you on the way of salvation. Thank you for having responded to my call.