Think about it. Read his words and you'll see the bishop nails Bill Clinton's problem even though he never knew of the man. That is why it is so difficult to have one iota of confidence in Clinton today in matters that can greatly affect our temporal future, not to mention spiritual future. Do you honestly feel comfortable having a draft-dodger who lives by the lie holding court over a powerful military that could thrust us into World War Three over the Kosovo crisis? This has nothing to do with politics, but rather people. That, as Clinton has exhibited time and time again, means very little to the commander-in-chief - whether on the front lines or in the womb! Bishop Sheen alerts us to the clarion of truth, prefacing in the simplest fashion all that Pope John Paul II has communicated in his talks, documents and encyclicals throughout his magnificent pontificate including Splendor veritas and his latest Fides et ratio. Bishop Sheen talks about mining for the truth and that once one finds it, they had better hang on to it for if they lose it, it could sink back into the soil of self and be lost. He delineates, as does the Holy Father, between speculative truth which are the sciences, and practical truth which deals with ethics and morals. While Clinton et alii may be on top of the speculative truths, they are sorely lacking in the practical truths. That is not speculation, but rather truth! You can't get more practical then that!
Another "prospector" of the speculative truths is Ted Turner - the "Mouth of the South" - who we lambasted last week in these pages for his insensitivities to Catholics and the Pope, not to mention the Polish people. Even though he has apologized for his remarks, do you think he would have made them if he didn't believe his own words? Sure he has been accused over the years of having diahrrea of the mouth, but the actions of "Captain Outrageous" belie the fact that his words were misconstrued or that he didn't really mean what he said. He apologized for one reason and one reason only; not because he was sorry for his behavior but because it riled so many and made him look like the buffoon he is. His remarks triggered a back-lash that was unforeseen by this "modern luminary" as his press clippings describe him. Outside of the narrow and like-minded robots in the Washington, D.C. gathering of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association where Turner delivered his outrageous and terribly offensive remarks, there was a huge uproar that made headlines world-wide. He's not worried about what the Pope thinks, but his advisors are concerned with world opinion. Being the king of his media empire, Turner is one of those on whose head the crown wears uneasily. Some might say the crown wouldn't fit; his head is so bloated. His apology was nothing but a mandatory way to stop up the dam of public opinion against him. It was politically expedient to say "I'm sorry" without a bit of sincere contrition. In fact his paper apologies came through press releases. He wasn't man enough to publicly apologize to the Holy Father and to Catholics, the Polish people, and decent citizens the world over.
Catholics are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation which is especially pertinent this time of year during the holy and solemn season of Lent. Our Lord beseeches us time and again to forgive and be forgiven. But He also entreats us to "Go thy way, and from now on sin no more." (John 8: 11). Therefore, we should surmize that if Ted Turner and Bill Clinton and their ilk are truly sorry for their actions that they will take up Christ's counsel and amend their ways. We'd like to believe that, but, to paraphrase an old farmer's tale, "we didn't just fall off the turnip truck." Or, to use another, saying, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Therefore, we are highly dubious of their sincerity when they say "I'm sorry" because of the signals and behavior they exhibit after their contrition. It has become all lip-service for the spin-meisters who also don't have a clue what Truth is or else they wouldn't perpetuate these prevarications.
Bishop Sheen also wrote, "Self-will always repudiates a truth which challenges it." That, in a nutshell, is why men like Clinton and scores of politicians from the local level to the congressional plateau in all parties, as well as Turner, his media cronies and unscrupulous businessmen all repudiate God's truths because His statutes challenge their thinking and depraved way of life. Just as Jesus warned against tempting the Lord nearly two-thousand years ago, this visionary bishop of a generation ago also reiterated Christ's words and put it so clearly and simply. Regardless if it is the President of the United States, Congress, big business or in our local community or even family, true contrition means resolving to make amends for our life. Turner's propensity for abortion and promoting immorality on his networks and in his film companies are the greatest evidence that he is in no way contrite. Clinton's determination to push the culture of death agenda, his latest in promoting stem cell research from the embryos of aborted babies despite vehement protests from pro-life congressmen (see today's News & Views), make it obvious that he has no intentions of amending his ways. Yet, according to the polls, he remains popular for many share the same disdain of truth because if Clinton would be held up as the "sacrificial lamb" they would have to face themselves and their consciences. That is why so many politicians refuse to lay blame so close to home; that is why so few celebrities in entertainment and sports will speak out against the politically correct stance that contradicts God's Will; that is why so many Americans don't want to rock the boat for they are "comfortable" in their amoral zone as long as the economy is good. But the Blessed Virgin Mary has said time and again that our economy will collapse and no politician can prevent that, only prayer! Yet prayer, like the dinosaur, is becoming extinct in this land founded on God's principles. Like the chosen people of the Old Testament, Americans have turned away from God during these "good times." The younger the generation, the more spoiled and soft. We all need to don our spiritual jogging apparel and start exercising regularly for the good of America's soul and our own.
Bishop Sheen has bequeathed so much truth in his writings over the years, showing us the simplicity of faith and the maxim Our Lord left in Mark 10: 15, that Amen I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a little child will not enter into it." Today the good bishop looks down from Heaven and continues to encourage us just as he stated so clearly in his writings and talks. We need to read and remember the wise words he left us and keep in mind, folks, it's not politics, it's truth! It's that simple!
It is as though there is FEAR of scaring people or FEAR of OFFENDING someone by this teaching. And yet, mortal sin is a reality. Hell is a reality. Jesus spoke of hell in Scripture. And what sends souls to hell is UNREPENTANT mortal sin, that is, mortal sin that has not been told in confession or forgiven by an act of PERFECT CONTRITION when one is not able to get to confession. (Perfect contrition is being sorry ABOVE ALL because we have offended God, Who is All Good, not because we will be punished.)
Mortal sin is THE reason why Jesus went through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Mortal sin is what can separate a soul from God forever.
Mortal sin is saying "NO!" to God in a serious matter. Mortal means "deadly." You see, when God gave us the Ten Commandments, He wasnít kidding. The Ten Commandments are exactly that - COMMAND - MENTS. God did not call them SUGGESTIONS.
Contrary to what Ted Turner said recently, the Ten Commandments are NOT out of date. (By the way, Ted Turner, is far from being God, therefore, he certainly does not have wisdom equal to or superior to God.)
God is unchanging, eternal. Human nature, also, has not changed since Adam and Eve. If we are something other than human, then what other species have we become?
We are in the season of Lent. This is the time for us to take an honest look at ourselves and our relationship to God. What are the obstacles in our lives that are keeping us from loving God as we should.
Certainly, mortal sin is what we must be concerned about first and foremost, for it is the worst obstacle to our salvation.
We have almost two generations of young people that have not been adequately taught their faith. For them, mostly, I wish to "reteach" how one can tell IF they have committed serious or mortal sin. These are the criteria and if even one is missing, no mortal sin has been committed.
Jesus said: "If you love Me, keep My Commandments." During this Lent, therefore, it is necessary for us to root out any mortal sins in our lives, if there are any. If not, then we should take an honest look at what venial sins we are committing. Thatís the topic for next week. Stay tuned and meanwhile, please be thinking about making an honest and good confession before Easter.
God bless you!
Our Lady says that what is important to note here is the love, the desire to be faithful to Jesus. I see our dear Lord seated upon a stone bench benath the canopy of a leafy tree. The apostles have spread their mantles upon the ground, and are sitting on them, as close to Jesus as possible. John, the beloved discipline of pure heart, is next to Jesus, leaning against His right knee in an attitude of a trusting child, hungering for every word from His Master's lips. Peter is close, also. He is short of stature, but very intense, almost pensive. In fact, I am given to understand that all of the apostles, except John, are pensive. This is an interior agitation as they fight internally to deny or put off the reality that their Master, the Messiah, is soon to be condemned, to die, that Scripture might be fulfilled.
Our Lord knows well their interior struggle. But He is gentle and kind, constantly praying for them that their fear may dissipate and their faith be strengthened.
As our Lady directs me to look about I notice one apostle is leaning nonchalantly against an arbor over which vines have grown and whose cool greenery contrasts dramatically with his pompous attire and attitude.
This is Judas the Iscariot, Judas of Kerioth, who leans like a mischievous school boy, whose gaze is not fixed upon the Master, but whose eyes scan his brother apostles. There enfolds his lips a cynical smile, and then his entire attention wanders off, as if he were impatient for Jesus to be finished.
It troubles me greatly to look at Judas. But for now I am unable to look away. In his eyes, the cock of his head, the curve of his lips, the manner of his dress and his over-all posture, I see much of myself at various times of my life. I "see" with my soul's eyes the outer markings of pride. I "see" how this pride stiffens one's spine, while killing the true strength of the soul. His inattentiveness instantly recalls to my mind the many times I have been bored and have allowed my attention to stray - to day dream of things not of God.
It becomes very clear to me that in all men there is a little Judas Iscariot, but that these evil tendencies can be and must be completetly subdued and rooted out by our "attentiveness" to Jesus, Who is life.
Then I look again at Jesus and see how attentive He is to all His beloved apostles. He is very aware of Judas, but shows no reaction. I am given to understand that Jesus loves Judas for what he might yet be, should he will to be repentant and humble. Jesus, as God, loathes what exists already in Judas' heart and soul: evil that is so obvious to the eyes of the soul. How hideous does evil appear before God, Who is all-good! Yet even at this moment Jesus is praying for Judas, as He prays for the other apostles, each of whom still has great weaknesses and will face many purifying trials ahead.
Self-will always repudiates a truth which challenges it. However successful self-will may be, it is never satisfied; that is why the egotist is always critical. The "head that wears the crown is uneasy," not because he is tired of the crown, but because he is tired of himself. He has it within his power to do anything he pleases, and this living without boundaries and limitations becomes as dull and stagnant as a swamp. A river must be happier than a swamp because it has banks and boundaries; a swamp is a valley of liberty that lost its shores and became "liberal."
The only ones who are truly free from the bondage and the burden of self are those who hold to a truth. "The truth will make you free," said Our Divine Lord (John 8: 32). Only the boxer who knows the truth about fighting is free to stay on his feet. Only the one who knows the truths of engineering is free to build to build a bridge that will stand. The lover of truth is under an eternal law of rectitude; as he submits to it, he enjoys peace. Truth is not something that we invent; if we do, it is a lie; rather truth is something we discover, like love. In that great book of C.S. Lewis called Screwtape Letters, there is a series of correspondence between an uncle devil in hell and a young nephew devil on earth. The young devil is trying to win souls over to himself by talking about the "Truth of Materialism." The old devil reprimands him saying that he must not talk about "truth"; that is the word that is used by our "enemy God." You might confuse minds; get them to inquire whether a thing is "liberal or reactionary," "right or left," "modern or behind the times." Evidently Screwtape, the old devil, has succeeded pretty well with politicians and others.
Truth does not challenge, but truth does develop. Two and two do not make four in the thirteenth century, and sixteen in the twentieth, but arithmetic does develop into geometry, and geometry into calculus. Nor is truth easy to discover, particularly when it affects our lives. There are two kinds of truth; speculative and practical. Speculative truth is the truth of knowing, such as comes to us from philosophy, mechanics, physics and chemistry. Practical truth, however, is concerned with doing and living, such as ethics and morals.
The first kind of truth is very easy to accept, e.g., London is the capital of England. The reason is because it does not in any way involve a change in our conduct. It makes no practical difference to our lives. But the truth of morality, such as purity, justice and prudence and charity are not so easy for acceptance, because they often demand a revolution in our behavior. That is why men are more willing to accept objections against a principle of morality than against a theory of science. Our Divine Lord referred to the difficulty of accepting practical truths when He said: "You will not come to Me because your lives are evil" (cf. John 5: 19-47).
Truth is a narrow path; either side is an abyss. It is easy to fall either to the right or the left; it was easy to be an idealist in the nineteenth century, as it is easy to be a materialist in the twentieth century; but to avoid both abysses and walk that narrow path of truth is as thrilling as a romance. Truth is like the veins of metal in the earth; it is often very thin and runs not in a continuous layer. If we lose it once, we may have to dig for miles to find it again. Grains of truth are like grains of gold that prospectors find; they can be discovered after a long search; they must be sifted from error with great patience; they must be buried with sacrifice to erase the dross and washed in the streams of honesty. Notice how often today men in public life accuse one another of "lying." Why is it they never speak of truth? May it not be that they studied in the same school as Pilate and asked "What is Truth? (John 18: 38) and then turn their backs on it. IT takes a heap of virtuous living for any one of us to discover Truth.