So there we have it!!
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis…
There are all these different ways we can be tempted to sin
We can be overwhelmed by that sometimes
For example sins against faith include voluntary doubt, involuntary doubt, incredulity, heresy, apostasy, schism
Even our good but broken hearts are like that
There is not just one way that we can turn away from the Lord
Now Fr. Mike is going to talk about G.K. Chesterton so let’s listen…
“There is only one angle at which a person can stand upright. But, there are many many angles at which a person can fall.” -G. K. Chesterton (paraphrased)
Paragraph 2084 says, “God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful, loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: ‘I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve him…You shall not go after other gods.” God’s first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.”
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!!
The context that God is giving for obedience to Him is that HE HAS ALREADY INITIATED
GOD IS THE ONE WHO ACTS FIRST!!
Paragraph 2083 says, “...God has loved us first…”
People often ask, “Why does God demand worship?” 🤔
God does not demand worship because He needs it
God does not need to stroke His ego
How many times has God made it clear in Scripture, “No, I don’t need your sacrifice of your bulls. I don’t need your sacrifice of your flocks, or any of these sacrifices. I don’t need any of those things.”
Ultimately, though, we do
Why does God command that we shall worship Him alone and have no other gods?
Because, as a protestant scholar once said, “Our hearts are idol-making factories.”
WE MAKE IDOLS OUT OF EVERYTHING!!
Those idols ENSLAVE us
Those idols take EVERYTHING from us and give us NOTHING in return
God knows that about us
God knows that our hearts are so broken that we make an idol out of anything and everything
So what does God say?
“I want you to be free. I liberated you. I am bringing you into relationship with me. Therefore, you shall have no other gods.”
Be on guard against all those other small, even good things that you want to make into a god, that you want to make into the source of your being, that you want to make into the center of your gravity
REFUSE TO DO THAT!!
Refuse to take these good things and make them ultimate things
God reveals, “I am the one, ultimate thing.”
There are so many ways we can do this
Paragraph 2088 says, “The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith: Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.”
When we talk about the Trinity, the dual natures of Jesus, etc. we often ask, “How does that work?”
Or God is the source of grace and at the same time, we are still free
“How does that work?”
Involuntary doubt does not have to be deadly sin
But it is really important to acknowledge it
If we deliberately cultivate doubt, we can refuse to see even the evidence that God gives for Himself
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about an atheist woman…
How in the world did Pharaoh not submit after all these plagues?
Because that is what happens when doubt is cultivated
It leads to spiritual blindness and hardness of heart
Paragraph 2089 says, “Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. ‘Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.’”
Heresy is very specific
Obstinate means one has been corrected but does not accept being corrected
Post-baptismal denial means only Christians can be heretics
A Jewish person cannot be a heretic
Something that is not just an opinion, but is actually a part of the doctrine or dogma
Apostasy is when someone totally turns away from the Christian faith
1054 AD was the Great Schism where East and West split
Paragraph 2090 says, “When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and of incurring punishment.”
Hope means, “Yes, I am weak. But God, you are strong. I am a sinner. But God, you are merciful.”
Paragraph 2091 says, “The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption: By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it, or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to his justice-for the Lord is faithful to his promises-and to his mercy.”
If you ever think that you are beyond God’s help, that is the sin of despair
We need to be reminded of God’s UNSTOPPABLE MERCY and God’s UNSTOPPABLE LOVE for you
We can never despair of the salvation of ANY person in this life because God is faithful
God will forgive ANY SIN we ask Him
Paragraph 2092 says, “There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help on high), or he presumes upon God’s almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).”
In order to actually be forgiven, we need to REPENT of our sins
The two types of presumption are, “I don’t need God” and “I’ve always got God in my back pocket and He will always take me back anyway. I don’t even need to come back for Him to take me back”
Does that make sense?
So how can we sin against God’s love?
Paragraph 2094 says, “One can sin against God’s love in various ways: -indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power. -ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love. -lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity. -acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness. -hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.”
Remember what Jesus said in The Book of Revelation, “You are neither hot nor cold. And since you are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, I want to vomit you out of my mouth.”
The book called “The Noonday Devil” is about acedia
Acedia is, “Ok, God. I know you put me here. I’d rather be somewhere else doing something else” as opposed to, “In this moment, God is calling me to engage him in this moment.”
If you are a parent you need to engage your children
If you are a spouse, you are called to actually engage with them and that is fighting against acedia
If it is time to pray and you think of everything in the world you need to do other than pray, that is temptation towards acedia
Temptation to not respond to God’s love, not to respond to the joy that comes from God
How is hatred of God possible?
It is VERY possible, even for people whose lives are blessed
Sometimes we think of hatred of God when it comes to those people who have difficult lives
It doesn’t just have to be those people who have experienced tragedy
Many of you have experienced great tragedy in your lives and you have not given into that temptation of hatred towards God
Because of your HUMILITY
“Ok, God. I don’t understand what is going on. I know, God, that is not fair. This is not just. This is not good, what I am going through. And yet, I trust you. And yet, you are God and I am not.”
Hatred of God comes from PRIDE
God’s prerogative is to forbid sins
God’s love is that he forbids sins, going back to the very beginning
God forbids sins because He loves us
God commands us to love Him because He loves us and He knows that this will give us the most life
God inflicts punishment because that is what good dads do
They are able to lead their children to truth, and to goodness, and to strength
When the children turn away, a good father and a good parent allows their child to get what they have chosen
This is what our good Father does
To embrace HUMILITY is to realize, “Ok, God. You are God. I am not. I might give in to being in sorrow. I might give in to being confused about this. But, I am not going to give in to hatred.”
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you at some point in the future!!