In Ephesians 2:1-8a (RSV) "And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God..."
Everyone succumbs to tempation and falls into sin at one time or another during a lifetime. Those who are strong in their Faith, will be able to minimize the sin, but probably most of us have given in to temptation. I know I have. I was away from the Sacraments for about 20 years, returning to the Sacraments in 1985. Lost interest. This happens to so many good Catholics, especially when they go from their schooling years to the work years. We are out in the "real" world, the apron strings have long been cut, we have forged our own way, and now we're alone, or seeking a companion for life. Very often, this transition leads to confusion in our lives. Mature people will cope with the problems, others are less able to make commitments. Regardless, we grow, we even grow old and then comes a time when our 70th year passes us from middle-age to our senior years and we wonder what it has all meant. What have we accomplished?
Seniors, if they think of God at all, they will begin to reckon with their salvation. Am I going to make it to Heaven? Or, do I need to do yet a lot of work? Those are questions I cannot answer for you, but you need to look into that, yourselves. And I do too. Did I live my life as God wishes me to do, or was it a less stellar performance?
If this type of examination gives one reason for fear, or trepedation, you are probably not alone. But the Scripture, above, tells us that God has had a hand in your life, my life, throughout my time here. The trespasses we once walked through, made us dead to life, spiritually speaking. That "life" this sentense refers to is a life with Jesus forever in Paradise. "But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. It isn't our doing at all, but the Lord gives us the Gift of Salvation, the Gift of Eternal Life.
That Scripture gives me hope, hope that fewer people will end up condemned in the final judgement, unless they completely reject the Lord out of hand. Now is the time to rectify the sickly trends in our lives that led us into tresspassing against the Love of Our Lord. There is still time, there is still hope. He won't give us up, so let us not give up hope either. Ask our Lord to forgive you for your sins (for a Roman Catholic that means asking for His absolution through a priest) today.
Every day, as I read the paper, there are people complaining that the Catholic Church is trying to set morality on behalf of her members. I sense from these editorials, that the writers often are former or so-called "lapsed" Catholics who are venting their anger against God in this manner. The Catholic Church as any membership organization sets certain rules. We believe in the Ten Commandments, and from of old, our Church forbids abortion, same-sex marriage and many other things which it deems of grave offense against Catholic morality. It is totally irrelevant that priests also have sinned (we all do and did), the Church isn't setting new standards, just re-iterating what it has always believed. People are referring to a bunch of old men in the Vatican, setting the Rules - men not up to date with modern medicines and human desire. The teaching authority of the Catholic Church, the Magisterium, know very well what they are asking us to do, these teachings haven't changed one iota in 2000 years! I think, rather, it is the lack of humility on our part that we refuse to obey these Rules, and as a Catholic we took on the obligation to live by these Rules through Baptism. I try to live by these Rules because for me, this is a matter of life or death. If I should fail to obey the teachings of the Magisterium, will God forgive me? I would not want to wager my Salvation on this question.
God does love us, but not our sin. Let us repent, praise Him in His Glory and sin no more.
Peace and Good!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
June 7, 2012