So, now I have this really cool platform of integrated websites and a podcast. We have Youtube, we have Twitter and we have Facebook and we have Blogtalkradio. We have our own email and PO Box and the application to be a non-profit is paid for and sent. On top of all that, it is Easter Sunday, the Holiest day of the year.
I have multiple computers, I have thousands of dollars in premium design and research software and I have lots and lots of books. It would seem like the only thing I don't have is excuses.
Yet, here I sit mired in the intellectual muck, frozen in emotional quicksand.
I know there are others who -right now- are where I am and it's a little bit of a unique vantage point We are not used to led into battle by those on equal footing and that's what I am in so many ways. I do not have a degree from Notre Dame or Catholic University of Franciscan University of Steubenville or even Christendom, whose shadow I lived in for nearly 5 1/2 years.
Yet, here I am believing, wanting, trusting in the fact that I have something to say to all of you that may aid you in your walk. I, who have been stripped of everything I once was, would have the audacity to think I have something to say.
What is so amazing about this faith we have is that I am not wrong. It is not my pedigree, as I have already stated. It is not my bloodline nor have I ever served in the military or held political office. I have the distinct honor and privilege of knowing and understanding a ruined life and the comprehension that a great measure of the damage was self-inflicted by my own stupidity and ingratitude and torpidity. To sum it all up, I had faith in word only and I have suffered the consequences for it and the price has been steep.
I now know exactly where I want wrong and I want to use my testimony to help others trying to find the way. What I found was that the severest consequences for addictive sin are often meted out when you try to escape the addiction rather than when are you wallowing in it.
This seemed to me to make God look kind of mean, to be honest with you. "Lord", I would say, "I'm trying my absolute hardest to serve you and find the answers but you answer me with calamities". This happened too many times in my life to count.
George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) describes this phenomena perfectly in the classic It's a wonderful life when he gives that memorable line :
"I got a bust in the mouth as an answer to a prayer".
One practical example. Exactly a week before Christmas 2022- not 5 months ago- I petitioned Our Blessed Lady to obtain from Our Lord a bit of a break from the misfortunes so I could have a chance of getting on my feet. The result? A plumbing fixture ruptured that day and flooded my basement. It was not the answer I was looking for.
The answer did come. About 3 weeks later a dramatic and inexplicable (you may even say miraculous) chain of events began that has totally changed where I am at in life. The sudden expansion of this apostolate is a manifestation of that.
I think that is the essence of what I have to offer.
The testimony of one man- battered but not beaten, chastened but not abandoned.
I know there is a genuine need for more empathizers rather than sympathizers and that is- I suppose- the point of the Thornton Wilder quote I reference.
The Bible tells us that there are 3 Cardinal virtues not one. They are Faith, yes but also Hope and Love. Love, says the Sacred book, not Faith, is the greatest of all these 3. Why would that be?
If Salvation is of Faith Alone, how can Paul say that Love is greater? How could Paul and James both say that Love covers a multitude of sins? If Salvation is of Faith, how could Jesus say of Mary Magdalen that her sins were forgiven because of her great love?
Am I suggesting that one can be saved without faith? Far from it. I also affirm that genuine love is impossible without faith. Yet, just as surely, genuine faith is impossible without love and genuine love is impossible without sacrifice and that sacrifice sometimes hurts.
5 times in the Gospels, Jesus is recorded as saying that only the Disciple who will deny his own self and take up his own cross can be worthy of Him, the Savior.
Luke 9:23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
How are people able to claim Christ and deny a verse like this one? Or even more.... this one.
Matthew 3 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism,he said to them,“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.9 And do not presume to say to yourselves,‘We have Abraham as our father,’for I I tell you,God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Try as you might, you cannot reconcile these verses with the doctrine of "faith alone" or "once saved always saved". However, the real clincher is the words of Jesus Himself who never once taught that simple faith was enough to be saved.
Matthew 25:31-46 is just about as clear as it gets on this matter.
31: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.32: Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,33: and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.34: Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;35: for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,36: I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
'37: Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?38: And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?39: And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'0: And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
41: Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;42: for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,43: I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'44: Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'45: Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'46: And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Romans Chapter 2 is just as clear:
1: Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.2: We know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who do such things.
3: Do you suppose, O man, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?4: Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?5: But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
6: For he will render to every man according to his works: 7: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8: but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.9: There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,10: but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
11: For God shows no partiality.12: All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.13: For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
This texts are starkly- even frighteningly- clear. The same is true with virtually all of the truths of our Sacred faith. So, what is next? Our mission is clear:
Convert the unbeliever.
Catechize the convert.
Motivate the Catechized.
Empower the motivated.
Change the world for Jesus!
To do so requires love and it requires genuineness. We must reach the crushed and broken where they are which is where we once were. In the battle of love, only wounded soldiers can serve.