Preparing for Confession

eCatholic-stock-photo-18The people in RCIA are learning about sin and morality as they get ready to make their first confession. The general subject of sexual sin is always a challenge.

We are most uncomfortable with these sins of lust and gluttony when they are in many cases the secondary sons rooted in our selfishness and pride. Somehow we are lured into shame over these lesser sins by the greater sin of pride that blocks us from admitting what we are: sinners in need of a savior.

Paul reminds the Thessalonians (2 Thess 3:13) You must never grow weary of doing what is right, brothers. So we are reminded that the Christian life is for those whose strength is rooted in their honest admission of their weakness.

God knows what we did. His gift to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is both the absolution given through the priest and the insistence that we not take ourselves so seriously we cannot admit what we did.

Living Clean

beach drSobriety. The word that seemed so daunting to me 30 years ago when I first heard it. You mean people can live without alcohol? But it’s my best friend.

Got sober. Worked the steps. Made amends. Helped others stay sober. Found a Higher Power, discovered that He is God! Lived sober – been living without alcohol for 30 years. Now it’s easy, right?


Only through the grace of God each day can I, an addict, choose to live for Him and with Him and miraculously He is in me. Some days I get myself out of the way enough to actually see Jesus working through me to be with others. Some days, I wrestle with Helen and her selfishness all day. Sigh.

Because I am an addict I switch addictions. I have not had a drink in 30 years, but I have found other ways to escape, to run, to self medicate. I have never liked to live in the middle, where things are calm (although I claim all I want is peace). I like the highs and lows, the RUSH of the buzz that comes from whatever addiction I pick: food, shopping …

In the Spring I made a commitment to my family to address my spending habits and stop buying things just for fun. Just to feel the pleasure of the hunt, the excitement of the find, the thrill of the purchase. I had to stop spending money. Shoving the excitement of shopping into the God shaped hole never works, no matter how many times we try.
It’s been 4 months of living without shopping compulsively and maybe this is the first time in my life I have actually lived truly clean. I have leaned on God a lot, sometimes I felt Him hold me up, sometimes I just had to trust He was there because I could not feel Him.

Can I learn to feel deeply the pleasure of resting in God’s presence, the excitement of a new spiritual truth, the thrill of receiving Jesus at the Mass? Will it be enough? I miss the rush….

I believe this is the path out of darkness, into the light of Truth. I have walked this path so many times before, it seems embarrassing to be on this same path, AGAIN. Isn’t there a better one?

It is the only path that leads to Heaven. Even though we stumble a million times in our lives, we can get back on the path,  the path to holiness, although it doesn’t seem like it. Stumble, get back up, move forward. But maybe each time we move forward a little more, and that makes God smile. Even if forward is an inch, it’s the getting back up and seeking God.

Three steps: rest in God’s Presence (pray), keep learning about God, receive the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. Sobriety is lived in Simplicity.

Keep it Simple, Stupid. (AA slogan) It’s a KISS from God.

On a good Christian marriage

flowersWe have been married over 25 years, and people have along the way commented favorably on our marriage bond. We are going to share our different perspectives on topics that relate to what makes a marriage good, from practical ones like cooking and cleaning to metaphysical ones like intimacy and vulnerability.

To be bound in love is to be intimate and vulnerable. In married life, if we don’t have those things then we are housemates rather than spouses. Yet too often, we married folk lose our intimacy with each other and function together more like roommates than husband and wife.

I’ve had roommates and housemates in previous living arrangements, and while we were “friends,” it wasn’t authentically intimate because neither I nor they would risk lowering the veil and letting the other get close. Oh, we had good times, and we saw each other at highs and at lows, but there was always a distance present.

Getting close is the heart of Christian marriage. Without intimacy, a covenant is nothing more than a contract. Without intimacy, self-giving love becomes a series of offsetting transactions.

Getting close is difficult, and even more so for men. We need marriage – the bonds of marriage – to protect us when we peel away our shiny exterior shell and admit to the quivering goo underneath. So, dear wives, be gentle with us.

Ordinary 16A at CTK

cross  One of the cable news channels has the slogan, “We report. You decide.” And it – at least the second part – is true. We decide. We decide what news channel to watch, or what show to watch. We decide which book to read. We decide who to follow on social media. And we decide who to follow in the most important question of our lives. That question is: “Why are we here and what are we going to do with our time here?”

We decide things because we have choices. We have choices because we have free will. Dr. Seuss put it in a nice rhyme: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.”

We make better choices when we understand the situation. Using our minds, our intellect, we can decide between good and bad, between wheat and weeds, when we understand which is which. Dr. Seuss was right: we need our brains in our heads to choose our direction. We need our intellect to separate reality from myth, truth from a lie.  Continue reading “Ordinary 16A at CTK”

The Problem of suffering…

*Note – This is from a Bible study commentary I gave last year…

So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10 And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. 11 And I was told, “You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.” (Revelation 10:9-11 )

ekekiel eating the scrollAnd when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and lo, a written scroll was in it; 10 and he spread it before me; and it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it; and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. (Ezekiel 3:1)

Both Ezekiel and John are prophets whose role was to communicate to God’s people what God told them. They were both commanded to eat scrolls – which indicates that they are to internalize God’s word and commands and then communicate them to God’s people.  For both prophets the scrolls taste sweet but then become bitter in their stomachs.  This indicates that the outcome of the prophesy will be good, but there will be suffering and tribulation on the way to the good end – salvation, eternity with God.

Eating something sweet that turns bitter or sour in the stomach is interesting imagery.  It resonates with me on multiple levels.

A few years ago I had to stop eating gluten for medical reasons. I really miss good cake!  But I can make some pretty good gluten free banana bread now.  If I eat gluten now it tastes great, but my stomach hurts for a few days.

Of course, this is not really suffering – it’s inconvenience – although it first felt like suffering.

Real suffering in our lives, Continue reading “The Problem of suffering…”

Why I don’t use contraception


*  Note, this is from a talk I gave last year on Natural Family Planning.

I became Catholic 21 years ago.  Converted from being an Episcopalian.   At that time, no one was talking about a war on a woman’s right to use birth control, and when I heard about the Catholic prohibition on birth control, I assumed that Catholic women followed the Church’s teaching.  When I began RCIA I was pregnant with my first child.  I asked the RCIA director at the time if I needed to stop using contraception after I delivered, and she said ”Don’t worry about that right now, after you come into the church you can use your conscience to decide what’s right for you.”  Still unclear about what the Church taught about contraception and seeking the truth,  I asked her again if once I had the baby If I should not use contraception and she said “you can decide that yourself, the Church leaves it up to you.”

That vague answer was both right and wrong.  Technically it’s correct, b/c the woman should make her own decision.  But that decision should be based on a well formed conscience.  And a well formed Catholic conscience knows that contraception works against God’s plan for marriage.

I still felt unsettled about her answer Continue reading “Why I don’t use contraception”