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evil and sin

Learning to Name Sins Is to Have More Power Over Them

September 23, 2018 9 Comments
Learning to Name Sins Is to Have More Power Over Them

Over the years we have steadily been losing the vocabulary of sin. Saying “I have sinned” is often replaced by “I made a mistake,” or “I made a poor decision,” or “I’m sorry if my behavior was hurtful in some way.” Not only are we slow to say we have sinned, we are also ignorant […]

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Knowing the Bad News Unlocks the Good News

September 20, 2018 7 Comments
Knowing the Bad News Unlocks the Good News

Some people suggest that the Church should speak less of sin and instead emphasize positive things. After all, it is said that one can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. In that vein, we in the Church have been collectively de-emphasizing sin to a large degree for decades, and yet our churches have […]

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How Can a Demon, Driven Out, Return with Seven More?

September 3, 2018 19 Comments
How Can a Demon, Driven Out, Return with Seven More?

The Gospel for Tuesday of the 22nd Week of the Year features Jesus casting out a demon, easily dispatching it. There is another parable, however, in which a cast-out demon returns with seven others. It is puzzling that the house (soul) being “swept and clean” brings further trouble. One would think that a house in such a state […]

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Exorcism’s Ultimate Power Is the Word of God and the Prayer of the Church

August 30, 2018 3 Comments
Exorcism’s Ultimate Power Is the Word of God and the Prayer of the Church

The following essay is a companion essay to another post I wrote on deliverance: God is More Powerful than Satan. When thinking of deliverance and exorcism there is a tendency to imagine that they involve wresting demons from their place through the menacing use of sacramentals (e.g., crosses, holy water, relics) and a battle of […]

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On the Punishment of Complete Loss

August 19, 2018 4 Comments
On the Punishment of Complete Loss

In Mass for Monday of the 20th Week of the Year we read from the prophet Ezekiel. The reading warns of the possibility that moral conditions in the Church and the world can get so awful that God must take the strongest and most severe of measures. Ezekiel experienced the coming disaster upon Israel very […]

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The Battle of Anger in God’s Prophets

August 2, 2018 4 Comments
The Battle of Anger in God’s Prophets

We recently read a passage from the Book of the Jeremiah in daily Mass (Wednesday of the 17th Week of the Year) that provides an important teaching on righteous anger and the need for meekness. Meekness is the virtue that moderates anger; it is a form of temperance that controls resentment. The biblical prophets were […]

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Mortal or Not, Sin Always Causes Harm

July 23, 2018 33 Comments
Mortal or Not, Sin Always Causes Harm

For several generations, the Church has used a kind of shorthand in referring to mortal sin, for example, “X is a mortal sin.” The problem is that this general statement is an oversimplification. In order for the individual committing a particular act to be guilty of a mortal sin, three conditions are necessary: grave matter […]

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A Brief Reflection on Mortal Sin

July 18, 2018 24 Comments
A Brief Reflection on Mortal Sin

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, [M]ortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. In mortal sin the will sets itself upon something that is […]

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