The Seven Deadly Sins

Do you know what the Seven Deadly Sins are? It is a great value to know and begin to understand these deep drives of sin in us. The more we can know and distinguish them the more we can grow in self knowledge. We can begin to understand better how we “tick.” Further, being able to know and name these seven deep drives of sin helps us to know their moves and gain mastery over them. As they stir deep within us we can see evidence of their stirrings and begin to take greater authority over them.

Too many Christians know little about twisted nature of sin. They just know they’re a little messed up (or alot!) and can’t seem to figure out why. Have you ever gone to the doctor, not knowing what was wrong and left feeling better just because you finally knew what ailed you had a name and a cure? Being able to name our demons is an essential part of growth and healing.

Fr. Robert Barron has just published a 100 minute DVD on the subject of the Seven Deadly Sins called  Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Lively Virtues. I would like to recommend you get it and learn all you can about these root sins and the virtues that help us to overcome them by God’s grace. I have ordered mine and will tell you more of it when it arrives and I get the chance to view it. You can order it as well by clicking on the title above. At the bottom of this post is a brief video  in which Fr. Barron describes the intent and structure of the DVD.

Briefly stated though here are the Seven Deadly sins listed for you:

  • Pride – love of self perverted to contempt or hatred  for one’s neighbor. It is to love and esteem oneself more than is proper and at the same time to denigrate the goodness of others. Pride also stirs us to reject lawful authority of others over us including God and refuses appropriate submission.
  • Greed – The excessive desire for wealth and possessions. It is not wrong to desire what we need but through greed we hoard things and acquire far beyond our needs or what is reasonable, and we fail to be generous. Through greed we can also come to see the things of this world as more precious than the things of heaven.
  • Lust – Usually thought of as excessive or inappropriate desires or thoughts of a sexual nature. It is not wrong to experience sexual desire per se but Lust moves  this to become excessive (all that matters), or for the object of it to be inappropriate (e.g. sexually fantasizing about someone other than a spouse).  More broadly, lust is thought of as an excessive love of others that makes the love of God secondary.
  • Anger – Inordinate and uncontrolled feeling of hatred and wrath. It is not always wrong to experience anger, especially in the presence of injustice. But anger here is understood as a deep drive which we indulge and wherein we excessively cling to angry and hateful feelings for others. This kind of anger most often seeks revenge.
  • Gluttony – The over-indulgence in or over consumption of anything to the point of waste. We usually think of food and drink but gluttony can extend to other matters as well. This sin usually leads to a kind of laziness and self-satisfaction that has little room for God and the spiritual life. Over indulging in the world leaves little room for God and the things of the spirit. Gluttony may also cause us to be less able to help the poor.
  • Envy – Sorrow or sadness at the goodness or excellence of another person because  I take it to make me look bad or less excellent. If I envy someone I want to diminish or undermine their excellence. Envy is NOT the same as jealousy. If I am jealous of you, I want what you have. If I am Envious, I want to diminish or destroy what is good or excellent in you. St. Augustine called Envy THE diabolical sin because of the way it seeks to eliminate excellence and goodness in others.
  • Sloth – Sorrow or sadness at the good things God wants to do for me. Most people think of sloth as laziness. But what sloth really is, is an avoidance of God. I fear or dislike what He can do for me so I avoid him. Some avoid God by laziness, but others avoid him by becoming workaholics, claiming they are too busy to pray, get to Church or think about spiritual things.

Please consider getting the Fr. Barron Video. Learning of these deep drives of sin is essential for spiritual growth.

Here’s Fr. Barron’s brief into to the DVD:

First Witness to the Resurrection

Today we celebrate the memorial of Mary Magdalene, first witness to the Lord’s resurrection and sometimes called “The Apostles to the Apostles.” She is also identified as the sinful woman who washed the feet of Jesus with expensive oil and her hair and sometimes, the woman healed of seven demons. To be sure she is one of the most colorful characters in the Bible but most importantly she is one of  the most faithful followers of Jesus and the first evangelist.

A Model for Today

What does Mary Magdalene teach us about what it means to be a faithful disciple today? She is a model for me for two primary reasons.  She is passionate! She is passionate in her love of the Lord.  Her passion is extravagant  like using expensive oil to annoint the  feet of Jesus. Some of the Apostles thought it was ridiculous. You can imagine them rolling their eyes muttering  “silly woman!”  Jesus, however took the opportunity to see her actions as a genuine expression of love and an act that will have a deeper meaning as he moves closer to his own death and resurrection. Her passion will mature and become a source of strength as she walks with the Lord to his death and remains at the foot of the cross.

A Woman of Hope

On the morning after Jesus was buried she races to the tomb, grieving for her Lord and still wanting to be close to him. She finds the tomb empty. She is faced with something so inexplicable, St. Therese of Lisieux writes, Mary knows that the tomb is empty, yet she remains there weeping, hoping against hope.  And, indeed the Lord has not abandon her.

An Evangelist

The Lord greets her and gives her a mission to announce his resurrection! This passionate, sometimes extravagant woman, is given the most important task of Jesus ministry–to call others to believe the unbelievable. Does, she say “now way!”  “Me, are you kidding me?”  No, she leaves, the Lord, whom she thought she had lost and goes to Peter and the Apostles to share the news,  I’m sure, imagining they will once again roll their eyes, thinking her grief is making her unstable. Some accounts say that Mary Magdalene even joined the Apostles on their first preaching mission following Jesus resurrection.

A Model of Evangelization

Mary Magdalene highlights three essential components of evangelizing:

1. Are you able to share where you found the Lord, when you went in search of him?

2. In knowing the Lord, we have found hope. How is your life different because you are a person with hope?

3. What good news do you have to share with others about what it means to know and love the Lord

Evangelization is first and foremost sharing the story of our faith, of our encounter with the Lord.

Give it a try by sharing with us where you have found the Lord…

The Mass in Slow Motion – The Offertory

Now it’s time for the offering. The scriptures warn us not to appear before God empty-handed (Ex. 23:15; Ex 34:20; Dt. 16:16). Bread and wine are the official gifts presented but they also represent our very lives given to God. In the Old Testament the priest always sacrificed something separate from himself, (an animal, occasionally libations or cereal offerings). But In the New Testament, Jesus the High priest offers his very self. The priest and the victim are one and the same! Each of u sin baptism are made priest (different from ministerial priests), prophet and king. As priests we are asked to offer our own self to God. The bread and wine are brought forward but we place our own lives on the paten, in the chalice. Further, our gift of money, of our substance, is also a symbol of our very self. So it is time for the offering, are you ready?

The general instruction of the Roman Rite (GIRM) describes the offering this way:

The offerings are then brought forward. It is praiseworthy for the bread and wine to be presented by the faithful. They are then accepted at an appropriate place by the priest or the deacon and carried to the altar. Even though the faithful no longer bring from their own possessions the bread and wine intended for the liturgy as in the past, nevertheless the rite of carrying up the offerings still retains its force and its spiritual significance.It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the eucharistic table. The procession bringing the gifts is accompanied by the Offertory chant which continues at least until the gifts have been placed on the altar. (GIRM 73-74)

History – The Offertory procession was in the early days if the Church an important part of the Mass. However, in the very earliest days of the Church it was probably not necessary. Since the Mass was held in close proximity to a meal (the agape meal) and since the community was small an generally gathered in a house the bread and wine were already close at hand. Hence there was no special stress laid on the offering of these. However, at least two things brought about a change. In the first place, the Mass was removed from the context of the fraternal meal early on due to difficulties experienced with this format (cf I Cor. 11). Secondly, the rise of gnosticism promulgated a disdain for matter and the whole material order. This was incorrect to a Christian understanding of the world and it was necessary to stress the value of earthly creation. The heavenly gift had an earthly origin. Thus the offering of the material gifts came to a new prominence in the liturgy. By the middle of the third century it had become a general rule that the faithful should present gifts at the Eucharistic solemnity. They brought not only gifts of bread and wine, but also gifts besides for the Church, and the clergy and the poor. There were many things described: food stuffs, candles, oils and the like.  The descriptions of these offertories vary a good bit but some were very elaborate. Gifts were brought forward and sorted out on the spot by deacons and others. Some were brought to the altar and others laid aside…whew!  By the 11th century all gifts were gradually replaced by legal tender (money). And so we have the collection. Increasingly the clergy simply obtained bread and wine from these monies. The offertory procession began to decline in most places during the Middle Ages even despite the continued  encouragement by the Church. Processions began to be limited only to certain designated feast days. By the 16th the offertory procession had all but disappeared. In the aftermath of the Council of Trent there were attempts to revive them but to little avail, Why it was  unsuccessful in not exactly clear but it seems related to the financial entanglements of the Church and a desire not to stir up       old angers against the Church  in regard to money and gifts. Today, the offertory procession has generally been restored and is encouraged by the directives. The current practice steers a middle course however, since the offertory rite, although having a procession still retains a basic simplicity and has not thus become as elaborate as those of antiquity. Likewise, the prayers are brief and to the point.

The Gifts of the bread and wine are placed on the altar with accompanying prayers.

The host. The word Host referring to the bread is from the Latin, “Hostio” meaning I kill, I slaughter and hence means “victim.”  Recall that in the earliest days the bread destined to be consecrated was selected from that bread which the faithful brought forward during the offertory procession. However, early on there is seen the tendency to provide for it carefully from other means so as to assure its fittingness. Likewise, as the number of communicants increased, it became tedious to break one large host into many smaller pieces from the one host as had been the tradition. Now the individuation of the hosts took place before the Mass and this eventually led to the hosts in the form we have today. With the move to unleavened bread (in the west) the exclusion of bread provided by the faithful became a matter of course since it was not something they ordinarily had on hand. The definitive move to unleavened bread in the west took place in the eighth century. It is to be baked with flour and water without any yeast. At the Last Supper Christ probably took this kind of bread (Mazzah) which was also called the bread of affliction (the bread of nomadic shepherds who had no home of their own). The Exodus accounts also point out that unleavened bread was required of the Passover Meal since there was no time to knead the dough in the original exodus and hence unleavened bread was required of the ritual. Canon Law indicates that the bread must be made of wheat alone (no other ingredients such as honey etc. are to be added).  and recently made so that there is no danger of corruption.(Canon 924.2) Likewise the bread used should appear as actual food. But the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship remarks that this is to be understood as linked to the consistency of the bread and not to its form which remains the traditional one (i.e. the traditional rounded hosts).  Likewise, the preparation of the bread should keep in mind the        dignity due the Eucharistic bread and that it be able to be broken in a dignified way, does not give rise to excessive fragments and offend the sensibilities of the faithful when they eat it.(Inaestimabile Donum, # 8).

Wine was used by Christ at the Last Supper as a part of the Passover meal. Wine for the Jews of the Old Testament was a sign not only of festive joy but also of undisturbed possession of the land. To later medieval symbolism wine was also a sign of joy born of pain. Only when the grapes were crushed did they eventually yield wine. The wine used at Mass must be natural wine of the grape and not corrupt (Canon 924.3) In the ancient world, wine was usually much thicker and heavier than it is now. It was thus the custom for people to mix their wine with water and thus dilute it. This custom has been carried over into the Mass. Although it had originally a      practical purpose, it also gained a symbolic interpretation. Today,due to the quality of wines, it is largely symbolic. There are a number of popular symbols attributed to this mixing:

  1. The union of Christ and his people The wine stands for Christ and water for humanity whose hope is to be lost in Christ.St. Cyprian for example wrote, “When wine is mixed with water in the chalice, the people are united to Christ…if the wine alone were to be offered, the blood of Christ would become present without us, if water alone were to be offered, the people would be there without Christ. (Epis. 63, ad Caecilanum, 13).<
  2. There is an allusion to the blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of Christ.
  3. The two natures (divine and human) of Christ are also symbolized in the wine and water. This is especially emphasized in the Eastern Liturgies.
  4. The present prayer at the mixing expresses both 1 and 3.

Prayers are said as each gift is place upon the altar. In the older forms of the liturgy, there was only one prayer said over all the offerings. This prayer was said aloud. However, during the Carolingian and under eastern influence the prayer came to be recited in a low voice (a tendency which reinforced its sacral character). Once the silent recitation of the prayer took place, there also tended to be the multiplication of prayers said by the priest piously and personally. In this way there evolved prayers recited by the priest as he received the gifts of bread and wine from the deacon. Over the years these prayers came to be considered less and less a purely personal prayer of the priest and more and more a formal, required prayer of  the liturgy. However, as sometimes happens, these prayers tended to grow longer and longer. There were several attempts to limit them. The form stabilized between the 10th and 12th centuries through a process too lengthy and complicated to explain here! They were formally standardized by the Missal of Pius V in 1570. Eventually there came to be a prayer at the offering of the bread, the mixing of wine and water, and the offering of the wine, concluded by a general prayer beseeching God to generally accept our sacrifice. These were set forth  in the Tridentine Mass but were changed in the new order of the Mass.
(See appendix 9). The prayers of the New Order of the Mass are based on a prayer used by our Lord Himself at the Last Supper. They would be worded in approximately this way:

Blessed is the Lord our God, ruler of the universe,
who causes bread to come forth from the earth. For
every man, moreover to eat and drink and enjoy the
fruit of all his labor is a gift from God. (Eccl 3:13)

You are blessed, lord our God, King of the universe,
You who created the fruit of the vine.

Hence the new prayers point back to the Passover especially while the prayers of the Tridentine Mass emphasized the sacrificial aspects of Eucharist. The prayers may be said either aloud by the priest or secretly. There is a preference indicated in the General Instructions which goes as follows:

  1. The priest says the formulas in a low (secreto) voice during the singing;
  2. If there is no music or singing, the priest says the texts quietly; or,
  3. He may (licet) say them aloud; and the people may (potest) say the acclamations at the end (i.e.Blessed be God Forever).

After these two prayers the priest bows and says secretly this prayer “Lord God We ask you to receive these gifts which we offer you with humble and contrite hearts” This text is from the Book of  Daniel (3:39-40) where it is prayed by Azariah who, missing the sacrifices of the temple, realizes that it is the spiritual sacrifice which best pleases God. It appears gradually in ancient liturgies and was made obligatory by the Missal of Pius V (1570). It is retained in the Mass today.

Here are two videos depicting an offertory procession. The first is a typically American one, albeit in the informality of a “youth Mass” The Second is in the setting of an African Parish. In both Africa and many parts of Asia, offertory processions are big affairs, featuring a lot of dancing and congregational participation as you’ll see.

Church Teaching on”Same-Sex Marriage”

marriage_logoI found this video out on YouTube. It is rather well done in articulating the Church Teaching against “Same-Sex Marriage.” It is sensitively done as well, making clear that the Church does not reject or “hate” individuals with homosexual orientation. Yet to speak the truth in love means that we must insist on abstinence from sex for all unmarried individuals. Further, we cannot depart from Biblical teaching on the nature and purpose of marriage. We must remain consistent with Biblical truth and the constant teaching of the Church. It is a rather brief video and I recommend you view it and share the link with others.

Bottom line is, God has established marriage as a stable, lasting union of a man and a women and oriented it to the pro-creation and rearing of children. I have often quoted Genesis 2 and 3 in this regard but, here is another quote from the book of Malachi 2:15-17:

15 Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring.  So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. 16 “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself  with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty.   So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

Here then is the video

No sack for the journey

Today’s Gospel is the  familiar story of  Jesus sending his apostles out on one of their early preaching missions.

He tells them not to take a sack for the journey or any gold or silver.  I’ve been thinking about this Gospel in light of the start of our new fiscal year. One the one hand, the budgets look full and are full of promise, on the other hand, I’ve not forgotten the projects that could not be funded given budget constraints.  But, if I asked the popular question of a few years back-”What would Jesus do”, it opens us endless possibilities. He might suggest, that as the Executive Director of the Office of Evangelization, I leave my desk, walk out the door and just start talking about Jesus. This would require neither money nor a sack!  On such a gorgeous day, it is also very tempting.

As Catholics…

However, as a good Catholic, I know that we don’t always interpret the Gospel literally–love your neighbor–that’s to be understood literally— take no sack or money for the journey–down right silly in this day and age!

The timeless message and truth of today’s reading is to be faithful to our responsibility to share the good news and be careful about the “stuff” that can weigh us down and keep us from getting the job done.

I began to think about about how I could evangelize more widely and at little cost. Quite to my surprise , it was suggested by a friend that I Twitter. I am not a likely candidate for Twittering; I don’t have a facebook page, I send maybe two or three texts a week and someone has to send me a link to YouTube or another video for me to notice it.  But, I am serious about evangelizing and I am serious about reaching people who may spend more time twittering than reading the parish bulletin or checking out the ADW blog.

Follow me on Twitter

To be honest, I was a bit thrown by the question “what are you doing ?” Really, how much of what we do(in 140 characters) is really worth sharing? But, to answer the question in the context of  spreading the Gospel is so much more intriguing.  So, I am casting the net into the deep, needing no money or sack for the journey and going to Twitter about the Good News. Follow me at 30viadellanima.


It was my address when I was living and studying in Rome. I lived in a beautiful palazzo on Piazza Navona and I use to sit in a window that overlooked the piazza and watch people from all over the world gather in the square.  I often wondered how much of  Catholic Rome was seeping into their minds and hearts. It is in this spirit that I move into the world of Twitter.

Let’s Tweet.

Are You Beautiful Enough?

I would like to re-post a blog entry that I did some months ago. Given Our recent and robust discussion of marriage and dating I thought re-posting this might be good for those of you who missed it:

We live today with very high expectations of many things. Culturally we have very demanding standards for beauty, especially in regard to women. We expect them to have appealing “curves” but be slender etc. Even ordinary weight is considered by many as unattractive. All this obsession with perfection leads to low self esteem among women and men too. Further, these high expectations of zero body fat and perfect shape, hair color, skin tone etc. leads to hypercritical and hurtful remarks. There is an old saying that “Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.” Hence this attitude also may have to do with marriage difficulties as the near perfect bodies of youth give way to the more “settled” bodies of middle age and beyond (gravity and age do have their effects and even if you weighed what you did in High School it doesn’t look the same!) Plastic surgery is a miracle for those with a truly catastrophic injury or deformities but today it is too often the refuge of those who have become obsessed with how they look and how they think others regard them. Oh to be free of such obsessions! The picture to the right depicts a woman but men have the problem too.

Help me Lord to be little more comfortable in my own skin. Help me to accept that you like both tall and short people because you made them both. Both the blond and the brunette are from your hand, wavy hair, straight hair, wirey hair are all from you and apparently to your liking. Thin and hefty, black, white and all between are from your artistic hand. Help me to love me as you made me. If I should lose weight for health’s sake help me, but if its only about what others might think of me, free me.

Watch this video and see how a very lovely young woman is not lovely enough. She has to be altered, “perfected.” And when simple natural enhancements are not enough her image must be furthered altered on a computer. Message: the perfect beauty does not exist in the world of media. She must be invented. Then everyone can pine after and spend large amounts of money and time trying look like someone who doesn’t even exist.

Musical Highlights

I have to admit, I have not often been a big fan of modern Church music. I am more traditional in my tastes. (A big exception to this has been Gospel Music which I  love and which is in its own way is traditional – in the African American Community).  But other more contemporary Christian music has often remained off my radar. I find it a little too centered on us and not enough on God. Yet in recent months, mostly working for this blog I have stumbled upon certain modern Christian music that I find quite good. It is musically more pleasing as well as being more centered on God, or at least inviting us to consider God. I’d like to offer some of those songs here. I have posted some of the best of these songs and the videos that accompany them before but collect them here for your reference. All of these songs are available at iTunes. You may not have time listen to them all now, but perhaps save the link and listen little by little.

Jesus Christ, You Are My Life – Monseñor Marco Frisina

Still – Hillsong

Take My Life – Passion

Let The Healing Begin – Michael John Poirier

Take Me In – Kutless

As The Deer – America’s Top 25

Lord I Lift Your Name On High – Maranatha Singers

Come to Jesus – Chris Rice

Grounded in Love – Justin Stroh