The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Although I am an ordained deacon of the Catholic Church, the opinions expressed in this blog are my personal opinions. In offering these personal opinions I am not acting as a representative of the Church or any Church organization.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day

Today, the first day of May, has a long, ancient history as a day to celebrate the arrival of Spring with festivals, maypoles, dancing and other fun activities. The May celebrations of the ancient Greeks focused on the goddess Artemis since she was the goddess of the hunt, the wild, childbirth, and other activities related to newnessI remember, back when I studied Latin in high school, having read that the Romans dedicated May to the goddess Flora, to whom they attributed new growth. They also celebrated with plays and Dionysian rituals that our Latin teacher wouldn’t describe. Knowing how the Romans liked to party, I’m pretty sure they probably overdid it. And I suppose many of these ancient traditions just continued in modified form, even as Europe became increasingly Christian.

But why do so many celebrate Spring in May when the season really begins, at least astronomically, in late March at the vernal equinox? I think the answer is obvious. Late March and all of April are simply not trustworthily spring-like. Winter just doesn’t like to leave when it’s supposed to, and if you’ve lived up north, you’ll have experienced many April snowstorms. May is really the first Spring month we can trust. And we don’t have to go back too many years to encounter winters without electricity and central heating. Winters in those pre-modern centuries were a lot colder, darker, and bleaker, so the promise of warm weather was the promise of real change, something to be celebrated. Back when I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy, we called those bleak days from January until the first touch of Spring the “dark ages,” and to us they seemed very dark indeed, especially for Plebes who were effectively held captive until Spring leave, which is Naval Academy speak for Spring break. 

Of course, as Catholics we celebrate our Blessed Mother during the month of May. This, too, has roots that extend back at least to late medieval times but really became more widespread during the past 300 years. Many parishes celebrate with a May Crowning in which a statue of Mary is crowned with a floral wreath and carried in procession. The month-long celebration also includes daily family recitation of the Rosary, and other Marian devotions. May is a special month to celebrate our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and our Mother. Given what’s happening in the world today, we need her intercession more than ever.
 
 
Celebrating Stalin on May Day (2017)
Celebrating Stalin - Moscow May Day (2017)
 
In recent years, however, the first day of May has taken on other meaning. Just this morning I heard a newscaster say that “Today is May Day, when we honor workers.” Honoring workers is certainly a good thing, but I suspect this newsman is unaware of the origins of this version of May Day. May 1st was named “International Workers’ Day” by the Communists and socialists of the Second International in Paris in 1889. They called it “May Day” as a way to co-opt the traditional May Day. The Catholic Church, specifically Pope Pius XII, recognizing the problem that could arise by associating honest work with atheistic Communism, in 1955 made today a special feast day to honor St. Joseph the Worker as the patron saint of workers. He is certainly a fitting patron since he supported Mary and Jesus as a carpenter, and taught those same skills to Our Lord.

So go ahead and celebrate workers today, but do so by honoring St. Joseph and devote the rest of the month of May to honoring our Blessed Mother. Pray the Rosary daily this month, asking Mary to intercede for our broken world.

Friday, April 30, 2021

President Biden: Devout Catholic?

Let’s get one thing straight right from the start: President Joe Biden is NOT a devout Catholic, even though he obviously wants White House press secretary Jen Psaki to describe him as one whenever his faith is questioned. Yes, the man who likes to show us the Rosary beads in his pocket quite obviously wants us to believe this lie. Wouldn’t you love to hear a reporter ask the president to name the five sorrowful (or glorious, or joyful, or luminous) mysteries of the Rosary? Are we really supposed to believe he prays the Rosary daily? I think it especially telling that back in 2005, when he was testing the waters for a 2008 presidential run, Joe Biden stated, “If I’m the nominee, Republicans will be sorry. The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious I’m going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.” 

How does the Church put it? “Lex orandi, lex credendi.” To paraphrase: the law of prayer determines the law of belief. Joe Biden’s prayer life should, then, lead him to an acceptance of the deposit of faith. One need only observe his actions and listen to his words and it becomes obvious he considers the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church, the manifestation in today’s world of the deposit of faith, as meaningless. He rejects Church teaching on abortion, on homosexuality, on sexual identity, on marriage, on First Amendment rights, and a slew of other issues. And what is most concerning, at least to some of our bishops, is his willingness to exclaim that his positions are perfectly OK for a practicing, “devout” Catholic.  

The U.S. bishops, who join together as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB.org), intend to examine the president’s anti-Catholic stance on these and so many other issues during their June meeting. Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is particularly concerned. In his words, “There’s a growing sense of urgency. Abortion is not just one among many important issues...It is a direct attack on human life.” Indeed it is. The Archbishop wants Catholics like President Biden to “understand the scandal that is caused when they say they are faithfully Catholic and yet oppose the Church on such a basic concept.” Three cheers for the Archbishop. In the same way, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City said that “we bishops have the responsibility to correct him” for calling himself a “devout Catholic” while he opposes the Church on virtually all life and marriage issues. He added that Biden, because of his prominent prominent position, “is usurping the role of the bishops and confusing people.”

Let us pray that the all the bishops have the courage to do what is right and take the president to task, along with all those other nominally Catholic politicians who arrogantly flaunt the Church’s and the Holy Spirit’s teaching. They need to be reminded that they not only endanger their own salvation, but also that of those whom they influence. Unfortunately, the two bishops who have jurisdiction in Wilmington, Delaware and Washington, D.C., the dioceses where the president usually worships, have both indicated they have no problem with the president receiving the Eucharist in their churches. Perhaps it would be helpful for the faithful in those dioceses to send a respectful letter to Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington and urge them to follow the lead of Pope Benedict XVI who, when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote:

“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist. When these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible, and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it. This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”

 That says it all...

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Just Stuff

Sometimes I just feel the need to pass along a few thoughts to my blog’s highly selective cadre of readers. Nothing very astonishing, just experiences or ideas that strike me and seem worth sharing. 

To Mask or Not To Mask. For example, earlier this afternoon dear Diane said she would really like a pizza — specifically, a pepper and onion pizza — from one of our local vendors, NYPD Pizza. Now, I eat neither peppers nor onions (Were I ordering for myself, I would choose a sausage and pepperoni pizza), but because I love Diane more than life itself, I called, ordered the pizza, and was told it would be ready in 15 minutes. When I arrived the pizza was not quite ready (I was a few minutes early), so I simply stood off to the side and waited. There were perhaps a dozen or so people seated at tables enjoying their meals. Of course, none wore masks, but neither did any of the employees. The cooks in the kitchen weren’t masked and neither was the one waitress. How refreshing! 

But then a man entered and approached the take-out counter. He looked to be in his 50s or 60s, but it was hard to tell since his facial features were disguised by a mask. Standing there, he glanced around the room and then uttered, presumably to himself, but loud enough for me to hear, “How come no one’s wearing a mask in here?” Assuming he wanted an answer, I just said, “Maybe like me they’re all vaccinated and know they’re immune.” It seems I was wrong and he wasn’t looking for an answer, at least from me, because he turned and said, “Vaccination means nothing. And why aren’t you wearing a mask?” At this point, I said something very un-pastoral and certainly un-deaconlike, but it just rolled off my uncontrolled tongue before I could stop it: “Because I’m not an idiot.” Fortunately, two seconds later my pizza was ready. I took it and left before he could respond either verbally or physically. I’m not proud of what I said to this confused man, but I won’t apologize for speaking the truth. Let’s get back to normal... now!

Congressional Masks. Other than the content of the president’s speech, the most obvious absurdity witnessed by the nation last night was the masking of everyone in the House chamber. Every person in the room (just 200 people in a space designed to hold 1,600) had been vaccinated. They were all masked and separated by more than six feet. They were also immune from COVID-19, so why the charade? Do you get the feeling that maybe Nancy Pelosi and her friends want to ensure Americans remain afraid and psychologically dependent on government? What other reason could they have?

Georgia On My Mind. President Biden today made a surprise trip to “racist” Georgia and visited an aging President Jimmy Carter, presumably to pick up a few pointers on how to become one of the least effective presidents in American history. Jimmy certainly wrote the script for how not to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and if you’re old enough you’ll never forget how miserable the economy was on his watch. Remember the “misery index” — the sum of inflation and unemployment — that reached over 20% in 1980? More than anything else, I believe that number put Ronald Reagan in the White House. If the federal government continues to spend the trillions Biden wants to spend, it might well break the Carter record. Assuming he’s still in office in 2024 (and still alive), I think the 2023 economy will make him a one-term president.

Attend Mass, Go To Jail. Did you know (probably not, since you won’t read about this in the mainstream media) that in the Republic of Ireland it’s now against the law to attend Mass. Yes, indeed, on April 16, I suppose in the midst of another lockdown, the Irish Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, signed a “Statutory Instrument” (presumably an official document) that makes attendance at Mass a criminal offense. Now, for all you Irish-Catholic Americans out there, who still believe Ireland is a Catholic country...believe me, it’s not. Like most of Europe, Ireland has devolved into a secular, materialistic, largely agnostic society in which all those formerly Catholic folks and the generations behind them no longer believe in much of anything, leaving the Church with little, if any, influence. Who’s to blame? Sadly, the primary culprit is the Church itself. Like too many of the bishops of our country, the bishops of Ireland slouched into political correctness and ordained a lot of questionable priests, including homosexuals, pedophiles, Marxists, and sadly, even some tacit agnostics, whose subsequent activities destroyed any credibility the Church once had. So now, the few remaining faithful, if they want to participate at Mass, must watch it on TV or prepare for a fine or a stay in the local slammer. Lest you chuckle too much at the expense of the Irish, this has also happened in some states in this country where the First Amendment of our Constitution has been overruled by certain state governors. As my late brother used to say, “Keep your powder dry.”

Whose Racism Is It, Anyway? The president believes we are essentially a racist nation, despite the fact that every conceivable indicator shows tremendous progress since the days when Senator Joe Biden was bosom buddies with the Senate’s old segregationists, especially Senator Robert Byrd (D, WV) the Ku Klux Klan’s “Exalted Cyclops.” Probably the best indicator of who actually are today’s real racists is abortion. The population of African Americans would be double its current level were it not for abortion. Indeed, abortion is the leading cause of death among black Americans. And, of course, Margaret Sanger, the founder of a Planned Parenthood, hoped to decrease birth rates among all those “less desirable” races by means of artificial contraception and abortion. Who supports abortion? Why, the Democrat Party, the party of racism, the party of the KKK, the party that filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 until Republicans forced a cloture vote. And nothing’s changed. This was apparent today when the leftist knives were unsheathed and thrown at Senator Tim Scott who gave the Republican rebuttal to the president’s speech. The racist slurs and other comments by Democrats were despicable, but what else can we expect from those whose intent is to keep African Americans on the Democrat plantation. More and more black Americans are starting to recognize their real enemy.

Catholics and Big Tech. I won’t write about this since someone else has done a far better job than I ever could. But if you’re still enamored of Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and all the rest, follow this link to the National Catholic Register:


That’s enough for today. God’s peace...Pray for our nation.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Coronavirus and other stuff

Do you realize the chance of spreading or contracting COVID-19 while outdoors enjoying God’s gift of fresh air and sunshine is, according to the CDC, just about zero (less than one-hundredth of one percent). And interestingly, the self-described smart people who enjoy telling us how to live the details of our lives have known this for many, many months, probably since April 2020. This is why I have never worn a face mask when outdoors, and why I never will. Since I have been vaccinated, and received my second Moderna shot over a month ago, I don a mask indoors only when a business or organization demands I do so. After all, it’s their property and if it makes them happy, okay, I’ll comply, even though it’s idiocy. As a form of mild protest, I have started to seek out businesses that actually follow the science and realize vaccinated people are not a threat to others. As our enlightened Governor Ron DeSantis stated: “If you been vaccinated, act like it!”  I am so happy I live in Florida. Our president, though, lives in the nation’s most corrupt city, Washington, D.C. Because he is old, almost two years older than me, he too has been vaccinated. And yet he apparently wears his mask wherever and whenever there’s a camera to capture his image, even when he’s on a video call with other world leaders. “It sets an example,” someone in the administration remarked. But what kind of example? Does he hope to convince the leaders of other nations that Americans are fools, or at best led by one? It would seem so. 

Hot news flash! Actually two flashes! The first, President Biden told us today that if you’re vaccinated, being outside without a mask is okay with him...unless you’re in a group, then you’d better ignore your common sense and wear a mask. Too late and too little, Mr. President. You and the CDC are still waaay behind the science. Oh, how the power hungry just love to keep control of people. It’s time to revert to normality and live our lives as we’d like. Interestingly, as the President walked across the lawn to the podium to deliver his message that masks were no longer needed outdoors, he was wearing a mask. Ah, well, maybe he should join the rest of us here in The Villages. He’s certainly old enough. The other flash: I just read that our esteemed Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will permit President Biden to speak to a semi-virtual joint meeting of Congress this week without wearing his mask. The fact that our congressional leaders still require their members to wear masks, despite the fact they’ve all been vaccinated, is more than ludicrous. But I suppose it helps advance the “we’re got the power, peasants, and don’t ever forget it” syndrome. Whatever happened to the founders’ belief that the people are sovereign, not the government formed to do the people’s will?

By the way, speaking of Nancy Pelosi — the “I’m a devout Catholic” politician who rejects Church teaching — did you happen to catch a rather interesting statistic? In San Francisco, the city she represents in the U.S. Congress, a total of 257 San Franciscans died as a result of coronavirus. But during the same period 713 of the city’s citizens died of drug overdoses. And also during this same period we have spent trillions on coronavirus and relatively little on fighting these killing drugs. As I write these words, these same drugs are pouring over our borders thanks to the incompetence of the Biden administration. As border patrol and ICE agents are distracted and overwhelmed by thousands of unaccompanied children, invited to come here by the president, other illegals are crossing the border carrying drugs like the deadly fentanyl and spreading them throughout our country. The cartels are running the show, running drugs and trafficking children, while our federal government supports them in this evil.

Did you watch the Oscars? Didn’t think so. Judging by the ratings it seems the only folks who actually wasted a Sunday evening watching these woke, out-of-touch, narcissistic imbeciles were other Hollywood types and their immediate relatives. Don’t you just love people who condemn the country that made them rich and famous? They also condemn its citizens as a collection of ignorant racists.  These citizens are the same people that actually pay for the mediocre films Hollywood’s produces. The entertainment industry, of course, has no monopoly on imbeciles. They also fill the ranks of NFL, NBA, and MLB teams, along with the boardrooms of many Fortune 500 companies. Based on the organizations these luminaries support with gobs of money, one can only conclude that they’re hoping for the ultimate triumph of socialism. Another irony, since they’d be the first to lose their incomes, and perhaps their heads, when the proletariat revolution hits the streets. 

Speaking of revolutions, the left would love one, but they hesitate because of one overriding truth: the citizenry of the United States is better armed than the leftist rabble. (Yes, even some deacons have a few firearms tucked away.) One can understand, then, why the left spends so much effort on “gun control.” Of course, it has nothing to do with controlling guns, but everything to do with confiscating guns, for the latter is their goal. This, sadly for them, will be an impossible task because every gun owner I know has no intention of turning over his or her rifles, handguns, or shotguns. And the people of the USA own over 400 million firearms. The leftist revolutionary wannabes face other obstacles, Perhaps the most obvious is the Supreme Court and its recent support for Second Amendment rights; hence the attempt to redefine the court’s makeup. The goal: a friendly, rubber-stamp court that ignores the Constitution. Finally, they hope to restructure the leadership of our military by packing the upper ranks with careerist officers who will go along and get along with the politicians. Once they have the military leadership in their pockets, they can bring in the big guns to control the country as needed. If they succeed in all these efforts the banana republics of Central America will look to us with envy.

Oh, there is so much more...particularly our new, defeatist policy relating to Iran and the resurrecting of Obama’s anti-Israel approach to the Middle East, but I’ll save it for another day.

Pray for our nation, brothers and sisters.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Joy

He is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

This traditional Catholic Easter greeting and response has some ancient roots. Many years ago my eighth-grade teacher, a Dominican sister, told her class that this greeting is simply another form of the greeting of the angel when Mary Magdalene and the other women arrived at the tomb to find it empty. As we read in Matthew, the angel told them: “He is not here; for He has risen” [Mt 28:6].

How often, today, do we hear this greeting, among family, between friends, and even between strangers who might meet on the street on Easter? Unfortunately, it’s a rare thing to be greeted in this wonderful way. And yet, one doesn’t have to go back too many years to find a time when such greetings were commonplace. I know for certain that many of the parents and grandparents of people my age would extend this or a similar Easter greeting to anyone they encountered on this holiest of days. 

Too often today — and I’m as guilty as any — we simply say “Happy Easter!” This, of course, is the semi-secular greeting least likely to offend. I suppose it can be just as applicable to the Easter bunny as it is to the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’ll admit, though, even this greeting can sometimes have an unexpected positive outcome. Yesterday, as I took my receipt from the checker at a local supermarket, I said, “Happy Easter!” She looked up at me, surprised and smiling, and responded with, “Happy Easter to you too.” So I’m really not going to criticize anyone for saying, “Happy Easter!” But I still believe we will have lost something, something very precious, if we abandon the ancient greeting of “He is risen!” The world needs to be reminded of the fact of the Resurrection. It is our greatest source of hope, the hope of eternal life in a world seemingly trapped in so much despair. Let the hope-filled words of the angel echo in our families, our communities, and throughout the entire world today. Today and every Easter let everyone you meet know the Good News of the Gospel: 

He is risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Emptiness

Today, Holy Saturday, is the Church's day of emptiness. In Sacred Scripture, the events of the first Holy Saturday are described by Matthew:

The next day, the one following the day of preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember that this imposter while still alive said, 'After three days I will be raised up.' Give orders, then, that the grave be secured until the third day, lest his disciples come and steal him and say to the people, 'He has been raised from the dead.' This last imposture would be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "The guard is yours; go secure it as best you can." So they went and secured the tomb by fixing a seal to the stone and setting the guard [Mt 27:62-66].

Of course, by the next morning, on the third day, the tomb was empty. Jesus Christ had risen, just as He had told all who would hear. It's that emptiness we experience today, an emptiness encountered in our churches as well.

When I was a boy, my mom would usually stop by our parish church during the day on Holy Saturday. Sometimes she'd take me along. I suppose she wanted me to experience how different the Church was compared to other days. We'd enter the church and kneel in one of the back pews and pray for a few moments. Then we'd leave.

St. Augustine Church in Larchmont, NY was a beautiful neo-Gothic church. I've included below two photos taken a few years ago when Diane and I attended a reunion -- really just a luncheon -- with a few members of my 1958 eighth-grade class from St. Augustine School. I suppose I wanted Diane to see my childhood church where I served as an altar boy, along with the adjacent school which I attended for four years. Sadly, the parochial school is no longer open, but the church still thrives. The photos, particularly the interior photo, give you an idea of the kind of emptiness we experienced on Holy Saturday.


If you visit a Catholic Church today the emptiness is apparent.
The holy water fonts are empty, awaiting the evening blessing of baptismal water. In many churches statues are also covered only to be uncovered before or during the Easter Vigil. More telling, though, the sanctuary lamp is extinguished because the tabernacle is open and empty in anticipation of the Easter Vigil Mass. Without the Eucharistic Presence of our Lord, the emptiness becomes very real indeed.

Today, unfortunately, in light of the COVID pandemic many Catholic Churches are unlocked only for the celebration of Mass (with very limited attendance) or on a few other special occasions; otherwise the doors are locked up tight. I find that odd and disturbing, especially during a pandemic when people experience a greater need to visit their parish church, to take time to pray in a sacred place. It's not as if hordes of parishioners will suddenly descend on the church and willingly violate the "social distancing" protocols. Even more disturbing, as a Eucharistic Church, we have denied the Eucharist to thousands of Catholics who, because of age, illness, or injury, are unable to attend Mass or suffer from conditions that might result in serious health issues if they contract the virus. Hospitals and healthcare facilities have developed the means to safely treat those in their care. It would seem the Church could apply some of these same protocols to address the spiritual health of its people. All that's needed is a little creativity. But I suppose it's much easier just to listen to the politicians and attorneys and shut things down.

Some months ago, a parishioner, an elderly, home-bound woman, phoned me just to chat. During our conversation she challenged me with, "My Methodist neighbor visits and prays with me several times each week. I get the feeling my own Church simply doesn't care about me at all. They used to bring me the Eucharist. Now, nothing. When I call them, I'm told to go online, something I can't do." She, too, is experiencing a kind of emptiness, but not just on Holy Saturday. How many others sit at home, forced into spiritual loneliness, while struggling to keep the faith?

I don't know the answer. I'm not that smart. But I'm sure there are those in our Church, creative and faithful people, who can come up with better ways to care for God's people than by locking the doors. Otherwise, we run the risk of coming across like the chief priests and Pharisees described by Matthew. Are we trying to hide our Lord by securing the churches, fixing a seal, and setting the guard?

Friday, April 2, 2021

St. Paul on His World and Our World

A lot of people today have been writing a lot of words telling us what’s wrong with our world. Some of them have got it right, some only half-right, and others are completely wrong. Of course, assigning a writer to one of these three categories is based entirely on how closely his thought and beliefs mesh with my own...OK, and with the teachings of the Church. But I read them all, whether or not I agree with them. 

This evening, as I was mulling over some of the things I had read recently, I suddenly remembered St. Paul and his remarkable letter to the Romans. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romans, but I turn to it frequently because it’s so rich in spiritual truths. But it’s also rich in truths about our world and it’s problems. When you read Romans you discover that human nature hasn’t really changed in 2,000 years. The problems of today’s world, although they are packaged differently, are also remarkable similar to those faced by St. Paul and his contemporaries.  

I suggest you read the the following passage from the first chapter of Romans. With these words Paul describes with remarkable clarity the world of the Roman Empire in the first century, while prophetically describing the world we face today, along with its many evils. Perhaps I’ll delve into these verses at some point, but I’m pretty sure you will see the connections between Paul’s words and our world.
The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for likenesses of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes. Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them [Rom 1:18-32].

That's quite a collection of evils, isn't it? These, and many others, are the sins that nailed our Lord Jesus to the Cross on that first Good Friday -- sins of the past, the present, and the future.

Many people today, sadly, even many Christians, don't like to hear St. Paul's words because they have succumbed to the spirit of the age, which, by the way, is a spirit of evil. Others recognize the truth in what St. Paul tells us, but to openly proclaim and live a life that contradicts the world's evils demands more courage than they can muster up. So they keep quiet and ignore it all. Paul, however. is not calling us to fight evil with another evil. He's telling us to despise the sin, all the while loving and encouraging and praying for the sinner. Believe me, it isn't easy, but we don't do it alone.