Well...it has occurred to me of late...that if Lent lasted more than one more week...I might not ever go back to facebook. Of course the fact that this last week was Spring Break didn't give me much time to even check my messages....and my house is much cleaner with the absence of fb. However....I do miss my friends! Sigh!
I had to laugh. I checked my fb before I came to blogger and low and behold I had a couple of messages from people asking me if I was going to do my Sunday blog. Fear not....I am here, better late than never. I thank you for reading and once again....I hope I do my subjects justice.
Today's blog is going to be about something that we all do and most of us don't really like to think about. SIN! I was told once that the problem with Catholics is that they spend way too much time thinking about sin. This is probably true and I can't say that it is a bad thing. In any Christian religion....sin is looked upon as soul killing and they key issue that will keep us out of heaven. I did have one Protestant friend tell me once though....that they were saved, meaning that they were heaven bound regardless, therefore God forgave their sins automatically....regardless. Now I am not an expert in how Protestants believe but I would almost bet there was more to the story than this Protestant was inferring. I would say that more than likely...sin puts you sideways with God....saved or not.
Did you know that all sin is not created equal? In the Catholic church there is much talk and reference to sin and it is closely tied in with all the Seven Sacraments of the Church....and especially closely tied to the the first three Sacraments....Baptism, Penance (Confession) and First Communion. Now here is where I am not sure how other Christian religions believe as I have been told by some that they view all sin equally horrific to God, but in the Catholic faith it is believed that there are three types of sin. The first and one that we all have because we are born with it is....Original Sin. Original sin was the sin passed on to us from Adam and Eve. Had they only listened to God and stayed away from that apple....there would be no sin, but alas....they were the first to show human frailty, human error and human arrogance in the face of God. Because of this....their sins have been passed down to all their decedents which includes each and every one of us. This is why Catholics unlike many other other Christian religions baptize as close to birth as possible. The sooner the baptism, the sooner the soul is cleansed of sin. From that point on.....we see children as basically sin free as they (in most cases) do not have the ability to openly "sin" because they don't really have the knowledge of real sin. At seven is the time we begin teaching about sin, our souls and the importance of the next two Sacraments.....penance and their first communion.
Penance as I have explained in another blog (also known as Confession or the Act of Reconciliation) is what cleanses our souls from sin in preparation for communion. In order to receive communion (the body and blood of Christ), it is imperative that our souls are as pristine as possible and penance is what accomplishes this. So you see....sin and the first three Sacraments walk hand in hand.
The other two forms of sin which I referred to are venial and mortal. A venial sin is a lessor sin such as a white lie, a slipped out curse word or an unkind thought about another person. Although still a sin, they are not soul destroying and often a heart felt Act of Contrition accompanied by true sorrow for the act and maybe even retribution such as admitting the lie to the one you lied to....will suffice until you can get to Confession. The mortal sin on the other hand is a grievous sin. This type of sin such as a willful murder, an act which harms someone either physically, spiritually or mentally or habitually committing the same sin over and over again.....can leave the soul open to evil and cause you to risk hell. These are sins you want off your soul as soon as possible and amends must be made for these acts to the best of ones ability. Dying with a such a sin on your soul endangers the soul for all eternity.
I have been told by some that they think very little about sin because sin is subjective. Not everyone sees sin in the same light nor do they view the same things as sin. In todays world...especially if you are young, I can see where this might be an issue. We are a world who seems to steer clear of labeling anything as sinful. Then there are those who view EVERYTHING as sinful. A certain Topeka, KS based Baptist church (no insult intended towards Baptists) comes to mind. So how do we really know what is sinful and what is not? God actually made it very easy for us. Back many years ago....He hand wrote the rules and gave them to Moses. Since that point in time.....they have pretty much stayed the course and really....no new sins have been invented that don't in some way link back to the Ten Commandments of God. These ten rules have been the basis for not only church laws but also secular laws, ethics and morality. Try as some might to circumvent them.....they are still as relevant today as they were in Old Testament times. And not only that....they are the laws by which all Christians....Protestant and Catholics alike along with those of the Jewish faith all base the foundation of their religious beliefs in. So what are these Ten Commandments?
An interesting fact comes into play here. Catholics, Protestants and Jews all believe in basically the same Ten Commandments....the only difference is the wording and in some cases the way they fall numerically. Also...Protestants have a commandment about worshiping any graven images such as statues. While Catholics cover the no worshiping any other gods in the first commandment, Protestants often feel that because Catholic churches have statues that we worship them. It is an unfounded belief but still one that causes contention between the two Christian sects. Perhaps that will be a good blog for another day. At any rate....I found an interesting site called the Biblical Heritage Center, which has all three versions side by side. For sake of ease and since this is a blog about Catholicism....I will give you the Catholic version.
1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day
4. Honor your father and your mother
5. You shall not kill
6. You shall not commit adultery
7. You shall not steal
8. You shall not bear false witness
9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods
Regardless of the version you choose....they all give us the guide lines for what God asks of us. Disregarding these wishes in any way is to put it quite simply.....a sin. They tell us that; there is only one God and no other gods shall be worshiped, that God's name should only be used in prayer and with respect, that the Lords day should be a day of rest and one that is dedicated to the Lord through church, prayer and family; that we should always show respect to our parents; that we should not kill, we should not have sex outside of marriage, that we should not steal, lie, be jealous of someone elses spouse or what someone else has materially. They are still relevant and will be until the end of time. Yes....of course there will be debate on biblical times and biblical thinking vs. modern times and modern thinking but still today....morality and ethics tells us that stealing, lying and cheating are wrong. We do tend to get off kilter though when we start trying to mesh God's law with man's law as often man's law is secular and has justification built into it, thus believing that somehow it is okay to veto God's law. Perhaps this is why my mom always said that "Just because man makes a law does not always mean it is a good law." Important words to always keep in mind.
Because of all the man vs. God law making and because we as humans fall prey to our own wants and desires as well as what society says opposed to what God says....sin is committed daily. However...when we break the Ten Commandments we are committing a mortal grievous sin because we are breaking God's specific rules. It as if a child commits an act which a parent "specifically" tells them not to commit. That is going to carry a much heavier sentence than say not putting his clothes in the hamper or forgetting to set the table. The child is in the wrong for all three, but the one that is going to get him in the most trouble is the one where he was deliberately defiant against his parents wishes. The wonderful thing about God and sin though.....with true sorrow and a willingness to avoid future sin....God ALWAYS forgives even the most horrific of sins, an ability that most humans have not nor will ever master.
So there you have it....SIN! It is something that we all fall prey to. We have all done it on one level or another and we will all likely do it again. I have often wondered how different things would have been if Adam and Eve had just listened to God that day, but alas.....like us humans often do.....they chose the hard way and gave us a legacy that has caused wars, crime and if we aren't very careful.....an eternity in hell.