Category Archives: Evangelization

Sin Always Hurts

 

sin always hurts

Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Well, I believe that ____ is a sin because I am a Christian, but I just don’t feel I have a right to force my beliefs on others…  

…I mean, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone…

It sounds straightforward enough, right?  And in our culture, one of the the worst things you can be accused of doing is “forcing” your beliefs on someone.  Unfortunately, the underlying premise of this sort of statement is that sin doesn’t always hurt.

But that’s simply not true.

Sin always hurts.  Sin hurts God, first and foremost.  But sin also hurts us, because we are created to live in communion with God, and sin damages our ability to come into relationship with our Creator.  Choosing to sin stems from passions that are out of order which, when not corrected, lead us to choose things that might seem appealing, but in reality are not good for us.

This is true of all sin and for all people–whether they are Christians or not.  Lying is bad for the believer and the unbeliever alike.  Unchastity hurts both the Christian and the agnostic.  Sin is not good for us, no matter who we are.

But wait, there’s more!  Sin doesn’t just hurt God and the one sinning, sin hurts everyonebecause no one sins in a vacuum.  Our choices always have an effect on those around us, for better or for worse.  Lying is an affront to the dignity of whomever you’re lying to, because you’re effectively saying they aren’t worthy of the truth.

Even the sins we call “private,” these still affect our neighbors, because we carry the effects of our sins around with us, to everyone we meet.  When I habitually choose to do things that are damaging to my soul, it absolutely affects me as a person, and so it absolutely affects my ability to engage in the kinds of healthy and constructive relationships that I am supposed to have with other people.  When this happens on a large enough scale, everybody loses, because it facilitates a culture in which virtually no one is capable of true, virtuous friendship.  So sin—even so-called “private sin”— creates a culture of selfishness.  Sound familiar?

But here’s the real crux for those of us who say we are Christians.  If we can pretend that it is possible to commit sin “without hurting anyone,” what we’re really saying is that Jesus or no Jesus–it doesn’t really make a difference.  We’re effectively saying that sin is just some arbitrary, made-up construct, and our Savior has nothing real to offer the world.

Is that what we believe?  Because it is certainly not what Christianity teaches.

If Jesus is real, then sin always hurts.  And if Jesus is real, then sin is what He says it is.  Meaning: We don’t get to decide that just because something Jesus calls sin doesn’t look like it is hurting our neighbors, that it is somehow not a sin in that case.  Even when we are not fully culpable for our sinful actions–due to poor formation or whatever–those sins can still cause damage in our lives.

That’s the truth of the matter.  If we say we are Christians, then we cannot ever hold that sin is harmless. Because Jesus isn’t a liar.

So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives?  I think it means that we start, if we haven’t already, to pray that the Holy Spirit would “inspire us with the horror of sin.”  Because I think that if we are striving to live our lives according to the Spirit of God, we would be horrified by sin–all sin.  And if we’re not horrified by sin, then it means something is off in how we relate to God and to our neighbor, and needs to be made right.

So let’s ask that Jesus would “break our hearts for what breaks His.”  Let’s ask that He show us how we are to really love Him and how we are to really love our neighbor.  Not by pretending that sin is harmless, but by giving us the conviction that our Savior who died for our sin invites us—all of us— to freedom from sin.

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8 Of My Favorite Tweets From Pope Francis

Don’t you just love it when you turn on the news and see the Pope?

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In honor of his visit to the US this week, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite Pope Francis tweets.

On the importance of reading Scripture:

 

On the dignity and vocation of the family:

 

Because this is easy to forget when you’re bogged down in your sin:

 

Papa is always challenging me to get a little more uncomfortable:

Again, a needed reminder:

Preach:

 

On making sense out of suffering:

Christ is counting on YOU:

  pope usa  

Pray for Pope Francis!

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The Best Way To Keep Your Faith Is To Give It Away – (What I Learned As A Catholic In College)

This week we have been talking about the 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.  So far we have talked about why:

  1. Having a regular routine is important.
  2. A routine alone is not enough.
  3. Jesus is not OK with lying.

Today:

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The best way to keep your faith is to give it away

This last point comes from Chris Mueller:

Faith in Christ is not about holding ground.  If you go to college thinking, ‘How do I hold onto my faith?’ you will lose it.  The Christian question is, ‘How do I share my faith?’

Before I left for college, one of my brothers shared with me a verse from Matthew’s Gospel,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

More than just a hymn sung at the end of mass, this is what it means to be a Christian.  If you aren’t sharing your faith, then you are not living your faith.  And if your faith isn’t living, it’s dead.

Sharing your faith doesn’t have to mean preaching in the student center.  It means that when you go to mass, invite your friends to come along.  It means if people ask why you go to confession on the weekends, you let them know that it’s important to you to keep your heart open to God’s grace.

In short, it means being a genuine person who isn’t afraid to talk about their love for Jesus.  (If that sounds weird to you, maybe your faith isn’t as deep as you think it is!)

The Christian is excited to share his or her faith, because the good news is truly good news!

So that’s it! The 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.  Be assured of my prayers for all of you headed to college this fall!

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4 Things I Learned As A Catholic In College (Part 1)

Last week, I received a question from a reader headed for college this fall.  (Thanks to all who shared their advice on my Facebook page!).

When it came time to write the post, I ended up having more to say than I realized.  So rather than give you one long post, instead I am going to be sharing with you all, over the next few days, some things that helped me grow in my faith while I was in college.

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1. Develop a regular routine, and give your faith first priority in it

When you start college, in a lot of ways it’s like your whole world is resetting. You move to a brand new place, with brand new people, and you have an entirely new set of opportunities to fill your time. It’s exciting, but can also be overwhelming. Developing some semblance of a regular routine will help you feel more like a regular human being, and less like a zombie sustained by Top Ramen and midnight excursions to Taco Bell.

You’re a college student, so your routine doesn’t have to look like that of a monastic. You don’t need to announce to your entire dorm that you’re a Catholic upon arrival.  If you’re being an authentic human being, people will discover your faith is important to you through getting to know you and seeing how you carry yourself.

By routine, I mean eat at the dining hall at regular intervals, join a club, go to the gym regularly. Be a college student! And yes, give your faith first priority in that routine.  For starters:

Mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day ought to be a given. You’re a Catholic—you go to mass on Sundays. It’s simple.  Find one you like and try to stick to that one.  Attending the same mass at the same church every Sunday will help you feel a sense of belonging.  You’ll need that when you’re away from home.

Usually I recommend confession once every other week. I’d actually recommend confession once a week while in college. If you make confession feel as regular to your schedule as dinner, you’ll be less likely to let time get away from you.  If once a week is just impossible, at the bare minimum go once a month.  If you find yourself headed home for Thanksgiving having not gone to confession even once while at school, you may need to reevaluate some things.

Pray Daily—Let prayer be the first thing you do when you open your eyes in the morning, and last thing before bed. Print out the Act of Faith, Act of Hope, and Act of Love and tape them on your mirror. Set a daily alarm on your phone for noon to stop what you are doing and pray The Angelus.  Leave your Bible on your nightstand and read a short passage each night before you go to sleep.  Of course talk with God throughout your day, but also have these concrete moments throughout your day when you turn to prayer.

Having a regular habit of prayer is very important. It will help keep you grounded and focused in your faith.  In college, it will be on you to make room for your faith in your daily life.

Check back for tomorrow’s post: “Your Routine Won’t Save You”

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Gentleness

Lately I have been feeling the Lord place on my heart a call to gentleness.

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“The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness” (2 Timothy 2:24-25, RSV)

I’m reminded of this calling every now and again when I receive a somewhat disagreeable comment on a past blog post.

Praise God for making me just busy enough that I usually cannot reply to comments in the moment or moments immediately after first reading them.  Admittedly (and maybe not so surprisingly), my initial reaction to argumentative comments is to be argumentative right back—seeking to craft the wittiest response that explains oh so clearly and succinctly why I’m in the right.  These responses may not be outright rude, but they certainly fall short of aspiring to the kind of gentleness that the Holy Spirit, writing through Paul in his letter to Timothy, calls me to in the above verse.

Thankfully when it comes to crafting a response, I usually have the time to take a deep breath, examine my motives, and finally ask God, “What would you have me say in reply to this?” (<— that should be my FIRST thought!)

What I have learned is that God more often than not calls me to be even gentler than my first, sometimes even second or third, “draft” of gentleness.  I’m discovering that God really wants gentleness and charity to be what guide my discussions with others—especially when those discussions are about Him.

It’s not about proving that I am in the right; it’s about leading others to Christ because I want them to understand and share in the love that He has given me for Him and His Church.  This doesn’t mean that I can’t defend my God or His Church or even myself when attacked; it just means I have to check myself to assure that my responses are motivated from love and not from pride.

It’s a work in progress :)

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