Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sin is an obstacle to the spiritual life

Well, that should seem obvious, shouldn't it? If we lived in a sane world, it would be. But we don't live in a sane world.
I've been thinking about this because of what happened last week in Miami with Fr Alberto Cutie. Unless you've been on a fishing trip with no outside communication, you know that this priest who had been photographed frolicking on the beach with his girlfriend left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopal Church. Last Sunday--the feast of Pentecost--he gave his first sermon in the Episcopal Church. According to one news report he said something to the effect that the Church is all about forgiveness. I guess he forgot that repentance and conversion are supposed to come before forgiveness. Otherwise it's what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace."

If we lived in a sane world, Cutie would be off in a monastery somewhere doing penance after the revelation of his 2-year affair with this woman. Instead, he got himself a pulpit and a church full of supporters who applauded him. He could have asked to be laicized in order to be married. The Church allows for these cases. Instead, he renounced his Catholic faith. There is something wrong with this picture!

I'm not blogging about this to criticize him, but because scandals like this can disturb the faithful people who live their baptism by striving to avoid sin and practice virtue. They do this even when it costs them a lot in terms of sacrifice and self-denial. Then they see a priest do what Cutie did, and they can be tempted to think "what's the point?" of trying to live a Christian life.

These scandals can make us go back to Christian Life 101: avoid sin. Jesus started his ministry by preaching to people that they give up sin and be converted. Nothing keeps us from God except sin. We can fool ourselves that we can lead spiritual lives and keep up some habit of sin that we like. Today, with relativism all around us, it's easy to find a justification for anything. But that doesn't change the reality that sin keeps us from God. To grow in the spiritual life, we need to give up deliberate sin. It's a struggle and it doesn't happen all at once. As long as we never give up and live in a continual conversion, we're on our way to God.


Ruth Ann said...

Sister, you stated this so beautifully. Yes, many do strive to love God above all things and to follow Him despite the sacrifices. Thank you for this reminder about, as you put it, Christian Life 101!

Our Heroine said...

Sr. Lorraine,

Thank you for the guidance you left on my blog regarding my friend who is thinking of converting. I am frequently in NYC, and will definitely stop by the store.

Thank you again for taking the time to post.

Vicky said...

Sister Lorraine, I was born and raised in a Catholic home but as a teenager I "rebel", not against the Church, but because I wanted to see what other religions had to say and my mother didn't want me to go and see those places. For a few years I stopped attending mass but never said I wasn't Catholic anymore, even because at times of sadness my refuge was always the empty church in the afternoon. But in fact, it was me who was empty. I needed the Blessed Sacrament and knowledge about the teachings of the Church. Later, working with the Pauline Sisters I had access to books I didn't know existed, talked to people who were converted and met Communion and Liberation movement, which helps feed my hunger for knowledge and make my faith grow stronger.
When I see a priest behaving like that I can only be very sad as for there was something missing in his faith, something that maybe were blinded by pride. Faith is something not to be mechanically built, it needs to be experienced AND based in knowledge. It is very important that we all offer our prayers to the vocation of priests, not only for new vocations, but mainly for the Holy Spirit to help renew the faith of existing priests every single day.

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thank you, Vicky, for your beautiful testimony of faith! May Our Lady always guide you and may God bless you abundantly!