Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Homily Surprises  

[I was planning on writing this entry on the homily I heard this weekend. Before beginning to write the entry, I saw Amy Welborn's (Open Book) entry on preaching (See link below) which only provided me with further impetus to write this.]

My family and I went to the vigil mass on Saturday. The guest celebrant priest is Dominican who looks at bit like Bernard Cardinal Law. However, I was dumbfounded when I heard him preach because he spoke on one topic I had never heard a Catholic priest address (I have never heard in-person; I am not considering EWTN.), and in the course of his homily he mentioned another word that I might have heard once since I began going to mass.

First, the priest spoke on the reality of the existence of the devil. He then went on to explain how the devil tempts us to sin. It was a breath of fresh air to hear someone speak about something of importance related to our spiritual life. Speaking about the reality of the devil and the possibility that we might by tempted him was enough to place this homily in a category of its own among Catholic sermons I personally have heard.

However, the information was also very useful. The priest described how no matter what state we might find ourselves in, we are vulnerable to the wiles of the devil. When I am down, he wants to discourage me by tempting me to think that God could care less about me. When I am up, he wants me to believe that I do not need God. And most of all, he wants me to believe that he does not exist because then I will not see the need to ask for God's protection and grace.

In the midst of this, the priest mentioned a word I have rarely heard from a Catholic priest (Again with the exception of priests on EWTN). That word is confession. In the years since I began attending mass prior to my entry into the fullness of faith over four years ago, I think that I have heard the word confession mentioned perhaps twice in the homilies I have heard. For obvious reasons, this is quite a shame. The Catholic Faith is a sacramental faith. It is through the seven sacraments which Christ instituted that we receive His grace. For adults, confession is the means by which we are able to be absolved of our serious sins. There simply is no other way.

Although the priest did not make the connection, I think it is appropriate to link the lack of teaching about confession and the lack of teaching about the reality of the devil. They really are the same thing. Both are a denial of sin. If there is no such thing as sin or mortal sin is almost impossible to commit, than it is obvious that there is no need for confession. Similarly, if the devil is just a piece of fairy tale left over to help the weak-minded, than ultimately there is no sin. In both cases, the denial of Church teaching leads to the same thing: a weakening of the resolve to grow in holiness. The fruit of frequent confession is a growth in holiness because I become more cooperative with the grace Christ gives me in the sacrament. Similarly, as I recognize the reality of evil that enters my life, I learn to turn to God more in order to fight against evil.

Posted by David at 1:00 PM  |  Comments (0)  | Link


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