Sin and Compromise

Posted on March 17, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

Post by Chuck Frost

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” – C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Sin and CompromiseWe’ve heard of the drug dealer cliché, “The first hit is free.” You have to take the first hit to begin the slow decline toward full blown addiction, and if vulnerability is detected the dealer may gladly get us started free of charge. Not too many people think that one little indulgence will end up that way.

We go through life making small moral compromises here and there. Maybe it’s something that seems too insignificant to get all worked up about. Things that we think don’t rise to the level of serious sin.  Things we may joke about or shrug off.

And though I think it’s possible to become scrupulous to an unhealthy degree, it is important that we take account of those small compromises for they can be the devil’s delight.

The DevilThere is a great episode from the nineties television show Northern Exposure called “The Robe”. Shelly, the wife of a local bar owner, despises her husband’s old bathrobe. It looks hideous on him, but he adores it.

So the devil comes to her as an engaging traveling salesman and tempts her to burn the robe while her husband is away. She almost does it, but then turns back at the last minute.  When the devil angrily scolds her for not following through, Shelly replies: “Why did you go after me? I’m nobody.” So he says:

“You’re my bread and butter, Shelly. Look, say I get some corporate raider to suck up some company, turn 3,000 employees out on the street. Where’s the victory there? But if I can get somebody like you, pure of heart, to let her bumper stray over that white line just a little bit…You know that expression, ‘God is in the details’? Well, it’s a little bit like that for me.”

Is it really a big deal if I eat from that tree?  I mean, it’s just a piece of fruit

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia

Lent Reflection: 2nd Friday of Lent

Posted on March 17, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 17, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Friday of Lent (March 17, 2017) - ‘Remember the marvels the Lord has done.’(Responsorial Psalm)

Reflection

Sometimes we go through a day and fail to see and wonder at the things that surround us. Perhaps today is a good day, regardless of the weather, to take stock of the gift of creation. What part are you playing to preserve it for future generations?


Challenge

  • What inspires me in creation today? I give thanks to God for this gift.
  • Today, I will try to do one thing that preserves and protects God’s creation. It may be as small as recycling some cardboard.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lent Reflection: 2nd Thursday of Lent

Posted on March 16, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 16, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Thursday of Lent (March 16, 2017) - ‘Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.’(Gospel Acclamation)

Reflection

We all have the capacity to be generous—but we also all have the capacity to be mean-spirited. We have the choice of giving back to God with increase—time, gifts, and even our material possessions, or choosing for that harvest not to bear fruit.


Challenge

  • If I am reading this at the beginning of the day I can choose to respond to what the day brings with a generous heart. If I’m reading it at the end of the day, I look back and see the opportunities to be generous that I have taken—and those I have missed… Tomorrow can be different.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Secret Ambition

Posted on March 15, 2017 by - Everyday Stewardship

Post by Steve Botsford

Godly AmbitionIn the summer of 1980 I went to stay with my grandparents for six weeks. They had a ten-unit apartment building on the Intracoastal in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, a very prominent area of town.

My plan was to work for my grandfather doing painting, yard work, and basic upkeep. I had calculated the amount of money I would make by working forty hours a week for the entire time and it would give me just enough to purchase a new synthesizer. I was a budding musician and it was an ambitious endeavor to say the least.

My grandparent’s plan was to have an extended visit and help me with some spending cash by paying me to do some chores a few hours a day for the duration. Needless to say, I couldn’t afford the purchase when I returned but left with memories that remain with me today – a much greater reward in hindsight.

I went on after high school to work for my father hanging wallpaper and eventually started my own wallpaper business. When he lost a battle to lung cancer a few years later I was left with a profitable trade-and an appreciation for the gift of music and the time we shared doing both. I was ambitious and successfully remained in that business for nearly ten years until I had an epiphany.

Through a series of events I had a spiritual awakening in my late twenties. Interestingly, I lost my ambition to seek fame and fortune but found a new ambition, sharing the Gospel. You see, my value system was altered and my new ambition was driven by the Holy Spirit.

I remained in youth ministry for ten years, went on to Catholic publishing for eleven years and have just embarked on a journey as a parish DRE. The fruits of my youth ministry can be seen today in many of the youth who became productive citizens driven by Gospel values. A few have become youth ministers or teachers and many are parents raising their children as faithful Catholics while maintaining productive value-driven jobs.

In the Gospel today, we hear of the mother of two of the disciples who also had an ambition. She asked Jesus to seat them at his right and left and he said she didn’t know what she was asking. Is it possible we have ambition without really knowing what we’re after?

The thing is, there are two kinds of ambition, the worldly and the otherworldly. One seeks prominence and the other servitude.

Jesus had a secret ambition. He was to be the King the Jewish people had been waiting for, only they couldn’t easily grasp what that meant. He was to usher in a new Kingdom of love, service and sacrifice.

In spite of two thousand years of faith and tradition, we still struggle today with ambition. As we continue our journey through the season of Lent, let us pause to ponder what is truly meant and implied by our Lord’s secret ambition.

Steve Botsford is the Director of Religious Education at St. Ann Catholic Church in Marietta, GA. He holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a Master of Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans. Steve is married with three children and is the creator of FeastDay, the Liturgical Year Board Game.

Lent Reflection: 2nd Wednesday of Lent

Posted on March 15, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 15, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Wednesday of Lent (March 15, 2017) - ‘But my trust is in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’’(Psalm 31:15)

Reflection

We are now about a third of the way through Lent. This season of repentance, renewal, and hope may have started well—or maybe it was full of good intentions that haven’t been fully realized as yet. Perhaps today I can take part of this psalm as a mantra, repeating it throughout the day: “My trust is in you, O Lord” or “You are my God.”


Challenge

  • How does it feel to hear those words?

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

The Purpose of Lent

Posted on March 14, 2017 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection


For Sunday, March 19, 2017, 3rd Sunday of Lent

Exodus 17:3-7
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
John 4:5-42 or 5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

As Ash Wednesday approaches each year, one of the first questions we Catholics ask is, “What should I give up for Lent?” And it’s a fair question because, as we know, penance is a traditional part of our Lenten observance.

So, how do you or your family and friends answer this question? Do you give up social media? Television? Chocolate or another favorite food? Soft drinks, coffee, or alcohol? While it’s true that taking a break from any of those can be good for us, we also have to ask ourselves if these sacrifices are really helping us to grow in our lives as Christians.

It’s important to remember that our word “Lent” comes from the Old English word for “springtime.” This gives us a wonderful insight into what the days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday are all about: a season when faith and the virtues of the Christian life grow and flower within our hearts and souls. (more…)

Lent Reflection: 2nd Tuesday of Lent

Posted on March 14, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 14, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Tuesday of Lent (March 14, 2017) - ‘Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD.’(Isaiah 1:18)

Reflection

We tend to think that we are in control and that all power lies with us. As Christians we know in our heads that God is in control—but do we know this in our hearts? When was the last time we talked something over with the Lord?


Challenge

  • I will think of something that is troubling me today, it might be in my own life, in the life of someone else, or something in the world. I will sit with the Lord and “talk this over.”

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lent Reflection: 2nd Monday of Lent

Posted on March 13, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 13, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Monday of Lent (March 13, 2017) - ‘Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure.’(Luke 6:38)

Reflection

We are all gifted people. Why? Because God chose gifts for each one of us and then trusted us to use them in service. This is the right response to God’s generosity. Do I give back what is right—or what is left over?


Challenge

  • I will recognize one gift that God has given me. Where do I use it and with whom do I share it?
  • Where do I find it difficult or challenging to use that gift? With whom do I not share it?

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lent Reflection: 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted on March 12, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 12, 2017
Lent Reflection: 2nd Sunday of Lent (March 12, 2017) - ‘Do not be afraid.’(Matthew 17:7)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel reading is an account of the Transfiguration. When Peter, James, and John see Jesus transfigured before their eyes, we are told that they “were very much afraid.” Today, over two thousand years later, there is much in our world that we are frightened of or frightened about. “Do not be afraid” is a phrase often heard in Scripture; we can take heart from it because these words would not have been said by Jesus had the disciples not already been fearful.


Challenge

  • What makes me fearful? Today I will spend five minutes speaking with God about my fears for myself, my family and friends, the world.

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lent Reflection: 1st Saturday of Lent

Posted on March 11, 2017 by - Lent Reflections

March 11, 2017
Lent Reflection: 1st Saturday of Lent (March 11, 2017) - ‘Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.’(Matthew 5:44)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus teaches us to go beyond treating those who hurt us simply with justice. He asks us to show them mercy. Although we may not approve of their conduct, we must still wish them well and be compassionate towards them in times of trial.


Challenge

  • Is there someone I need to be merciful towards?
  • What opportunities might there be today for me to reach out to that person and show compassion?

Excerpts from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner.