I belong to a local exercise facility in our town. It is notable and smile-able to see the large uptick in people showing up for classes and workouts following the Christmas and New Year holidays. A new year – leading to a fresh start. But then, many of us soon re-learn, we really do face the same challenges as we did just weeks before.
In January, a Starbuck’s Tazo Chai Frapuccino Blended with no whipped cream still has 330 calories in 2011 – somewhat more calories than you burned off in your first after the new year exercise session. The average American who watches three and a half hours of television every day, will, by the age of 65 have spent over nine years in front of the small screen. Most of those folks will have only fleetingly acquiesced to the common wisdom which says that we can add years to our lives by spending a portion of the three hours of TV time doing something that raises our heart rate and stretches and challenges our muscles.
And so today, I put on my exercise clothes and head toward that crowded place and face the necessity of knowing that the wisdom and thoughts of last year still are valid and challenging in 2011.
So too it is with living out our Catholic faith. The priest who gives boring homilies and uninspiring liturgies is still the pastor. And in dogged determination, we need to find a way to get through this and maintain our love of God and His Church.
Mortal sin still exists in spite of the coming of the Messiah, His death and resurrection. In spite of 2,000 years of Christianity, the words of John about ‘deadly sin’ still call us to do something about it. If it’s ours — we are called to repent of it and change our lives. If it is in the world, we are called to challenge it.
The worst among the demonic sins of our time is abortion. Thomas Peters of the AmericanPapist blog recently shared words from an essay by Ross Douthat of the New York Times. It concludes with these words: “This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.”
At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D. C. in February of 1994, Mother Teresa of Calcutta stood before President Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton and a gathering of the leaders of government as she said these words: “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.”
The lesson of saintly Teresa? Name the sin, even in front of presidents or people in our family or parish. Call it what it is: abortion is deadly sin. And her second lesson: in a loving way — help women to see and seek an alternative.
Scripture still speaks to us. It tells us that bad things happen as a result of sin. Not always in an immediate and direct fashion. Just as sitting and watching three hours of television doesn’t produce immediate negative results – so too, condoning it or acting as if it’s someone else’s problem, Mother Teresa tells us that we will produce bad fruit. Bad fruit? Yes – it won’t be long before we will have people questioning the value of life. At the Prayer Breakfast, Mother asked: ‘how can we tell other people not to kill?’
Mortal sin in our lives will lead to negative consequences. But we have a choice. Let us get on the treadmill and sweat up a storm about ridding evil from ourselves. And let’s pray for the guidance to do it in such a loving way that we encourage others to lose the fat of evil and indifference.
We have just celebrated the great feast of the great New Life. Now let us really exercise what it means to live out that New Life.
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