There have been many occasions in my life where I've stumbled my words trying to defend the Church's teachings. Whether it was to friends being impure with their boyfriends, getting drunk, or using artificial birth control, the topic always seemed to be brought up and I always dreaded having to speak why it was wrong. This is something I have and still struggle with but with many failed attempts, prayer, a firm belief in the wisdom of Holy Mother Church and (of course) grace, im slowly learning how to lovingly and clearly speak the truth of our Catholic faith.
Growing up I heard a lot of NO without any explanation of why. It's true that we should learn the basics and (hopefully) MORE about our faith at home, but the reality is that most of us dont, and even if so, dont learn the WHY. Lets zoom in on a few important WHY's. WHY is "hooking up" or pre-marital sex a mortal sin? WHY is getting drunk or using drugs a mortal sin? WHY is birth control a mortal sin? These and many other questions rattled my heart as I sought to find truth for myself and others.
Lets start with the basic definition of sin:
1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law."121Catechism of the Catholic Church
Then on to mortal sin:
1855 Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him. -Catechism of the Catholic Church
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131 -Catechism of the Catholic Church
For more on venial and mortal sin- http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a8.htm
Let that sink in...
Contrary to what our culture believes, great freedom is found in those words. Basically ladies, our answer to the WHY is because of our great desire to stay in union with God. If we do sin mortally, that is OUR choice to turn away from God. Not His. What a loving Father that He will NEVER
turn from us. Our God, our Creator, the One who made everything! If we are not in union with Him our life crumbles and we can't see clearly. Take it from me, its the darkest and most desolate place to be, even when we pretend its not. But there is hope. Gods Mercy has brought us the sacrament of reconciliation for when we fall. Don't be afraid to invite other Catholic friends there as well. Lets set our hearts on heaven and not in this world. We can be that example to our friends and lovingly speak from our hearts why we are convicted to never turn from God. So if you are faced with this challenge, pray for courage and the help of The Holy Spirit and let the truth pour out.
If we don't have God, then what DO
Today, with The Holy Shepherd as our guide, we begin as a Church the Year of Faith. It begins on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text promulgated by Blessed John Paul II. As I prepare to start out this year of Faith I can't help but think of the example of two very holy women...
St. Therese, the little flower, whose feast day we celebrated last week is a constant reminder of faith. She expressed her "little way" with great love and since has spread that way in a quiet boldness throughout this world and I'm sure onto the next. Her great faith was very hidden and holy, relying only on Jesus and with great humility drew close to his merciful Heart. She came to Jesus as a little child with great faith, just as He asked us all to come to him.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. In truth I tell you, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. -Luke 18:16-17
Our Blessed Mother is the ultimate example of faith with her holy "fiat" or yes. As women of Christ we too can say yes! Whether it be large or small, Jesus cares only for the position of our heart, not of the greatness or success of the outcome. We can say yes in our everyday life, be it serving our families or friends openly, or in the quiet of our sufferings, if we offer it all with great love and faith we too can be an example like Mary. Pope Benedict explains its so beautifully here:
By faith, Mary accepted the Angel’s word and believed the message that she was to become the Mother of God in the obedience of her devotion (cf. Lk 1:38). Visiting Elizabeth, she raised her hymn of praise to the Most High for the marvels he worked in those who trust him (cf. Lk 1:46-55). With joy and trepidation she gave birth to her only son, keeping her virginity intact (cf. Lk 2:6-7). Trusting in Joseph, her husband, she took Jesus to Egypt to save him from Herod’s persecution (cf. Mt 2:13-15). With the same faith, she followed the Lord in his preaching and remained with him all the way to Golgotha (cf. Jn 19:25-27). By faith, Mary tasted the fruits of Jesus’ resurrection, and treasuring every memory in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), she passed them on to the Twelve assembled with her in the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14; 2:1-4).
I invite us all in this Year of Faith to strive for a greater sense of faith and holiness. Pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read the treasure within. Take time to read and meditate upon the Gospels. Attend The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Adoration when possible. Recite the Creed often and let it always be silently on our lips. God will faithfully do His part if we only do ours. With these amazing resources and unfailing faith we can transform the culture and show that real women, relying solely on Christ, can set the world ablaze!