Confronting Anger

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Blessed are the Peacemakers

He that is angry without cause, shall be in danger; but he that is angry with cause, shall not be in danger.[1] St. John Chrysostom

Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins but not all anger is a sin. Anger is an emotion and emotions by themselves are not sinful or virtuous. An emotion will cease or flourish only at the discretion of the will. Peter Kreeft in his book Growing in Virtue offers this distinction between the two…

The commonest way in which the will comes in to make an emotion sinful or virtuous is by consent, which is basically the will’s approval or go-ahead to an emotion…What makes the emotion of anger into the sin of anger are two things. First, as we have seen, there must be the involvement of the will. Second, the anger must be inordinate, this is, wrong, irrational, too strong for the occasion or the person we are angry at.[2]

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Confronting Envy

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Cain killing Abel, Hans Acker, c. 1430, Ulm Münster Cathedral

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 1 John 3:11-12

Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God, Cain’s was not. It was the interior disposition of Cain’s heart toward his brother that led him to sin. It was the sin of envy that festered in Cain’s heart, leading to anger, and ultimately the murder of his brother.

St. Thomas Aquinas defines envy as sorrow for another’s good.[1] Envy is not the greatest sin but “it is the only one that gives the sinner no pleasure at all,” says Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue. “It causes nothing but pain and sorrow. Thus it shows more clearly than other sins two profound truths about the nature of sin: that it removes our joy and that it is deceptive,” he adds. “Envy removes joy because envy is the opposite of gratitude, and gratitude is the seedbed of joy.” [2]

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Confronting Avarice

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For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs. 1 Timothy 6:10

This week, we will take a look at the vice of avarice and its opposing virtue mercy. Avarice is the immoderate desire for extreme wealth and material goods. In ancient times, it was known as “covetousness;” today it is known as “greed.” It is natural for man to desire material goods as a means to the basic necessities of life, but avarice turns these goods into gods. “Christian tradition ranks…[avarice]…ahead of lust and second only to pride in the list of all-time spiritual villains,”[1] says Peter Kreeft in his book Back to Virtue.

“Avarice has two parts,” says Kreeft, “greed to get what we don’t have and greed to keep what we have.” “The two opposites of avarice are 1) contentment, voluntary poverty and 2) liberality, generosity, having mercy on others.”[2]

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Confronting Pride

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Young Nun in her Cell_Cesare Laurenti_19 cent

Young Nun in her Cell, Cesare Laurenti, 19th Century

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

This week, we will take a look at the deadly sin or the vice of pride and its antidote, poverty of spirit.

Pride is the greatest sin. It was the first sin in all of creation, causing Satan to rebel against God. Satan fell because he could not accept God’s plan to divinize human beings. Satan could not attack God, so he retaliated against that which God loves most, us.

Pride is the also the first sin of Adam and Eve. Desiring to be like God, they fell for Satan’s deception that God did not have their best interests at heart. This is Satan’s game plan. Time and time again, he tries to convince us that God cannot be trusted with our happiness; and we must follow our own path to achieve happiness.

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The Beatitudes Confront the Seven Deadly Sins

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Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12

The greatest sermon ever given is undoubtedly Jesus’ Sermon of the Mount. It is a treatise on joy. There is no better place to explore the blessedness of virtue than in this sermon and the Beatitudes. Blessedness, or beatitude, is the greatest aim of the human person, our greatest good. Every person seeks this blessedness but not all find it. Jesus has given us a roadmap to blessedness in the opening to His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7), the Beatitudes.

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The Cardinal Virtues

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The four cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Cardinal is the Latin word for “hinge.” All of the other virtues hinge around these four virtues. This includes the lesser virtues which are corollaries of these and the higher theological virtues of faith, hope, and love which could be called the fruit of the cardinal virtues.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides concise definitions for these four virtues:

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Living Virtue Well in Our Marriages and Families

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A year ago, we ran a series of Lenten reflections on the Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and love. This year, we will be focusing on two areas: 1) The four Cardinal Virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance and 2) How to counteract the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, avarice (greed), envy, wrath, sloth, lust, and gluttony with the seven beatitudes of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1-12).

In our post-Christian culture, we no longer consider virtue an important aspect of life. All great cultures of the past ended in ruin when virtue was thrown by the wayside. Our culture is at the precipice of destruction. It is only virtuous living, especially in our marriages and families, that our culture may avert disaster.

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Until Death Do Us Part

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Bible with rings

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

On Valentine’s Day, we participated in the funeral Mass for a very dear friend. He died suddenly leaving his beautiful wife of 27 years and six amazing children.

We have known this couple for more than 15 years. During that time, we shared in their joys and sorrows. We celebrated their children’s baptisms, first Communions, confirmations and graduations. We worked side-by-side with them serving the poor and praying for an end to abortion. Their faithful love for each was a great witness to us.

Love never ends…1 Corinthians 13:8

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The Holy Family: Model of Virtuous Family Life

Holy Family Prayer

In the Catholic Church, the month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family. This special devotion honors the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the model of virtue for all Christian households. The family is foundational for Christian life.

Nothing truly can be more salutary or efficacious for Christian families to meditate upon than the example of this Holy Family, which embraces the perfection and completeness of all domestic virtues. Pope Leo XIII

The family is a school of virtue for both parents and children. In family, we find God who is all loving through the love the spouses have for each other and for their children. The family is where love is freely given sacrificially for the good of another. During the International Year of the Family (1994), Saint John Paul II wrote: “The family is indeed more than any other social reality, the place where an individual can exist ‘for himself’ through the sincere gift of self. This is why it remains a social institution that neither can nor should be replaced: it is the ‘sanctuary of life.’”[1]

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National Marriage Week: February 7-14

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World Marriage Week_2020

Each year, February 7-14 is designated as National Marriage Week! This is a great time to reflect on the gift marriage is to our Church and our country, as well as an opportunity for you to build up your own marriage.

This year the theme is: Stories from the Domestic Church. Here are some ways you can focus on your marriage:

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