Love is everything…

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This movie is great and I highly recommend the extended version…Today in the Office of Readings, Saint Augustine is quoted in the second readings in a Sermon on Pastors, saying this…

I appeal to your love, and again I say, even if the sheep have life and if they are strong in the word of the Lord, and if they hold fast to what they have heard from their Lord, Do what they say but not what they do. Still, as far as he himself is concerned, the shepherd who lives a wicked life before the people kills the sheep under his care. Let such a shepherd not deceive himself because the sheep is not dead, for though it still lives, he is a murderer – just as when the lustful man looks on a woman with desire, even though she is chaste, he has committed adultery. For the Lord said in plain truth: Whoever has looked upon a woman with desire has already committed adultery with her in his heart. He has not entered her bedroom, yet he has ravished her within the bedroom of his heart.

Therefore anyone who lives wickedly before those who have been placed under his care kills, as far as he himself is concerned, even the strong. Whoever imitates him, dies; whoever does not, has life. But as for him, he kills both of them. You kill what is healthy and you do not pasture my sheep.  (End of quote)

This is the second half of my testimony that I never got to share at the Memorial for the Unborn at Saint Mary Catholic Church last weekend…

Today, I am married to my wife, Tonya.  She is a saint for living with the brokenness that God has been healing in me for the past 16 years of our marriage.  We have four incredible children, and God’s most recent addition to our family is a girl.  Our daughter, Kasaundra is a 3 years old, and she reminds me daily of what God’s love must look like, and keeps me focused on creating a better world for her to grow up in.  In my work as a youth minister for Saint Alice Catholic Church, I realize that a lot of our Catholic youth are growing up without God, because of the secularization of society, much the same way as I did.  We have to keep working to show them that God has a better plan for them than the hook up culture that they see all around them.  I don’t know if my story would be enough to convince a young man or woman to wait until they are married, but thanks be to God we have the Theology of the Body from Blessed Pope John Paul II to lead the conversation with them about how the story of creation and God’s plan for our bodies from the beginning is pointing to so much more meaning in their sexuality than the hook up.  We need to stop the murderous lies that are streaming from the organizations in our world, like Planned Parenthood, that are leading more and more of our young people, as well as adults, into accepting that they are alone in their sexual brokenness and there is no hope of abstinence or chastity.  My hope is, that we can start to change the world, by changing ourselves.  I still struggle with chastity, but that doesn’t mean that I can give up and say that Jesus’ blood has washed me clean and I am saved, so let’s move on.  I was recently told in confession that I probably always will struggle with chastity, which really sucks.  However, I was also told recently that it is in weakness that God shows his strength, so with that in mind I would like to share what I believe is the root cause of abortion in our culture today.

If I look out on the street today, I might be perfectly ok walking around and enjoying the different outfits that we will see out there.  However, if it happens to be the right time of the month for my wife and she is ovulating and we know we have to abstain for the purposes of making sure we are both ready to bring another child into the world, I may not want to walk the streets with such reckless abandon.  Some of you might not understand what I am talking about, so let me use Jesus’ words to help explain.  In the 5th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, the 27th and 28th verse have Jesus saying…”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I think if anyone was lost about why I was talking about walking the streets of Eugene before, hopefully understands completely now in light of that reading.  However, it is two words from those two verses that I would like to focus on.  Jesus says, “with her”, and I would like to propose that Jesus is telling us that it is not just me who commits adultery when I look with lust at a woman, but I commit adultery “with her”.  To me, this means that it is important for me to guard my eyes for the sake of my own salvation, but also for every woman who could potentially be affected by my lust-filled gaze.  Before I get too lost in explaining what constitutes a lust –filled gaze,  I would like to say that our children are growing up in a culture that revels in the fact that we can look at whatever we want and it shouldn’t affect us.  This is a lie from the pit of hell, and if you look at verse 29 of that same gospel chapter, Jesus tells us that if our eye causes us to sin, we should tear it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.   So, if we want to save our culture we should all cut out our eyes…No!  However, if we know that part of our body, my own interpretation, could be affected by actions that we are likely to take in a given situation, we should discern the times when we should avoid those situations.  Also, it is only when we are being honest with ourselves, we realize that we need to have open an honest conversations with our kids about guarding their eyes on the internet and through different applications on their smartphones, we can save them the pain of struggling with chastity almost twenty years into their marriage.  Then again, maybe that is not the point.  The point is they need to know that we struggle, so they know that their struggle is not in vain.  They need to see the times we go to confession and we give our struggle to Jesus.  Most importantly, they need to see us live out our marriage in joyful communion with each other as the fruit of the struggle.  My oldest son is 15 years old, and he has seen Dad at his worst.  He also sees Dad going to confession almost every week to let Jesus continue to work on his conversion.  My hope for all three of my sons, is that they will know when they need to guard their eyes, and keep good and holy friends around them to let him know when they are slippin’.  As for my daughter, my hope for her is that we will do everything we can to keep places like the Carmelite Monastery open, so she can visit there often,  to see examples of what true chastity looks like in a woman.  She is also getting to see her Dad and Mom going to confession, which is good.  She even got to sit in with me once in confession, because she wouldn’t wait outside for some reason.  I am hopeful that we will continue to build up our young women in our culture, so there are more examples of chastity that we don’t have to leave our parish to see.

The truth is, that only if we are honest about the struggle inside of us, that we can see to live out the chastity that God is calling us to.  The fruit of that chastity will be enough, in my opinion, to root out the cause of abortion in our culture, which is disinformation and lack of self-control.

Thank you and God bless you!

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4 thoughts on “Love is everything…

  1. With a certainty that Jesus loves you. You can know every day of your existence that you are loved by the God of creation. It becomes a blessing that will bring constant victory and joy to the believing soul. Just returning to spread the wealth. God Bless.

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