Advice for Preachers on Sin and Satan

I once knew a pastor whose homilies were so awful, so bone crushingly boring, that I’d swear he composed them in the time it took us to sit down after he’d finished reading the Gospel.  In other words, three seconds flat.

But while they may have been a tad bit thin theologically, they were always reassuringly thick with orthodoxy.  So I didn’t really mind missing the spiritual wheat germ so much, because I figured at least he’s not trying to poison me.  For real toxicity, one would have to go elsewhere.

And, believe me, I have gone elsewhere; indeed, over the years, I have been regularly assaulted by some of the best hit and run homilists in the business.  I’ll never forget a certain curate who preached one Sunday on sin, his point being that since we so rarely commit any, we should stop feeling guilty worrying about it.

“Haven’t you already opted fundamentally for God?” he asked.  “Then why fuss over details?  Details are for bookkeepers, not for Christians, who, loving Jesus and everyone else, are blessedly free to do what they will!”

How very soothing it all sounded at the time, his honeyed words exuding great dollops of sweetness and light.  However, when the sermon concluded with a full-throated denunciation of rightwing homophobes, something snapped.  For this congregant at least, the spell of the speech was broken.

Well that was all rather a long time ago, and while other upstarts have come along to vex and torment me, I haven’t noticed the levels of sin diminishing all that much.  The stabbing sense of contradiction we experience between the ideals we profess and their frequent and all too shabby betrayal, will not, I’m afraid, simply go away as a result of improvements in diet or hygiene.   Consider all those pious promises we’ve made just moments before the usual mockery of abject performance sets in.  Sobering, isn’t it?  Hypocrisy, as that old cynic Oscar Wilde used to say, is only the homage vice pays virtue.  As T.S. Eliot remorselessly reminds us in “The Hollow Men,”

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the shadow.

In other words, when preparing their homilies, priests and pastors mustn’t forget the long shadow cast by sin.  Nor, while they’re at it, the devil himself, who was the first to live in love’s shadow, and has been wandering about the world ever since trying mightily to put out the lights.  I mean, who else besides all those fallen and corrupt angels deserve the first word in a sermon on sin?   “Our old subtle foe,” the poet John Donne calls him who, in the first of his Divine Meditations, “so tempteth me, / That not one hour I can myself sustain.”   Only the grace of God, he tells us, “may wing me to prevent his art,” and by whose life and strength alone, “like adamant draw mine iron heart.”

Ah, but Satan, we are told, achieved his master-stroke sometime in the nineteenth  century when he managed to persuade huge numbers of people to stop believing in him.  Once that ruse got around—and, as always, educated opinion was sinfully eager to help it along—the devil was at liberty to do his worst.  What then becomes of sin in a world more and more divested of belief in an Evil Intelligence bent on bedeviling us with its false attractions?  It doesn’t just go poof, does it? Leaving us with the same intolerable burden of guilt and sorrow as before only now without anyone to blame.  Rather an entire moral edifice commences to collapse once the scaffolding of sin (hence virtue) is removed.  And certainly the Old Guy has returned the favor vouchsafed him by so many devil deniers of yore.  Because the past one hundred years bear unmistakably the imprint of iniquities not of this world.  Without doubt the bloodiest on record, we simply cannot attribute all the horrors and futilities of modernity to mere human agency.   As Monsignor Ronald Knox once wryly put it:  “It is so stupid of modern civilization to have given up believing in the devil when he is the only explanation of it.”

Any recovery of a sane and healthy sense of sin, therefore, crucially depends on getting people to believe once again in the devil.  If the world and the flesh fell on his, and Adam’s, account, why ever not?  “The devil is the number one enemy,” declared Pope Paul VI, “the source of all temptation … the sophistical perverter of man’s moral equipoise, the malicious seducer who knows how to penetrate us (through the senses, the imagination, desire, utopian logic or disordered social contacts) in order to spread error….”

And if papal testimony were not telling enough, particularly from the tragedy of one who felt in his final days “the very smoke of Satan” within the Temple of God, Holy Scripture emphasizes that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one,” who is not called “the prince of this world” for nothing.  Think only of Our Lord’s ordeal in the desert:  If the devil offered Christ all the kingdoms of earth in exchange for his submission, then surely it was because he was in a position to dispose of them.

There is a wonderful and chilling little story by Graham Greene called “The Hint of an Explanation,” in which a free-thinking baker by the name of Blacker attempts to corrupt a young altar boy with literally fiendish cunning.  His greed baited with biscuits and toys, the boy is tempted to turn over to Blacker the holiest thing in the universe, the Host, for the profanation of which he has been promised a shiny new miniature train.  Only at the last moment does the child, strangely moved by grace, recoil in horror at the prospect of so paltry an exchange.

Greene’s point, of course, which he renders with startling and vivid effect, is that evil and damnation do exist, that they are permanent human possibilities, behind which stand sinister, super-human beings bent on the total subjugation of the soul.  Alas, poor Blacker provides the most debased testimony to their success.

How often it is youth, too, the purely innocent ones, that serve to inflame the powers of darkness—The Thing, Greene calls it—behind the mere human instrument intent on our ruin.  Such terrible loss, too, when it actually appears to have won.  In his haunting poem, “Germinal,” George William Russell writes how, “In ancient shadows and twilights / Where childhood had strayed / The world’s great sorrows were born / And its heroes were made. / In the lost boyhood of Judas / Christ was betrayed.”

So let the devil have his due, I say.  But no more.  If the first word is his, let all the rest belong to God, who in Christ broke his sham kingdom in two.

Editor’s note: The image above entitled “St. Peter Preaching” was painted by Masolino da Panicale in 1426-27.

Regis Martin

By

Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, also published by Emmaus Road, is called Witness to Wonder: The World of Catholic Sacrament. He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Just where are we to find homilies that reflect the horror of sin? We now have a pope who doesn’t seem to find sin a worrisome problem. Sin, certainly, hasn’t made his top ten hits for homilies. It is the poor, we are told, that need to be fed. This being true hardly needs updating, for it is always true, but is that all there is dear Francis? I do not believe for a second that the Church will follow Mr. Martins’ excellent advise. We will now double down with more VAT 2 novelties that will further distance all of us from what is required, and send more to the Second Avenue Church of Nice.

  • AcceptingReality

    The word “sin” is routinely deleted from the Penitential Rite in the Mass, too. Rarely am I ever enjoined to “call to mind my sins”. That phrase is often replaced with some inane gobblety-gook like “….lets be mindful of the times we did not do our best”. It’s a sad that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is no longer regarded with the highest reverence. The sense of the sacred is so rarely cultivated. Every thing is so casual. People come as if dressed for the beach. Instead of kneeling and praying prior to Mass the sit and chat as if waiting for the curtain to go up on the evening’s entertainment. A lot has to do with preaching, I guess. I do think the failure to preach on hell and sin is at least partly the reason our sense of liberty has descended into licentiousness. We need some “new” good old days!

    • jacobhalo

      Attend the EF of the mass. You will hear about sin and you will see people dressed as they should be when appearing before Jesus. You will be able to hear a pin drop before and after mass, and we have a ton of young people. The good old days are here if you look for them.

      • AcceptingReality

        Well thanks for implying that I haven’t looked. I assure you I have. The EF Mass is not available in my diocese. My understanding is that it is allowed but not encouraged by the Bishop.

        Your comment does prove my point, though. The commonly used form of the Mass is so watered down that it has become overly casual and horizontal. The benefit of attending, for most, has become largely diminished precisely because of the lack of reverence and the sense of the sacred.

        • slainte

          Please take a look at this website ( http://www.stmarynorwalk.net) so that you may have a better sense of a Catholic Church oriented toward the Roman Rite and Tradition.

  • GaudeteMan

    The real advice for preachers is KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Granted, the bulk of Catholics in the pews on Sundays could stand to hear about sin and Satan. What really is overlooked is how so-called orthodox priests miss the target when they have their captive audiences. We frequent the Traditional Mass and are rarely challenged to overcome the real struggles we face from the pulpit. Telling us about contraception, homosexuality and the unspeakable evils into which our culture has fallen is good but all told is simply ‘preaching to the choir.’ Yes, Father we know this, that’s why we come to this church and pray and sacrifice daily. But what about the sin of poor stewardship with respect to credit card debt or moving into homes families can hardly afford and will take 30 years to pay off? Or the ire so many traditionalist have toward the Novus Ordo Mass and those who choose to participate in it? What about the disdain we have to women who don’t dress according our ideas of modesty? What about the father of 8 who doesn’t have life insurance? What about outward criticism of a Pope who isn’t Catholic enough for our tastes? Or mocking those who pray the Luminous mysteries of the Rosary? Gossip? It behooves us to do a collective examination of conscience in those areas of our lives where we have gotten ‘fat and comfortable.’ The Devil is astute and he lulls us into thinking our way of skinning a cat is the only way and any other way simply doesn’t touch our lofty level of Catholic living. Preachers need to have their finger on the pulse of their faithful or they will wander towards the abyss like the lost sheep that they are.

    • Dick Prudlo

      Your presence at the Mass of the Ages is highly remarkable considering your proclivity on criticism of those of us with you in the pew. The ire you speak of with the NO Mass is that it is as sterile as the priest’s homilies you hear and as vacant as a drum on orthodoxy. It is clear that your Neo Catholic mentality in urging us to examine our conscience’s when the conscience’s needing of examination are elsewhere. For 2000 years Catholic’s thought in unison on all things that mattered and now we have you. Now tell me what changed ?

      • James_Kabala

        “examine our consciences when the consciences needing of examination are elsewhere.”

        That’s a bad statement; everyone’s conscience is always in need of examination. It sounds literally like the statement of the famous Pharisee in the parable.

        • Dick Prudlo

          You are quite correct, James, that all need of examination. My point, however, was to make something clear, and it was……was it not? And speaking of Pharisee faults, at the least they took something seriously, but not the phony’s who claim to be Catholic’s yet run from every orthodox ritual and teaching.

    • Dr. Timothy J. Williams

      The absurdity of your fault-finding in those who attend the Traditional Latin Mass can lead to only one conclusion. This letter is a fake. I do not believe for one minute that you “frequent” the TLM. Your little homily here could have been written by a Maryknoll priest imbibing in sacramental cannabis. “Gaudete, man!”

    • Adam__Baum

      “But what about the sin of poor stewardship with respect to credit card debt or moving into homes families can hardly afford and will take 30 years to pay off?”

      What of it? Are you seriously suggesting that Parish Priests are supposed to lecture people on the duration of their mortgages? Beyond telling people that they should exercise prudence in arranging their affairs, there’s almost nothing that they can say that’s helpful or informed, and wouldn’t be a misdirection of pastoral effort.

      • msmischief

        Have you ever heard anyone preaching on the need for prudence in their affairs?

        • Adam__Baum

          A very limited number of occasions, and usually as a homiletic post script to Luke 12:20.

          The flock is wandering far more and far more often in different directions.

        • slainte

          The New Evangelization requires lay people to evangelize the world, in effect shifting some duties from clergy to the laity.
          In your newly assigned role as Catholic lay evangelist, are you willing to preach to another Catholic about “prudence in their affairs”?
          Yesterday at mass, a family with young children in tow appoached a lay eucharistic minister who dispensed Holy Eucharist to the parents and then proceeded to finger the sign of the cross on the minor children thus give each of them a blessing. That lay minister was a well meaning senior lady who understood her role to be not only a dispenser of Holy Eucharist, but also a dispenser of blessings.
          That which was once the domain of the priest is now the duty of the Catholic layperson pursuant to the New Evangelization.

  • Rusty

    We are profoundly sinful by nature. Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit, none of us can avoid sin, ever. However, an unhealthy obsession with our sinfulness can lead to the kind of legalistic thinking that leads inevitably to error and sin – there is no formula that we can follow to avoid sinning, every time. The precepts of the catechism can help guide decisionmaking, but “in the moment” it is the heart, mind and intention that decides whether a particular course of action leads one closer to or further away from God. Christians do not live in a world where they are not called upon to make hard decisions, often between unpalatable alternatives.

    When we sin, we must also forgive ourselves. This follows from our plea to the Father that we be forgiven as we forgive those who sin against us – we must forgive ourselves for sinning against God, because that is also to sin against ourselves.

    The human desire for clarity and certainty leads us to create rules – religions of all kinds, including our own Catholic Christianity, seek to take general precepts and make them fit a priori in all kinds of specific situations. We may find in the specific circumstances that the general application of a precept does not help us clarify what we should do. In these circumstances, it is true enough that we find ourselves asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, as we simply do not know what to do. Yet, we do choose.

    In these circumstances, whatever choices we make, it is enough to know that we may ask for God’s forgiveness if we have chosen wrongly.

    • ColdStanding

      “When we sin, we must also forgive ourselves.”

      I don’t think this is the correct way to conceptualize this particular stage in the process of examination, realization, acknowledgement, and seeking of forgiveness for our sins. I do not believe that we can actually forgive ourselves. To say so seems to offend logic. Now, this is no more than my raising a red flag. I am not, per se, claiming that logic has been offended, merely that I suspect it has.

      Scupoli in his Spiritual Combat suggest that when seek first humility we will come to the realization that a) we are sinners b) we are filled with pride and c) we therefore must not let the recognition of our having sinned be another occasion of pride. I other words anger with ourselves over having sinned is an indication that our pride has been offended, which means we are still filled with pride, which means we are really unrepentant and not seeking that which is the first precept of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, namely, “Follow me for I am meek and humble of heart.” We are not, however, in a position to dismiss ourselves of having sinned. That office is in the hands of the duly appointed ministers of God’s Mercy in His Holy Church.

      All of which is a very long way of defending the necessity of having rules in our Catholic faith that have been worked out well in advance of the individual Christian’s encounter with moral danger as to what is or is not sinful behavior. Our individual judgement is simply unreliable. It should also be said that, afforded the opportunity, most will (my self included, especially) minimize or dismiss the consequences and gravity of our sinful behavior. Clear, a prior moral judgments from reliable theologians should be considered as great gifts from God to aid the Christian pilgrim in finding his way home from exile.

      Friend, I merely invite you to reconsider your reasoning, not to condemn you.

      • Rusty

        Recognizing our sinfulness and then forgiving ourselves for having sinned does not mean we lessen the gravity of the sin. If we need and accept the Father’s forgiveness, it does not imply the sins did not happen – they did, yet we are absolved of their consequences. To treat them as an inevitable part of living our lives does not excuse them in advance – it does, however, point to the need to continue to lay our burdens before God and ask for that gift of forgiveness that permits us to live in a state of grace.
        If one does not forgive oneself, are we not doing exactly what you have suggested is prideful, and therefore sinful? Are we to hold ourselves to a higher standard than the one to which we are held by God? To judge ourselves in perpetuity for our past (and future) sins is sacrilege.
        To accept forgiveness means letting go of the sins. We are not owed forgiveness, it is a gift. Accepting that gift means no longer being bound by the debt that was created. Doesn’t that require us to let go of that same debt?
        To believe otherwise implies that the right path can be chosen, if only we “try” hard enough to live by the rules. Yes, the gate is narrow – so narrow that neither you nor I know anyone who can enter.
        All anyone can do is the best they can, in the circumstances they find themselves, and to ask and accept the forgiveness that is offered. Obsessing about their sinfulness and faults is like worrying – it serves no purpose, and negates the proffered gift of peace that is Christ.

        • ColdStanding

          I can wrap up a something nice, even put a bow on top, leave on the table, go to bed, wake up in the morning, act all surprised, open it with loving care, and exclaim, “Oh, what a wonderful gift!” but nobody looking upon the scene would think that somebody gave a gift to me. All that happened was an elaborate charade. No gift was given.

          It is completely impossible to forgive ourselves of an offence against God. Would somebody appear before a judge and state, “Yes, your honor, I did steal that car, but I forgive myself and I’ve let go of that phase in my life now. You’ll be glad to know I try not to worry about such things.” surely such a statement would be met with incredulity.

          See, this is why there are rules and clear definitions. For example, there is no “If we need…” when it comes to forgiveness for our sins. It absolutely must be sought and asked for. Additionally, you can not level a charge of being prideful (and sacrilegious, no less!) against someone refusing to attempt what is impossible to do, namely, grant to your self forgiveness.

          Rules are very helpful. Following them does not make me obsessive. Indeed, they help me to navigate around an awful lot of nonsense.

          • Rusty

            It is very simple. If you are forgiven by God, and you refuse to forgive yourself, then the only person punishing you is you. That would amount to a refusal of God’s gift of forgiveness.

            • Hello Rusty – forgive me for interjecting, but this has been an issue (can one forgive oneself?) I have fought with for some time now. I have been troubled by many, many homilists who have urged us in the pews to forgive ourselves, because “God has forgive you” – the problem with you all, the homilists, would say, is that you haven’t forgiven yourself. My argument is basically the one given above by ColdStanding. Our sin is against God – the forgiveness we need is from God. We have no right, no authority, no standing to forgive ourselves.

              But I think you have said it all here: “It is very simple. If you are forgiven by God, and you refuse to forgive yourself, then the only person holding on to your sins is you. That would amount to a refusal of God’s gift of forgiveness.”

              Exactly. That is the reason, I have become convinced, that many Catholics do not “feel forgiven” after having confessed and been absolved in the confessional. The problem is NOT, as some would conclude, the theological innovation that the person has not yet “forgiven himself.” The problem is that he does not believe that God has forgiven him. He has not believed in the Sacrament, not in the forgiveness of God demonstrated on the Cross.

              This failure – refusal – to believe in the forgiveness of God is very serious and important. It is crucial. It ought not be obscured by the distraction of seeking to forgive oneself. A man will never be able to find peace of soul in the forgiveness of himself! We need God’s forgiveness! Our own forgiveness of ourselves is shallow indeed, compared with the depths of mercy we need from God. Why seek such an empty consolation, when the true embrace of Mercy Himself is offered?

              We need Faith! We need to ponder the Cross, and seek His grace to believe it. We need to stop our self-obsession, and seek our lives in God! In Him is our peace. In Him alone. Believe it.

              • Rusty

                Thomas, I quite like your post.

                Can we truly forgive ourselves? Forgiveness is something we are called to do for others. It may not be easy, or natural, but it takes the two great gifts we have been given in order to do so – the exercise of our minds, and of our wills.

                Our entire morality is based upon consciousness of ourselves in a social relationship – with other people, and with God. We are called to love our neighbours as ourselves, and we are to do unto others as we would have them do unto ourselves.

                Imagining ourselves as “the other” is embedded in our faith.
                Unlike any other creature, we have the ability to imagine ourselves as the other. We may only be able to occupy one physical space at a time, but we can imagine ourselves as others might see us, as “the other”.

                When we sin against God, we also sin against ourselves because the act of sinning imposes a burden on ourselves, the burden of the sin and the certainty of damnation if the sin is not forgiven. When God forgives a person their sins, would it not be a great sin for us to purport to re-impose the forgiven sins on that person? Isn’t that what we are doing if we don’t imagine ourselves as “the other” and forgive that person their sins? If we are called to forgive those who sin against us, we must also forgive ourselves.

                • Hello Rusty,

                  I agree that when we sin against God, we also sin against all that is from God and of God – and that includes the members of the Church, and thus includes ourselves. However, that does not explain to me a justification for forgiving ourselves. Do you see any direct justification for it in Scripture? In the Catechism? In the teachings of any popes or Councils? In any theologians of the Church who predate the present modernist self-obsessed era we live in? It makes sense to me in the universe of psychology, but not of theology.

                  If a person has received absolution from a priest in the confessional, and has not experienced peace with God, can you explain how his self-forgiveness can give him that peace when the forgiveness of God cannot give it to him? I can imagine how persons can leave the confessional without the peace of Christ – if they do not believe that God has really forgiven them.

                  Tell me this – if you truly do believe that God has forgiven you in Christ for some sin, why in the world do you want or need or care about some forgiveness that you might want to give to yourself? How does the latter compare in any way with the former? His forgiveness has set you free! What more do you need? Your forgiveness was won by the blood of Christ! What have you done in excess of His work for you, to merit the authority for yourself to forgive yourself? Sorry – It makes no sense to me.

                  • Rusty

                    Hi Thomas,
                    There are many things that Catholics believe for which there is no direct justification in Scripture. As my Anglican grandfather used to say, what is given from God is given from God, and what was made by Man was made by Man. Theologists notwithstanding, there are numerous precepts that form part of the Catholic faith that are derivative or implied by Scripture without being explicit.

                    I am not a Theologian. As a lay Catholic, I am wholly unqualified to interpret Scripture in any rigorous fashion. Like most Christians, the gifts I have from God do not include encyclopaedic theological interpretation. As you will no doubt acknowledge, the exercise of the Catholic faith involves an ongoing struggle or debate, both internally and within the fellowship of the Church, about what we believe. That is probably one reason why Popes rarely make statements for which they invoke the doctrine of papal infallability – there continues to be room to learn. Otherwise, we would still believe the earth was flat.

                    What I do have is the ability to keep things simple. Whether forgiveness is a psychological or theological term doesn’t really matter to me – I can see how in practical terms, hanging on to one’s own sins can represent an obstacle to accepting grace. We really have no choice if we are to remain in right relationship with God but to accept God’s forgiveness; to worry about sins that have been sacramentally forgiven by a properly ordained Priest seems to undermine the Peace that we are supposed to accept. Given that salvation is not in our own hands, and that our proclivity to sin is not washed away by our baptism, we need the sacraments to maintain right relationship with the Divine.

                    I still think the issue depends on what we mean by forgiveness. Perhaps there is a better, more specific word that will not be wrapped up in the context that you and ColdStanding appear to be bound – I am certainly OK with that. There remains a human response to God’s forgiveness that is necessary – call it acceptance, if you will – that permits us to set aside in our own hearts the sins that God has already forgiven.

                    • Here is the thought from you that I think can bridge us together: “There remains a human response to God’s forgiveness that is necessary – call it acceptance, if you will – that permits us to set aside in our own hearts the sins that God has already forgiven.”

                      The response to God’s forgiveness that is essential is faith – it is believing that God has actually forgiven me, He has washed me clean of the sin, and made me fitting once more to come into full and living relationship with Him and in Him. That, I can call “acceptance” of His mercy and His love.

                      I ought to add more, though – prerequisite to forgiveness is heart-felt sorrow for sins committed. We must repent. We must reject sin and any love of sin in our hearts. If there is no repentance and rejection of love for the sin, there is no forgiveness. This may be a reason, psychologically, why many do not “feel” forgiven of their sins – they have not rejected the sin and the love of the sin in their own hearts. They know that the sin remains in their hearts, because the love of it remains! We must hate sin, in order to love God, because sin and God are incompatible.

                      Others, perhaps, feel so guilty for their sin – they feel so “ungodly” – that this becomes a barrier to faith, to believing that God could actually forgive them when they feel so horrible and disfigured because of the sin. For these, the cure is to repent of the additional sin of unbelief in the infinite mercy of God! Pray before the Cross, and seek to see the Sacred Heart of Jesus that loved so much, that He went to the Cross for you and for me, yes even for us.

                      In these two cases, though, the answer is not to forgive oneself – it is to find a way to the mercy of God Who can and does forgive. Yes, I can see the word “acceptance” here.

                      I do believe that this issue is important, because faith in the forgiveness of God, seen in the Passion of Christ, is central and crucial to the Gospel. For that reason I believe that it is truly a distraction and a damaging and dangerous one, to shift one’s gaze away from Him, and to oneself and one’s own inner attitude toward oneself. We cannot save ourselves; we need His mercy, poured out from His Cross. There – there – is the power of a new life, of salvation.

  • hombre111

    Pretty good. But I notice that Left and Right have the sins they fail to notice. Example: For the Left, abortion,. For the right, poverty and low wages. Each side ignores the pope of their choice.

    • Art Deco

      “Low wages” do not constitute a sin. They reflect the level of productivity in the region in question.

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        I often facetiously remark about complaints of “low wages” that we ought to just raise the minimum wage to $50/hour. Everyone could then make huge amounts of money. Why just raise the minimum wage these insultingly incremental amounts so that progressives can win more votes? Go all the way!

        • Guest

          Ha, true. And those who think wages are too low should be forced to meet a payroll every week or two. That should wake them up to reality.

          • Gilbert Jacobi

            Anyone who has been paying attention to economic news would know that wages for hourly workers have been stagnant for decades. Hard working people can buy less and less with their money as the years go by. This has been happening while productivity has skyrocketed; i.e., for the same or less money, employers have been getting more and more goods and services out of their workforce. The increased profits from this have gone to bondholders, stockholders, business owners, executive hired guns, financial fraudsters and the political class in their pay, who keep our borders open and the legal immigrants coming so as to remove any bargaining power workers might have had. This is obviously unfair and immoral, and would not be allowed to happen in any society not run by pagans and traitors.

            Force should be used, all right, but not to get your already overworked serfs to “meet a payroll”, but to strip the obscenely overpaid overlords of their bonuses. Now THAT would meet a payroll.

            • Guest

              Oh, so you will decide how much is too much, right? You are the authority. All hail the master.

              • Gilbert Jacobi

                You are the one who first mentioned the use of force, Daddy Warbucks.

                • Guest

                  That was a rhetorical point, master.

            • Guest

              If you ever have to be responsible for others and meet a payroll you would have a much different attitude.

      • me

        What about the four sins that cry out to heaven? Oppressing the poor and defrauding laborers of their wages? I’m not sure Walmart’s wages “reflect the level of productivity of the region in question”. Nor McDonalds’.

        • NickD

          It boils down to the skills and training that Walmart and McDonalds’ workers do. It wouldn’t make financial sense for them to pay someone $15/hour for someone to flip burgers or scan groceries, especially when other, more demanding occupations pay under $15/hour

  • Mary

    Every once in a while the scripture reading comes from the pulpit about the punishment given by God defined as a drought of good teaching. I often think of that when I sit through the annual repeats of the customary themes for specific feast days with nothing changing–the constant re-wording of yesterday’s homilies. I long for a homily which goes a bit deeper then the obvious. I also long for homilies which direct and connect with the challenges of today’s world. I also find many of the homilies to be luke warm in how they present the faith and our rsponse to what God calls us to. And I feel resentful when a teaching in the scriptures is likened to last weekend’s football game. Isn’t God’s Word a bit more than that? Am I too critical, since Christ likened spiritual realities to every day images–perhaps I am. Yet, every once in a while the homily hits home and I remember what it was like to hear a good one. One such homily came from the retired Bishop of Madagascar, a La Salette Bishop at that, and he spoke of Mary as the Mother of the Church and how that title had been controversial at Vatican II Council, and then explained the belief and challenged us. The homily was deep and rich and beautiful… it fed me. I wish all homilies could be like that but perhaps God wants me to stretch a bit and learn to retrieve the pearls hidden in the grasses,.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Here’s a homily I gave earlier this year on the sin of abortion, comparing it to the tragedy of Newtown CT. At the end, pretty much everyone in the Church applauded these word (to what seemed to me an interminable time). Mind you, I did NOT say they applauded me – but the truth I was able to convey by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/every-day-is-newtown-in-america-dcn-ed-peitler/

    • Carl

      Applause……………

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