I feel compelled to speak to you with the clarity that flows from the Word of God and the Deposit of Faith entrusted to our beautiful Catholic Church.
As your shepherd, my heart aches for all that is happening in the Church and in this world through which God’s people must journey. I know we face many confusions about the connections between sin, repentance, our Eucharistic Lord and what it means to be a faithful Catholic, but the words of 1 Peter remind us of the direct connection between the saving ministry of Jesus Christ and the sinful burden which the world carries. The reality that “He Himself bore our sins in His body upon the Cross” makes it abundantly clear that the coming of the Son of God into the world is a confrontation with sin which has dominated the human story since the fall of Adam and Eve. Even now, in the 21st century, we constantly confront the reality of sin and the death it brings.
Christ, through His sacraments, helps us confront the realities of sin so that we may, one day, enjoy everlasting life with Him in Heaven. When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the real presence of Jesus under the forms of bread and wine in Communion, we are making a statement with our “amen” that we believe He has overcome sin and death. Our steadfast faith in the real presence of Christ highlights the reality that it is “His body” which has overcome sin. Receiving Communion at Holy Mass is one of the most profound ways we can say, “Lord, I love you.” To simultaneously ignore His commandments, whether it be “thou shall not have false gods before me,” “thou shall not kill,” “thou shall not steal” or any of His other commandments, is to place ourselves on a contradictory path of grave sin. The wonder of God’s loving call in each of our lives is that He leaves us free to choose to receive Him in the Eucharist, but it is incumbent on each of us to choose honestly, faithfully, prudently and with spiritual and moral consistency to do so.
We see many people on a contradictory path of choosing grave sin or ignoring grave sins which they have committed; even some who share with me the charge to guard the Deposit of Faith. Any attempt to promote following Jesus’ teachings while, at the same time, ignoring the sinful realities of our lives is simply unacceptable and is not of Jesus. Sometimes, public displays of contradiction and, in some instances, open defiance of Catholic teaching, seem to go unchallenged. Perhaps they are even encouraged. We must pray that such contradictions or open defiance is properly handled by all who have competent ecclesial authority. Action is required for both the soul of the person who demonstrates such public and open contradiction, as well as for the sake of the people scandalized and confused by the contradiction or by the failure of those with authority to properly respond to it.
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