Week of 4/15/2018
I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act. So spoke GK Chesterton, the great British atheist turned Catholic. The Catholic teaching is straight from scripture: No one is inevitably destined for heaven or hell; instead our action or inaction in response to grace determines destiny.
Free will is fundamental to our Catholic faith. St. James writes in his letter “faith without works is dead.” Essentially, God gives us the recipe and the ingredients for a virtuous life: grace, the commandments and beatitudes, but we must put the recipe into action. The ingredients are endless, in the sense that when we spoil them with sin, we can always renew the raw mix with new ingredients (grace) acquired from confession. Nevertheless, there is a stopping point when we die.
Fast forward to today. What are the prevailing virtues? Acceptance of evil and never tell someone they are wrong unless they are preaching the Ten Commandments, ironically. Preaching evil is acceptable, preaching the Ten Commandments can even be illegal! We must act in order to gain heaven; so many subconsciously think heaven is guaranteed, but it is not; instead we must act on God’s grace. The first action is the key: an action of the mind that accepts all that Christ teaches us through the Church. Without this initial action of the mind, the actions that come afterwards will have less value because they are not being performed with a complete love of God.
This is crucial: while two people may perform an identical act of virtue; there can be varying degrees of grace. If a person acts with great kindness while yet in mortal sin, that action may be naturally helpful in ways, but has no supernatural value. If a person acts with great love and I s in a profound union with God, then their identical action will carry a great supernatural value. God gives grace which begins everything, but we must cultivate that grace through choosing all Christ’s teaching.
Hence, if we refuse to commit to all that Christ teaches through the Church, we are guilty of inaction in the mind, we begin to accept sin in our lives, hence the even good actions that we make will not have the supernatural power they could have.
Examples: if we are accepting of all that Christ teaches, Sunday mass becomes a profound desire and duty, confession is central to the lives of all, and we will witness to what Christ teaches at work; willing to stand up for the Church when it is persecuted. Witnessing to our faith can be as simple as church attendance, or praying intensely each day, but it is also defending the Church’s teaching on sacredness of human life and marriage. To not challenge the world, or not to teach children to challenge the world, is thus to permit our destiny to be determined by inaction. To reject Church teaching is an action that renders the world as God, and God as inferior to humans.
In the end, when there is a judgment day, there can be no neutrality in the war between hell and heaven; one either truly accepts God and fights for that belief, or willfully plays an inactive role and accepts an eternity away from Him. Our actions or inactions determine that fate. God as Judge will not send us anywhere; He will simply point out to us where our action or inaction leads us. God will forgive us and help us restart countless times! But we must reach out to Him. The answer is logical and beautiful: union with God in grace and wisdom means our virtuous actions with such grace enable God to snatch us to heaven!
Special thanks to our great Prolife committee last Sunday for organizing a jammed packed gym Easter egg hunt after the 9am Mass! And, our fired up Knights of Columbus who cooked up several hundred egg sandwiches, all eaten up! Many thanks to so many great volunteers! It was a great morning of food and fellowship!
God love you,
Fr. Brian Gannon