Why I Love Traditional Catholicism

In the beginning of my Latin Mass experience I would attend the Extraordinary form, as well as the Ordinary form of the Mass, or Novus Ordo, with my family, alternating between the two liturgies. As I grew favorably closer to the Latin Mass, I found my liturgical “palate” began to change, noticing the vast difference how the two liturgies are celebrated.

“Catholic liturgy is no ordinary gathering…God, not man, is at the centre of Catholic liturgy” –Robert Cardinal Sarah

The robust appearances at the Latin Mass such as chant, ad orientem posture, spoken Latin, and Communion on the tongue are vacant at a typical Novus Ordo Mass. A growing number of Catholics are hungry for rich Liturgy rather than something that is mundane. Liturgy that will fill the soul is a Liturgy worth attending.

“Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.” –St. Francis of Assisi

When one attends Mass, that person should have high expectations in liturgical structure. The Extraordinary form is delivered in such a way that’s beautifully reverent, a Liturgy worthy of God. The priest faces ad orientem, the music is beautiful chant, young men serve the priest as altar boys, the Eucharist is presented reverently. The secular motif that can be found at a Novus Ordo Mass (e.g. praise and worship-style music) is completely absent from the Latin Mass. And there’s no room whatsoever for a priest to interject his personality into the Liturgy–to change what is perfect, respectful, and pleasing to God.

“The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty…The liturgy is a radiant expression of the paschal mystery…Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation.” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis no. 35

Pope Francis referred to the Traditional Latin Mass as rigid, asking why are so many young people attracted to the Extraordinary form? The Holy Father is correct. The Latin Mass is rigid. Rigidity is beautiful, and [young] people are attracted to beauty.

Which begs the question, wouldn’t a person rather attend a fun, entertaining, and light-hearted Mass?

People who want to grow in their faith do not want to be entertained at Mass, but to be caught up in the Liturgy and their lives transformed. Mass is not a stage for entertainment. It is an opportunity to encounter God in the flesh, in the Eucharist. A chance to worship Him honorably and reverently.

There is beauty in rigidity. Rigid is good when it comes to Liturgy. The Latin Mass is structured in a way that leaves no room for personal changes or ad lib.

“How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!” –St. John Vianney

The Latin Mass is for people of all ages that are hungry for a Liturgy that duly offers the best to God. While the Novus Ordo Mass could be “reformed” to make it more reverent by adding components such as sacred music and ad orientem, a priest could possibly incur his personal taste into the Liturgy. A perfect Liturgy cannot be altered. The Extraordinary form of the Mass preserves the structure intended to offer the most holy Eucharistic sacrifice to God.

I reached the crossroads in my own spirituality. Perhaps you have too. The beauty of the Latin Mass is not only nostalgic, “it is the Mass of the Church of all times, and therefore cannot be overthrown and has equal dignity,” says Cardinal Raymond Burke.

The best decision I’ve made since becoming Catholic is to embrace Traditional Catholicism to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve done. Does it make it wrong to attend a reverent Novus Ordo Mass? In my opinion no…although I do prefer the Latin Mass. Why? Because when I attend a Latin Mass I embrace true Catholicism with all its splendor. When you reach the point in your spiritual life that you want the most out of Mass, the next logical leap is the Traditional Latin Mass. Becoming more of a Traditional Catholic has been a second conversion for me. In the words of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46) That is what the Traditional Latin Mass has to offer. It magnifies your soul and your spirit will rejoice in Jesus Christ.

“One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage.” –St. Bernard

by John Connor

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Eucharistic Journey
Liturgy You Deserve
Restoring Catholic Culture

Welcome to the Masquerade

The Roman Empire was a hostile environment for Christians prior to its tolerance by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century. Even when the Romans allowed Christians to freely practice Catholicism there was still a taste of disdain between Catholics and pagans.

To be a Catholic in the first three centuries, prior to its tolerance, meant your life was on the line. Where as today if you publicly declare devout Catholicity, you may get mocked or ridiculed for believing that life begins at conception, or that marriage is between one man and one woman. You may even get bantered for being too traditional or orthodox. Sure there may be some jeering here and there, but for the early Christians you could be martyred for publicly proclaiming to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Some people were content to closet their faith and wear masks. Not physical masks, but spiritual, in order to avoid martyrdom. While other Catholics chose not to hide behind a mask. They chose to live and share their faith openly knowing full well it may cost them their life, and were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to preach the truth.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” –John 14:6

Christ is Truth. To be a Catholic, a Christian, we are called to live truth, and to proclaim that truth to others, whether it be family, friends, or strangers. Professing the truth isn’t easy when there’s hostility in the air. Truth is also rigid. It is objective rather than subjective. But we need structure such as the Latin Mass. It focuses our attention on truth. Christ never said it was going to be easy, but He promised everlasting life in heaven if we endure.

The majority of the apostles were martyred for proclaiming the Truth of Catholicism, except for the apostle John who was exiled on the island of Patmos. Many early Christians freely gave up their lives for the faith. They did not wear (spiritual) masks. They did not hide. They openly shared the faith with others. Some may assert, “yes but they were followers of Christ,” which is true, but we too are called to be followers of Christ, to be disciples. That is what it means to be a Catholic. We do not hide from Truth. We affirm Truth. We profess Truth every Mass when we say the Credo.

In every age there has been a masquerade. Some Catholics choose to don their spiritual masks, losing sight of being a witness that attests to the true Catholic faith. While others chose to live authentic traditional Catholic lives publicly. Not afraid to shout from the rooftops that they adore Christ in traditional Catholicism and all the teachings of the Church.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10:10

Christ promised us everlasting life. That begins here and now by cooperating, living, and sharing the beauty of traditional Catholicism with others, and to affirm all the teachings of the Church.

“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.” –1 Peter 2:21

We are to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1). As Catholics we are to set the example of Christian Truth to others, to lead and to teach just as Christ did. That means we must not mask what is true and authentic when it comes to Christ or Catholicism.

Everything that occurs within the Body of Christ effects you and I, whether directly and indirectly. This goes for the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the human person, and the sanctity of gender–masculine men and feminine women.

The masquerade is here and now. We are among wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), but Christ promised us that if we endure to the end we’ll have everlasting life. Sitting at the Heavenly banquet with Him. It is not too late. It’s never too late to change hearts. We should pray for others that their masks come off. You may know people who claim to be Catholic but don’t necessarily agree with or outwardly live the faith. There will always be to some level a masquerade in the Church, but with authentic traditional Catholicism there is hope. Thankfully more and more Catholics are finding the beauty and Truth in traditional Catholicism.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” –John 8:32

by John Connor

Why Be Catholic?

Christianity has been around for nearly two millennium. It is as diverse as the depths of the oceans. Vast cultural characteristics span around the globe within Christian communities. For those that are Christian, or on the cusp of considering the Christian faith, the next logical question is, why be Catholic?

Catholicism proclaims the fullness of the Christian faith. It has only been in the past 500 years or so that Christianity became diverse through Protestantism and pseudo-Christian sects. In order to live the Christian life to the fullest, we have to ask, why be Catholic? The foundation of Catholicism is that Christ started one Church, not many church communities. It is an unbroken link that leads to the present. As Catholics, we shouldn’t take our faith for granted. We need to be able to answer the question, why Catholicism?

The phrase “Kingdom of God” occurs approximately 122 times in the New Testament, primarily spoken by Jesus Himself. “The Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology. By the way in which he speaks of the Kingdom of God, Jesus leads men to realize the overwhelming fact that in him God himself is present among them, that he is God’s presence.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1)

Christ in essence is the Church, the cornerstone. But not simply a mystical church, where Jesus (i.e. Kingdom of God) is spiritually everywhere or only in our hearts, but it’s a living, breathing Church.

The earthly kingdom (i.e. the Church) and the heavenly kingdom are interrelated. They are in essence one. We see this in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus founded the Catholic Church.

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18-19

We can establish two principles here. One, Jesus founded one church, singular tense. Two, that this church, singular tense, would have the power to bind and loose. What ever is bound and loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven. Christ did not merely establish a mystical church, He primarily established a physical church, and He made that Church authoritative in terms of binding and loosing.

Jesus passed on His authority onto His apostles (Matthew 28:18-20). The authority given by God doesn’t end with the death of the last apostle. No. Jesus proclaimed the gates of hell shall not prevail. The apostles were tasked with evangelizing. Sharing the good news (Gospel) to all known nations. In order to do this the apostles had to pass on their authority onto others. This is called apostolic succession. For 2,000 years there has been an unbroken line of bishops from the apostles authority given by Christ, to the current living bishops.

It is impossible for Sacred Scripture to be the sole authority of the Christian life. Scripture is not authoritative unless someone with authority, given by Christ, makes it so. Just like the Constitution of the United States is not authoritative unless the branches of the government, such as the judicial branch, makes it authoritative. Believe it or not, there was a time when there was no Bible. For nearly four centuries, there was no canonized Scripture. No table of contents. It took decades after the Ascension of Christ for the apostles to write the New Testament. Some theologians believe that the last writings were by the apostle John around A.D. 68. That’s over thirty years after the Ascension. Before anything was written the Church had only Sacred Tradition. Not to be confused with “traditions of men” or man-made tradition. Sacred Tradition begat Sacred Scripture, all bound by the Magisterium of the Church–the bishops in union with the Successor of Peter, the Pope.

It would take nearly a thousand years before the Church would see its first split, East and West. Then another 500 years after that before the Church would see a multiple fracture occur in the Protestant Revolt. But the gates of hell shall not prevail. The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church has stood strong since the time of Christ.

While Holy Mother Church is the pinnacle of holiness, there is still the human element attached to the Church. No Catholic parish is perfect. No priest, bishop, or even the pope is perfect, or impeccable. The Catholic Church itself is perfect. We have a perfect Liturgy in the Traditional Latin Mass, full of beauty and reverence, with all the “smells and bells.” We have a perfect Eucharistic sacrifice given to us by Christ Himself that occurs at every Mass. Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity. Even though modernism and the progressive movement emits itself within the Church today, we can and should embrace our traditional Catholic faith.

“Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” –St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. A.D 110

by John Connor

Do We Really Need Advent?

Recently I visited a 4th grade CCE (Continuing Christian Education) class to teach the kids about Advent. “Who can mention the seasons of the Church,” I asked. Eagerly, the kids raised their hands. “Summer,” the first kid said. “No.” I replied, pointing to another kid. “Winter,” another kid quickly blotted. I turned to another kid, expecting a good answer this time. “Spring,” was his answer. Then I knew that I had to lower my expectations. “I mean the seasons of the Church year,” I explained. At that point, some of the kids gave me the “what is he talking about” look.

Eventually, they mentioned Lent and Easter. But they had a very poor understanding of Advent. Then I realized that for these kids, and many kids, and even adults, the season of Advent is like the “appetizer” which you can skip, depending on how hungry you are. Everyone who is really hungry is looking forward to the main meal – Christmas. Worse still, the over commercialization of Christmas, seems to make Advent less appreciated, and more negligible. But is Advent just an appetizer? If yes, why does the Church devote so much time and energy in celebrating these four weeks before Christmas, and how relevant is the season of Advent?

Advent (Lat. adventus) means arrival. The question is whose arrival? When you hear songs like “Oh! You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, Cause I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town!,” it seems that we are preparing for the arrival of Santa Clause and not Jesus Christ, the Savior. I call those who put too much emphasis on Santa Claus and shopping, “Santaholics.” These are not just the kids, but adults as well. Some would rather say “Happy Holidays” than “Merry Christmas.” It is really difficult to tell what a good number of people celebrate during Christmas. That raises the question: when people are preparing, what are they preparing for? How are they preparing?

Advent is for those who are preparing for the arrival (birth) of Jesus Christ on Christmas day. The four-week period of Advent emphasizes penitence and joyful expectation. Different parishes have different events scheduled. They include penance services, in addition to regular confession times. There is also communal adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Advent season also encourages works of charity and mercy. The color purple is the liturgical color for the season to mark the penitential nature of the season. Floral decorations are used in moderation. The organ and other musical instruments are also used in moderation. The “Gloria” is omitted during Mass. The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The color rose is used at the liturgical color to expresses a joyful note of anticipation for the coming of the Savior. All these are done to suit the character of the season. Advent emphasizes the first coming of Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, and His second coming in glory as Lord and Judge. Therefore Christ himself has instructed us on how to prepare for his coming by saying, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33). Clearly, there is more to preparing for Christmas than knowing the date and shopping for it.

Scripture tells us how Jesus prepared for His coming: “he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance …” (Phil 2:7) The self-emptying, taking the form of a slave, and then coming in human likeness, all describe elaborate preparation. If the Lord did such elaborate preparation for His coming, why would He find us unprepared when he arrives? Material preparation is very important, no doubt. But moral and spiritual preparation is much more important. Otherwise we would be like those described thus: “he came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who receive him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God ” (Jn 1:11-12)

Advent is to Christmas what John the Baptist is to Jesus – preparation for the real thing. But not just in the sense of an “appetizer,” but in a more profound and meaningful way. He declares: “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Jn 1:23).

One of the titles of Jesus Christ is “Emmanuel” – God is with us. God desires to be, not just with us, but in us, in our hearts. “It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart?” –Saint Bernard.

It is only by God’s grace that we can fully utilize the great opportunity provided by the season of Advent. We need the wisdom, courage and humility to know and to do what it takes to prepare for the coming of Christ. In the words of St. Anselm, we pray to God: “Teach me to seek you, and when I seek you show yourself to me, for I cannot seek you unless you teach me, nor can I find you unless you show yourself to me.” This is one of the main reasons why I would answer: Yes, we really need the season of Advent.

by
Rev. Augustine Uchenna Ariwaodo
Parochial Vicar, St. Mary’s Catholic Center
College Station, Texas

Mary, Did You Know?

During Christmastide, you may encounter at least one rendition of the popular song, “Mary, Did You Know?” The song was written by a duo of Protestant Evangelicals. Evangelical Christians generally do not believe in the Marian Catholic doctrines, hence the title of the song. As Catholics, we can provide a one word answer to the question, “Mary, did you know?” The pithy response is, “yes!” A one word answer may not suffice, so let’s dive deeper on what exactly Mary knew about the coming of the Savior into the world.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” – John 1:14

The Blessed Virgin Mary was chosen from the beginning of time to be the mother of the second person of the Trinity, Our Lord Jesus Christ. She would provide Christ’s humanity, His flesh, that would ultimately untwist the knot of original sin, save us from our personal sins, and redeem all of mankind on Calvary.

The archangel, Gabriel, was sent by God to visit the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was most likely a teenager at the time, approximately 13 to 16 years of age. In Luke’s gospel account of the Annunciation, Gabriel greeted her in an unusual way, “Hail, full of grace.” There’s two very distinct allusions made by Gabriel. One, Gabriel used the salutation “hail.” This is generally reserved for greeting royalty. Jesus is the King of kings, which makes Mary the Queen Mother–royalty. Second, Gabriel does not call her by name, Mary, instead he calls her “full of grace.” If a glass is full to the brim, nothing else that can enter the vessel. The same attests to Mary. If she is full of grace, then there is no room for sin of any kind.

God chose to preserve Mary from sin–the stain of original sin as well as personal sin–at the moment of her conception. Hence she is full of grace. God can save us from sin any way He chooses. Most commonly He saves us after we have committed a person sin, but He can if He chooses to save us before we sin.

To demonstrate this, imagine you came upon a hole in the ground. If you were to fall into the hole (sin) and someone (God) came along and pulled you out, that would be an act of salvation. But, if God prevented you from falling into the hole in the first place, that too is a salvific act. The latter is how Mary was saved from sin. God spared her from the very moment of her conception. God is outside of time. He can save someone any way He chooses. God found it fitting to spare Mary from all sin in order to bring Christ into the world. Jesus who was sinless took on flesh which came from Mary, who was sinless. It’s simply fitting that God chose it that way.

God must have given special graces to Mary in order for her to understand her role in salvation history. It’s not every day that a teenage girl is approached by an angel, asking her to be the Mother of God.

Mary delivers her famous Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) making crystal clear that she knew who Jesus was; what this meant for the children of Israel and to the whole world.

The answer to “Mary, Did You Know?” can be summed up in the first chapter of Luke. Even at such a young age, Mary knew her role. Mary needed a Savior just like you and I. God is outside of time and space. He applied the sacrifice on Calvary to Mary at her conception, similar to how God applies Calvary to us almost 2,000 years later, and to people, such as Abraham and Moses, that came before Christ’s life on earth. God can save anyone at anytime He chooses. We should be ever so thankful for Mary saying yes to be the Mother of God. Thank you Mary for knowing your role and for your fiat.

by John Connor

Purgatorio: Prayers and Reparations

Our life on earth is an opportunity to respond to God’s love. We choose our eternal destination, Heaven or Hell, by how we respond to living out our Catholic faith on a daily basis. If we choose to love God, we also desire to follow Him, His Commandments, and the Church’s teachings. It’s not always easy, but the foretaste we consume from the Eucharist encourages us to do just that–live the Catholic faith. The Eucharist is indeed an “appetizer” of what we’ll receive in Heaven.

“Jesus said to his disciples: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Denying oneself is an act of humility. We strip away our selfish pride, and we follow Christ to the best of our ability. Jesus also said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) We are called to love God and neighbor with our whole hearts.

God Almighty does not burden us with unnecessary requests or commands. He prepares us for what heaven will be like. In heaven we will worship God unceasingly (Revelation 4:8). We are invited to the heavenly banquet–the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9) Preparations indeed are in order.

“People will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” –Revelation 21:26-27

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

Nothing unclean may enter Heaven. People who have died in the state of grace, meaning all mortal sins have been forgiven before the time of death, will one day bask in Heavenly Glory. There may be the remains of particular venial sins or even temporal punishment due to the sins already forgiven that require purification before crossing into the threshold of Heaven and experiencing the Beatific Vision.

“We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter heaven.” –Saint John Vianney

Purgatory is a purification process where the removal of all venial sins, vices, and inclinations to sin that are not considered grave matter (i.e. mortal sins). This purification allows us to enter into heaven, as clean Souls ready to encounter Christ face to face.

Fire is often the vision we incur when we think about Purgatory. Paul writes, “If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) The penalty, or loss, is not referring to the fire of Hell, because the person is saved. No one can be saved in Hell. The purification process may feel like fire, and it may hurt, because we’re being stripped of our desire to sin. For some people humility can be a painful process, but a necessary one. We yearn for Heaven as we are being purified.

“This mountain’s of such sort that climbing it is hardest at the start; but as we rise, the slope grows less unkind. Therefore, when this slope seems to you so gentle that climbing farther up will be as restful as traveling downstream by boat, you will be where this pathway ends, and there you can expect to put your weariness to rest.” – Dante Alighieri, Purgatorio

Praying for one another isn’t limited to our earthly life. No. We can ask the Saints in Heaven to pray for us. We can and, rightly so, should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. The Church has taught for many centuries that we should pray for the Souls in Purgatory. We do not pray for the Souls only on All Souls’ Day. The month of November is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory, and even beyond that to praying for them daily. In recent decades praying for the Souls in Purgatory has been deemphasized. Requiem Masses and black vestments have been replaced with feast-like Masses with white vestments on All Souls’ Day and funerals. Our mortal minds cannot comprehend the importance of praying for the Souls in Purgatory.

Prayer is powerful and we should not limit our prayers only to the living. One of the great joys we’ll receive in Heaven is to see how our prayers had on the Souls in Purgatory. Once the Souls enter Heaven they too will be praying for us. Praying for the Living and the Dead is a wonderful Spiritual Work of Mercy and the effects of this pious act cannot be downplayed by the implications it can have on others lives.

We join with the Communion of Saints in praying for all Souls, including those in Purgatory. That is a powerful expression of how much we love God and want to feast together at the Banquet in Heaven. We get a foretaste of that at every Mass in the Eucharist. Let us together offer up prayers to the the Souls in Purgatory. They too will pray for us.

by John Connor

Related articles:
Born to Be Magnificent
Battling Sin
Angels & Demons

Battling Sin

Temptation can manifest from the “three enemies of the soul,” the world, the devil, and the flesh. There is an on-going spiritual war happening. Our soul’s eternal destination is at stake. We all have a choice to make. The Beatific Vision and eternal joy in Heaven, or eternal separation from God (i.e. Hell). God does not send us to Hell. Because we have free will, we can ultimately determine our fate by whether or not we cooperate with God’s Love.

From the residue of original sin, human beings have a tendency to sin by even the most subtle temptations. In order to battle these temptations, we have to be more aware of what tempts us, causing us to sin. We can win this spiritual battle.

It is time to put on the full armor of God.

“Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God). By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit; and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints.” –Ephesians 6:10-18

Reminding ourselves of personal sinful struggles is not easy. In fact, it’s easier to hide from them or pretend they don’t exist. Satan will try to convince you that you are a “good person.” Why? Because “good people” believe they’ve “run up a very favorable credit-balance in God’s ledger,” but they risk committing the sin of pride. There is always a need for God’s love and mercy. The devout life is obtainable to anyone who seeks it.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of pride, there is despair. Despair occurs when you think you’re sins are too numerous for God to forgive. Hogwash! There is no sin too great or great in number that God cannot forgive you. The only sins that cannot be forgiven are those that you do not confess to Christ in the confessional. Ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart and your sins will be forgiven when the priest, through Christ, absolves you.

The closer you become to living a saintly life on earth, which is possible by the way, the more aware you become of those particular temptations and sins. It is like shining a light on your “blemishes.”

The saints are great examples of how to live a devout life. They were not born saints. And some were downright scoundrels before they found their conversion. Take St. Augustine of Hippo for instance, before his conversion he lived a very worldly life, even by today’s standards. It was through the prayers of his mother and saint, Monica, that he was transformed anew. Augustine made a choice, and that choice was to live his life for God. He is now a saint and doctor of the Church.

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” –St. Augustine of Hippo

You take a big step forward by admitting you are a sinner in need of God’s love and mercy. God, along with the angels and saints, are on your side in this spiritual war. Christ did not die on the Cross and then leave it up to you to figure out how to conquer sin. Hardly. Christ, whether spiritually present, or physically present in the Eucharist, is leading the charge.

First and foremost, be authentic. Men, do not shy away from your masculinity. We live in an emasculated secular world. Look to Christ as an example of how to be authentic, masculine, Catholic men. Your role is to protect the women around you, both physically and spiritually. Ladies, your femininity is a gift from God. Do not hide from it either. Allow the Blessed Virgin Mary to be your role model of authentic Catholic femininity.

Avoid the near occasion of sin as best you can. Your eyes are the “gateway to the soul.” Custody of the eyes helps to avoid lust in particular. Socialize with other traditional Catholics. Socialize in places that will not lead you to sin, nor be tempted. Sometimes it’s helpful to keep yourself occupied. An idle mind can be dangerous. There are moments where you could feel spiritual dryness as if God has deserted you, or you may fall into depression. Do not let this deter you from living your life for God.

“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

The Church has given us great weapons to battle sin and lead us to victory. Start with daily prayer. The Rosary is one of the greatest weapons against evil. Another very powerful prayer is the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. If I’m going into a spiritual battle I want St. Michael at my side. Pray it daily. Praying the Divine Office (Divinum Officium, 1960 Rubrics) is also very spiritually beneficial. Prayer is our communication with God, whether we’re talking or listening to Him. This assures us that God is part of our lives. There’s also mortification. Sometimes denying yourself of something you want can strengthen your soul. You may start with turning down dessert after dinner, or praying the Rosary in place of your favorite television program.

Be aware of your temptations. The spiritual attacks are often subtle. A venial sin can grow into a mortal sin before you know it. You have what it takes to battle the temptations and sins of the world, the flesh, and the evil one, Satan. If you commit a sin, go to Confession. Not only will you be forgiven, but you’ll receive graces to overcome the temptations next time. Then you’ll be prepared to get back into the fray. You can win this spiritual battle.

by John Connor