Understanding Sin

“Sin is not a transgression of law, but rather a violation of a relationship.” – Padre Pio

“Only in the knowledge of God’s plan for man can we grasp that sin is an abuse of the freedom that God gives to created persons so that they are capable of loving him and loving one another.” (CCC)

“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the curtain of the temple was torn in the middle. Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, It is finished. Father, into your hands I commend my spirit. Then, bowing his head, he died.” (Lk: 23, 44-46; Jn. 19, 30b)

“It was our weaknesses that he carried, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one struck by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins: upon him was the punishment that makes us whole, by his stripes we are healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way: but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.” (Is. 53, 4-6)

Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale Of Two Cities,” draws a correlation between the fate of Christ and that of Sydney Carlton. Each would pay the ultimate price for transgression, though they were innocent. Each would be obedient to the highest expression of love.

Carlton visits Charles Darnay, who is falsely imprisoned as a spy and condemned to death during the French Revolution. Carlton drugs Darnay, and Barsad (a turncoat), whom Carlton is blackmailing for his role in framing Darnay, has Darnay carried out of the prison. Carlton, who could pass for Darnay’s twin, has decided to switch places with him and be executed in his place. Carlton is an accomplished lawyer, but is seen to be a drunkard, self-indulgent and self-pitying because of his wasted life. Yet he is devoted to Darnay’s betrothed, and is so moved by her that he would sacrifice anything for her happiness; including his life. Following Carlton’s earlier instructions, Darnay’s family flees Paris and France. In their coach is an unconscious Darnay, who carries Carlton’s identification papers.*

On the way to the guillotine, Sydney Carlton is approached by a seamstress, also condemned to death. As she gets closer to him, she realises that he is truly Carlton, and not Darnay. Awed by his unselfish courage and sacrifice, she asks to stay close to him. Upon their arrival at the guillotine, Carlton comforts her, he tells her that their ends will be quick but they are destined for a better place where they will be mercifully sheltered. She is able to meet her death in peace.*

Dickens’ final words for Carlton clearly defines love: “It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” The greatest expression of love is through sacrifice. In this case the sacrifice of one’s life for another. “Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Love truly conquers all – including sin and death. For the wage of sin is death.

Transgressions against law must be rectified through the application of justice. Judgement and punishment are then determined and administered to the transgressor. Without such adherence to law, there would be no order in society; regardless of the validity of that law or its usage. Justice and mercy go hand in hand. Justice is found in that which is determined to be a fair judgement, with mercy found in the level of punishment levied. A wrong must be righted.

In each case here cited the convictions were perpetrated by a lie and the convicted unjustly executed. Yet each sentence had to be carried out. One to maintain civil order, while the other to restore human order. Carlton would pay the penalty for a man. Christ would pay the penalty for mankind. It mattered not who paid the debt for Darnay. The successful deception mattered only to the Carlton, Darnay and his family. Justice was done regardless of the identity of the executed. However, it was Christ who must embrace the cross and endure its torture. For it was intended from all eternity that the Lamb of God was destined to take away the sins of the world; and no other.

Sin is a personally offensive act which compromises trust. It is contrary to love and can bring an end to life or a relationship. Sin is the underlying cause for the fault in man  which inspires the circumstances that can compel the guilty and impel the innocent to ascend the steps to a guillotine or be pinned to a cross.  It matters not how or by whom sin is committed, for someone will suffer for it – directly or indirectly. Sin, without doubt, causes pain for the offender and offended. As any child would attest, who has been sent to his room for disobeying his parents. Sin loses its potency and effectiveness when the penitent strive to amend their ways and the forgiving retain no memory of the offense. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Once again, to paraphrase Padre Pio; Sin is not so much the breaking of a law, as it is the breaking of a heart.

*Summation from Wikipedia

 

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Carpe diem

Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism usually translated to “seize the day; and is taken from a poem in the Odes (book 1, number 11) in 23 BC by the Poet Horace.

“And when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, he said to her: Weep not. And he came near and touched the bier. And they that carried it, stood still. And he said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother.” – Luke 7:12-15

There was a man who wished to be rich. He said, “If I only had a newspaper published one month in the future, I could get the results of the stock market at that time and could invest in those stocks that will make the greatest gains. Then I will be as rich I wish to be.” Well the next morning, the newspaper was at his door. And to his delight the paper was dated one month in advance. So he went about his research and positioned himself in the market as he had planned, to secure his big score. All that was left to do was to sit and wait, then collect his fortune. However, he being so excited about his impending good fortune forgot that there were other sections contained in the newspaper. He never saw that his name was listed in the obituary.

If I only had more time. If I just had a second chance. I’m sure that we have all wished for either or both at one time or other. Jesus provided both for the grieving mother, out of pity for her. Perhaps he sympathized with her because He foresaw His own mother’s grief over the tragedy that awaited her only son; at Calvary. The man, who would be rich, believed he had realized the dream of many; to control time. And as many, for his own selfish gain. Only to sadly find that time is slave to no man, save one.

The grieving woman and her once dead son now have both more time and a second chance. That time allotted can be used to right any wrong between them or to finish the unfinished. The man who had hoped to be rich has squandered what little time he unwittingly had left, in the pursuit of that which matters to no one, except himself and equally uncaring self-serving heirs. Assuming that he succeeded, he would have been remembered simply for his possessions, and nothing more. For we become what we give our lives to.

“Of all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these; It might have been.” – John Greenleaf Whittier

Seize the day! Let not a moment of time pass, that we do not put our hand to the plow toward a worthy goal. For everyone’s day will come; and possibly unannounced. Let that day not be devoid of love, nor marked with remorse – over good not strived for or transgressions not reconciled.

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Food For Thought

“A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.”- Albert Einstein

I recently completed reading a book titled: “Geocentrism 101,” authored by Dr. Robert Sungenis, a PhD. in Theology and Religious Studies from George Washington University, Westminster Theological Seminary, and Calamus International University. Dr. Robert Bennett is a contributing co-author, who holds a doctorate degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, and provides the technical and mathematical explanation of the various arguments for Geocentrism. As one would gather from the title, it is a text-book; which is recommended for high school, college and adult. It is a layman’s version of a three-volume, 2,200-page book set, authored by Doctors Sungenis and Bennett, titled: “Galileo was wrong: The Catholic Church Was Right.”

In 1610 Galileo came into conflict with the Catholic Church, for his support of Copernican astronomy, which has become to be known as the Copernican Principle. In observing the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter with the new telescope, he promoted the heliocentric theory of Copernicus-that the Earth, along with the other planets in the solar system, revolves around a relatively stationary Sun. The Sun, then being the center of the Solar system, rather than the Earth(as in geocentrism). Geocentrism was supported by the Catholic Church, as depicted through revelation, in the Old Testament Book of Genesis.

Over the last four hundred years, modern cosmology(Cosmology is derived from the word “cosmos,” meaning order) has developed along the lines of the accepted Copernican model of the universe. Philosophies and numerous present day “ism’s,” that have arisen from the Copernican model, have played a significant role in directing and shaping mankind’s societies; what we believe, how we think and how we act. All born from a concept of chance, rather than divine thought. Thereby proclaiming that the Earth is a meaningless planet, wandering about, in a far corner of the universe. And essentially, assumed to be, quite insignificant.

However, if this principle is the true model for the cosmos, why then is there so much conflict, unrest and turmoil in the world? Why must signals, sent to communication satellites orbiting Earth, be tweaked to allow GPS systems to work properly? Whereas, in the geocentric model no tweaking is necessary at all.

These observances, among others, lead us to a question…What if the heliocentric model (theory”), aka, The Copernican Principle, is wrong? Have we been traveling down the wrong road all this time, based on an incorrect assumption? An assumption based on information acquired using the antiquated scientific tools that were available in the 1600’s.

A theory is an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true, but that is not known or proven to be true. A fact is something that truly exists or happens: something that has actual existence. Fact has been validated, in the cases that follow, by empirical data gathered, as a result of advanced scientific experimentation and observation.

In 1881, Albert Michelson performed an experiment, using a machine-the interferometer-that he had invented, to measure the light movement through ether. A gas known to exist in space, that the Earth passes through, as it revolves around the sun at 66,000 mi/hr, and rotates on its axis, once every 24 hours. His experiment showed that the measured amount of displacement of ether, through the action of light on the ether, was not enough to confirm the Earth was reaching the required 66,000 mi/hr necessary for the Earth to revolve around the sun in 365 days; one year. The data not only showed that the measured displacement was so low that it confirmed that the Earth was not moving at 66,000 mi/hr, but astoundingly revealed that the Earth was not moving at all! However, there was enough of a measure to prove that ether did exist.

Michelson, again performed the same experiment in 1887, with a partner, Edward Morley. The results were the same and even more accurate. It showed that the relative velocity of the Earth through the ether is probably less than 1/6th the earth’s presumed orbital velocity, and certainly less than 1/4th, which was the measured value, confirming a motionless Earth.

For a practical example of Michelson’s experiment; suppose you are in your car on a still air day. You begin to drive with windows open and your hand outside the window. As you accelerate, you will then feel the air resistance build as the air is displaced by the car moving through it. And at 30 mi/hr the air flow feels much less than at 50 mi/hr. Now, we know air exists, because as we move through it we can feel its pressure. Therefore we know we are moving. However, at rest, we don’t feel any air movement. Therefore, the lack of air pressure displacement proves that the car is not moving, as is with the Michelson/Morley experiment, proving that the Earth is not moving.

In a book published in 1948, by Lincoln Barnett, “The Universe and Dr. Einstein,” endorsed by Albert Einstein, an honest scientist admitted that which modern science has not been able to refute; “…we can’t feel our motion through space, nor has any physical experiment ever proved that the Earth actually is in motion.”

The empirical data derived from these experiments was jaw dropping and perplexing to those who subscribed to the Copernican Principle. Initial reactions to the admitted irrefutable data were: “How can this be?” Followed by, “This can not be!” The data shows Earth, not as a cosmic vagabond, but instead, motionless in the universe.

The above findings, significantly placed the heliocentric model’s credibility at risk, and threw its supporters into a panic; as they creatively attempted to support the Copernican model in the face of such concrete data to the contrary. Albert Einstein, the most prominent and respected mathematician and physicist of his era, was approached to explain the extremely damaging data to the model. He responded with the invention of the Special Theory of Relativity to keep the speed of light constant and allow the Earth to move; but later(compelled by verifiable contradictions to that theory) invented the General Theory of Relativity and made the speed of light non-constant, thereby permitting the Earth to be motionless in space.

“In the end, we want to know the truth of things. Yet we often do not want to know truth if it requires us to change our lives.”- James V. Schall, S.J.

The following, and quite recent, experiments were performed between 2001 and 2009, to measure cosmic microwave radiation(CMB). They were performed, with the latter, being known as “The 2009 Planck Probe,” with the cooperation of NASA. Findings of the probe were released in 2013. What was discovered, was that measurable cosmic microwave radiation formed two axes. One was a dipole axis and the other a quadrupole axis. Each was found to bisect the entire universe from one end to the other. And when these intersecting axes, combined with the Galaxy and Quasar alignment, were superimposed onto the pictures of the CMB radiation, it showed conclusively, that the CMB was cosmically aligned to the Earth on three axes, forming an X-Y-Z coordinate system. Earth was found at the intersection; directly in the cross-hairs. The empirical data shows that, not only, is the Earth not wandering aimlessly, but is also located in the center of the universe, and has a special place. Concluding, that Earth and her inhabitants are quite significant.

Geocentrism is confirmed by the data gathered through direct observation and the actual measurable results of modern experimentation. Heliocentrism is being held up by a number of created theories born of mathematical manipulation to answer its numerous anomalies. In a geocentric universe, the shoe simply fits. In a heliocentric universe, it must be made to fit.

In 1641, Francesco Rinuccini, a colleague of Galileo, had written Galileo a letter, claiming that the astronomer Giovanni Pieroni, by discovering a case of stellar parallax(a back and forth shifting of a star’s position), had proven that the Earth moves. Galileo, who by this time had a dramatic conversion back to the Christian faith in 1639, wrote back to Rinuccini later in 1641. In that letter, Galileo says that: “The falsity of the Copernican system should not in any way be called into question, above all not by Catholics, since we have the unshakeable authority of the Sacred Scripture, interpreted by most erudite theologians, whose consensus gives us certainty regarding the stability of the Earth, situated in the center, and the motion of the sun around the Earth. The conjectures employed by Copernicus and his followers in maintaining the contrary thesis are all sufficiently rebutted by the most solid argument deriving from the omnipotence of God. He is able to bring about in different ways, indeed, in an infinite number of ways, things that according to our opinion and observation, appear to happen in one particular way. We should not seek to shorten the hand of God and boldly insist on something beyond the limits of our competence.”

Rinuccini so admired Galileo that he could not destroy the letter. Yet he was so disturbed by this response, that he attempted to erase Galileo’s signature from the last page. This attempt to render the signature illegible, is verified by Stillman Drake, who is one of the premier Galileo historians of our day.

In his closing words, Dr. Sungenis says; “As God usually does, he often lets the plans of mice and men run there course and waits for the right time to turn the tables. We are at such a time. In an ironic sort of way (the way God often works with stubborn men), the very scientific evidence confirming geocentrism is now being resurrected by the same scientific instruments that had been devised to bury it. It eventually surfaces when those who have suppressed it lose their power and can no longer sustain the myth.”

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”- Arthur Schopenhauer

Geocentrism is very much God centered-in that it is ordered, as is previously defined by the word “cosmos.” Heliocentrism is very much man centered-and we find it to be disordered. This book, I feel, will be of interest to the doubting Thomases among us. Saint Thomas believed in the risen Christ only when he was able to insert his fingers into Christ’s wounds. The empirical data provided as proof of geocentrism are as open wounds, from which flows the truth about our place in the universe; offering food for thought, for the misguided.

A Special Note:

“The Principle,” is a documentary film on this very important topic. It should be of great interest to all men and women, of good will and common sense, who seek the truth. The documentary release date is October 10, 2014 in Chicago. A movie trailer can be viewed at http://www.theprinciplemovie.com

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Food For Thought (Introduction)

One summer, at August’s end, I accompanied my brother, as he drove my nephew, bag and baggage, to Boston University, for his sophomore year. The conditions at the university were quite chaotic, as students and parents were everywhere carting belongings up staircases and elevators, to deliver all to specified dorm rooms.

When the day was done, and all the transfer of person and property complete; we said our good-byes to my nephew, with hugs and well-wishes, then headed back to Connecticut. After stopping for a bite to eat, just outside Boston, we continued our trip home.

As we were driving and talking about the day, we became uncomfortably aware that we were going in the wrong direction. What gave it away, were the prominent signs for Lexington and Concord. I remembered enough of my studies of the American Revolution, to know that, the battles of Lexington and Concord were not fought in Connecticut. Our inattention to the road signs, added an hour to our travels, which at the outset had us headed to a destination not intended.

We who are not paying attention to signs provided for proper direction, or unaware of a sign masked by something that obstructed it from our view; can only assume we are on the right road. In time we discover our assumption is wrong. And due to incorrect assumptions we have, in frustration, wasted time and energy in the pursuit of our true goal; which is arriving at our prescribed destination. Which one can not accomplish when on the wrong road.

Our misguidance is made know to us, by a sense that things just don’t seem to be right. What seems to be in order is, in reality, out-of-order. By following accurate signs, in good faith, our trip leads to an ordered end. By following, in the same good faith, inaccurate signs, or missing accurate signs, because they have been obscured by accident or by design, we are led to a disordered end.

My next post, “Food For Thought,” which will be available on September 15, 2014, shall further pursue this notion of traveling on wrong roads. What one will discover is that making a wrong turn, by choice or hoodwink, has implications far beyond those experienced by the individual.

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Something Is Missing

Have you ever thought that if you had gotten that perfect job, had enough money or secured that special relationship, that you would be completely happy?

I believe we have all been given reason to think that; with some actually receiving what they wished. However, as time passes, there seems to be something more that is needed to maintain that happiness we seek. It is as though we are, somewhat, constantly unsatisfied.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom I have often referred to in my writing, has inspired, entertained, and instructed millions of people who heard him preach. He is the author of over seventy books. Archbishop Sheen died in 1979 at the age of eighty-four. His career-including television, radio, preaching and writing-has endeared him to an international audience. His best known books include: Life Of Christ, The World’s First Love, and  his autobiography, Treasure In Clay.

His weekly TV program, “Life Is Worth Living,” was so popular that it drew larger audiences than the very popular “Milton Berle Show,” which was in the same time slot, but on a different network. On one occasion Archbishop Sheen was invited to make a guest appearance on the Berle show. That night Milton Berle said he was assured of the top rating, seeing that Archbishop Sheen was on Berle’s show, and not his own.

Archbishop Sheen received an Emmy Award, in 1952, for his TV program. As he waited to be presented his award,  he observed that the previous recipients were thanking their producers, writers, etc. When it was his turn to receive his award he said; “As my fellow recipients have done before me, I would like to thank my writers, who have made this award possible; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.” His wisdom was surpassed only by his keen wit.

I believe Archbishop Sheen can be of help to us here. Following is one of his inspiring and insightful writings that answers the puzzling human condition of elusive satisfaction.

“A Missing Piece Of Your Heart”

This human heart of yours is not perfect in shape as a valentine heart. There’s a small piece missing out of the side of your heart and out of every heart. That is the piece that was torn out of the universal heart of humanity on the cross. When God made your heart and every other heart, he found it so good that he kept a small sample of it in heaven and then sent the rest of it into the world where it would try to fill up all the love it could, but where it would never be really happy, never totally in love, never able to love anyone with a whole heart because it hasn’t a whole heart to love with. It will never be happy until it goes back again to God to recover that piece that he has been keeping for it from all eternity.

 

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Upon A Gentle Breeze

“And having dismissed the multitude, he went into a mountain alone to pray.” – Matthew 14:22-33

Often, Jesus would seek refuge alone in a quiet place to pray. After an event, such as feeding the multitudes, through the miracle of the loaves and fishes, He was in need of solitude and silence. It is said in the Gospels, that after He performed a miracle, He would sigh or moan. Such a response is the direct result of His healing, as He took upon himself the burden of the once suffering individual.

Elias, too, sought refuge, but for a different reason. He ran for his life, from an enraged Queen, who wanted to end it. His refuge was found in a cave, where he encounters God. However, not in the way he might have expected.

“…and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire,and after the  fire a whistling of a gentle air. And Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle…”- 1 kings 19:9, 11-13

Although, God is with us always, and in every circumstance, whether in joy or sorrow; we connect with Him best, when there are no distractions. That is why we are urged to go away to a place that is free from the daily distractions of our lives. For Jesus knew, and Elias discovered; that God is not in the spectacular, but the mundane. He is not in the din, but in stillness.

In stillness, one can hear a whisper, as though conveyed upon a gentle breeze. And in that whisper is a promise, that settles the restless heart: “I love you.”

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Defined

“Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music, or pictures, or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.”-Samuel Butler

As I was nearing the end of high school, my father and I had a discussion about my future. My father was never one to be long-winded or get involved in extended conversations. But, what he had to say was short, sweet, to the point and wise.

He wanted me to know that I shouldn’t feel that my disability, as a result of Polio, would be a road block to having a successful career. In his own way he drove this point home by telling me; since I could not do physical work, as he had, I could still, while being behind a desk, get the job done; by leading others. His meaning being that, what I lacked in body, I would compensate in mind. His words were quite prophetic. For I was behind a desk-a teacher’s desk-and those who I would lead, were my students. And the work to be done, was their education. My disability put limitations on the number of professions that I could pursue. Yet it put no limits on the level of success that could be achieved within those limited choices.

Today, an uncertain and floundering economy has put similar restrictions on many young people. Young people who have dream jobs in mind, that may not become a reality. Passing time and changing circumstances may rekindle those dreams. However, time and circumstances do run their course. But, wherever one finds oneself, one must realize that work, in and of itself is valuable.

After retiring, I and my family decided to move to a different part of the state. We would be together as we aged, and could benefit from the more manageable financial arrangements. When I told my friends and colleagues, whom I have known for some years, of my decision to move, they were shocked and saddened. They attempted to convince me, out of that sadness, to stay in the area. Their argument being, that what I had accomplished as a teacher and coach, is what defined me. Essentially, in leaving, I would find myself lost. I was a bit taken aback by that comment, because I don’t believe I am defined by my profession or achievements, but rather by my character, which has played a role in those achievements. That character is derived from where I place my faith, and to whom I willingly surrender myself.

I sympathize with those young people, who see themselves as less, because they believe a particular profession would bring them the honor, meaning and purpose they seek. Suppose one does secure that special job, that one dreamed of having. Does that “dream come true,” make the person? Dreams, like all things in this temporal world, have a limited life span. And as dreams fade like a mist, so to, do all worldly things. What, then, will become of you? Do you fade away along with it? Do you lose meaning and purpose? If you believe your job defines you-then yes, in your way of thinking, you have lost your meaning and purpose.

A job brings nothing to us, except an opportunity, to express ourselves in work. Because if work is not performed by you, it will be performed by another. We do, however, have a unique opportunity to bring something to the job-ourselves. In doing so, it is we who bring definition to work, rather than work bringing definition to us. In this way, whether our task, at any given time, is our dream job or other, we can find fulfillment. For being a brain surgeon or a farmer, is not what matters. What matters is being a successful brain surgeon or a successful farmer. And what determines that success is the disposition of the one doing the work.

So it is not so important the work that we do. However, it is quite important, how we do that work. It is in the how we do something that defines us. And that you can take with you wherever you happen to be.

“The quality of work reflects the quality of  the person who does that work.”

 

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