Tag Archives: sin

Is there a limit on forgiveness?

I’m a crime-show junkie. But until recently, I’ve never read a real-life case that seems to have come directly from the writers of one of the TV crime shows that I love to watch.

A teenager comes home late, has a fight with his {apparently drunken} mother.

Later, as said Mom-of-the-year sleeps on her couch, Teen Boy shoots MOTY five times in the head with a bow & arrow. { according to the facts presented in the trial documents I found online}

He was convicted of the crime, but in 1999 was given a new trial,based on the defense’s supposition that evidence was withheld during the original trial.

According to the defense, the boy suffered from extreme ” battered-child syndrome.”

The State let this boy { now a man} free .The state does not see him as a threat to society, but would you want to have this guy as your neighbor ? I sure would not want to live next door to such a person–as people usually learn nothing honorable while incarcerated.

My question is: although the state has forgiven { & even rationalized his crime} should society forgive hm? Can someone { anyone , really} with the proven capacity to turn o deadly violence be allowed another chance? Inasmuch as I want to belive that anyone can turn his or her life around regardless of circumstances I find ex-cons with records of violent crimes heinous.

Does this make me a bad person? I am open-minded–but violence ” turns my stomach”.

I’ve acted in ways that were for sure questionable–but I am not violent. We all make bad choices, but most people’s bad choices do not result in the intentional taking of another human life.

I know that only God can forgive our sins—but I tend to want to categorize sins into what the Roman Church calls ” Mortal ” and Venial Sins. Is it up to us to distribute forgiveness. No it is not– God alone has the power to judge ALL of our sins.

Also, are some civil crimes too horrific to be forgiven by the Church’s Sacrament of Rconciliation? { clergy friends please share your thoughts on this topic} If a convicted rapist or murderer moved next-door to YOU, how would you treat him or her?

Studying a summary of The Crusades….

Map of First Crusade

This week in Year Three of EfM, we are studying The Crusades. Now I admit that really do not know too much about this period of Church history. Since I am a visual thinker, I’m in the process of finding maps to aid me in my study of this period of history. So far I have found two maps that will be useful for my study online{ the Internet is a wonderful educational tool, if used properly}

Anyhow, as a Christian, I am not proud of the violence that was done in the name of our God & our Lord Jesus Christ by these medieval militias. Yet on the other hand, I feel that the super-extreme Muslim idea of ” holy war” against Christians & Jews is wrong. While humanity cannot undo the past wrongs{ of which the Crusades are just some examples of one group of people waging war versus a group they feels threatens their way of life}

The current Muslim ” holy war” is wrong, but sometimes Christians { including myself} forget that our forebeaers in faith waged our own ” holy war” against those whose faith is different from ours. As most Christians are nonviolent people, the majority of those who practice Islam are also peaceful. We need to , as a now-cliched bumper sticker proclaims ” COEXIST”. If we do not even try to work for religious tolerance worldwide, we’ll forever be plagued with one form of ” holy war” or another. The extreme Christian right is just as guilty as the Muslims who say that they won’t quit fighting until ALL so-called ” infidels” either convert to Islam or are murdered.

One of the greatest freedoms we have in America is the freedom to worship as we see fit. Even now, many nations do not grant their citizens this freedom. With freedom comes responsibility . I think that part of becoming an informed & responsible citizen includeds educating oneself on other races, RELIGIONS & ethnic groups.

One of my mottos is: the more we know, the less we can hate. Amen.

Nexxxxt Title , please!

Cutie+ Heck yes ! :O)

Thanks to my friend,Holly, I now own a hardback copy of a title that has been on my ” must-read” list since the day it arrived on shelves.

My next book of choice is _Dilemma_ by Albert Cutie+ {pronounced koo-tee eh} . his story is more than one of sex, love and a former Roman Catholic priest…it is the story of one man’s struggle between the Church he loved & his discontent & discomfort with the laws of said Church.

Now I have heard the argument that Fr Cutie knew that the Roman Church requires priests to swear to a life of celibacy & that he *did* break his vows to the church he served. That is an excellent point. Yet at the same time, the Cutie case * does* call into question the requirements that an ordained servant of God ” should” subscribe to so tha he or she can qualify for Holy Orders. Although I was never a practicing Roman Catholic, he whole docine of clerical celibacy does & always has befuddled me.

It is my opinion that a man or{ yes!} woman of the cloth can both serve God and be a faithful, attentive spouse & parent. But that is * just * my opinion & I don’t wish to argue with anyone, although I am always open for respectful dialogue. Most of my family on my father’s side & many friends are good Roman Catholic Christians & I respect their faith path . So please do likewise & respect mine. Danke!

I don’t want to argue the merits of anyone’s theology, but this case has piqued my interest since I first learned about it on cable news. Unlike most consumers of news, when a story catches my attention I want to find out more. Sure I knew that Fr Cutie had been punished by the Roman Catholic Church for his consensual involvement with an adult woman{ who, by the way was NOT a parishioner at the church he was serving.}

This is going to be interesting.

Stay tuned. Peace out from this proud Episcopalian!

Where were you?

I know that * everyone* is blogging about where they were 9 years ago today so I might as well add my story to the collective pot o’ tales.

It was my last semester of college & I was running very late for a class. I stopped in the Student Union to get some coffee{ since I was already miserably late to the 8 oclock class} & saw Katie Couric live from New York on the Today Show. As I was heading towards the Communication Arts building{ early for the 9:30 class since I was way late for the early one} I saw the second plane fly into the World Trade Center. I saw it live on a big-screen TV.

One moment in time altered my reality forever.

I remember calling my Dad asking ” why”. How can humanity be so evil & why do these people{ the terrorists} hate my country so much. I knew next to nothing aout Isalm, but I could not fathom that people who worship the same God as I do could be so capable of such an act of violence against an entire nation of people.

But then I had to look in the mirror of the collective Christian history. When I did so, I did not like what was reflected back to me. Throughout he 2000 plus years of Christian history there have been and still are pockets of violence done to others in the name of the Triune God. But the faith I practice is one that has room to respect others whose path to the Divine might be a bit different from my own. I am really bothered when non-Believers paint my own Christian faith with the same dirty brush as that of folks such as the followers of the Westboro Baptist Church and that crazy ” pastor” in Gainesville, FL who hd the whole world’s attntion by wanting to burn Korans.

I am not, by nature, prejudiced but I will confess that I’m still working out the difference in my mind between the everyday peace-loving Moslems & the fringe group which perverts a faith in order to carry out their message of hatred.

The events that took place in NYC , Washingon DC & Pennsylvania were horrid. We remember those lost but also remember that one fringe group of people , not a whole faith system, was responsible for the events of 9-11-01.

Of course I am not perfect….

My non-believing friends & family always argue wth me about what it means to be a Christian. Some of them seem to think that believing in God = moral perfection & a sense of ” surperiority”. Now those of us who are people of Judeo-Christian faith know darn well that accepting Christ as our LORD & Savior does not make us ” superior to others. We acknowledge daily that we fall short of wht God wans us o be & we are thankful for our Savior. Um, if we were perfect, there would be no need for a Savior. It saddens me that many non-belivers I know seem to have this negative connotation regarding Christianity. Actually,I’ve a pretty good guess as to where this negative stereotypes of Christians originates, but that is fodder for another blog entry. :O)

I know I am a sinner. And I sure as anything do not use my Christian faith to judge others whose lifestyles mightbe diferent from mine. One of the aspects of Anglicanism which resoates with me very much is our” via media” approach. We can agree to disagree on any variety of hot-button isses yet still be prt of the one true catholic & apostolic Church. Several-non Christians I know don’t seem to understand that many of us are fullyaare of our sins & shortcomings & know better than to use the platform of faith as a weapon. { I ee this a lot in the part of the nation in which I live & it makes me so sad!}

I am not perfect, but I am loved anyway. As the Psalm which I read yesterday at Mass says” O LORD ou hae searched me nd known me…” God knows I am a sinner. I know I am a sinner. But I also know I am forgiven.

Which means I need to forgive…..OH SNAP.
Saty tuned.

Liturgy junkie: Part II

Hi, my name is Sarah Beth & I am a litugy junkie. :O)

Today my priest, our parish’s choir mistress{ haha, dont ya just * love* that word! Its so British-sounding} & I planned a special worship service of penitence & thanksgiving for the Gulf Of Mexico. We’ll start with An Order For The Evening & then move on to Evening Prayer Rite Two. We’ve also included the Great Litany, which so far I’ve only prayed during the first Sunday of Lent. We’ll enter the nave with semi-darkness & invite folks to light a candle for those 11 men who lost their lives in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Smells, bells & candles…yep that is what you get when three high-Church litrgy junkies plan a worship service.
There will be music, but no organ.

Envy

“I can’t wait all my life
On a street of broken dreams.”
~Journey, “It Could Have Been You

It was * so* apropos that I was ” voluntold” { and that is a word! } to read Sunday’s lesson from St Paul.

Lately I’ve been suffering from major ENVY! I’m not disclosing what causes this envy, as it is way too personal, but I hate how envy makes me feel other negative emotions.

Wishing for the impossible doesn’t do anyone any good. Yet I still, even one year later, wish that something could have been different. In my mind & know darn well that my choice was the correct one yet my soul still has trouble accepting the consequences of that choice. As a result I often feel myself turning into the proverbial” green-eyed monster” . This is NOT a good emotion & with it I carry a lot of ” stuff”.

It is pointless to keep lamenting on ” What could have been”> I need to focus on the ” here & now”. Envy holds me back when I want to move forward with my life.

Carrying Crosses

The Christian life is not easy.

I REALLY do not trust those churches who promise ” warm fuzzies” & a quick fix. Life isn’t all” warm fuzzies” in general & surely a life centered on Christ is not meant to be easy, either.

To use an image from the Holy Friday Stations of the Cross, we are called to ” take up our Crosses” & follow Our Lord. One of the reasons why I love the season of Lent & the liturgy of Holy Week is that by participating in it, we catholic Christians are metaphysically walking with Christ towards His death. Yes we do know that at the end of every Lenten season & Holy Week, there is the glorious Easter. Yet we really can’t fully appreciate the power of Christ’s victory over death & sin unless we , too, remind ourselves to take up our Crosses. We will stumble with our Crosses & this is ok as long as we ” keep on keeping on”.

The true miracle of Easter comes after the pain & sorrow of Holy Friday.

Most of us don’t have to carry around a literal heavy wooden cross, but the metaphorical crosses that we are asked to carry can be just as heavy. I’m in the middle of a Holy Friday point in my spiritual life & I’ve been praying the Sorrowful Mysteries with my Rosary lately. I have told God that I will bear this cross & use whatever wisdom I glean from the sorrow it causes me to further God’s Kingdom in Christ’s name.

In order to be better servants, we have to be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of our faith communities, our families, & even ourselves. The Christian life isn’t about US, it’s about GOD. Too often I am guilty of letting myself get in the way of God’s plan for me & the people whose lives I share but I’ve realized that the selfish id{ which I believe is the most primitive part of the human psyche…correct me of I am wrong} is responsible for a lot of trouble.

But it ” ain’t” easy, y’all.

OIL!!!

Yes…IT is here.

Oil.

The first tar balls  arrived not too far from where I hang out Gulf side.

I am crushed. While I was not born here in the Gulf South, it has become my home.  The people who live here don’t see this as a ” statistic”. This is our livelihood. Those of us who might not be directly affected by the economic repressions of BP’s error will have our way of life severely altered.

 When I see the images of oil-soaked animals I cry. They are innocent victims in this travesty.

I’m not a ” hater” But I find myself hating BP & its CEO’ with a passion.  They CAN clean up this mess, but they would rather spend  insane amounts of money on a public-relations  campaign.{as if that will help their image with the American public!} I do not trust anything that BP’s image-makers are telling us via the mainstream media.

My heart hurts, y’all.

We are all connected

  My major in college was journalism & I admit that lately I have been a lousy news hound. One cannot turn on the Internet without being reminded of the terrible oil in our Gulf.  Even if I did not call this beautiful part of our planet  my home, the images  would devestate me nonetheless.  On Friday I made an honest evffort to watch the coverage of the spill on CNN but when the cameras zoomed in on the oiled wildlife I started to cry.

Just to clarify: I * am* continuing to read one piece by ++KJS every day but I haven’t blogged the  articles as I’d originally intended.  My mind & soul ache & re-reading her words is a comfort.

Anyhow, ++ Katharine had an op-ed piece online that totally caught my attention.  Our oceanogropher-turned clergy wrote a fact-packed & beautiful{ albeit sad} piece on the oil mess in the Gulf Of Mexico.  What is interesting about this article is that, unlike anything else I’ve read by Bishop Katharine, this is  written from the perspective of an expert.

Her last paragraph sums up the entire article. She says:

” There is no place to go away from these consequences; there is no ultimate escape on this planet…We are all connected will all suffer the consequences of this tragic disaster in the Gulf, and we must wake up & put a stop to the kind of robber-baron behavior we supposedly regulated out of existence a hundred years ago. Our lives & the liveliness of the entire planet, depend on it.”

We all play a part in bearing responsibility for what happened in the Gulf. While BP & its subcontractors  should bear the primary blame for this disaster, they are in business because we as a society, covet oil products.  No one is blameless, even those of us who are unable or choose not to drive an automobile.   Our energy infrastructure depends on petroleum products as does the plastics industry.

Shame on BP. Shame on all of us.