Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Faith, pop culture, and headline reflections from Fr. Mike Schmitz.
Is Swearing a Sin?
Fr. Mike comments on whether swearing, as in using vulgar language, is a sin. He gives three times when using vulgar words can be sinful:
If I use the vulgar word against someone, directing it toward them
If I use a word connected to a sexual act, because sex between persons is meant to be holy and reserved for spousal love
If I use a vulgar word in public, since it can scandalize people—especially if young ones are present.
Remember that we are called to always be charitable. Our words mean something. We are called to build people up, not bring them down. The words we choose reflect and express what’s in our hearts “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). What do you want to express, words that are at best crude or words that build people up?
Why Is Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain Wrong?
There’s a reason why “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain” is not only one of the ten commandments, but is second on the list. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is a big deal.
Yet so many of us do it anyway all of the time. It has almost become part of our everyday vocabulary. We may say we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, we just say it without meaning it sometimes. But saying it without meaning it is in fact taking the Lord’s name in vain.
Saying “O my God” or “Jesus Christ” in vain, meaning saying it unintentionally or in anger, is a mortal sin. The Lord gave us his name out of love and trust. Let’s not abuse it, but hold it in our hearts and call upon his name when we need him. In prayer, his name has the power to cast out demons and scare away evil. Remember that power, especially when tempted to use his name in vain.
The minced oaths and funny sayings of yesteryear that you may have heard your grandpa say may make a little more sense when considering the gravity of breaking the second commandment. Why not bring back that “speak no evil” mindset, and say “Jiminy Cricket” or “God bless America and all the ships at sea” instead? If we’re not going to turn a slip of the tongue into a prayer, we can at least make our words into a jovial character of some kind.
How Catholics Should Connect with Others
There’s justice and prudence and temperance and fortitude, faith, and hope, and love. But do you recall the social virtues at all? Thankfulness and affability are some social virtues that show us how Catholics should connect with others in social situations.
Thankfulness is the social virtue by which we acknowledge people and their generosity. It’s not just a customary expression of thanks when someone does something nice. It means going out of your way to show people your gratitude for them going out of their way for you.
Affability is another word for approachability. It means you’re free to talk and free to help. You don’t mind people knocking on your door to tell you something. It is another social virtue that makes us put others before ourselves.
Being introverted is not an excuse to avoid these virtues. An introverted person can most certainly have a heart focused on other people, and that is what’s at the heart of the social virtues.
You may think these virtues aren’t as important as the others since they are not so explicitly mentioned in Scripture. In fact they are. Remember the parable of the lepers in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus heals ten lepers, and only one returns to thank him. Jesus asks, “Where are the other nine?”
Likewise, Jesus regularly healed those who approached him out of the blue, showing affability. Jesus showed the social virtues, and so should we.
Hope in the New Year
With each new year come new hopes, new plans, and new opportunities. Fr. Mike points out that this optimism and this “spirit” of New Year’s is a great inspiration of hope for the interior life of the Christian.
For each of us, last year probably had a fair mix of “wins” and “losses” – of joy and suffering. Fr. Mike zeroes in on what was probably the worst evil and the greatest suffering you encountered last year – sin. Sin can lead to discouragement and embarrassment, and those demons can keep us from moving forward in hope. Maybe you’ve been wrestling with the same sin for a long time, or maybe you don’t want to go to the same priest about the same sin again and again. Maybe you feel like giving up.
But we can have hope – “trust in another extended into the future” – in Jesus and in the sacrament of confession. As Fr. Mike’s friend Nick says, “If you fall, fall into the confessional.” Discouragement and embarrassment have no place in the life of the Christian. They keep us in the past, while their converses – hope and humility – keep us moving forward.
This year is going to have its ups and downs, and we know we can’t trust in ourselves. But we can trust in Him in whom we place our hope. Happy New Year!
Having Joy in Uncertainty
The only things we can be certain about are the things that have already happened to us in the past, and we live in a perpetual state of uncertainty about the future. If we’re honest, we can all probably agree that it’s not really comfortable to be constantly wondering what your life will look like in a month, in six months, in a year. We are always worrying about the future—especially when we sense that some form of suffering looms ahead.
Father Mike walks us through the Five Joyful Mysteries: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. He reflects on the fact that each of these joyful mysteries is marked with a profound uncertainty and suffering. And yet, joy is present.
Think about what what Mary must have felt like when the Angel appeared to her and told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her—that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. The Angel didn’t reveal details to her. He didn’t assure her that Joseph wouldn’t divorce her, or that they would have to travel to Bethlehem but that they would make it in time for her to deliver. Yet, amidst the uncertainty of the moment, Mary gave a joyful Fiat.
Joy can be present, because Christ is present. You are able to have a Merry Christmas today...not because there is no suffering, and no uncertainty, but because God is with us. Even in our darkness, we have seen a great light.
The Difference Between Jealousy and Envy
If you’re wondering about the difference between jealousy and envy, Fr. Mike clears up the confusion in this video. Simply put, jealousy is not wanting to share something or someone you possess or hope to possess, and envy is resentment toward the possessions of someone else. There can be some intersecting of the two, because it is possible to have an excessive or distorted kind of jealousy that’s actually based in envy, but jealousy can be good while envy is always sinful.
This is an important distinction because on the one hand we have God who is jealous about us. Likewise, a husband and wife should be jealous about each other.
On the other hand, St. Augustine described envy as the diabolical sin, basing his reasoning on Scripture: “through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it” (Wisdom 2:24).
Worthy of note is the fact that good translations of the Bible translate 1 Corinthians 13:4 to say “love does not envy.”
Rather than allowing the blessings of others to sadden us, let us rejoice in them and our own.
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How Catholics Should Connect With Others
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