Today at the fresher’s fair we were asked by somebody: ‘with all your rules and rigidity, how can you remain free from the hypocrisy that Jesus often condemned in the pharisees?’ I know I certainly don’t manage to remain free of such a sin, but I can strive to get away from it.
Instead of teaching ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ as many people believe to be the case with the Church, she teaches grow in the virtues that you may be free from selfish desires. She uses St Aquinas’ natural law as a guide of how to go about this task, but as Pope Francis recently reminded us not to simply to say this, that or the other is wrong, but to say this is action is good, this action will help us to grow into better stronger people, building the Kingdom of God. Yes there is an objective moral law we must follow but to do this we must grow in the virtues, such that following the law becomes natural, only then will we be free to be ourselves not give in to addictions of any kind.
To use the example of abortion, yes it is an intrinsic evil, yet we as pro-life people must find a way to avoid saying to a woman in a difficult or unexpected pregnancy, you must not have an abortion, but here is help so letting your child live will be manageable. Point them out to charities who are there to help, be they in need of counselling after an abortion, funding for their child or even just practical advise on how to look after their child. We must as pro-life people remember that nobody would go to the abortion clinic if they were not looking for help, so we must give them this help, in any way we can, that their child might be allowed to live.
The best way to come grow in the virtues then, is through regular confession and Mass. A brief examination of conscience at the end of each day will allow a person to get to know their strengths and their weakness, such that the extended one before confession will allow everything to be brought before Christ and be replaced by His sacramental grace. On receiving Christ in the most Blessed sacrament of the Altar, ask the most beloved mother of our Lord to treasure the graces bestowed on you through the sacrament, in your heart that they might bear much fruit in all you do and say.
It is very easy to become so wrapped up in the academic part of your faith or making sure that all the outward things as directed as necessary in canon law are done that you forget what it is that is actually happening, and/or why they are necessary. This, I think, is the trap that started the pharisees into their hypocrisy. We must not use this as an excuse to have apathy to the things of faith, instead we must learn more about Christ, as you would with any other loved one. Waste time with Him, talk to Him, and to others who know Him best such as His mother or the saints relying on their insights. Likewise with the outward gestures in the liturgy, such gestures must be done in the same light as Peter falling at the feet of Christ and saying ‘get away from me Lord I am a sinful man.’ As a humble recognition of your place in relation to Christ Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Do not be afraid of what anybody is going to say of you for doing these things, but give them an example. As long as what others are doing is within canon law, or Divine law, do not tell them they should do it another way (I need to learn this point). Know what St Augustine means by
Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved you. You have called to me, and have called out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light and have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.
He always pours out more love into you, but only so much as you can handle. For if you could know just how much love God loves you, you would die for joy. Then you will be far from the easy way to fall into this sin.
PS. please do pray for all at the fresher’s here in Nottingham, it’s an impossibility stay away from the occasion of sin during this period.