A Study of Sloth in the Life of Lot

In Bible Study in my Parish we  have been reading through Genesis. This past evening we read of Lot and the horrifying results of his decision to pitch his tent toward Sodom. We also see in his life a significant spiritual problem: sloth, one of the seven deadly sins. Sloth is a sorrow, sadness, or aversion to the good things God offers. Rather than being joyful and zealous to obtain these gifts, the slothful person sees them as too much trouble to obtain and is averse to the changes such gifts might introduce into his life. This is clearly the case with Lot, who resists the attempts of God to rescue him and his family from the sinful city of Sodom, which is about to be destroyed. Let’s examine his struggle in several steps.

I. Roots – Lot’s personal troubles were many, but for our purposes his problems began when he “pitched his tent toward Sodom” (Gen 13:12). Abraham and Lot had grown very rich (almost never a good thing in the spiritual life) and realized that their flocks were so large that one part of the land could not sustain them both. Thus they agreed to live in different sectors. Abraham left the choice of areas to Lot, who (selfishly?) chose the better part for himself. The area where Sodom was is now a deep desert, but at that time the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt (Gen 13:10). And thus it was that Lot took his family and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

II. Risks – But Sodom was a wicked city, filled with false worship, greed, insensitivity to the poor, and the approval and practice of homosexuality. I will not be writing on that in detail in this post, as I have already done so in previous ones.

Praise the Lord

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The Costa and Celibacy

Pope Emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Sarah have just released a book in defence of clerical celibacy, just as Pope Francis is pondering relaxing the discipline, one that goes back to the origins of the priesthood, contrary to Protestant and Modernist revisionism (after all, Christ was a celibate). The underlying, central issue is continence, or the use of one’s sexuality, whether within marriage or not. But let us not quibble, for it seems the underlying battle is over the very nature of the Church, the priesthood, the Eucharist, human sexuality and other mysteries, and that war is coming more out in the open; likely a good thing, if not necessarily a pleasant one. May the truth win out, as it will, in the end.

On this day in 2012, in the more moderate climes of the Mediterranean, the cruise ship Costa Concordia, doing a near-shore ‘salute’, ran aground on uncharted rocks, tilted precipitously, filled with water, and eventually sank. It was not quite the disaster of the Titanic, which occurred in April, providentially precisely a century prior in 1912, but the behaviour of those aboard, and especially the captain, could not have been more different. Francesco Schettino – who was on the bridge with his paramour, Domneca Cermortan, both of them married to other people – may have been distracted. Perhaps he would have done better to live celibacy while captaining.  With most of the passengers still aboard the listing ship, Schettino claimed he ‘fell’ into a lifeboat, and refused to return to the ship, all while being urged to do so in the most vigorous of terms by the coastguard, in a tirade that went viral. Thirty-two people died; the captain survived.

A century prior, in another era and culture, Edward John Smith, the captain of the Titanic, went down with his ship, along many of the crew and the men. It was women and children first to the limited number of lifeboats, and whatever else might float in the frigid waters.

Praise the Lord

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After ‘grotesque’ court ruling, Kansas pro-lifers continue push for ballot measure

Wichita, Kan., Jan 13, 2020 / 07:12 pm (CNA).- Pro-life legislators and advocacy groups in Kansas, joined by the state’s Catholic bishops, are working to send a constitutional amendment to voters to counter the Kansas Supreme Court’s declaration that abortion is a constitutional right.

Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), said the amendment is a top priority for the legislature.

“This is not going to be about banning abortions. It’s going to be about putting it back where it’s supposed to be, and that is with the legislature,” he told the Associated Press.

Praise the Lord

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“1917” y recordando quiénes somos

Vi la película 1917 la vigilia de la fiesta del Bautismo del Señor, y creo que hay una conexión entre la película y la celebración litúrgica. Tengan paciencia.

En primer lugar, como comentan todos los que lo han visto, el montaje y la cinematografía de 1917 son tan sorprendentes que parece desarrollarse completamente en tiempo real, el resultado de una toma continua. Piensen en la famosa escena de la película Goodfellas (Uno de los nuestros en España y Buenos muchachos en Hispanoamérica), donde Ray Liotta y la chica con la que tenía una cita entran en el club nocturno, pero estirada durante dos horas. Lo que esto produce en el espectador es una sensación casi inédita de estar allí, experimentando los acontecimientos con los personajes de la película. Y ser insertados en la Primera Guerra Mundial es, por decirlo suavemente, horroroso. Obviamente, todas las guerras son terribles, pero hubo algo singularmente espantoso en la Primera Guerra Mundial: la opresión de las trincheras, las enfermedades desenfrenadas, la desesperanza de luchar por unos pocos cientos de metros de tierra arrasada, las ratas (que juegan un papel prominente y repugnante en 1917), y, sobre todo, la matanza masiva que fue el resultado de combinar una estrategia militar anticuada y armamento moderno. Como lo atestiguan tantos pensadores y escritores que participaron en ella —Paul Tillich, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ernest Hemingway, etc.— la Primera Guerra Mundial representó, como ninguna otra guerra hasta esa fecha, un colapso, un cambio radical, una calamidad cultural.

Y una de las principales razones del desastre de la Guerra, que con demasiada frecuencia se pasa por alto a mi juicio, es de naturaleza espiritual. Casi todos los combatientes de la Primera Guerra Mundial eran cristianos. Durante cinco terribles años, una orgía de violencia estalló entre bautizados: cristianos ingleses, franceses, canadienses, estadounidenses, rusos y belgas, que asesinaron a cristianos alemanes, austriacos, húngaros y búlgaros. Y esta carnicería tuvo lugar a una escala que todavía nos deja perplejos. Los cincuenta y ocho mil estadounidenses muertos durante todo el transcurso de la guerra de Vietnam son casi un “fin de semana de trabajo”, comparado a los peores días de la Primera Guerra Mundial. Si sumamos las muertes militares y civiles acumuladas durante la Guerra, llegamos —estimación moderada— a una cifra de unos cuarenta millones. ¿Y por qué precisamente estaban peleando? Desafío a todos, excepto a los historiadores más especializados de la época, a que me lo digan. Sea lo que sea, ¿alguien puede decir honestamente que valió la pena la muerte de cuarenta millones de personas? No estoy abogando por el pacifismo. Pero en realidad estoy invocando los principios de la guerra justa de la Iglesia, uno de los cuales es la proporcionalidad, es decir, que debe haber una proporción entre los bienes alcanzados por la guerra y el costo involucrado en el logro de esos bienes, si se quiere que la guerra sea calificada como justificada. ¿Se obtuvo tal proporcionalidad entre los medios y los fines en la Primera Guerra Mundial? Tristemente, creo que la pregunta se responde sola.

Praise the Lord

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Archbishop Smith: Embrace the Mission

Attendees in tears during a musical performance at a memorial for the victims of flight PS752 at the University of Alberta.Lincoln Ho, Grandin Media

Here in Edmonton people are reeling from the terrible fact that thirty of our fellow Edmontonians were killed in that plane shot down outside of Tehran. This unspeakably atrocious event is a vivid and jarring reminder that our world is in many ways a very dangerous place, marked by tensions among nations and the tragic consequences thereof, suffered mostly by innocent people. Particularly striking is the fact that this event took place in the final days of the Christmas season, which on Sunday drew to a close. In this sacred time we have heralded the birth of Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and his revelation among us as Saviour of the world. Yet the tragic occurrence in Tehran, and so many other instances of suffering and grief, serve as stark reminders that the peace and light Christ came to bring have yet fully to be embraced.

In this context, the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord offers an important and timely reminder of the significance of our own Baptism. People baptized in Christ do not have the option of sitting back as passive spectators upon a world gone awry. The baptized are sent into the world with the message of the Gospel, which alone has the power to bring the true and lasting reconciliation we all seek. From the moment we are baptized, the life of Jesus becomes the principle of our own, which means that our Christian life is shaped by consciously imitating Christ in all that we do and by accepting as our own the mission that belongs properly to him. Some aspects of that mission are adumbrated for us in the sacred texts given for the Feast.

Praise the Lord

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Sydney archbishop encourages relief donations amid Australia fires

Sydney, Australia, Jan 13, 2020 / 06:18 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney urged Mass attendees Sunday to pray for an end to the Australia fires, which have destroyed thousands of homes, and to donate to those affected.

The bushfires in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia have killed at least 28, and destroyed more than 2,000 homes. More than 2,400 square miles are now on fire, and some 38,600 square miles have burned.

“We gather in the shadow of a drought that has now lasted for three years and a bushfire season already the most intense in our country’s history,” Archbishop Fisher said during his homily at Mass in St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney Jan. 12.

Praise the Lord

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