Rabbi Yeshua told the crowds, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force” Mt 11:12. Rabbi Matityahu’s Greek is, ho basileia ho ouranos biazo kai biastes harpazo autos. Literally, word by word, “The kingdom of-the heavens is-being-forced and violent-ones seize it.” Rabbi Lucas has a similar passage: “The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently” Lk 16:16.
“Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered.”
Father John A. Hardon, S.J. 1914-2000
Temptation is one of Satan’s weapons against us, It is also one of God’s weapons to strengthen us. The seven capital sins that tempt our fallen race to evil are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth. God gives us seven capital virtues, Humility, Liberality, Brotherly love, Meekness, Chastity, Temperance, and Diligence. Each capital virtue is a spiritual exercise that can strengthen us against a particular capital sin as we work toward radical transformation of our souls.
The Kingdom of Heaven Has Suffered Violence
Sometimes several shepherds would keep their flocks together so that when evening came they would take turns, one shepherd awake to guard the flock while the others slept. To separate the flocks, all the shepherds had to do was move apart and call their sheep. Each sheep recognized his shepherd’s voice and went to him Jn 10:3–5.
At other times a shepherd would be alone. When evening came the shepherd also had to sleep, so he would make a sheepfold by piling up rocks, perhaps with thorny brushwood on top, with a narrow entrance so the sheep could get in and out. In the rainy season he might use a small cave.
The shepherd would herd the sheep into the fold and close it by lying down across the entrance. During the night the shepherd and his flock would sleep together.
At sunrise, they would all awaken. As soon as the shepherd stood up, thereby opening the entrance, the sheep would all try to run through it at once, violently pushing and shoving one another in their eagerness to get to the fresh grass.
Rabbi Yeshua, the good shepherd Jn 10:11, calls us to seek heaven that way, single-mindedly, eagerly following Rabbi Yeshua, violently pushing all our sinful impulses aside. He gives us the finest food Lk 22:19 and drink Lk 22:20 through Rabbi Kefa ’s mission, “Feed my lambs … tend my sheep … feed my sheep” Jn 21:15–17.
(Like so much that Rabbi Yeshua teaches, the simple shepherds see it right away, while many scholars are baffled.)
The humble always see it first. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures” Ps 23:1–2. Each shepherd watched over his flock day and night. At night when the shepherd had to sleep he would lead the sheep to a hillside and pen them by piling up rocks, crowding the sheep into a small fold. Then he would lie down and sleep during the night across the opening to protect the sheep and keep them penned in. The next morning he would stand up and walk out, making a breach in the fold by removing his own body, and leading the sheep out toward a green pasture. The sheep, penned up all night in a crowded fold, eagerly followed the shepherd, pushing and shoving one another to get through the breach all at once, knocking down more rocks to make the breach wider so that they could get to the green pasture.
Rabbi Yeshua’s Jewish audience recognized his reference to the prophet Micah. “I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the Lord at their head” Mic 2:12–13. Rabbi Yeshua’s crowds recognized in it his proclamation of the kingdom. “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” Lk 4:18. The rabbis of that time understood that Elijah would be the breach-maker and the Messiah would lead the sheep through the breach.
Radak’s midrash on Micah 2:13 explained that the kingdom of heaven would break forth. Literally translating from the Hebrew, haportzim yifretzu bo, “Those who are breaking out break out in it.” This lifrotz, breaking, is very forceful and violent, the way an army tank might break through a wall.
Again, Rabbi Yeshua meant every word. We need to be radically transformed, to vigorously push aside whatever barriers stand in the way of our journey to the green pastures of heaven, which we reach by way of the Cross. Let us see what will happen to those who are lukewarm. At the beginning of salvation history God told us: “In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground … for Cain and his offering [God] had no regard” Gen 4:3, 5. And, near the close of the apostolic age, God’s angel told John to write to the Church in Laodicaea: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” Rev 3:16.
How We Do It
How many of us consider this and say, “I can’t do it.” It’s true, we can’t do it without Rabbi Yeshua‘s sanctifying grace. Once Rabbi Yeshua opened heaven through his redemptive sacrifice on the Cross Lk 23:43, He gave us a radical transformation, the Communion of Saints. § 1474 “The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God‘s grace is not alone. The life of each of God‘s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.
God is Radical and Total
Father Thomas Dubay writes, “There is nothing lukewarm about the God of revelation. Always radical and total, never does He reduce what He expects of us to fractions.” He adds, “Reflecting like mirrors the very brilliance of the Lord,” we are to be “changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.”
St. Catherine of Siena, in her letter to Stefano Maconi, wrote, “If you are what you ought to be, you will set fire to all Italy, and not only yonder.” St. John Paul II paraphrased, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” If we are totally obedient to God, he will do works through us that would transform the world Mt 7:7–12.
St. John Vianney wrote, “We must never lose sight of the fact that we are either saints or outcasts, that we must live for heaven or for hell; there is no middle path in this. You either belong wholly to the world or wholly to God. If people would do for God what they do for the world, what a great number of Christians would go to heaven.”
Rabbi Yeshua gave us a perfect set of teachings, and a living authority to be sure we would understand them. Remove a single strand and it all unravels. That is why the sofer’s work had to be perfect; even a single letter or mark would invalidate the entire scroll. In Greek, homoousios and homoiousios differ by only a single Greek letter, iota, yet all Christianity depended on it.
The First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 affirmed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are homoousios, the same spiritual substance, and not, as the Arians claimed, homoiousios, similar in spiritual substance. And so we affirm each Sunday morning in the Nicene Creed that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father.” If the three divine Persons were merely similar they would be not one God but three gods, thereby breaking the connection with the God of Israel. From this, by the way, we get the idiom, “Differ not by one iota.” These Greek words homoousios and homoiousios are spelled exactly the same except for the letter iota. If two things are said to differ not by one iota they are identical.
Father Hardon constantly taught his disciples, “Never waste a heartbeat.” He meant it literally. He always insisted that this life is our only opportunity to make of ourselves what we hope to be for all eternity, and to prepare for the celestial neighborhood where we hope to live for all eternity. He considered it folly to waste even the smallest amount of time pursuing anything else.
On one occasion Irene and I were driving Father Hardon to the airport from a speaking engagement. When you had Father Hardon all to yourself the only wise thing was to ask him your hardest questions about the Faith, and this I did. When he had answered all my questions I shifted toward small talk. Father Hardon listened for maybe a minute to see whether I was leading up to a question. When he realized I was intent simply on pleasant passage of time he interrupted and asked how much time until we reached the airport. When I told him, “About 20 minutes, Father.” He said, “Perfect. Just enough time for a Rosary and an Angelus.” He knew the length of every prayer by heart, and had immediately put together a “prayer package” that would fit perfectly into the remaining travel time. Of course we joined him in prayer, and the Angelus ended at the very moment we had to drop him off.
Father Hardon declared on the fiftieth anniversary of his priesthood, June 18, 1997, “I know Pope John Paul II too well not to be able to tell you he sincerely believes two things: that the twentieth century has been the most sin-laden century in human history, but he also believes the twenty-first century will be the most grace-laden, the holiest century in the history of mankind.” Foreseeably, that radical a transformation could only be God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil § 677.
Rabbi Yeshua taught us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” Mt 6:12, and taught us the parable of the king who wished to settle accounts with his servants Mt 18:23–35. The king began by forgiving a servant who owed him ten thousand talents, an unimaginable amount of money. A day’s wage was a denarius. Six thousand denarii, about sixteen years’ wages, added up to a single talent. The Roman tax collectors in the entire province of Palestine, Idumea and Syria, over an entire year, collected perhaps a few talents. Yet God will forgive us ten thousand talents of sin if we forgive others that much. But if we impose limits on our own forgiveness, look how much we lose! That servant refused to forgive only a hundred denarii, and thereby lost forgiveness worth ten thousand talents!
Where We’re Going
Let’s look at how Rabbi Yeshua‘s two great commands fit in with the New and Eternal Covenant. Remember what he told the scribe: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
Rabbi Yeshua says we have to love the Lord with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. Why? Because God is everywhere in heaven. He has decreed that heaven will be a place of perfect happiness. If we truly love God with a fiery passion we will be filled with joy in his presence for all eternity. However, if our love for God is merely lukewarm Rev 3:16, we’re apt at some point to resent him. If even one soul is unhappy heaven would no longer be a place of perfect agape. God wills it to be a place of perfect love forever so he cannot take in even a single soul who is not passionately in love with him.
Same is true for loving one another. God gives us all wonderful gifts. If we truly, deeply are as joyful over the gifts others get as the gifts we ourselves get, our joy in heaven will be multiplied by all the gifts to all the souls in heaven, and all our joy will be complete. But if someone were resentful of the gifts others get, heaven would not be the God-decreed place of perfect happiness forever. If we don’t take full advantage of the preparation he offers us he can’t take us in.
I hear many people say they’re not that good so they’re aiming for purgatory. No! If we aim for purgatory we’ll get hell. Aiming for purgatory means we don’t really love Rabbi Yeshua very much but we’re willing to give it a half-hearted attempt. That’s not all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. Rabbi Yeshua said so. “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth” Rev 3:16. If we have a fiery passionate love for Rabbi Yeshua and all that he taught us, if we put him first ahead of everything, he will give us the sanctifying grace we’ll need to complete the steep climb on the journey to heaven. Yes, Rabbi Yeshua knows we’re a fallen race, we’ll slip, but we have the § 1422 Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation to get us back on track.
The early Christians witnessed to Rabbi Yeshua by attending the celebration of Mass even though they knew that if the Romans discovered them the penalty was death. They walked to the arena where they would be fed to the lions singing Christian hymns, witnessing to all who saw them that Rabbi Yeshua had truly conquered death. The early Christian martyrs reflected Christ’s light back to him and to one another. Thanks be to God no one feeds Christians to actual lions anymore. But the spiritual lions are far more dangerous. “Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” 1 Pet 5:8. St. Paul reminds us: “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”Eph 6:12.
Eusebius of Caesarea, in his immense book, Church History, published around AD 325, tells us that in the year 312 Constantine was preparing to fight a great battle at the Milvian Bridge, a bridge into Rome. Before the battle Constantine looked up and saw a cross of light in the sky and Greek letters reading, “In this sign you will conquer.” Constantine commanded his troops to adorn their shields with the Christian symbol (the Chi-Rho). Constantine then won victory and marched into Rome. The following year, 313, Constantineand Licinius, that year co-emperors, published the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship throughout the Roman Empire. Later Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. And in the Sign of the Cross we conquer our own sinful tendencies. Rabbi Yeshua gives himself to us, and we give ourselves to him in the New and Eternal Covenant.
How We’ll Get There
Man’s Search for God
“Follow me” Mt 4:19 is man’s search for God. We follow him, we ask, we seek, we knock Mt 7:7. He reassures us Mt 7:8.
We start our journey toward God by reaching out to him as a friend in every way. In ancient Israel the halakha was God’s law for man. Rabbi Yeshua is the Halakha. The way to Rabbi Yeshua is Rabbi Yeshua! “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” Jn 14:6. How can this be? Rabbi Yeshua explains, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” Mt 25:40. We can prepare by reflecting on the virtues.
We can begin by reflecting on the four cardinal virtues. “Cardinal,” comes from the Latin cardo, hinge. They open the door to all the rest. They govern our relationship with one another. We reflect on prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance. We start by reflecting on prudence, on why it is called the mother of all virtues, and then proceed to reflect on the others. First separately, how each can fit into our daily life, and then how they can fit together in our life, always how they can fit into our own life.
Having begun our preparation for the spiritual life, we elevate it by reflecting on the three theological virtues. They govern our relationship with God. We reflect on faith, hope, and charity. Love and charity are the same supreme theological virtue. Benedict XVI speaks on Christian charity in Caritas in Veritate particularly in its relation to truth and love. We can enrich our elevation through Ignatian Spirituality.
Mirrors of Rabbi Yeshua
Abraham Joshua Heschel often said that authentically Jewish life is a continuation of the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Authentic Catholic life is a continuation of the life of Rabbi Yeshua. We must become like him, living at the Torah’s highest level, fulfilling our humanity as God’s image and likeness by reflecting his glory back to Him, refreshing our souls every day with a foretaste of heaven. We have seen the awesome power of the Holy Eucharist. We have seen that Rabbi Yeshua was an awesome presence, that great crowds followed Him. If we live as mirrors of Rabbi Yeshua, reflecting his shining glory back to him and to one another, we will share in his victory over the final unleashing of evil.
Rabbi Yeshua “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” And he told us, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” Rabbi Yeshua calls us to be more like him than like the fallen humanity we are. The Blessed Virgin is the spiritual mother of Rabbi Yeshua‘s shlikhim; her counsel to us is, “Do whatever he tells you.” Rabbi Yeshua told us, “He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” We are Rabbi Yeshua‘s image and likeness. He knows that we are a sinfully proud people. But he has given us grace to overcome sin. “Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” The Triumph of the Blessed Virgin’s Immaculate Heart will be the transformation of hearts through which men become very much like Rabbi Yeshua Eph 5:25 and women very much like the Blessed Virgin Mary Jn 2:5.
Choosing Life or Death
Father Hardon prophesied repeatedly, “Ordinary Catholics will not survive. Only heroic Catholics will survive.” It will be worse for ordinary Catholics than for the assimilated Jews. “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” Lk 12:48. Many ordinary Catholics, assimilated into a world propelled by demons, not believing that God set them apart as a light to the world, will experience a holocaust of spiritual death. “This is the second death, the lake of fire; and if any one’s name was not written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” Rev 20:14–15.
Deus Caritas Est
Some Scripture translations render the Greek agape as “charity,” from the Latin caritas, which has the same meaning as agape. Pope Benedict XVI speaks on Christian love in Deus caritas est. § 1 “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).
Love Your Enemies
Rabbi Yeshua told us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” Mt 5:44–45. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Mt 5:46–47. “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mt 5:48.
These passages cause even many serious Catholics to take refuge in imaginative exegesis. “Well, he didn’t really mean … He only meant …” Dear friends, Rabbi Yeshua meant exactly what he said. St. Matthew’s original Greek quoted Rabbi Yeshua as saying agapao tous echthrous. Agapao is a form of agape, perfect love, given entirely for another’s happiness. And echthrous means an enemy, openly hostile, animated by deep hatred, resolved to inflict harm. Rabbi Yeshua’s audience during the Sermon on the Mount understood perfectly. They had in their history many such enemies. “When news of what had happened reached [ Antiochus IV], he took it to mean that Judea was in revolt. So, raging inwardly, he left Egypt and took the city by storm” 2 Mac 5:11. “Within the total of three days eighty thousand were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting; and as many were sold into slavery as were slain” 2 Mac 5:14. That kind of enemy. That kind of radical transformation.
Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Lives
During the days of the Old Testament, Israel was to live as a people apart Deut 7:1–5, a shining light amid the spiritual darkness of demonic worship. We are today living in an extraordinary age of salvation history in which the people of the new Israel are once again called to be a shining light Jn 8:12 amid a spiritual darkness of demonic influence and possession.
The spiritual and moral fog in which we are now living will continue to become the valley of the shadow of death. But King David assured us, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me” Ps 23:4.
St. John told us, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” Jn 1:4–5. If Rabbi Yeshua‘s light reflects from us, we will be “the light of the world” Mt 5:14.
The people Rabbi Yeshua redeemed were holy. We receive sanctifying grace at the time of our baptism into his redemptive sacrifice. Still, many Catholics say, “I can’t do it. I’m an ordinary man, I have a family to support.” They are right; they can’t. None of us can. But God does not choose the qualified. Through his abiding grace, he qualifies the chosen.
God chose Moses, who pleaded, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice” Ex 4:1. Moses begged, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either heretofore or since you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and of tongue” Ex 4:10. God made him the greatest human prophet in all Israel. Rabbi Yeshua chose an ordinary Jewish fisherman named Shimeon bar-Yona, who tried to stop the Final Sacrifice by declaring, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you” Mt 16:22, and commissioned him as head of the Church Jn 21:15–17. He chose Shaul ha-Tarsi, a fierce rabbi intent on destroying the Church, as its greatest evangelist.
In Rabbi Yeshua‘s day a student would listen to various rabbis speak. When he encountered a rabbi whose thinking was brilliant or consistent with his own, the student would approach the rabbi and ask, “May I follow you?” If the rabbi saw that the young man would fit into his entourage he would say yes. Rabbi Yeshua, however, chose his own talmidim and made them shlikhim. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” Jn 15:16. The talmid certainly wanted to learn from the rabbi, but more, he wanted to be like the rabbi. That’s why talmidim followed their rabbi everywhere, 24 hours a day. If a talmid grew disillusioned with his rabbi he would normally return to his old trade. Rabbi Kefa evidently did while warming himself at the fire Mk 14:54, but Rabbi Yeshua, after rising from the tomb, gave him a second chance beside the Sea of Tiberias by asking him three times, “Do you love me?” Jn 21:15–17.
Rabbi Yeshua told us, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” Mt 11:29–30. St. Matthew’s Greek word for “easy,” chrestos, also means “excellent” and “well-fitting.” Young Yeshua as a carpenter in his father’s shop made wooden plows and yokes. An ox can pull a plow strongly enough to make furrows only if its yoke is custom-made to fit the ox’s shoulders, making its burden light. An ill-fitting yoke would inflict so much unnecessary pain that the ox could not pull strongly enough to till the field. The cross that Rabbi Yeshua places on our shoulders is custom-fitted to help us prepare for heaven.
Rabbi Yeshua will raise up any ordinary man who asks. “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” Mt 7:7. But how must we ask? “With all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” Mk 12:30.
“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Mt 19:26. In the royal priesthood he has given us the grace to offer him the sacrifice of ourselves in the New and Eternal Covenant, whole and entire, our body, blood, soul and humanity. If we pray for the grace to follow Rabbi Yeshua all the way to the Cross, if we put out into the deep and let down our nets for a catch Lk 5:4, he will help us to become saints and create the world anew.
God’s Promise of Protection: Psalm 91
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD your refuge, the Most High your habitation, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Because he clings to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Ps 91:1–16.
On Eagle’s Wings 4:49
Venial and Mortal Sins
§ 1850 Sin is an offense against God: “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.” Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become like gods, knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus love of oneself even to contempt of God. In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.
§ 1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.
§ 1858 Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.”The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.
§ 1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.
Sin is an offense against God. A mortal sin requires both full knowledge and complete consent. We know it’s against God‘s law and we freely choose to do it anyway. It is therefore impossible for a Catholic intent on obedience to Rabbi Yeshua through his Church to commit a mortal sin. Father Santa offers the example of the one hour fast prior to receiving Holy Communion. While we’re at Mass we notice a tiny bit of food stuck between our teeth and inadvertently swallow it. Have we eaten and thereby broken the fast?
Holy Mother Church has no rule for precisely how big a piece of food stuck between our teeth can be to break the fast. Rabbi Yeshua wants to be honored by our stopping eating an hour before we anticipate receiving Holy Communion, and we have done that. If our intention in swallowing the tiny bit of food between our teeth is to protect our dental health or to avoid distraction we may do it, serenely aware that Rabbi Yeshua knows our hearts.
Similarly, before Mass most Catholics stop eating an hour before the earliest time we can imagine Father serving Holy Communion, no homily, no rite of peace, and a fast celebration because Father needs to be somewhere else soon and is concerned about the time. In that way we minimize the possibility that we will breach the one hour fast. However, let us now imagine that we intended to stop in plenty of time but inadvertently ran a little late. Now we are looking at our watch. If we remain in the Communion line we will get there 59 minutes after we stopped eating. We can go to the back of the line and see whether we can stretch it out to a full 60 minutes.
However, if we are last in line and still haven’t reached 60 minutes we can reflect that Rabbi Yeshua wants us to receive during Mass, that the timing is very close, and that we have done our best to obey the Church. However, if the difference is significant then we would approach the priest with our arms crossed and receive a blessing instead. After Mass, if by then the hour has been fulfilled, we can explain the situation to Father and ask whether he would serve us Holy Communion before he leaves the church. If the priest agrees to give us Holy Communion we do not question the situation further. We have submitted our situation to the Church and have been obedient.
How We Prepare for Eternal Life
Catholic teaching recognizes a hierarchy of truths.
Rabbi Yeshua, was asked by a Scribe, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law” Mt 22:36. He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40.
Rabbi Yeshua’s law of love is very near the center, and perhaps the best reference standard for ordinary Catholics who suffer from scrupulosity. He tells us, “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:40. Rabbi Yeshua is telling us that the whole of the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints is to get us to sail across the years of our lives under the flag of these two commandments. If we do, we will not fall into mortal sin.
How are we supposed to do it? The Catholic Church is ready to teach us. We need to be aware of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, to study each one, especially charity, and try to live it in our daily lives. And we need to reflect on the seven capital virtues and live them in our daily lives as best we can. We put most of our emphasis on these positive virtues, living to actively please God, but we also need to avoid offending God; we reflect on the seven capital sins and emphasize the capital virtues that overcome our habitual faults.
Radical transformation toward humility heals scrupulosity. We accept that God strengthens us by allowing us to remain in the fallen state but to struggle against it as part of the New Israel, and that Rabbi Yeshua’s grace will always be sufficient for us to reach heaven if we do as he taught us Mt 22:37–40.
Through humility, highest of the capital virtues, we recognize, at a deep level in our souls, that we participate in our first parents’ fallen nature. Through baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. § 1264 “Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death, and such frailties inherent in life as weaknesses of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, ‘the tinder for sin’ (fomes peccati); since concupiscence is left for us to wrestle with, it cannot harm those who do not consent but manfully resist it by the grace of Jesus Christ. Indeed, ‘an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.’”
By far the best recourse for mild to moderate cases of scrupulosity is frequent Confession. We engage in Father Hardon’s Examination of Conscience, particularly observing: “It is valuable to reflect on this tactic of the evil spirit before we offer some practical norms for making our daily examination of conscience. Why? Because otherwise, we are liable to overlook the importance of a daily inventory of our moral conduct for fear of becoming scrupulous.”
We ask our confessors how often we should go to Confession, and for their assessment of the state of our soul. If our confessor tells us to relax, then we relax.
For more serious cases we can read Dr. Mark Lowery’s Scrupulosity: The Occupational Hazard of the Catholic Moral Life, Leila Miller’s Scrupulosity: A Little Bit of Hell, and Fr. Thomas Santa’s Scrupulosity And How To Overcome It. Each Catholic suffering from scrupulosity can assess which of the three best “speaks” to him, or draw from two or all three if he prefers. After we have reflected on the situation for some time, we consult with a holy priest, either in the confessional or by a parish office appointment.
The Marian Catechist Apostolate
Cardinal Burke, International Director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, requires that each Consecrated Marian Catechist maintain these daily practices:
Holy Mass and Holy Communion
Holy Rosary (5 decades)
Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Angelus (twice daily)
Stations of the Cross
Spiritual Reading (suggestions)
Examination of Conscience (Particular Examen)
Sacrament of Penance (every 2 weeks)
In the Evening
§ 1022 “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”