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Before You Label Yourself A Hopeless Sinner, Consider This…

 

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak appears each Wednesday on The Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN Radio with his series "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"

Here’s the Bible verse I discussed on EWTN Radio’s The Son Rise Morning Show today:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak reminds EWTN listeners on The Son Rise Morning Show that Jesus came to call sinners

With all of the emphasis on self-examination and turning away from sin, sometimes Lent can get a little depressing. Due to the fact that we have a natural tendency to overlook and excuse our less than perfect behavior, the sudden realization that we are sinners can be disturbing. It can even make us feel hopeless. But, just as pain or discomfort lets us know we may be ill, the knowledge that we are sinners can help us to understand that we are in need of spiritual healing. In other words…

It’s a good thing!

In the above Bible verse, Jesus makes it clear that He has come to save sinners – like us. Instead of letting your sinfulness make you feel hopeless and defeated, allow it to motivate you to seek the Lord’s forgiveness in the sacrament of Confession. Not only will you receive absolution for your sins, but you’ll receive the grace to help you sin less in the future.

While there is no doubt that we are all sinners, there is no such thing as “hopeless” when it comes to the Lord. He’s waiting for you in the confessional. Make it a point to visit Him soon!

(Gary Zimak is a Catholic speaker and author who travels throughout the United States and Canada giving inspirational talks and leading parish missions and retreats. Click HERE to invite Gary to speak at your parish or conference or to inquire about his availability.)

No Greater Love…

 



Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

On this day, approximately 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ suffered and died on a cross so that you and I can one day live in the eternal happiness of His kingdom. He gave everything, holding nothing back. As we look over our lives, what have we done to express our gratitude? Speaking for myself, I have to admit that the answer is “not much”. As a matter of fact, not only haven’t I done too much for the Lord, but I’ve done many things to hurt Him. I’ve repaid His selfless love with indifference, ingratitude and numerous mortal and venial sins. I’ve disobeyed His command to “love one another” (John 13:34) more times than I’d like to admit and often ignored His warning that I’ll be judged for “every careless word” that I speak (Matthew 12:36).

Although we should feel sad that our sins put Him on the cross, we shouldn’t be paralyzed by our grief. We shouldn’t just wish that He didn’t have to suffer. Instead, we should vow to make changes in our lives TODAY. The very first change that each of us should make is to ask Jesus for the grace to lead holier lives. If we rely on our own power we’ll fail miserably, but when we turn to Him, “all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Thank you, Jesus, for suffering so that I may have eternal life. Help me to turn away from my sinful behavior and become more like you. Amen.

Lent: Becoming Uncomfortable About Being Comfortable

 

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” (C.S. Lewis)

One of the biggest mistakes that we can make in our lives is to become comfortable. While this attitude is common among atheists and those with little faith in God, it is a BIG problem for believers as well. The fact that we are Christians doesn’t stop us from retreating into our comfort zones and transforming the Lord and His teachings to fit our own personal needs. In fact, it’s astonishing how often “our God” is willing to overlook and even condone the sins we commit each day.

We are blessed that the Church gives us the season of Lent to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It is a time to begin anew, to be “cleansed from our idols” (Ezekiel 36:25). Rather than focusing on what makes us comfortable, we are urged to focus on what makes us uncomfortable. About what should we be uncomfortable? For starters, let’s look at the fact that OUR SINS are responsible for Jesus suffering and dying on the cross (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598). How is it then that we have become so comfortable in ignoring this fact? The main reason is that we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the effect our sins. Every time we sin, we not only hurt God but we hurt the entire Church. Since we are all connected as members of the Mystical Body of Christ, my sins have an effect on every member of the Church.

OK, Gary…what about me? I’m a good person and go to church every week. I try to lead a good life. I haven’t committed any sins lately. Am I off the hook? Let’s look at how Saint John answers that question in the pages of the Bible:

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 8-9)

The good news is that, even though we are sinners, THERE IS HOPE! Jesus is standing by, waiting to forgive our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In order to obtain that forgiveness, however, we first need to acknowledge that we have sinned. We should pray every day for the grace to see our sins AS GOD SEES THEM. Then, we can repent and seek out the Lord’s pardon for the damage we have done.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius of Loyola suggests that we imagine Christ present before us on the cross. While looking at His battered and bloody body, tortured so that we can be redeemed from our sins, he proposes that we ask ourselves 3 questions:

“What have I done for Christ?”

“What am I doing for Christ?”

“What ought I to do for Christ?”

If we think about these questions long and hard enough, it’s likely that we’ll become uncomfortable…and that’s good. Because becoming uncomfortable about being comfortable is what Lent (and our Catholic Faith) is all about.

Moment Of Truth with Gary Zimak 1-27-12

 
Moment Of Truth with Gary Zimak 1-27-12 (mp3)

Whatever Happened To Admonishing The Sinner?

Anyone remember the Spiritual Works of Mercy?  According to Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Dictionary, these acts “focus on the spiritual welfare of the one in need”.  In case you need a refresher, they are:

•To instruct the ignorant;
•To counsel the doubtful;
•To admonish the sinner;
•To bear wrongs patiently;
•To forgive offences willingly;
•To comfort the afflicted;
•To pray for the living and the dead. 

To put it simply, when we perform one of these works, we are attempting to help someone spiritually.  Considering that one’s spiritual health has a direct relationship to whether they end up in Heaven or Hell makes these works pretty important.  Although many of today’s Catholics have never heard of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, one of them completely goes against the message of our culture – to admonish the sinner.

While the world would call this being judgmental, the purpose of admonishing the sinner is to help them recognize that their behavior is sinful and could result in the loss of their salvation.  Not only is this task an act of charity, but an obligation.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), remaining silent about the sins of others could cause us to end up in hot water:

Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

  • by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
  • by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
  • by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
  • by protecting evil-doers. (CCC 1868)

While this doesn’t apply in every case, it’s certainly something we should take seriously.  We can’t ignore the fact that we have an obligation to look out for the spiritual well being of those around us.  Otherwise, we could end up bearing some of the guilt!

So the next time the topic of gay “marriage” comes up at the office, one of your children stops going to Mass, a friend moves in with his girlfriend or a divorced Catholic gets married outside of the Church, it’s ok to speak out (just make sure you choose a good time and remain charitable) .  There is a possibility that they may really not know what they’re doing is wrong.  On the other hand, if you know it’s wrong and don’t say anything…

you could end up in a place you’d rather not go!