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The Way of Christ
in the Midst of Scandals
List of Articles:
Winning the race against sin by PRS
Learning from Divisions by PRS
What Canon Law Says about any abuses
by PRS
Who to Write to
Justice in the Church
by PRS
Testifying to Jesus
by PRS

When our shepherds fail to protect us by PRS

The purging of sexual misuse by PRS

A Prayer by PRS

When your pastor is falsely accused
by Dee Janicke
A Catholic Response to Sexual Abuse
No Effective Reform Without Interior Renewal
U.S. Bishop's Statement on Sexual Abuse Cases
What is the attitude of the Catholic Church?
Letter of the Holy Father to Priests
Cardinal Egan's Letter On Sexual-Abuse Cases
Irish Bishops' Statement on Sex-Abuse Cases
Pope's Address to Cardinals & Bishops
Final Statement of U.S. Cardinals in Rome
Message to American Priests from cardinals
Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness - by Fr. Roger J. Landry
Parish Renewal Services

Winning the race against sin

Hebrews 12:1-4 describes our journey to heaven as a race. We're in a life-long marathon running a race against our sinful tendencies. What slows us down is the dead weight of the sins that we've not yet identified, or we've not yet regretted, or we've not yet surrendered to the mercy of God. Unless we deliberately and consciously struggle against sin and force ourselves to receive the blessings of the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God and pay attention to the Penance Rite at the beginning of Mass, we get overtaken by temptations and doubts.

To win the race, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Sin happens when we find ourselves in a situation that we don't like, and we take the easy way out. For example, by focusing on our problems instead of God's promises, it seems that the best way to escape from them is unheavenly and unChrist-like methods of coping. We fixate on the evildoings of those who cause us misery, forgetting that Jesus is trying to teach us a better way or more spiritually mature way to resolve the conflict, and so we give into the temptation to retaliate or reject or run away.

However, to achieve a real victory, we must implement Christ's way of love, even if this means sacrificing the easy way out. Victory is never found on the safe side of the cross; it's found on the far side, the resurrection side that comes only after laying down our lives for the sake of others. There is no glorious solution to hardships without dying to ourselves and nailing our personal desires to the cross of Christ. As followers of Christ, we must accept our hardships as the gifts that they truly are.

Parishes are supposed to be reflections of Christ's love, making them a good example that evangelizes the world. Hardships are resurrected into victorious love when the pastor and staff and involved parishioners go to the cross and through the cross for each other, sacrificing their anger (justified or not), dying to their impatience and unforgiveness and personal demands. This unconditional love is a lesson on how to develop peace in society.

The divisiveness of scandals within the Church can only be resurrected into a witness of Christ's healing and unifying love when we're not afraid to take it to the cross and through the cross, addressing the real issues and working for justice within our own communities. In the race against sin, the losers are those who are weighed down by the fear of public exposure and persecution. The victors are those who embrace the scandal as a gift that helps perfect the Body of Christ.

Sin wins the race unless we run to the cross and go through it -- with Christ -- to the victory of a resurrected life that's been perfected in love.


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