Thursday, March 17, 2016

* The Ten Commandments and the Virtues ~ Part 1: 1-5

The Ten Commandments and the Virtues ~ Part 1, 1-5

November 18, 2015 • 101 Views • 1 Like • 0 Comments

 

The Ten Commandments
and The Virtues

In this review I would like to take a look at the Ten Commandments and how they are intertwined with each other as well as the virtues. “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts but to give the best of himself” (CCC, #1803). It is true that when selfishness (pride) is acted upon, then Humility is lost at least for the time being. It is also true that when Humility is lost and pride sets in, all of the other virtues are if not lost, at least affected in a negative fashion. I offer you now the 1st through the 5th commandments of Almighty God

Part One
1st commandment – 5th commandment

I am the Lord your God, you shall have no false gods beside me.

With this commandment God was telling Moses that He is the only one true God and the Israelites were to stop worshiping idols made of gold, cement and things of the like. These kinds of pagan gods are lifeless and can do nothing for the salvation of humankind. Should we entertain these false gods which are lifeless, then we too become lifeless whereas we no longer have God in our life. I offer to you the book of Psalms; chapter 135, vs. 15-18. "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not; They have ears but hear not; no breath is in their mouths. Their makers shall be like them, all who trust in them." When we take a look at today's society we must ask what would be the false gods in our life. Quite simply, it would be anything that takes the place of our God and or anything that would put God second instead of first. For example, let us think about the times when we idolized someone or something. When we put these people or objects at a higher position than God, we have now succumbed to idolatry. As a result of this, not only have we put our salvation at risk but we have also turned away from the virtues. Some of these virtues are Faith, Hope and Love, the theological virtues. Since we have turned our back on God we can truly say we no longer have Faith, we have lost our Hope and we do not Love him. We have also lost Humility because we have allowed pride to take over ourself by choosing to put God second.
Let us look now at what other commandment we may have broken since we broke the 1st commandment. Because God desires us to worship and adore him and him alone, the very fact that idolatry has taken place, we now took something from God that duly belonged to him, that is, our act of worship. While we did not steal in the true sense of the word, we did indeed not give to God what is truly His. While God does not need our worship and God does not depend on us, the very fact that He is our God and we are His people means that we should give to God what is God's.

You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.

With this commandment we speak of the very thing we call bad language, particularly when it is using Gods name in an inappropriate way. When someone takes God's name in vain, it includes the usage of his name in a damning way. For example when we say 'God damn you' or 'damn you God' and anything else that would fit this criterion. Also, we must consider language that we have learned from others such as 'Oh God'. This too while it is not using Gods name in a damning way, it still is using Gods name in an inappropriate way and must not be used. When we break this commandment we are not only breaking the second commandment but we are breaking the first as well. We are using this language as something that we put before God, hence we are degrading his name. By using this kind of profanity, we are certainly showing a lack of the virtues of Justice, Wisdom (Prudence) and Moderation (Self-Control), the Cardinal Virtues. We also lack a bit of Humility. We know this because we have become very prideful with the use of Gods name in a degrading way.

Remember to keep holy the Sabbath

In the book of Genesis we read that God created the world in six days and then he rested on the seventh. Right from the very beginning God has set precedence by his very action of resting on the seventh day. We too must keep the Lords day holy. Holy Mother Church has always pressed that we fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending mass. This can be done either by going to church on Saturday evening or Sunday. But the Church not only requires us to go to Sunday mass regularly, but also on the Holy Days of Obligation. These days are as follows: All Sundays of the year; The Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, Jan.1st ; Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter; The Assumption, August 15th ; All Saints Day, November 1st ; The Immaculate Conception, December 8th ; and Christmas, December 25th . These are days that we are obliged to go to mass because they honor Jesus and Mary in a particular way as well as all the saints in our church. If it be the case that we miss mass on these days for no just cause, then we commit serious sin and must go to confession.
There is also another factor that comes into play when we do not keep the Sabbath holy. This is when we do not take the time necessary time for resting on the Sabbath. While it is true that some people must work on Sunday in order to make ends meet, it is also true then that this is necessary work. However, not all work is necessary. We should then, take the time to rest and give this day to God.
At this time I would like to show how by not keeping the Sabbath holy we not only break this commandment but also through pride we have broken the first commandment as well because we have placed other reasons or events higher than God. Because of our pride we now lack Humility. At this time it would be important to look at the virtue of Obedience. This virtue comes into play when we do attend our obligation by going to mass. Should we not, we then have become disobedient and no longer express the likeness to Christ.

Honor thy Mother and Father

We were all taught when growing up that we need to do as our parents tell us to do. We were also probably told that we need to listen to what our grandparents say as well. This is in part what this commandment really means. However, it does not end there. While we are to listen to our parents and grandparents, this commandment also means that we are to listen to any person who has authority over us in some capacity or another. For example, for those who have been baptized, we also have a set of God parents who also have the role of helping us grow and mature as we reach our adult life. We are also to respect any person whom our parents put in charge of us. This could be a babysitter, maybe even a teacher, the priest, sister and the good brother(s) and any other person whom our parents deem to be in charge. By not paying any attention to these people just because they are not our parents would be a direct abuse against the forth commandment of God.
It is a matter of fact that when and if we do not give the due respect to our parents by way of purposefully walking away from them while they are speaking to us, talking back to them, yelling or raising our tone to them, we are breaking this commandment as well. When we break this commandment we also break the first commandment because we have now placed our pride above our parents and above God. So what does this mean to us? Quite frankly when we put down our parents because of peer pressure, it is the idea that I must look good to my friends that has now become a false god. When I am not obedient to the priest or anybody who is in charge, I now have not been obedient to the first commandment and thus I have put the vice of pride in place of God. I have now lost the virtue of Charity and Humility because I did not give the respect to those in charge when I should have. I have lost the virtue of Love by my deliberate act of disobedience. I lost the virtue of Patience or otherwise, I would not have acted the way I did.

Thou shall not kill

When God told Moses on Mount Sinai that Thou Shall Not Kill, He meant this in a very concrete and an abstract way. When I say concrete I mean that we are not to take another human beings life for any reason at all. But, it also means that when we use substances that can cause physical injury or even death, then this too is an abuse against the 5th commandment of God. Another way that this commandment is abused is when our actions put ourselves and other peoples lives at risk. For example, someone who smokes puts there life and others at risk of getting cancer. Another example is when we drive too fast and we put others around us as well as ourselves in danger of death because of our speed. These are what I call abstract abuses against the 5th commandment. Another abstract example is abortion. Abortion is plain out murder!!!! Just because we cannot see the unborn child does not in any means disqualify it as being a human being alive inside the mother's womb. Euthanasia is also an abuse against the 5th commandment of God. Some might say that because this person cannot function well in society, then it is time to end it and put them to death. This is murder and is not what God intended for his people.
When we break the 5th commandment we are not just breaking this commandment, but we are breaking the 1st commandment as well. This is done out of pure pride and selfishness. Once we decide that we have the right to take another life, we have then abandoned God and put the act of killing in his place. We have now made this selfish act more important than God Himself. We have no concept of what it means to embrace the virtue of Humility. The virtue of Justice has also been ignored. Because we have taken a life of another, we have not allowed that person to live to the fullest of their life. We have then accepted the sins of ingratitude, cruelty, and disobedience. This indeed shows how we have been unjust towards the other person.
Because we have taken a life that does not belong to us, we have not only killed someone but we have also stolen something that was not ours, the life from another person that rightfully did not belong to us. So not only have we broken the 5th and the 1st commandments of God but we have broken the 7th commandment as well.

Brother Matthew Levis O. de M.
~the good brother~

Saturday, April 3, 2010

* Grace

Grace

By definition:
Grace is a supernatural gift of God to intellectual creatures (people and angels), for our eternal salvation.

I find that it works to our advantage to give the definitions up front to the topics at which we will be discussing. It will be the case however, that further definitions will be inserted as we go. This will help us understand better when our topic of discussion begins to split.
Before we get too far along, it is important to recognize that God gives us freely an important gift called grace. Grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.
Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an 'adopted son' he can henceforth call God 'Father,' in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church .
This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.
The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:
Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself (1996-1999).”
As we continue with our study on grace, we should acknowledge at this time that there is also such a thing called Actual Grace.
Actual Grace is a supernatural gift of God to intellectual creatures such as the people of God and the Angels. God gives us his help (Grace) for our eternal salvation. This grace can be attained through our good deeds and or because of our goodness, grace is attained through our holiness. For ex. Our goodness could be our Godliness, prayerfulness or even being Christlike (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
Actual Grace acts on the mind and the will not just to make them aware of the supernatural order of God, but also to set them in motion and cause them to elicit supernatural acts, the acts of God (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
In essence, Actual Grace is that supernatural help from God which enlightens our mind and strengthens our will in the performance of supernatural acts which are the acts of God (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
Actual Grace also shows us the consequence of sin so that, we can choose not to sin. It shows us Gods loving beauty, his loving kindness so that we can love Him all the more. These aspects are what we call 'interior graces' (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
We also have what we call 'exterior graces.' These act directly on our senses and our sensitive faculties. Therefore, indirectly they reach the spiritual faculties, especially since they are attended by the interior help (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
Some of the exterior graces we might be involved with are reading of scripture; exploring other spiritual works; hearing a sermon; religious music; holy conversations; etc., all of which God gives His interior help in order to do (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
Grace builds on grace. When we begin to use God's grace, it becomes easier to do it the next time, and again, the time after that so on and so forth.
From Actual Grace stems another kind of grace. This aspect of grace is what we call Habitual Grace or Sanctifying Grace. “Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual Grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God's call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God's interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification (CCC 2000).”
When we speak of Sanctifying Grace, we see that it is commonly defined as as supernatural quality inherent in the soul which makes us partakers in the Divine Nature and the Divine Life in a real and formal but accidental manner. Habitual Grace is a reality of the supernatural order. It is not a substance. No created substance can be supernatural. Habitual Grace is a mode of being. It is a state of soul. It is a quality inherent in the souls substance that transforms it and raises it above all natural beings, even the most perfect. Habitual Grace is a permanent quality remaining within our soul. However, if we should fall into mortal sin then we will lose grace. While the quality is still there, the benefit of grace is not (The Spiritual Life; A. Tanquerey).
The more we use Habitual Grace, the stronger our will becomes and the harder it is to fall out out grace. Just as the more we fall into sin, the more habitual that sin becomes and the harder it is to stop committing that sin. I would like to note that at this time it is important to say that the two most important graces are then, Actual Grace and Habitual Grace. There are however other special graces that are also freely given to us by God. Like Actual Grace and Habitual Grace, they are merely gifts and they are nothing that we earned. We can not say that they are rightly ours because we did nothing to merit them.
At this point I would like to introduce Sacramental Grace. Sacramental Grace is the grace we receive from valid and fruitful reception of the sacraments. We receive sanctifying grace from baptism, penance, and when needed from anointing of the sick and dying. The sanctifying grace in our souls is always increased when we receive any sacrament in the state of grace. We receive actual grace from all the sacraments, both at the time of reception and at other times when we need divine help. Through sacramental grace the sacramental character is indelibly imprinted on the human soul in baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. Each sacrament also imparts a distinctive sacramental grace based on its particular purpose in the supernatural life of the soul (http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/grace.html).
Gratuitous Grace is God’s gift to particular persons for the salvation of others. It is independent of the personal moral life or behavior of the person to whom it is given. The priest’s powers of consecration and absolution as well as any person’s gifts prophecy or healing are gratuitous grace (http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/grace.html).
Sanating Grace heals our mind and will as they have been diminished by the ravages of sin, both original and personal. It gives us strength to seek and accept God’s will and joy when we do God’s will (http://www.secondexodus.com/html/catholicdefinitions/grace.html).

May God Bless you and keep you holy.
Allow Mary to be your spiritual guide.

The Good Brother

Sunday, March 14, 2010

* Ten Commandments and the Virtues - Part 2: 6-10

The Ten Commandments
and The Virtues


As we begin part two of this study I would like to remind us on what a virtue is as defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts but to give the best of himself” (CCC, #1803). I will now present to you the 6th -10th commandments of Almighty God.


Part two
6th commandment – 10th commandment


Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery

In today's world, there is a lack in moral ethics. In essence, there is a lack of virtue as we are well aware. Adultery is typically defined when sex or sexual pleasure is sought out outside of the sacramental bonds of Marriage. Should there be a couple, one of which is married and the other is not, and then sexual intercourse is had, then the grave sin of adultery has been committed. Because one of these two people have been married, not only has the 6th commandment been broken, but so has the 9th.
Because marriage is reserved for man and woman only, then it stands to reason that should any couple of the same gender have sexual relations, then they too have committed adultery and thus insulted the sacramental bonds of marriage.
It is also true that those who pleasure themselves in one way or another, they too have broken the 6th commandment of God. They have spilled their seed upon the ground and have not used this act in the way that God had intended.
When pre-marital sex is committed, then an adulterous act has also been committed and the 6th commandment of God has been broken. This is because the act of sexual union was used outside of the sacrament of marriage.
When we break this commandment it is also true that we have broken the 1st commandment of God. This is a result of a lack of virtue in ones being, the virtue of Humility. When these two commandments are broken we have to consider that we have been selfish and thus placed lust above God. We also have lost the virtue of Temperance, one of the Cardinal Virtues. We no longer are able to make a balance between what is right and what is wrong. In this case we are not able to moderate our self control. Prudence and Purity are other areas that we seem to have lost sight of. Because of the inappropriate actions, it is then obvious that we did not carefully think things through, thus we did not act in a Prudent manner nor did we act with a Pure heart. It is also true that there is a lack of Fortitude. Fortitude strengthens the resolve to resists temptations and to do good. Because an evil has been had, it stands to reason that the virtues have not been practiced.
As we continue to study the 6th commandment, we need to look seriously at our inner self. While it may be true that some have not committed adultery in a more physical manner, I pose the question then, how many of us have entertained the thought of adultery. Jesus said and Saint Augustine reiterated that even when you look at someone and desire them, then you have committed adultery in your heart as well.
So, I present to you the thought that when we look at inappropriate books, adds, t.v. shows and the like that have stirred up our sensuality (or possibly could), we have then broken the 6th commandment of God. I also present that when we look or stare at another person in the same manner that is inappropriate, there too have we committed adultery.


Thou Shall Not Steal


With the 7th commandment, we hear that we must not take what does not belong to us. No matter how you look at it, stealing is stealing. When I do steal I not only break the 7th commandment but I also break the 1st commandment because I was selfish and took what I should not have taken to begin with. This focuses on the lack of Humility. Because of my selfishness, I become prideful. When I become prideful I lose all Humility. Love or the lack thereof comes into play when I break the commandments. Because of my selfishness and then steal from someone else, I do not display the virtue of Love for my fellow man. If anything my dislike for other people and wishing them harm.

At this time I would like to take a look at the 10th commandment of God. When I break the 7th commandment, I can also break the 10th commandment. The 10th commandment tells us that I should not covet or desire that which belongs to another. While in and of itself, I may not be physically taking what belongs to my neighbor, the very fact that I desire it in my heart is just as sinful.

When looking at the virtues, it is clear that there is a lack of Charity towards the victim, Mortification in denying myself what I should not have and then Obedience to God.


Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor


At this time it would behoove us to talk a little about why we should not engage in gossip. Just by the very nature of the word gossip for the most part, tells us that something is going to be said about another person that may not necessarily be true. When be come to say things of others that are not true and that can be damaging to their reputation, we then engage in the act of breaking the 8th commandment of God. God Himself said that we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor.

When we do break this commandment we also go against the 1st commandment as well. This happens because we have decided that we need to make others look bad by what we say about them. As a result it bring attention to the other person in a more destructive way. When we start these rumors and speak wrongly of another, we have placed our pride at the top of our priority list and then have put God in second or third place. So in essence, we have now used that act of gossip and the false information and used it as a god. When we do this, day in and day out, it then becomes a part of our routine and becomes a practice without even thinking about it.

At this time we need to consider the 5th commandment, thou shall not kill. Every time we say something false about another person or persons, we not only break the 8th commandment but we break the 5th commandment as well. Although we may not actually take a life of another person, we have taken the reputation of another person and destroyed it. Think about how many times someone may have said something about you that was not true. How it made you look bad and even destroyed your good name. In a sense it killed your good name. This is exactly why we need to avoid gossip and avoid the people who spread this gossip as well lest we sin.

So we have acknowledged that we have lost the virtue of Humility. We have also lost the virtue of Love by putting others down and by putting God second instead of first. We have not used to our advantage the virtue of Obedience. We did not become Christ like. Our Kindness and Mortification need much to be desired. We certainly did not do as Jesus would do and did not deny ourselves what is harmful to ourselves and others. Of course Prudence or Right Judgement is totally out of the picture since we have shown that we did not act in a more prudent manner. And then we have lost all Courage to stand up to what is right. Instead we have succumbed to what is wrong and chose to destroy another persons reputation.


Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Wife


The 9th commandment talks about how we should not covet thy neighbors spouse. With this commandment it is not just the fact that we took someones spouse as our own, but rather that we desire someone whom we know good and well belongs to someone else. In this case we not only break the 9th commandment of God but we allow pride to creep in and then break the 1st commandment of God as well. Maybe even to the point of idolatry. We have to consider then that since we just coveted or had impure thoughts about someone elses spouse, we must acknowledge that we just broke the 6th commandment in our hearts as well.

It is a matter of fact that when we break these commandments whether they are in action or in thought, we lose sight of our Humility and thus fall into our own self pride. It is this sin that is the root of all other sins. Because of this sin we fail to be Prudent. We not only think and act wrongly, we do an injustice to the victim in this case (the other spouse), thus Justice falls by the wayside. We also lose sight of Temperance as well as Mortification. Charity goes along with Justice, and we do wrong to the spouse that was not involved. Because we broke God's law we certainly did not practice Obedience. Purity is wasted because of our impure thoughts and action with or about the other person. Chastity was put aside and replaced then with these carnal desires towards someone else. Meekness also has been lost because we have not been able to control our feelings towards this other person. And certainly we were not able to abstain from unnecessary sex. Therefore, Abstinence was not even thought of in this circumstance.


Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbors Goods


Like the 9th commandment, the 10th deals with the desire more than the actual act. So when we covet the belongings of another person, we are now wishing that the things that they have belong to us rather than them. This is not just a sin against the 10th commandment itself but once again a sin against the 1st commandment because of our selfishness and pride. When we commit this sin it is also a sin against the 7th commandment of God. While we may never have taken this possession from the other person, the fact that we wished it were ours instead of theirs is indeed a sin against this commandment in our hearts. Of course it stands to reason that we lost the virtue of Meekness because I could not control my feelings towards the other person. We did not practice Humility. If we did then we would not have committed this sin in the first place. Of course we did not practice the virtue of Obedience. If we did we would have chosen to be more Christ like rather than not. Also, we have chosen to show no Love, if we did we would have been more Kind to the people we come across in our thoughts and deeds.


So as you can see, the Ten Commandments are so vital that we do our best not to sin against them. Should we do so, it is not just a sin against the one commandment that was broken, but a sin of at least one other. It is also important that we study our virtues and we hold fast to them. It will be these virtues, once kept, that will enable us to better hold fast to the Ten Commandments. The virtues we reviewed here in this meditation are only just a few. Remember the definition to what a virtue is:


“A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts but to give the best of himself” (CCC, #1803).


Brother Matthew Levis
'the good brother'

Saturday, March 6, 2010

* The Prodigal Son, son's or the prodigal father

The Prodigal Son, son's
or
Prodigal Father?


By definition;
Prodigal: 1- recklessly wasteful; extravagant.
2- profuse in giving; exceedingly abundant.



I thought that I would just give some of my own thoughts and insights on the scriptures for the season of Lent.
As we read in the gospel of Luke, chapter 15: 1-3, 11-32, we see the story of the prodigal son, a story of contrition and forgiveness. But the story is not just a story of a son who decided that he wanted to leave his father with the presumed inheritance that was to come to him, rather, it is also a story of the older son who held resentment. Not to cut the third person short in this story, it is also about the father who lovingly brings back both sons, not just one.

PART 1

I thought in order to best explain my own thoughts it would be good to take this on a person by person basis. In doing so I figured we would start with the younger son first. This is the son who decided that he wanted the inheritance that was to come to him. This in and of itself was a selfish thought/act. Who was he to think that there even was an inheritance. However, even though he did ask, his father still gave what was his own to his son.
This is the son who after receiving this inheritance, went off to a distant land prostituting himself with loose women. This son not only wasted his life but he wasted his fathers money by spending it at will rather than using it wisely. Of course we all know how the story goes. When a famine breaks and there is no money to be had, the son attaches himself to a farmer where he tends to the swine. Having no food to eat he suddenly gets smart and realizes that even his fathers hired hands have a place to stay and eat. So the younger son decides to go home and ask for forgiveness. In doing so he tells his father that he has sinned against God and him and that he no longer deserves to be called his son.
Now I want to end this story here for now and I refer you back to the definition of 'prodigal' and ask you to look at the first one. Now let us place ourselves in the younger sons shoes. How many times have we been selfish? How many times have we let pride get in our way where we abandoned our family in some way or another? What about our workplace, how many times have we been selfish there and allowed pride to interfere with our work ethics? What did we do about this or did we do anything at all? Pride is selfishness. When we act upon our selfishness, this becomes sinful. However, once we become virtuous and accept the virtue of humility, we then come to realize that our actions were wrong and we come to conversion. This is the good part. This is the part where we go back home and we ask for forgiveness. We say we are sorry for the harm that we have caused. And if possible we make good for the harm that we have caused either by words or action. Now I ask, where are we in this part of the equation? Have we gone back to say we are sorry did we do the confession thing? If we have not then the question is WHY?? This contrition brings us salvation.

PART 2

Now let us take a brief look at the older son. This is the son who after his brother had left probably took on other responsibilities. However we do not know this for sure we can only surmise this. In any event this older son probably held resentment against his brother for having left him with all the extra work. He probably was upset with his brother for having the gull to ask for an inheritance. This older brother probably felt like he had been taken advantaged of when his younger brother came home and there was a party for him while never was there anything of the sort for him after all that he had done for the father. He probably had a bit of jealousy that he had not come to terms with. Now, again, I ask how many of us have been in the shoes of the older son? I refer you back to the definition of 'prodigal'. Once again I ask that you look at the first one. While he may not have been reckless with his money, he certainly was wasteful with his virtuous life as was his younger brother but in different ways. The older brother also had a bit of pride to deal with. He was not looking out for the salvation of his younger brother but rather for the glory of himself. I might call this being self-centered. How many times have we been in that situation? How many times have we said 'yeah, look at me'? How many times did we become cynical because of the conversion of someone else knowing that deep down inside I have not yet reached that goal? The answer to that question remains to be seen, did the older brother come into the party or did he wail in his anger? Was he ready to be forgiven or was he not willing to forgive? We do not know. But what we do know is the opportunity is there for us to come to conversion as well. We have the chance to put down our sinful self and glory in the Lord. We can help celebrate the conversion of the other. One coming back to the Lord is always a time to celebrate.

PART 3

As we continue our journey into our inner self, let us take into consideration the prodigal father. As we look at the definition to the word prodigal, we see that now we use a different definition. Instead of using the first definition we are using the second one. This definition shows how one gives exceedingly. How one gives in an abundance. The father in this case gives from his whole heart. He sees his son coming home and before his son had a chance to confess his faults and ask for forgiveness, his father dresses him in the finest robes and puts a ring on his finger. He kills the fatted calf so as to celebrate. The father knew good and well that his boy came to conversion. He had that unconditional love that is spoken of over and over. The father shows this unconditional love by his reactions to his younger son when he was on his way home. He showed that unconditional love to the older son when he told him that we must celebrate because his brother was dead and he has come back to life. He showed this unconditional love when he told the older boy that everything the father has belongs to him as well. Yes the elder of the two was obedient to the father but he still needed to grow in his inner maturity. This is what the father was trying to explain to him. The younger son came to conversion and it was now time for the older son to do the same.
So one more time I ask, have we ever been in the fathers shoes? When was it that we showed that unconditional love? Or have we? If the latter is true then what are we willing to do to make it right? Is there a time when I can be a little more compassionate
and forgiving towards my brothers and sisters instead of letting these trivial things get the better of me? What about the times when I felt dissed and I did not let it go. I certainly was not expressing my unconditional love then if I never let it go.
These are things that we must think about when we think about the unconditional love of our heavenly Father. The father in the parable represents the Father in heaven with this unconditional love. The two boys represent humanity and its frailness because of concupiscence. The younger son representing the part of humanity who after some time comes to conversion and the older son who possibly did not come to conversion because he could not let go of his pride. This pride will eventually lead to ones damnation if not dealt with in a positive manner.
So it is important then to realize that God loves us no matter who we are or what we have done. There is no sin that God will not forgive should we ask for it. And it might be the case that we do this sin again. If that is the case then we confess it again. In time we will have gained enough grace to overcome these difficulties. What we need to do is to ask God for the capabilities to see in ourselves where we have gone wrong and the understanding that it is important to use the sacraments as a means to our salvation. Grace builds on grace. The more we use the sacraments the more grace we gain. The more grace we gain the easier it is to refrain from these areas in our life that lead us into temptation.

With the love of Jesus and Mary

Brother Matthew Levis O. de M.

'the good brother'