Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Father Joe Krupp

Dear Father Joe: Every year, Lent happens and I start off really hoping to make something of it. My intentions are the best, but it always seems like, the next thing I know, it’s Easter and I’ve missed it. Can you help me do better this year?

I believe I can help you! Let’s start with an important point: You are struggling with something that I think most people do — the inability to “get it right,” no matter how good our intentions or plans. What do we do about that?

We’ll start with St. Paul. St. Paul wrote about three-quarters of the New Testament. He was the bridge God gave us between Greek culture and philosophy and Hebrew culture and religion. He is so important to our faith that he is sometimes called simply “The Apostle.”

Yet, even with all that, he, too, struggled. Let’s peek at this passage he wrote in the Book of Romans:

fr joe pg12What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with my mind, serve the law of God but, with my flesh, the law of sin. (Rom 7:15-25)

Isn’t that amazing? One of the greatest saints who ever lived ran into the same problem that you and I do, basically summed up in a simple phrase: I can’t get it right, no matter how hard I try, so I need to count on Jesus.

That’s the first step here: dedicate your efforts to Christ this Lenten season. Pause right here and now, reading this, and ask God to help you have a great Lent. Pour out your heart to him, share your past frustrations and your current hopes. Ask him to be your strength so that you are not relying on something so questionable as our human willpower.

Now for the second step: get to confession. To me, confession is one of those sacraments that we simply ignore at our peril. This is an opportunity to let Jesus “take the garbage out” and fill our empty spaces with his mercy, his love and his strength. If you are nervous and out of practice, let the priest know that. Tell him you are scared and haven’t done this in a while. Tell him why you are there. He’ll pray with you, grant you absolution and send you out the door ready to have a Christ-filled Lent.

The next step is about our attitude. We need to approach Lent with a mental attitude that we don’t get to define a “successful Lent.” Why do we do this? Because our idea of success is so much different than God’s. We tend to judge success by our performance and/or how we feel.

We cannot judge a “successful Lent” by our performance for a simple reason: that often can lead to pride, if we have a good performance, or discouragement, if we have a bad one. I imagine you’ve met people who seem to “get it right” most of the time: they know the rules, they live them well and seem to spend a lot of time focusing on how others aren’t performing as well as they are. These people, in my experience, can be some of the angriest people around and they don’t model a behavior that is appealing. This is because they have limited the idea of holiness to performance. St. Paul wrote a lot about this. You and I stand with St. Paul and recognize that judging our “spiritual success” by performance leads to arrogance or giving up. Our goal is not to be dependable for God, it’s to grow in our awareness of our dependence on him.

We also need to recognize that we can’t judge our Lent as “successful” based on our feelings because, frankly, our feelings are wildly unreliable. Often, they will unintentionally tie us to the first problem: going on our performance.
So, we’ve prayed and dedicated our efforts to the Lord. We’ve gone to confession to let Christ “take the garbage out” and we’ve let Jesus purge us of the human means of judging our Lent. What do we do now?

We embrace the purpose and mission of Lent! We fast, we pray and we give alms.

Each of these activities is geared toward the heart of it all: We treat Lent as a spiritual boot camp where we push ourselves to renounce our affection for and allegiance to this world and deepen our understanding and commitment to Christ.

As Catholics, we fast. And during Lent, we take it up a notch in two ways. First, we abstain from meat on Fridays (put that as a repeating reminder in your calendar for every Friday in Lent — all caps: NO MEAT!).

Second, most of us fast from something during the entirety of Lent, except for Sundays. A good standard here is to choose something that you will miss, but don’t need. Hint: It doesn’t need to be food. You may fast from TV or Facebook. Every time you feel that hunger pang or that draw to eat what you have given up, pray that you will hunger for God like you hunger for it. Tell God, “I give you this suffering in sacrifice for my sins and the sins of the whole world.” That’s how we fast.

Importantly, ramp up your prayer life, both communally and personally. If you don’t typically go to a weekly Mass, make sure you do once a week during Lent. Make sure you get to confession at least once during the Lenten season.

Mark those things on your calendar now so it doesn’t become a thing you do if you think about it. For personal prayer, get a daily prayer guide and use it each day. My favorite is the Magnificat. Almsgiving is caritas: love in action. This is when you and I pledge to be especially generous during Lent, to our Church, to the poor, to anyone God puts in our path. Check out your local Catholic Charities: They do amazing work and are always in need of financial assistance. In terms of your parish, consider giving more than you usually do each week. As a pastor of two parishes, I can promise you it will help!

Each of these activities is geared toward the simple premise of Lent: We push ourselves to renounce our affection for and allegiance to this world and deepen our understanding and commitment to Christ.

May God bless our Lenten season with holy dependence on him!

Father Joe Krupp is a former comedy writer who is now a Catholic priest.

fr joe right thingQ: Dear Fr. Joe: I get really discouraged about doing the right thing. I never mean to be mean or disrespectful and yet I keep finding myself falling into it  how do I act like the person I want to be? I try so hard.

A: My heart breaks as I read your email. I have some recollection of those days — lots of regret, lots of guilt, lots of passion I simply struggled to control. I invite you to take joy and hope from the fact that you are not alone and that only people who care about doing what is right fret about their inability to do so. God is moving in you — take courage.

I want to share a quote with you from someone who had the same problem:

I do not understand myself, for I do not do what I want to do, but I do what I hate … I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. I do not do the good I want but I do the evil I do not want.

Now, who said such a thing? St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. The guy with “Saint” in front of his name. The guy who wrote a majority of the New Testament. The guy we call “the Apostle.” That guy got frustrated with his own sin and his tendency to choose sin over virtue.

In the end, he found comfort in a couple things: first, that all of these struggles can serve to remind him of his utter dependence on God. That can keep us from pride. Second, St. Paul recognized that, even in his sin, God could and still did use him. Jesus’ victory over sin is so great that he meets us at both ends of it and in the middle: he forgives our sins and can use that forgiveness we seek to help us become more humble and more holy.

Beyond looking at the role of God’s forgiveness for our sin and his victory over it, I’m going to offer you a way we can let God free us from the pattern of our sin, so that we are progressing in our walk with the Lord. To do so, we need to look at virtue. Doing so can move us from the abstract “do good” to a concrete vision of what goodness is and looks like. So, I’m going to share with you three things: the name of each of the seven heavenly virtues, what those virtues look like and the deadly sin they counter.

 

Seven Heavenly Virtues

Virtue: Humility

What that virtue looks like:

  • “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis
  • Putting others first. Not drawing attention to yourself and what you do. Recognizing that all you have comes from God.

Sin: Pride

Virtue: Chastity

What that virtue looks like:

  • Holding fast to our knowledge that we are children of God and that our body is a temple. Other people do not exist for my sexual gratification. Not reducing other people to things I must have.

Sin: Lust

Virtue: Patience/Forgiveness

What that virtue looks like:

  • Enduring situations and/or people with dignity and a good spirit. A sense of peaceful stability and harmony. Giving the wounds other people have inflicted on us to God and asking Him to forgive them.

Sin: Wrath

Virtue: Kindness

What that virtue looks like:

  • Compassion and friendship for others, empathy without prejudice for its own sake. The refusal to do harm to others.

Sin: Envy

Virtue: Temperance

What that virtue looks like:

  • Restraint. Constant mindfulness of others and one’s surroundings. Self-control, moderation, delayed gratification. The proper response at the proper time.

Sin: Gluttony

Virtue: Charity

What that virtue looks like:

  • Generosity, self-sacrifice, loving with our actions, giving of ourselves.

Sin: Greed

Virtue: Diligence

What that virtue looks like:

      • Giving all we have in that which we are given to do. Strong work ethic. Not giving up on our tasks because they are challenging. Using our time well and being on guard against laziness.

Sin: Sloth

 

Now, you’ve got this list and I’ll show you how I use it:

First, cut the list out or copy it.

Second, read the list slowly and carefully, asking God to help you pick one (not two or more, just one!). Take your time on this. Clear your head. Don’t “run ahead” of God and decide which one you want to go after, wait for his voice in your heart to show you. When you feel that you’ve got the one you are to go after, write it down and carry it with you. Pray every day that God will strengthen that virtue within you. Ask God to bless you as you pursue it.

Next, make sure that each day you practice the virtue in some practical concrete way.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Do this every day and realize two things:

One, sin is rarely, if ever finished in us. I don’t know that any of us will get to a point where we can say that we have safely put a sin behind us. Be vigilant!

Two, Don’t give up. Never, ever give up. God will not give up on you. When you fall, if you fall, get right to confession. Tell the priest what you are doing with these virtues and wait for the mercy and grace to come pouring down.

I pray that God blesses your efforts and that you find great life and joy in taking these first steps toward becoming a saint.

Enjoy another day in God’s presence.

Dear Father Joe: I have heard that the Church changed some rules on funerals and cremation and that a lot of people did cremation wrong. I am really upset, as my dad was cremated three years ago. What do I do?

Thanks for asking this — I have had a lot of people ask about this, so I am going to do my best to walk us through what was written and explain some of the “whys” of it all.

Before I begin (and it’s really important that you read this paragraph), please note that anyone who, in innocence and with good intentions, has approached the burial of a loved one differently than what our Church is teaching need not fear: God is merciful. With very few and very rare exceptions, we are not held responsible for what we don’t know. Our job as Catholics is to grow in knowledge and love of our faith and by the time you are finished with this article, I’m hopeful you’ll know what you are supposed to do and how to do it.

Anything in the past that you have done differently, you need to let go of and not fear.

With that in mind, what do we have here in the latest letter from the Vatican?

fr joe cremation nov17 pg12What we have is a clarification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called Ad resurgendum cum Christo, meaning “To rise with Christ.” It’s a sort of teaching tool to show us what we are to do regarding those who have died and are cremated. It’s a very short document and quite easy to read. Please do not read summaries of it from secular websites or Catholic websites with agendas beyond Jesus. You can pop right over to the Vatican website or the one of the U.S. Bishops and read the whole thing. I’m not going to summarize; I’ll just hit the points that seem to need the most clarification/explanation.

First, the Church instructs us to be sure that if we choose cremation, we do so for the right reasons. The human body is sacred; it’s not a shell, it’s not a prison. As we state in the Apostles’ Creed: We believe in the resurrection of the body. If we are choosing cremation because of cost or for sanitary purposes, that is acceptable. If we are choosing cremation because we do not value the human body, then that is not acceptable. Second, regarding what to do with the cremains of the deceased person, the Church reminds us that we bury the dead. She expresses her reasoning for insisting on burying the cremains in a very simple, straightforward manner.

“The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father in Christ, the child of her grace. She commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.”

The document goes on to point out that burying the dead shows our great regard for the dignity of the human body — we treat dignified objects with great dignity.

So, we have established so far the wishes of Holy Mother Church that we cremate for the right reasons and that we bury the cremains. The next point, logically, is where do we bury the dead? The answer to that question is simple: We bury cremains in sacred places.

There are many goods that are accomplished when we bury the dead in sacred places. This document offers us a few of them.

Chief among these reasons is that the dead belong in sacred places so that they will be remembered by the community and prayed for. It is a key part of our faith that, through Jesus, we are connected to the dead and we foster that connection through our prayer and remembrance of them. Check out this amazing line:

“[Burying the dead] in sacred places prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or the remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away.”

As a priest, I have witnessed firsthand some of the problems that come when construction workers or farmers find the cremains of a person in a spot that was probably marked many years ago, but no longer is. In most of those situations, the remains have been unintentionally mistreated. The Church wants to keep us from that and requires us to bury the remains of our beloved in sacred spaces. Finally, as Catholics, we are not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful in the land, air or sea, and we are not to divide the cremains among family members or friends. This practice has too many connections to non-Christians practices and is not a respectful way to deal with the deceased. So, there it is. A brief reminder from our Holy Father that, as Catholics, we want our beliefs to shine forth in the way we treat the deceased. We want to be sure that all we say and do is reflective of our conviction that the human body is sacred and destined for eternal glory. May God bless our efforts to be faithful in ensuring the care of our deceased family and friends, both now and in future generations. Enjoy another day in God’s presence!

Q: DEAR FATHER JOE: I’d like to invite my “lost sheep” family members back into the crèche. How can I invite them back to the Church at the holidays and moving forward?

A: What a great question — it can be such a difficult thing to invite someone into practicing the faith without coming across as self-righteous or as somehow a bit “off.” A big part of the process of bringing someone back is to start with the recognition of a couple of points.

First, remember that what you are desiring is holy; it’s good. Sometimes, what we desire isn’t so good, isn’t so holy. You have in your heart a hunger to bring someone back into a communal practice of the faith and that is a blessing. You desire something good.

With that idea, I ask you to read this passage from Philippians 1:6: “He who started a good work in you will see it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus.” This good thing you desire? It came from God. He placed it in your heart and you can be confident that, however he uses you in this effort to bring someone back, he will be the one to see it to completion.

So, the last preparatory step in bringing someone back is to ask God to bless your efforts. Remember the words of the Book of Psalms, Chapter 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Your effort is inspired by God; now you are making sure it is strengthened and guided by him as well.

With this solid foundation of faith and prayer, you are ready to begin. To be clear, I’m going to offer you a few different ways to go about this: it doesn’t mean you have to follow it in this way — let God lead you. You may find that you mix and match these ideas or go in a totally different direction. Trust that you can follow his prompts well.

One good way to go about it is to be a bit more covert, frankly. If Mass is at 4:30, invite your friends to “Come to Mass and dinner with us.” It’s a bit less threatening to people if you make your invitation a social one. “Mass and dinner” can be a nice way to ease into the topic. This will serve as an invitation for them and a great blessing for you, as well. When they come to your house, make sure to pray before the meal. Make sure that your conversation is joyful and life-giving and that they walk away having had a lovely time.

Also, you can consider if they have hobbies or things that are a consistent part of their life that you can be a part of. Scriptures tell us that, when Jesus first met St. Peter, he got into Peter’s boat. It was only after he had been in Peter’s boat for a bit that he initiated a conversation/relationship with him. In the same way, you can “get into your friends’ boat.” Enter into their lives and bring the light and life of Christ with you. Go to their kids’ games, head off to bowl with them or whatever it is they enjoy doing.

A lot of people in our culture are “doers.” As a general rule, people like to help. Is there a project at the church where people are asking for help? Maybe some table set ups or some church cleaning? Volunteer for it and ask your friend to help. Bring them in to see you and others volunteering. Prepare any of the volunteers who are there for the fact that there will be new people coming and that you want to make sure they are welcomed and loved in that volunteering.
Hopefully, at some point, they will begin a conversation about why you go to church or why you are connecting with them. This is your moment!

Before you speak, pray and ask God to lead you in your words. I like to tell people in this moment, “Share your why.” This is the time to share why you go to church, why it is important to you and how it has made your life better. Don’t worry about defending the Catholic faith. Don’t tell them how they are wrong or their church is wrong — share how Christ is present at the Mass!

I find it helpful if you practice what you are going to say. You are going to share your heart in this conversation and, if you are like me, it’s easy to get emotional or overly passionate. I know it sounds funny, but practice what you are going to say. Keep it simple, clear and personal.

These are just some ideas. The key is to get them there and let Christ do the work. Show them through your words and example how faith in Jesus has made your life better, has made you a better person.

A final point: Do not worry about results. Do not focus on whether your efforts are successful — focus on being faithful. I often remind myself of the fact that Jesus gave us a parable where he spoke about the kingdom of heaven as a sower sowing seeds. In the end, the sower was “successful” only about one in four times. Your goal is to let Christ use you to plant a seed in their hearts. Maybe you will see it grow, maybe someone else will.

May God bless our efforts to lead people to his glorious kingdom!

Enjoy another day in God’s presence.

Dear Father Joe: My wife wants to baptize our grandkids in the kitchen sink. I think we should not interfere with our children’s parenting. What do we do?Dear Father Joe: My wife wants to baptize our grandkids in the kitchen sink. I think we should not interfere with our children’s parenting. What do we do?

father joe baptism july aug17Greetings in Christ! I’m glad you asked this question — in every parish I’ve been assigned to, I’ve run into this. It seems to be something many people are really struggling with.

I’d like to walk us through some of the teachings of the Church on baptism in order to help you. 

The first step I invite you to take is to break out your Catechism of the Catholic Church and take a look at paragraphs 1213-1284. That sounds like a lot of reading, but it’s not — and what is in there should be really helpful to you. 

What you’ll see is an affirmation of your desire for your grandchild, because baptism is a beautiful gift. Let’s look at what is accomplished in the baptism of a child:

•  The child dies to sin and is reborn as an adopted child of God.

•  The child will receive grace to receive God’s teachings and love into his or her heart.

•  The child “puts on Christ” in baptism. (Gal 3:27)

•  The child is protected and liberated in a special way from any evil power

.•  The child is set free from original sin.

When the baptism is celebrated in church, you’ll see numerous signs and symbols that back up each of these points. Not only that, you’ll hear the child’s parents make significant promises to God in the presence of the community that they will work hard to teach their child the faith. They commit to showing their child how to live out baptismal promises in words and deeds.

And that, my friend, is where the trouble with a kitchen baptism can come in. 

As Catholics, we understand a distinction between magic and sacraments. Magic in this case being the idea that, “If I do this, then the Lord has to do that,” or “If I don’t do this, the Lord can’t do that.” Magic is an attempted manipulation of the divine.

What we have as followers of Jesus is faith, which is different than magic. We don’t believe God is bound by our sins or the sins of others. We don’t believe that if we “do” baptism that we force God’s hand. When we celebrate a sacrament, we recognize that it binds us to keep our end of the deal in the covenant.

If we do a kitchen baptism, we recognize that God is going to honor the promises of that covenant and we also recognize that we are promising to teach the child to keep his part of the covenant. In order for that to happen, there simply has to be follow-through. We have to teach the child daily, through word and example, what it means to be a child of God. We need to teach him or her about our beautiful faith and how to live it in a fallen world. We do this to ensure that, as the child grows in age and wisdom, he or she is able to respond to the baptism and keep the promises that are made.

The short way to think of it is this: Jesus tells us that we are either with him or against him; there is no middle place. When we baptize our children, we are promising to raise them to “be on Jesus’ side” for the rest of their lives. If we make that promise, but fail to show them how to live that promise, we are setting our children up for significant spiritual failure.So, what do we do then? I’d suggest that, after the first step of reading the section on baptism in the Catechism, you talk to your kids. If you want, share this article with them (Hi, guys! Hope this helps). Share your hunger to have your grandchild baptized. Share your love of our faith. Share how your faith in Jesus and life in the Church has made your life better; how it has challenged and blessed you. If they still say “no,” ask if you can take spiritual leadership. Ask if you can take their child to your parish for baptism and then assume spiritual responsibility — taking him or her to church every week, to catechism classes, etc., until he or she is old enough to drive to church alone. If, after this, the couple still say “no,” then you must take this to prayer and listen honestly to what God wants from you.

To be honest, I can’t imagine a scenario where the Lord is going to tell you to disregard the parents’ wishes and do what you think is right for someone else. Among other things, consider this: If you unilaterally usurp the parents’ rightful authority over their child, you may cause a family rift with far-reaching consequences. You may find yourself without any relationship at all with your grandchild. Now, I always try to leave room in my heart for God, for wonder, for humility and for openness to God doing something unusual, but that’s the only reason I don’t flat-out suggest that I don’t think you should do this.

Do make sure you pray daily for your grandchild. Pray that Jesus protects this precious child and leads him or her to God.Pray that God softens the hearts of the parents and opens them up to the wonder of faith. As this precious baby gets older, share your love for God and the Catholic Church. 

Know this: The Lord loves your grandchild more than you or his or her parents ever could and he will lead this child to himself.

I will pray for you.

Enjoy another day in God’s presence.

Father Joe Krupp is a former comedy writer who is now a Catholic priest.

HART0617 round6 Page 12 Image 0001Dear Father Joe: After a natural disaster, I hear people who were saved talking about how they were “blessed.” Does that mean the people who died were not? Should we be using that word that way?

 

This is a tough question, because the answer more or less depends on the person’s intent when they say it. Let me share with you an incorrect way to use the word “blessed” and then an understanding of it.

Some people use the word blessed to indicate comfort, financial success, etc. This is simply wrong. Having our desires met does not mean we have been favored by God in some special way. Despite what some televangelists would tell you, God does not reward faith with worldly goods or even health.

Church history is full of stories about beautiful and holy men and women who suffered outrageous physical and emotional pain but who considered themselves blessed because they were sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. Many saints lived in poverty but felt blessed because they were poor, as Jesus was poor. In answer to those televangelists, I can assure you that there is no rational or true standard that would look at the life Jesus lived and call it financially successful.

So, if being blessed is not about our circumstances, what is it about? It’s about our attitude, our spiritual state. For example, when my mother died, a number of people came up to me at the funeral to say, “Don’t cry — your mother is with our Lord in heaven.” My response: “I’m not crying for her, I’m crying for me. Because I’ll miss my mother.” Now, don’t get me wrong — I also felt blessed in that moment, because I do know my mother is in heaven, and I know that I am loved by Jesus, and that he was with me in that moment. Remember, tears are not the result of a lack of faith but an abundance of love.

In the New Testament, when you see Jesus say the word “blessed” in your English translation, he is using the word eudaemonia. This is from the Greek for “good” and “spirit” and is often translated as meaning “human flourishing.” Jesus is saying that people of good spirit are blessed. There are long and complicated discussions about this in Greek philosophy, as well, that talk about blessings coming with virtue. If you’ve got a few days to spare, you can find out more!

Often, when folks say they’ve been ‘blessed,’ they really mean circumstances have occurred that make them happy. Back to the natural disaster: Certainly, the person who was spared is “blessed,” but so is the person who lost everything. He or she may not be happy — because earthly happiness means our circumstances prompted an emotion. Don’t confuse happy and blessed — I would suggest that when you and I say that we are blessed, we should be referring to our inner state. That is, we should be referring to our conviction that we are loved by God, and that, whatever our circumstances or situations, we are confident that Christ will bring victory. We know we are loved and saved by Christ and that this knowledge transcends any pain we may be experiencing. Or, it may be that we are in a place that we are simply striving to fully understand and embrace that conviction. It is then that we are blessed.

When you are feeling overwhelmed with grief or pain, you might want to turn to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and his mighty words ringing down through the centuries:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has given me strength and comfort in adversity — I hope it does for you. Enjoy another day in God’s presence.

Father Joe Krupp is a former comedy writer who is now a Catholic priest.

fr joe violence may17Dear Father Joe: I am deeply troubled by all the violence around us. Why is this happening?

I write this article with a heavy heart.

We live in violent times. Some will say that things have always been this violent, and that may or may not be true. What is objectively true is that we’ve never been able to observe and process the present violence in the way we can now. Social media have, for better or worse, revealed our interconnectedness in a way that has never been possible before.

If you are like me, each event of great violence prompts feelings of sadness, fear and powerlessness.

Sadness, because people were killed.

Fear, because we seemed to be heading to a dark place as a country.

Powerlessness, because no matter how much we want this all to stop, nothing seems to help.

In this moment, I invite us all to remember that within our hearts is God’s very Spirit: that Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

Our problem is not a lack of power, it’s that we use our power badly.

After each act of violence, I see people storm social media in order to comfort themselves.

We see these horrid events as evidence that we are right and others are wrong. We hear of a tragedy, we learn of great injustice or horrors, and we immediately respond by wrapping ourselves in the warm blanket of our opinions. We pile on social media and fill public places with our opinions and politics. We seemingly can’t wait to tell everyone how these horrible events and those like them are the fault of this person, that person, those people or their politics.

We respond with our voices, and those voices become shrill. We respond with our opinions. and those opinions become doctrine that we wield to crush those who disagree with us.
And this is why it is getting worse. We have made this about what those people need to do.

But those people are not the problem that you are to address. Others exist for you to serve, not fix. To solve the problems of violence in our country, we need to address the core of the issue. And, to paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, I am the core of the issue. I am the problem.

I am the problem because I give way too much credence to ideological comfort and I give way too much room to sin in my heart.

I am comfortable with what I think. I like my politics. I’ve spent years dividing the world into good guys and bad guys. I have my team. How about you? When bad things happen, I know whose fault it is. This way, I am never challenged. I never have to reevaluate what I think or believe.

Sin? I tragically am much too comfortable with it in my heart. I’ve made friends with some of my sin. I’ve not been vigilant to what I let live and breathe in this beautiful heart that God gave me.

If enough of us embrace these ideas, and clearly we have, society becomes a loud, rage-filled and divided reality.

But today, I invite you to join me in saying, “Enough is enough.”

Today, I invite you to join me as I declare war on sin — not the sin in society or the Church or in this group or that group. No, I declare war on the only sin that I truly have control over: the sin in me.

Today, I invite you to join me in saying, “I was made to be a saint” — and to quit pretending that being one is impossible.

And we must pray. I’ve seen something in the last year that looks like this: A tragedy happens and someone posts that they are going to pray. Inevitably, someone responds by telling the person some form of, “Prayer is nice, but we have to act.”

The complete and utter lack of self-awareness implicit in a statement like that is simultaneously horrifying and comical. Of course we have to act. Our problem isn’t that we lack the conviction to act, the problem is we don’t pray first, we simply look for the quickest and most convenient solution.

Has anyone ever looked at us as a group and thought, “Gosh, those people just pray too much”? Our problem tends to be precipitous and knee-jerk reactions that don’t solve the problem. I suggest to you that prayer is the answer to that.

We will find that this internal war and this dedication to prayer begin to alter the way we act and live. We will push ourselves to be more loving, more helpful, more understanding and more forgiving.

You and I are to be holy. We are to purge our hearts and minds of the vile spirit of divisiveness and anger. We are to purge from our hearts and minds the hunger to appear to be right. We need to become obsessed, not with being right, but with being made right by God.

By becoming obsessed with holiness, we make God’s law a visible thing. God’s command to love becomes something others can touch when they touch us. God’s directive to love with all we have answers the prayers of the multitude who cry out and ask God to “do something.”

And so we will be saints. We will forgive. We will love. We will reconcile. We will challenge our thoughts and preconceptions. We will fight the darkness in our own hearts with the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.

We will be saints.

Father Joe Krupp is a former comedy writer who is now a Catholic priest.