Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Myths Not to Live By

Father John J. Lombardi 

Sometimes we live our lives around false, misleading, naïve ideas-perceived truths which we've invested in, but which aren't really true. Some are new, some old.

These may include…

MYTH # 1: Exit the Effort?!

Love, not Discipline is needed in Holiness….This is a "mostly modern myth". Our avante garde tendency implies God rewards only my emotions, sentiments and desires toward Him-and anything else may be regarded as mechanistic or "forced". We tend, today, in love of God, to stress the passions and the heart over any kind of discipline or structure. For Catholics and Christians this is a danger; remember: discipline is a form of love . We need to love God (and neighbor) with the heart as well as with orderly and regulated love. Since the Original Sin of Adam and Eve our souls and bodies are unruly and quixotic: when we engage the passions they can tend to overwhelm us (love goes into lust; anger ends up in rage; sadness in depression, fear in repression), unless we lovingly subject them in a developed and trained way. St Paul says, " I drive my body and I train it…" (I Cor 9:27). He knows the need for both heartfelt and disciplined love- they go together.

We can counteract the aberration of lust with the disciplined love of custody of the eyes (avoiding what is unnecessary and seductive); we battle sadness by the ongoing love of serving others, thereby "getting unstuck" from our own selfishness. We work against excessive sadness and depression by the maintained practice of harvesting hope in our hearts--thinking of Heaven. We can love God more intensely by showing Him in action and deed-- that we truly love Him and His people. ("What good is it…if he has faith but does not have works?," Jas. 2:14)…We Christians obviously need a balance-- love without discipline is emotionalism; discipline without love is pharisaeism; love with discipline is a saint…+Meditation: How can I add more love to my discipline and more discipline to my love and become a more balanced, mature Catholic-Christian?...

MYTH # 2: Once saved, always saved

I can't commit serious, mortal sin and go to Hell if I'm basically living a good life. This fallacy is called the "fundamental option," which many Christians learned thru modern theology-- it is very entrancing. Basically, it teaches the average "modernist Joe": You're a good guy-you haven't robbed any banks or killed anyone-and even if you've done a serious sin, God wouldn't cancel out the rest of your good life and send you to Hell…This denies Sacred Scripture: St John teaches: "There is such a thing as deadly sin," (I Jn. 5:1). We can commit sins which cause our spiritual death. St. Paul lists some sins keeping us from inheriting the Kingdom, in Gal, ch. 5:23, and our Lord Himself talks-in the Sermon on the Mount, of all places--about Gehenna/Hell, in Mt 5:22. Why?-- to bring about conversion to God-not just to scare people.

Just about any person can choose to make an intense, seemingly infinite and life-altering, direction-changing decision (such as murdering, committing adultery or ruining another person's entire life), and then never repent of it. This implies that the person despises God's harmonious law governing the universe; that a person does not want reconciliation, and that they want this abysmal relationship they've made and embraced to continue exist in their relationship with God--forever. The Catechism reminds us that the essence of Hell is not fire or gnashing of teeth, but eternal separation from God. This is what a person is choosing by remaining in serious, mortal sin. Modernist moral teachers sometimes teach our "fundamental option" toward life and God is basically good, and can never be, or rarely, overridden by any single, wrong choice. Another version of this is: Once saved always saved. St. Paul warned the Corinthians against assuming the overconfidence of their ancestors: "These things happened (Jews who were not faithful, struck down by God) as an example and they have been written down as a warning to us…whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall." (I Cor.10: 9-10)…Never forsake the Love you had at first (Rev. 2:4)…+Meditation: How can I rekindle my love of God on a daily basis?...

MYTH # 3: Christianity Lite

I don't need crosses, only a crown. Just the other day a pilgrim said to this Chaplain, in effect,

" I was resisting darkness, sufferings and trials. But then, this past month, a lot of difficulties came…And, after a while, I began to thank God for coming to me like this--He was still showing me his love." Wow! St. James says, "Consider it all joy my brothers when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance," (1:2-4); and Hebrews teaches: "Endure your trials as 'discipline,' God treats you as sons…If you are not with discipline you are not sons…"(12:7-8).

St Teresa of Avila, great foundress of the sixteenth-century Carmelite-discalced order, after a life of endless service and heroic penances and work, prayed to God: "More crosses--send me more crosses." She knew tribulations were like a spiritual sandpaper which ground down her selfish self and manifested a smoother soul, that they were akin to a severing scalpel removing an immature love and discipleship, and thus liberating a more mature, enlightened person…+Meditation: How can I undergo, embrace and even thank God for trials in life?-offering them up to Him as a truer expression of my discipleship?

MYTH # 4-Faux Rebellion

Teens must rebel against parents… From the drug culture, to rap and rock and roll, thru the so-called "M-tv generation" and, of course, the sixties counter-culture, and so many other movements, these all cater to a real or perceived cleavage within the family, and they feed it and support it.

Many accept this myth of a seeming, inherent and inevitable teen rebellion against (pick one): parents, hierarchy, the world, the Church, God. People thus set up false structures-an alternative teen culture, or values and rules-- to placate them or the perceived revolution that "everyone else is doing". Some thereby accept aberrant behaviors, and then lower expectations of teens (i.e., "give them condoms")-it becomes a vicious circle. Because some accept anti- parental, or anti-societal attitudes, they may feed into these by saying (select one): "This is the way of the world," or "It's inevitable." We've accepted mainstreamed witchcraft, assertive homosexuality and murder (thru abortion), so why not this? Albeit, there's a certain amount of rebellion in every person, but: savage capitalism, secularized Americanism and Satan have created family anarchy-and reaped money and evil…+Meditation: How can I preserve, defend, and love my family members more?

MYTH # 5: Overexposure

The more media exposure the better. Like too much sun this is crazy--cancerous. Some picnicking pilgrims were recently talking about a current children's t.v. series using violence and anti-family themes as attractions-"wicked" was one word used to describe it. One of the Fransiscan monks, listening, said, "You have to be saints today to raise children." Amen….Being American today seemingly means exposure to as much as possible-even if it is gruesome.. Many today may try to "create enlightened human beings" by coercing too much information in them-for instance, sex ed early and often; relativistic knowledge about the world which denies ultimate truths and the Ten Commandments; a secularistic multiculturalism which denigrates the culture of Christendom and Catholicism; atheistic evolutionism which represses God and divine providence; a sensory culture which pervasively promotes sensualism.

Catholics and Christians need the right kind of exposure that leads to gritty holiness, health and balanced enlightenment, preventing us from becoming desensitized automatons lacking truth, beauty and love. Our young-and all of us-- need to be guided and "spiritually coached" as to what to receive and absorb until mature decision making occurs...+Meditation: How can I filter more of the media intake in my life, and embrace more beauty and simplicity?

MYTH # 6: Starch Saints? Holiness does not = Stuffiness:

We and culture sometimes think that to be a prayerful, dedicated follower of Christ, means we become someone who is elitist and "crassly above it all". Not so. The Good Samaritan story (Lk. 10:29ff) shows how holy people get in trenches, are "spiritually gritty" and who are praised by the Lord. +Meditation: Remember--love of God leads to love of neighbor.


The Vocation to Chastity… "Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift." +The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2337. +How can you be more beautifully chaste?

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi