Tuesday, May 15, 2018


A friend once said to me that "all children are born lawyers because they naturally try to find loopholes in the rules"; profound wisdom, indeed. Today, however, I believe that I need to extend his estimation a bit further. All children are born lawyers, and few today ever grow out of it. I overheard someone recently arguing for a reason not to obey a certain traffic law, and it brought to my mind how often I have heard similar arguments about many other subjects: "I don't need to do that because..."

Search your own heart right now. Do you look for "loopholes" to God's rules? Do you hear a homily and think, "yes, that is bad, but my situation in unique, so I do not need to repent of that"? That is, indeed, a dangerous situation to be in. Once someone starts to rationalize a particular sin, it makes it easier to rationalize other sins. It will go from one, to another, to another; eventually someone could rationalize the gravest of sins, and think it is OK because he has a "special situation".

Technically speaking, there are virtually no "special situations". A sin, is a sin. The level of a person's guilt may vary based on his understanding of the sin and his degree of willingness in committing it, but that is something that we are never supposed to determine entirely on our own. A good spiritual advisor [which will be someone who is strict with himself as well!] is always needed in these situations to keep us on the right track.

Do you think that you have a "special situation" that makes you less culpable in a specific sin (notice I did not say "that makes it OK for you to sin")? What is the proper Catholic way to deal with it? I ask specifically about the "Catholic" way, because my time as a protestant taught me very well that there is a protestant way to deal with "special situations" and they rarely include any more than "pray about it, and decide for yourself" (which actually means, "assume God will rubber stamp what you already decided"). Do you deal with your sin privately without the help of the body of Christ? No, that is not the Catholic way. In Catholicism we place a good deal of recognition on the assistance of those around us, as well as the guidance of good clergymen.

Therefore, one should seek guidance from other knowledgeable, and godly, people. In doing this, we must consider the possibility that we may be seeking guidance from someone whom we already know will answer like we want. Does that really count as "outside advice" if we pick and choose in this way? It is quite a bit self-serving to do spiritual inventory in this manner. Rather, we should look for those whom we know are well studied in the things of God (most often this is a faithful priest or deacon in the Church), and make sure that it is someone who will actually tell you what is true, rather than just say what you want to hear.

This is all certainly scary because it means that we have to put ourselves on the line. We have to be willing to open up to someone else and expose our sins to someone. This is why it is often best to do this with a priest--for he is used to hearing confessions and keeping them secret. Yet, if you have a close friend that you know would be honest with you, and you trust that person's God-given wisdom, then he or she may be a useful helper in this situation. The search for excuses and justifications for our sins is a dragon to be slain, and if we ignore the help of others and let that dragon live, he will always get the upper hand.

Do not ever look for loopholes. Yet, if you find one that you think does apply, then be careful not to assume too much on the accuracy your own wisdom (in viewing our own sin, we are usually too light on ourselves!). Do not trust that your loophole is really a proper reason for what you are doing. Jesus said that on the Day of Judgment, many will seek to justify their sins by various excuses, but only those who trusted in Christ and sought to obey Him in "whatsoever He commanded" are going to be justified in His sight. Let us look for Christ's justification, and not our own!