“Men have become spiritual wimps,” he said. “We sit there and we say stuff like, 'Oh, women are more spiritual.' Gentlemen, that's garbage! Muslim men are willing to pray publicly in front of everybody!”
“God's always speaking to you,” he asserted. “What's the problem? You're not listening!” He ridiculed the notion that men should “try” to make time for daily prayer, joking that no one would “try” to eat or go to work every day.
Fr. Richards went on to discuss the fundamentals of confession.
“Some of you have never made a good confession, because you've been afraid,” he said. The deliberate omission of serious sins, he explained, results in an invalid confession. He compared sin to cancer, and
said confession – like chemotherapy – must “get rid of it all.”
Fr. Richards drove home his points about sin's seriousness, but emphasized that the love of God should be the main reason to repent.
“If the only reason you follow Jesus is so you don't go to hell, who do you love? Yourself.” he observed.
“You want to go to heaven, so that you can be with the one you love more than anybody.”
Sin's social reality
The hour-long lines for confession during lunch indicated that Fr. Richards struck a nerve. Afterward, Fr. Mitch Pacwa took the stage to give a more analytical reflection on the subject of sin, drawing on history and Biblical scholarship.
Fr. Pacwa, a Jesuit priest and host of EWTN Live, observed that ancient cultures had a sense of sin's universality and seriousness.
But today, this acknowledgment of original sin becomes an excuse for doing wrong. Meanwhile, in the Church, “there's very poor catechesis on sin.”
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Fr. Pacwa told a story from the life of Bl. John Paul II to illustrate the point. A group of bishops, he recalled, had gone to meet with the Pope as all bishops must every five years.
“One of the bishops, from out east, was at the luncheon that they always have with the Pope – telling him, 'Holy Father, you have to realize that many of our young people in America do not even know that having sex before marriage is the sin of fornication! They don't even know that it's a mortal sin!'”
“And the Pope said back: 'For the young people who do not know, this is not their fault. But for the bishop who does not tell them this is sin – this is his fault!”
Fr. Pacwa told the men that they, too, had a responsibility to call sin by its proper name, first in their personal lives and then in the world.
“We are going to be a great help to our society, by the way we call people to repentance and forgiveness,” he promised.
Putting away 'childish things'