Weekly Email Reflection 2022-06-29: The Conflicting Loves Inside You

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members, 

In last week’s email reflection, from June 22, 2022, we discussed how sin is a “dangerous love,” drawing extensively from St. Augustine’s idea that sin is a “misdirected” or “misguided” love. I shared with you how the question is not whether we will love or not. The bigger question in our lives is who or what will we love?

This week, we’re going to dive into a much deeper understanding of the...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-06-22: Dangerous Love

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members,

In last week’s email reflection, I described seven ways to understand sin. Today, we are going to understand sin as “dangerous love.”

And to do that, we are going to harmonize some concepts in modern psychology with the bedrock teaching of St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church. 

St. Augustine’s view of love

Love was absolutely central to Augustine’s conceptualization of the moral life. St. Augustine characterizes love...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-06-15: Seven Ways to Understand Sin

Dear Souls and Hearts Community Members,

Today, we’re discussing sin.  Sin.  The word appears more than 400 times in the Bible.  Paragraphs 1846 to 1876 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church focus on sin, among many others.

Sin.  We hear the word.  We think of definitions.  Let’s get into it today, drawing the broad outlines of seven ways to understand sin.

Definitions of sin

“It is not easy to define a sin” writes Gary Anderson,...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-06-08: Conscience

Dear Souls and Hearts Members,

One of the areas of confusion in our modern era is around the question of conscience.

Current popular and erroneous notions of conscience

It’s really popular in our culture today to discuss sin (when it is discussed at all) as violating your own conscience.  The modern world tells you that to be good and true, you have to tune in to your “inner voice” and listen to your internal moral compass.  Here’s just one example of...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-06-01: Mental Reservation

Dears Souls and Hearts Members,

Let’s start this reflection with an apocryphal story, a story of St. Athanasius of Alexandria and the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate:

In the Fourth Century A.D., the Roman emperor Julian the Apostate was out to kill St. Athanasius.   Athanasius escaped from Alexandria by boat and imperial officers were in hot pursuit up the Nile. Looking over his shoulder and seeing the Roman officers gaining on him, Athanasius used the precious moments of...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-05-25: Six Reason To Not Tell the Whole Truth

Dear Souls and Hearts members,

Circumstances matter in living out the truth.  Circumstances matter. What do I mean by this?

Context and nuance

As I reflected about the emphasis on living in the truth in my last few email reflections, I began to wonder if there might be some readers among you with scrupulous parts that were activated around fear of lying or misrepresenting the truth.

I also wondered about those of a more sensitive conscience that may feel impulses to explain, and to tell...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-05-18: Seeking Truth vs. Not Lying

Dear Souls and Hearts Members,

We shouldn’t just focus on not telling lies.  If we’re wondering whether something we are about to say is a lie or not and we’re basing our decision on splitting moral hairs around the technical definitions of the words, we have a problem.

We need to focus on truth, not on lies. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2465 reads as follows

The Old Testament attests that God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-05-11: Santa and Myth (Gabriel Crawford)

Dear Souls and Hearts Members,

Thank you to many of you for reaching out and engaging around the topic of Santa Claus and how we as Catholics can with grace and truth and wonder approach the various stories of Santa.  In this email reflection, I’d like to respond to some of the inquiries I’ve had from our Souls and Hearts members.

Here are the questions… (and I have permission to reprint and use the names I’ve listed)

From a Souls and Hearts Member:

Q:  I...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-05-04: Santa and Lying

Dear Souls and Hearts members,

You might be thinking, “Oh, no.  Dr. Peter, you’re not going to take parents who share with their children the story of Santa and the reindeer to task for lying, are you? Really?”

Yes.  Really.  I invite you to hear me out with an open mind on this Santa Claus thing and children, and see if you agree or disagree.

Let’s start out by examining whether the seemingly fun and amusing story of Santa and his red suit and the North...

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Weekly Email Reflection 2022-04-27: Justifying Lyings

Dear Souls and Hearts members,

Let’s continue with our discussion of lying.  I want to start with a position that may seem somewhat provocative, and that is: a lie always begins inside the self.  The first lie is always when we lie to ourselves.  Before we can lie to another person, we generally have to convince ourselves that it is acceptable, justifiable, warranted, etc. (assuming there was at least some forethought).  So we have to deceive ourselves first.

As a...

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