20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2023
“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”
I talked to the youth group when I first arrived and talked about this, and I just wanted to reflect on this topic again. My talk was on the top 3 sins that I have heard confessed in my 14 years as a priest, and why none of the top 3 “sins” are actually sins.
The number 1 most confessed sin is “distraction in prayer.” The Catechism has a BEAUTIFUL statement about what we do when we are distracted; paragraph 2729 “The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart.”
The 2nd most confessed sin is “Lustful thoughts”. But lustful thoughts are not sins unless we are WILLFULLY, with our mind, ENGAGING those thoughts. The Devil is allowed to tempt us and suggest things to us…and one of the ways he does that is through showing us lustful things in our mind…but then once he shows us those things he wants us to think that they are coming from US and the Devil ACCUSES us of them…and he will say things to us in our mind “Did you really just look at your sister or that woman or have those thoughts about the Blessed Virgin Mary…you are such a freak show…no one has those thoughts except you!”
Saint Padre Pio wrote that he was assaulted with the most perverted lustful thoughts, particularly during Mass and at the words of Consecration…but Saint Padre Pio shrugged them off because he knew those thoughts came from the Devil and not himself.
And finally, the third most confessed sin, along the same lines as the other 2, is distraction at Mass. I get distracted multiple times during every Mass, and if I hadn’t read the Catechism paragraph mentioned above, if I had not read Saint Padre Pio’s writings, I would probably have thought that “I must be the antichrist because I cannot stay focused on the prayers, and I am the one saying most of the prayers out loud!” But again, when I get distracted at Mass, I simply make a quick prayer “Lord Jesus, I was distracted, I know it is not a sin, help me to refocus on you.
In conclusion, there are so many non-Catholics and Catholics who need to hear these teachings. Every Catholic Church is, in a special way, what we heard in our first reading today from the prophet Isaiah…every Catholic Church is “a house of prayer for all peoples”. I invite you to think of 5 people in Dearborn County, Catholic or not, who need to hear these teachings, and invite them to the adult education program that starts on Thursday, September 14th at 6:30 at the St. Martin’s campus hall.