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Catholic Voice
  October 26, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Examine your life, confess and get on the right track

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

My mother passed away 12 years ago, God rest her soul. She lived to see two of her sons ordained priests, and her other son married — who gave her three grandchildren. My mom was the best mother you could ever wish for. But she smoked a pack of cigarettes every day since she was 16. She passed at the age of 75.

The fact she was a smoker never affected my love for my mother. I loved her totally as she was. She gave her life for our family. Yet I did not love the smoking part. I realized it was an addiction to nicotine ... which she had for many years. It is true what they say. Smoking kills.

I have met doctors, physicians, who smoked. I can understand that — it's an addiction. But I have never met a doctor who said: "Smoking is all right." "Don't pay any attention to the warnings." Any doctor who would recommend smoking you would say is not a good doctor. He could even be guilty of "malpractice."

I mention this because there are some lessons here for our moral and spiritual lives. We love our parents — and our children — 100 percent. But that does not mean we must approve of everything they do 100 percent. My mother never said to me, "Unless you approve of my smoking, you do not love me."

When it comes to our health, we look to our physician for advice. If we are smart, we follow it. When it comes to our spiritual health, we look to Christ and His Church. If we want eternal life, we must follow it.

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Jesus said "Not everyone who cries 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father." Jesus also said "My yoke is easy and my burden light."

If we enter into a relationship of friendship with Christ, it makes it all the easier to follow his commandments. That is the goal of the Diocese of Oakland's evangelizing efforts: to make a place where people can experience Christ.

Once you realize how much Christ loves you and wants you, it makes it all the easier to follow his commandments. "Love and truth walk in your presence Lord."

As harmful as smoking is, I have not read anywhere where it is a mortal sin. Yet how many who would never touch a cigarette can casually engage in behavior which Christ, St. Paul, and the consistent teaching of the Church have warned is sinful.

This upcoming Holy Year of Mercy is a great time to examine our course in life, and if we find we've taken a wrong fork in the road ... go to Confession ... and get back on the right track.

"There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who has repented, than over 99 righteous who have no need of repentance."

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