Daily Archives: January 25, 2014

A response to Adam Shaw

An email I wrote to Fox News’s Adam Shaw regarding his recent hit piece on Pope Francis

Dear Mr. Shaw,

I write to you as a brother in Christ to ask you to reconsider your attitudes towards Pope Francis.  You have made a name for yourself twice by attacking a small handful of Pope Francis’s teachings which you seem to think are inconsistent with the existing Magisterium condemning all modernist economic theories.  What troubles  me, though, is your premise that “aspiration” is a good thing for laity, and your condemnation of priestly simplicity.

All Catholics are called to practice simplicity and humility. We are called to be Saints, and that should be our only aspiration.  As a husband and father, my only “aspiration” for my family is that they be holy, and holiness includes shunning worldly “values.”  I would rather they be uncomfortable in this life and happy in Heaven then comfortable in this life and burn in Gehenna.

People make a big deal about the first seven Commandments but tend to treat 8-10 like they’re “no big deal.”  We soak in covetousness on television and advertising and think somehow that we’re not committing mortal sin just by wanting a “comfortable life” in this valley of tears.

Pax et bonum,

John Hathaway, OCDS


Examining the Conscience

My New Year’s Resolution was to get back in a better habit of daily prayer, particularly the St. Bridget Prayers, and I have been lately overcome by the repentance and awareness that comes with such efforts.  It seems like every day this past few weeks, something comes up on my Facebook feed like this article on what constitutes “serious sin,” or particular posts regarding sins I know I have or have previously had on my conscience.

One story that hit close to home, though I’m sure it’s dubious for a number of reasons (first and foremost that we are not supposed to listen to “messages from Hell”) is one a saint told of a monk who had committed some sin in his adolescence and been so prideful (his real sin) that he never confessed it (then sacrilegiously confessed and went to Communion).  He developed a reputation for piety, like Hawthorne’s Rev. Dimmesdale, and his fear for his reputation led him to repeatedly conceal this sin in the confessional.  He kept thinking “one day I will confess” until he was struck ill and could no longer do it.  When he died, the monastery was preparing his funeral and he allegedly appeared to the Abbot and said to stop praying for him because he was in Hell.  Although I know I have confessed fully on many occasions, I still felt identification with that story.

I know on the night of my aortic dissection that the demons were there to drag me into Hell, quite gleefully, because I had neglected the Confessional for over a month and had sinned that very night, committing the additional sin of presumption that I could confess the next day.  I screamed for God’s Mercy, and they left, and I confessed to the priest in the ER a few hours later.  I improved some of my behaviors over the next two years but still had some bad habits (still do).  Then, in April of 2013, while I was in the ICU, and even after making a thorough Confession, I went through a deep “ICU psychosis” that was in many ways a deeply spiritual experience, truly one of the “passive nights” described by John of the Cross.  I saw how many of my inclinations and impure thoughts, bad habits, and such were just as bad as committing the worst sins in their categories.  I came out of the experience feeling like I had been purged of a great many problems, and I was, but now I just keep plunging deeper and deeper into things.

The other night, after reading the above article, I was overwhelmed with guilt and disgust at the fundamental sin that permeates our culture. Then, Adam Shaw, FOX News’s video game reviewer turned anti-Pope Francis attack dog, wrote this piece claiming the Pope is leading a “War on Aspiration,” and I thought, “Isn’t that what every Christian should be doing?”  Aren’t we supposed to aspire to be Saints?  Aren’t we supposed to *not* aspire to worldly fame and fortune and “success”?

St. Joan of Arc was asked at her “trial” (which of course was not conducted nor sanctioned by the official Inquisiton) if she believed herself to be in a state of grace.  It was a Pharisaical trap: if she said, “no,” they’d say she was admitting to witchcraft; if she said, “yes,” they would say she was prideful.  So she replied, “If I am, may God keep me there; If I am not, may God put me there.”

We must never endanger our souls with pride and presumption.

Please make sure to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation, even for venial sins.  Remember: the Pope goes every week.  It breaks my heart to think of anyone suffering eternally.