"This Pope Rocks!"

Many of us grew up with our favorite habit-ed Sisters teaching us how to avoid the "Seven Deadly Sins." For many years, perhaps due to one's own fear of the Gates of Gehenna, those sins were drilled into the young Catholic minds, giving us a moral compass, showing us how to keep on the moral path of virtue. In recent years, I have given talks (especially in high school Confirmation classes) on these sins and the effect of these sins on contemporary society. A fear-based approach to learning about sin does not seem to be that effective in the classroom these days, rightly or wrongly. But perhaps a little pop culture can at least make our young folks look at sin in a way they will not only remember, but in a way they can consider their own need for redemption as they reflect on the nuances of sin and reconciliation. (That applies to us older folks as well!)

Here is my approach, albeit, a bit 'lite' theologically, I must admit! Years back, I encountered a story that reported that Sherwood Schwartz's classic Gilligan's Island was a story premised on the Seven Deadly Sins. In each of the episodes, each character would make manifest the expression of the sin congruent to his or her own character. Towards that end, the castaways -- in the original series -- would never really be rescued: because they were always functioning out of their weaknesses, not out of their blessings. Until they could "turn away from sin," they were doomed to fail -- individually and collectively!

So here's the test! Can you match the character with the sin they express in each episode? Give it a try!

("Willy") Gilligan
The Skipper (Jonas Grumby, for really great trivia buffs!)
Thurston Howell III
Mrs. Eunice (Lovey) Wentworth Howell
Ginger (Grant)
The Professor (Roy Hinkly)
Mary Ann (Summers)

This is not a test as to whom you prefer, Ginger or Mary Ann, but here's the list of the Seven Deadly Sins to match with the folks above:

1. Lust
2. Gluttony
3. Greed
4. Sloth
5. Wrath
6. Envy
7. Pride

Once you do the matching, watch the episodes (available at your local Best Buy store, my unpaid advertisement!) and now wait for the sins to be revealed before your eyes. Had the characters not been slaves to their sin, perhaps they could have enjoyed a simple and relaxing, "three hour tour!"

But did you hear the news this week? B16 published a new batch of sins for us to consider. These are a list of today's Seven Social Sins, a litany of contemporary abuses that plague our society. Take a look:

1. “Bioethical’ violations such as birth control
2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

I wondered how the Church would receive this new statement from the Holy Father. This week, as the TV reported this announcement, I was gladly stunned by people's reaction! Now you know I am watching the Fox News Channel -- in my attempt to be "fair and balanced!!!" Those interviewed and even the news commentators all seemed to say the same thing: this Papal Document is very helpful for us to consider. This should give us a sense of moral direction and offer an opportunity for us to consider how we are contributing to society and how we are damaging the environment by our carelessness.

And one thing came through loud and clear: people are consistently surprised at how in-tuned Benedict is with contemporary society. Folks are consistently marvelling that the documents he has published at this point are wonderfully pastoral and thought-provoking. "This Pope Rocks" is what one of the commentators said the other day.

My sharing this information with you on the threshold of Holy Week is not meant as something that should make the reader feel guilty or heavy-hearted; that is not the spirit in which Benedict presented this to the world. But simply for all of us to use as a bit of a guide post or examination of conscience. Through our prayerfulness which leads to seeking and granting forgiveness, we need to be castaways to sin no longer, but this Easter we move forward to being liberated in the Light! I would think the Pope would want each of us to "Rock our World" this Easter!


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