“Once religion sinks in, it stays there—deep down. The lads who get religious training, get it where it counts—in the roots. They may fail it, but it never fails them.” George Herman Ruth Jr. uttered those words in 1946, two years before he died. Babe was a product of a Catholic education. He was raised a Catholic and attended St. Mary's College. It was actually at that Catholic school that a teacher, Brother Mathias Boutlier, encouraged the boy to play baseball.
In this week of Christian Unity I think it is most fitting to speak about our Blessed Mother. She is a point of unity for all Christian denominations. You might be thinking, “Huh, really? Isn't Mary an issue which Protestants diverge from Catholics? Aren't Catholics accused of ‘worshipping Mary’ and so forth?” Perhaps, but this accusation isn't an accurate representation of genuine Protestant thought. The Protestant Reformers had a tremendous respect for Mary. Zwingli called Mary “the highest of creatures next to her Son,” as well as the “Mother of God.” Other Reformers, especially Martin Luther, affirmed and asserted her perpetual virginity. Luther wrote, “in childbirth and after childbirth, as she was a Virgin before childbirth, so she remained.” In his Book of Concord (1580) that was the official statement of faith of the Lutheran church, Luther wrote: “Mary, pure, holy, and Ever-Virgin.” This virginity, by the way, would also be a model for the "Virgin Queen" Elizabeth in Protestant England.
Father Michael Gaitley has a book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, in which he discusses consecrating ourselves to Mary. The point of the consecration, ultimately, is to bring us more closely to Jesus Christ. If we give ourselves completely to Mary she will take us to her Son.
A by-product of the consecration is that Mary is given the right to distribute the graces of our good deeds as she sees fit. Gaitley explains: “Because of her unique vantage point from heaven, and on account of her most intimate communion with her Divine Son, Mary can best determine which people are most in need of our prayers. For instance, seeing some forgotten person in China about to die in despair, Mary can take the grace of our prayers (and ‘offered up’ sufferings) and use it to help that dying person to trust in God and accept his mercy.”
The Seven Deadly Sins are not actually sins, properly speaking. They are, rather, tendencies that lead to sin. Sins are specific acts of commission or omission. Vices—what the seven deadly sins really are—form a person's disposition and lead to the actual sin. For example, the deadly sin of lust will lead to adultery, greed to theft, etc.
An interesting case study or application of the seven deadly sins from history is Benedict Arnold, the infamous American traitor. The sin that this Major General from the Continental Army committed was treason. Looking closely at Arnold's life, though, will reveal a man afflicted by each of the deadly sins. These flawed behavioral traits are what led Arnold to betray his country. Pride, the root of all sins, Arnold certainly possessed. He constantly sought recognition and believed himself superior to other commanders, including General Washington, of whom he was also envious. He hated several of his fellow compatriots, most particularly Horatio Gates. Thus he had anger. After a battle wound prevented him from further field command, he became slothful and gluttonous. He was a womanizer, due to lust, and, most significantly of all in regard to treason, he was greedy. Arnold used his positions of prominence for personal profit. Money was probably the sole motivation for becoming a turncoat in 1780. The British offered him a handsome reward for West Point and he could not resist.
Sins do not appear suddenly and without cause. They have their origin in the seven vices. These vices destroy our character and kill our soul. They are deadly. But it's amazing the good that God can bring out of evil. It was Benedict Arnold's treason that, arguably, united the Americans and reenergized them in their fight for freedom.
The Church is labeled often as being archaic. Not only are our disciplines and beliefs used to show how we are "behind the times," but also, ironically, our history is invoked. Perhaps the most well-known example is the Galileo controversy from the 16th Century, when the Inquisition forced Galileo to recant his heliocentric theory (that the earth revolves around the sun). This shows, supposedly, we are against progress.
Sure, the Church erred with Galileo. But that does not mean we are unscientific. The Church has, in fact, been a catalyst for change and reform in the world. Let me provide my own example from history.