Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent Reflections - December 1


But you, Bethlehem, David’s country,
    the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader
    who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He’ll be no upstart, no pretender.
    His family tree is ancient and distinguished.

Micah 5:2 (The Message)


It's hard to have patience in a fast food society. There are not many aspects of life to which we welcome waiting. Perhaps that's why we seem to have so little hope in today's culture. Because one of the most essential aspects of having hope is to also have patience. Patience involves waiting and waiting takes time. We wait. We hope. We wait. 

We hope for a lot of things in the course of life's journey. We hope for healthy families. We hope for our children to grow up and find fulfillment and joy. We hope for that new job and wait for a response. We hope for political and social change in an unstable world. We hope for financial security. We hope for the tumor to disappear and wait for a miracle. We hope for peace and wait for an end to war. We hope. We wait. We hope for the things that we desire most. Hope is a passion that runs deep within all of us, manifests itself in joy and carries us forward in times of trial. 

But despite the origins of hope, things don’t always happen according to when we would like them to. Sometimes the things that we hope for take more time than we're comfortable with. We hope. We wait. And we wait even longer. Sometimes the passage of time means that our hope dwindles. And sometimes it seems that hope is completely lost.  

The people of Israel had hope. They hoped for a savior that God had long ago promised them through the prophets. For hundreds of years the Israelite people held on to the hope of a coming ruler that would emerge from the small and obscure town of Bethlehem. Generation after generation read the words of Micah 5:2 among their families and communities and anticipated its fulfillment. A long time would pass as they waited and God seemed to remain silent. Hope must have dwindled as each year passed. Hope. Time. Waiting. Patience. Silence.

As you spend this quiet time with God, allow him to let your hope be renewed. Whatever you hope for in life, no matter how long you’ve waited, let it begin anew today. Let your patience be refreshed and your discouragements diminish. Let the words of our scripture for today be powerful proof for you that God keeps His promises and we indeed have reason for hope.  


Lord God, in you we live, in you we have faith, and in you we hope. Renew our hope this day and enable us to rest in the hope that was fulfilled through Your Son, Jesus Christ coming into the world. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Reflections - November 30


"Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the LORD!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
for our God!"

Isaiah 40:3


Almost from the moment that the last Trick or Treater beckoned at your doorstep, the Christmas rush began. It seems to begin earlier and earlier each year, doesn't it? Before we know it, we're inundated with an onslaught of commercialism that can cause even the person of strongest resolve to submit to the temptation of obtaining more “stuff”. Like the rush of a raging river, the holidays sweep us up and carry us along aimlessly in a blur of activity, which usually includes spending more money. We blink our eyes a few times, take a couple of deep breaths and just like that, the sun has set on yet another Christmas Day. It’s at that moment that we realize that our path to Christmas has been a chaotic journey through a wilderness of activity, shopping, spending and stress that leaves us exhausted and unfulfilled. We pause to catch our breath, finally uttering that familiar phrase, “Where did the holidays go?” We may have hoped for much, but in reality, we received very little.

In the quiet of this moment, as the rest of the world may seem to be rushing towards Christmas at full speed, let us commit ourselves to slow down. Focus on hope. What do you hope for this Christmas? Despite the things that need to be done and the places that we may need to go, let us allow ourselves to slow our pace. Let us find hope. In the recess of our souls, let us imagine ourselves moving into the slow lane of seasonal traffic. See the road ahead of you. It’s clear and straight. The voice of God calls to us, far beyond the distractions saying, “Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!”


Lord, in the stillness of this moment, grant peace to us in our minds, bodies and souls. Let us feel the pace of life slow down, despite the rush of the Christmas Season. As we focus on you and you alone, help us to keep the hope of your Son alive in our hearts and let it shine forth for all to see.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Reflections - November 29


“The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants,
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs,
the one whom all nations will honor.”

 Genesis 49:10 


Journey. Life is full of journeys. Some require great distance and endurance, while others are quite short in duration; ending before we've realized that they've begun. Some journeys are meant to be taken alone; proceeding in isolation. And some are meant to be shared with others; in community and in the company of others. 

Today we begin a journey together. A journey based on beginnings, but also a journey enveloped in hope fulfilled. As we read these words from Genesis, we see that from the very beginning of time, God was breathing the seeds of hope into the world. This truth came to fruition in the story of Christmas and encourages us even today, thousands of years later. As we light the first candle of Advent, we are reminded that for followers of Christ, hope stands as one of the true essentials of faith.

We live in a time when hope is not always easy to cling to. We seem to be inundated with fears and threats of war, political instability, terrorism, disease, financial crisis, natural disasters or rumors of the world coming to an end. Rather than being encouraged, we are consumed with cultural influences that inspire anything but hope. When troubles and discouragements seem to multiply each day, it becomes easy to lose our way. Hope can seem to be pointless and unrealistic. Some may say that hope is just an idealistic fantasy in the world in which we live.  
But Advent is about Hope; hope in a God that joined humanity, lived among us in the discouragements of life and meets us even in the most minuscule details of our days. It’s the same hope that the people of Israel had over 2000 years ago. A hope in a savior that “all nations will honor”, and was fulfilled in Christ coming into the world. It’s the same hope that he will one day gloriously come again.

 So as we begin this celebration of Advent together, let us focus our minds on this hope filled truth: God came into the world to live among us. Emmanuel, God with us!  


Most gracious God, as we begin this journey of Advent together, let our hearts be renewed with hope; the same hope that your children had over 2000 years ago, and the same hope that we have that you will one day come again. In the silence of this time, calm our hearts and minds. Help us to hold onto hope during this Christmas Season. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving and Contentment

"give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." Proverbs 30:8  

What a counter-cultural statement. It doesn't sound very aspiring, does it? It doesn't paint a picture of someone climbing the ladder of success, and it doesn't exactly seem like someone who thinks they will be financially blessed by God because they're faith is stronger than the next guy. It doesn't sound like someone who has read the latest Christian self-help book. And it doesn't exactly sound very American., or very "Christian" for that matter.    
Contentment is a bad word during this time of year. I mean, isn't that the antithesis of what Christmas marketing is all about? Isn't that the complete opposite of the real motive of gift giving? It's not really about what "they" want, it's about what "we" can get, right? Let's face it. That's the essential motive of all Christmas advertising. Companies rely on the restless discontented spirit of Americans and hone in on that one question that we all ask ourselves, "What do I WANT?"

Every year, it seems earlier and earlier that stores begin packing their aisles with festive Christmas advertising, displays and Christmas themed products. This year it was well before Halloween, which makes me sometimes wonder if we're gradually moving toward one single "Winter Holiday Season”, rather than three individual celebrations. Thanksgiving is basically rolled over by the Christmas steam engine. Kids find it boring and stores find it to be just an unprofitable pain in the ass. Just a low profit holiday stuck between the big money profits of Halloween and Christmas. A Speed bump.

When I was in college, my parents gave me an inspirational picture for Christmas that I eventually hung in my first office. The peaceful image was of a golden sunset silhouetted by a man in a kayak rowing across a calm glassy lake. Beneath the picture was the title Contentment, followed by a small caption that read, “When you can look at the past with pride and the future with hope, you can live comfortably with today”. It wasn't until many years later that I realized how true and essential these words really are.

In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” - Philippians 4:11-13 

From these words, we see that Paul understood that we have no real control over the past or the future. The only period of time that we can physically live within is the present moment,.and our present situations in life can only be made peaceful through a complete centered focus on God, not on possessions. The secret of contentment of which Paul speaks, lies in the last verse. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In 1 Timothy 6:6-8, he reaffirms his understanding and again links the secret of contentment to an all encompassing focus on God. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” He then goes on to show us that our physical possessions have absolutely nothing to do with our contentment. For we brought nothing into the world, and we take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” And doesn't this seem to be the essence of what being thankful is all about? It's no wonder that advertisers don't want to focus on Thanksgiving. We just might grasp it's essential meaning and not spend as much because we realize that we're content with what we have.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let's commit to actually being thankful; not just saying that we're thankful, but honestly and spiritually giving thanks. Put your Christmas plans on pause. Take a break. In light of recent terror attacks and threats of the beginnings of WWIII, it's not difficult to realize that we have much more to be thankful for than we may realize. If you have life, have a roof over your head and a community of family and friends surrounding you, you have enough to be content. And if circumstances beyond your control have left you alone today, get in touch with me. You have a place around the table!

Celebrate Thanksgiving. Take some time to meditate on what it means to be thankful. Let us remember that contentment doesn't lie in the endless accumulation of possessions. Contentment lies in being "thankful" for what we have been given each and every day; whether good or bad; whether a lot or just a little. Contentment is being in the now; not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Contentment is real-time. A continuous thankful spirit for each moment. Breathing in and out. Life. Now. Contentment.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fear and Reformation in League City

Yesterday was Halloween and since it fell on a Saturday, it left me with a lot of time on my hands. When I have idle time, I think. I remember. And realizing that this could well be my youngest son's last Halloween to celebrate as a  "kid", I became somewhat nostalgic. And as I pondered over the many Halloweens that have come and gone, it brought to mind something that happened last year. Since I haven't written anything in months, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to put my thoughts to paper, so to speak.

A week before Halloween last year, I found myself in the grocery store and came across a cute little girl that decided to introduce herself to me. She was simply precious and begin to babble non-stop as most toddlers do. It was awesome! I love little kids and since mom was right by her side, I decided to play along with her cheerful banter. We were laughing hysterically and things were going great until I made an unexpected mistake in the form of a question, "So, what are you going to be for Halloween?" I expected my ears to be met with a cute little giggle followed by an excited declaration of "A princess!" or "Elsa!", "A Minion!" Maybe "A fairy!" What I didn't expect was the confused look on her face as she ran to the safety of her mom and grabbed he leg.

"We don't celebrate Halloween!", mom said with a very self-determined and delightful scowl.

It kind of caught me off guard so I just responded with a cliche "Oh, really?", coming to the realization that I was possibly about to step into territory that was going to send my "Cynical Meter" off the charts.

"No!", she snapped back, as if I had asked an incredibly stupid question. "It's an evil holiday! And we're Christians!"  Duh! Now why the hell didn't they teach me that in seminary? 

I stood there with a tad of disbelief and almost became ashamed of myself for not holding myself to the same self-righteous standards as this upstanding woman. It's amazing how a precious dialogue with a four year old could turn into me feeling like a child molester, or worse yet, a heretic. Man, thanks mom!  I felt like just going to go home, burying myself under the covers and refusing to come out until it was time to drown my sorrows in afternoon coffee!  But no!  I wasn't about to allow this mean lady ruin my day!  Time to have a little fun!

"Well, then Happy Reformation Day to you and your sweet little girl!"

"Reformation Day? What's is that?", she answered back, with that scrunchy confused face that you used to get from your mom when you said something stupid.

I couldn't help but laugh, shook my head and walked away with a polite wave. As I made my way to the front door I heard her mumble something to her four year old, followed by an annoyed, "Idiot!"

"Ignore that, Jake! Ignore it! What would Jesus do?  Let it go!"  I did. And you'll be happy to know that the swelling in my hand from punching the steering wheel in my car went down by the end of the day. "Serenity now! Serenity now!"             

To be honest, I've never understood the Christian fear and panic over Halloween. I always say that if The Devil needs a vacation, he takes it on Halloween. We create enough anxiety fueled damage on our own. And if you choose not to celebrate Halloween, please don't take my words as judgmental. My frustration is with the grouchy woman in the grocery store and her failed attempt at Christ-likeness. But let me encourage you! If you need a reason to keep your porch light on and your front door open next year, just declare "Happy Reformation Day" and give the cute kiddos some candy in honor of Martin Luther. And in keeping with the scary theme of the day, just recite something from Luther's speech at the Diet of Worms. Oooooooh! Scary!

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg Germany. In the striking of a nail, a shock wave was sent through the Church and the world. In essence, this was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and how we got to where we are today. Although I have not always agreed with Luther's theology and practices, this day marks a critical juncture in Church history.

The 95 Theses was not a rejection on the Church, but a rejection of the validity of the sale of indulgences (remissions of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven), that were becoming rampant in the Church. The document also viewed with great cynicism the practice of indulgences being sold, and thus the penance for sin representing a financial transaction rather than genuine contrition. Luther argued that this was a gross violation of the original intention of confession and penance, and that Christians were being misled by being told that they could find absolution for a mere monetary sacrifice. 

You may have heard the expression,"As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs."? Luther insisted that forgiveness was God's alone and thus could not be bought for oneself, or anyone else for that matter, through an earthly system of absolution. This kind of thought would thus limit a Christian's relationship with God and lessen their devotion to him alone. Luther contended that if salvation was by "grace alone" (Romans 3:20-28), what could man do in order to earn their own salvation, let alone that of another.

If you haven't read Luther's 95 Theses, I've posted them below. It's long, but worth the read. It's important to be reminded of these essential movements in the Church that give us the freedom to do what we do and further the Kingdom of God. Imagine the faith and courage that Luther had to have to rebel against the Church and thus chose to honor God rather than man. The system that the Church had instituted with the sale of indulgences was built of fear. Remember the words if 1 John 4:16 that say "God is love...There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love."     

Martin Luther's 95 Theses

"Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen."

  1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
  2. This word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
  3. Yet it does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
  4. The penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
  5. The pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
  6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
  7. God remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
  8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
  9. Therefore the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
  10. Those priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying, reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
  11. Those tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
  12. In former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.
  13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
  14. Imperfect piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
  15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.
  16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and assurance of salvation.
  17. It seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily decrease and love increase.
  18. Furthermore, it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to grow in love.
  19. Nor does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
  20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words ``plenary remission of all penalties,'' does not actually mean ``all penalties,'' but only those imposed by himself.
  21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
  22. As a matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
  23. If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.
  24. For this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
  25. That power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own diocese and parish.
  26. The pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory, not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of intercession for them.
  27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
  28. It is certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in the hands of God alone.
  29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
  30. No one is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having received plenary remission.
  31. The man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
  32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
  33. Men must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to him.
  34. For the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of sacramental satisfaction established by man.
  35. They who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
  36. Any truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
  37. Any true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God, even without indulgence letters.
  38. Nevertheless, papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
  39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need of true contrition.
  40. A Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
  41. Papal indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
  42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
  43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
  44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
  45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God's wrath.
  46. Christians are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander it on indulgences.
  47. Christians are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free choice, not commanded.
  48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
  49. Christians are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear of God because of them.
  50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of his sheep.
  51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
  52. It is vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
  53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
  54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
  55. It is certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession, and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
  56. The true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people of Christ.
  57. That indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
  58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outer man.
  59. St. Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
  60. Without want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
  61. For it is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
  62. The true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and grace of God.
  63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last (Mt. 20:16).
  64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.
  65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished for men of wealth.
  66. The treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the wealth of men.
  67. The indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
  68. They are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
  69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences with all reverence.
  70. But they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
  71. Let him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be anathema and accursed.
  72. But let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence preachers be blessed.
  73. Just as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
  74. Much more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
  75. To consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God is madness.
  76. We say on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
  77. To say that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
  78. We say on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever, has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
  79. To say that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
  80. The bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread among the people will have to answer for this.
  81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
  82. Such as: ``Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church?'' The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.
  83. Again, ``Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?''
  84. Again, ``What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather, beca use of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure love's sake?''
  85. Again, ``Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?''
  86. Again, ``Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?''
  87. Again, ``What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?''
  88. Again, ``What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a hundred times a day, as he now does but once?''
  89. ``Since the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons previously granted when they have equal efficacy?''
  90. To repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
  91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
  92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Peace, peace,'' and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
  93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Cross, cross,'' and there is no cross!
  94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
  95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).