Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, virgin and Doctor of the Church

(Zechariah 8:21-23; Luke 9:51-56)

Mother St. Teresa of Kolkata famously said, “…we can do small things with great love.”  She may have had St. Therese of the Child Jesus in mind.  Therese spent most of her short life in a Carmelite convent.  She wanted to go the missions but knew God intended her to pray for missionaries.  She also bore with great patience the travail of tuberculosis and the often irritating life in a cloister.   Therese resembled Jesus heading toward Jerusalem in today’s gospel.

The passage represents a turning point in the gospel.  Jesus has achieved notoriety as a preacher and healer.  He realizes, however, that his mission involves a sacrifice of self in Jerusalem.  He does not flinch and wastes no time fussing with uncooperative people.  He moves deliberately but graciously to offer himself for the salvation of the world.

St. Therese wrote an autobiography that has attracted a great following.  Although she lived a very different external life, she faced the same inner challenges as most people.  In love with the personification of love, Jesus Christ, she serves as a model for all.

Monday, Sptember 30, 2019

Memorial of St. Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

 (Zechariah 8:1-4; Luke 9:46-50)

Today Jews around the world celebrate one of their high holydays.  Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, prepares the people for the Day of Judgment.  Already for thirty days the shofar horn has been blown to wake sinners from slumber.  Now three books are opened: the book lf life for the righteous, the book of death for evil people who will die, and the book for those with doubts but non-mortal sins.  Today’s first reading reveals another important element of Jewish belief which Christians also maintain.

In the reading from the prophet Zechariah God claims to be jealous of His people.  He does not want to see them abandon Him for idols.  To keep them for Himself God promises to bring the people back from exile.  God also pledges to rejuvenate the ruined city of Jerusalem for them.  He will set in the streets old people returning from exile with children playing around them.  More than jealousy, the passage conveys God’s tender love.

God loves the Jewish people foremost because His Son was to be born among them.  He had prepared them to provide Jesus a homeland by giving the Law and the prophets to interpret it.  Jesus refined that Law and handed it to us, who have become a second “People of God.”  God loves us as much and promises to settle us in the “New Jerusalem” of eternal life.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest

(Haggai 1:1-8; Luke 9:18-22)

St. Vincent de Paul founded the Daughters of Charity to take care of the poor.  Once some of the dedicated women worried that their mission was taking them away from prayer.  Vincent told them that their concern was not justified.  He said that they were leaving Christ to go to Christ.  Today’s gospel teaches us to also see Jesus in this way.

Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the “the Christ of God.”  But Jesus tells him and the other disciples not to refer to him as such.  He does not want the people to think of him as a king with an army.  Rather he has been anointed (what the word Christ means) to serve the people.  He is a teacher and a healer whom the people voluntarily follow.

Christ does not walk among us today, but this does not mean that he is not present.  One sign of his presence is the poor.  Their simple faith accepting of suffering reminds us of Jesus in the gospel.  By assisting them we will know his love and realize his promise. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(Haggai 1:1-8; Luke 9:7-9)

Many Christians today ask themselves Herod’s question of today’s gospel.  “’Who then is this about whom I hear such things?’” the king asks.  We today want to know if Jesus is God incarnate as the Church has claimed for two thousand years.  Or is he just a man – a very good and wise man, to be sure – worth our attention but not our allegiance until death?

The passage says that Herod keeps trying to see Jesus.  They finally meet at the end of the gospel.  Pilate sends Jesus to him to ascertain his guilt. As much as Herod would like to kill Jesus (Luke 13:31), he cannot find him culpable of a crime.  In Luke’s gospel any half-objective person who sees Jesus has to admit that he is more than innocent.  He is holy.  Pilate knows this too but cedes to the will of the Jews demanding his crucifixion.  Herod seems to prefer Pilate’s friendship to the truth as he does not object to the prefect’s judgment.

We too then have to decide about Jesus.  Shall we commit ourselves to him forever?  Or will we, like Herod, prefer more advantageous friends and convenient “truths”? To be sure, we take on faith that Jesus has risen, ascended, and has sent his Holy Spirit.  Evidence for these truths is very remote and to an extent circumstantial.  We believe because he has enlightened our minds to see the truth of his doctrine.  Even more, he has moved our hearts to give of ourselves in love as he did.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezra 9:5-9; Luke 9:1-6)

Fr. Meinrad served in Fort Worth for many years as an assistant pastor.  A Benedictine monk, he wore his black habit on the street.  In fact, because of the habit many people noticed him walking from one hospital to another to visit the sick.  Fr. Meinrad was not noted for his preaching skills.  Yet his simplicity, devotedness to service and gentle demeanor spoke more eloquently than model homilies.  Jesus is calling forth such virtues as he sends his apostles out to preach in today’s gospel.

In his instructions Jesus emphasizes the importance of poverty or, what might better be called today, simplicity.  His preachers are not to take anything with them on the journey.  Money, food, even a change of clothes become excessive burdens.  His reason for streamlining is to impress upon the people the message of the kingdom.  God provides for those who trust in him.  The people will supply preachers’ needs.  In this way they will not only receive the good news but will also have an opportunity to share it.

Although bishops are the successors of the apostles, priests do their work.  They will more authentically and effectively fulfill the mission of preaching when they embrace evangelical poverty.  At this time of concern for the environment priests could help transform the world by becoming models of simplicity.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Ezra 6:7-8.12b.14-20; Luke 8:19-21)

Contemporary Catholics flock to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  The immense structure creates awe not just for its grandeur but for the faith it signifies.  However, St. Peter’s is of lesser importance to Catholics than the Jerusalem Temple was to Old Testament Jews.  The latter was univocally the “house of God.” Only in that Temple could Jews offer sacrifice to make up for their sins.  For this reason the charge that Jesus would destroy the Temple was taken utmost seriousness.  Today’s first reading speaks of the dedication of the second Temple in the sixth century before Christ.

The scribe Ezra records how the Temple was actually commissioned by Persian kings.  He says it was built by donations from the people as well as with public funds.  He also mentions the feast prepared for the Temple’s dedication.  Four hundred lambs are slaughtered for the occasion. But this sacrifice pales in comparison to the preparations for the dedication of Solomon’s Temples.  David’s son had 120,000 sheep slain for his Temple’s dedication.  One factor is that people are poorer in Ezra’s time.  Perhaps they have been humbled by the tragic immorality that led to the first Temple’s destruction.

Churches, temples, and mosques are the most fitting places to worship God.  We should frequent them more often than to meet the weekly obligation.  They do not have to be large or filled with expensive ornamentation although these features have some value.  What is important is that we pray in these places fervently.  We need God’s grace to follow Jesus’s way to God’s heavenly home.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest

(Ezra 1:1-6; Luke 8:16-18)

In some circles Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., has the status of a movie star.  He is famous for his work  with the Eternal Word Television Network.  Every year Fr. Pacwa goes to a Maronite church outside Dallas for Holy Week.  There he celebrates mass and hears confessions.  He is so well considered that penitents wait all night to confess their sins to him.  As remarkable as it sounds, St. Pius of Pietrelcina – Padre Pio - had an even longer line of penitents.  Busloads of people would come to the Italian town where he lived to have him hear their sins.  It is said that he spent ten hours each day in the confessional.

Both Padre Pio and Fr. Pacwa are sure administrators of Jesus’ judgment.  In today’s gospel the Lord speaks of a lamp that is placed on a stand so that it can give light.  Of course, Jesus himself is the lamp, the “light to nations.”  He enables people to correctly evaluate the grey areas that pervade most lives.  Jesus tells his disciples, “Take care.”  He means that they should be attentive to all that he says so that they will live righteously.

Should we take care in choosing a confessor?  Some state correctly but perhaps unhelpfully that any priest will do.  True, our sins can be absolved by any priest.  But still some are more helpful than others in pointing out how the gospel affects our lives.  We are wise to look for these when we confess our sins.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, priest and martyr, and St. Paul Chong Ha-sang, martyr and companions, martyrs

(I Timothy 2c-12; Luke 8:1-3)

St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon was the first native Korean to be ordained a priest.  After formation he returned to his native country where Christianity was forbidden.  He ministered to his people a while but eventually was taken into custody.  He was tortured and beheaded at the age of twenty-five.  His dying testimony reflects the spirit of Mary Magdalene in today’s gospel.  Andrew said as he was being put to death: “My immortal life is on the point of beginning.”

No doubt, Mary Magdalene felt her life beginning anew when she met Jesus.  She had been possessed by “seven demons.”  Whether or not she had the traumatic experiences of those claiming to be possessed today, she underwent severe harassment.  Jesus relieved the condition and gave her new purpose.  Of course, she wanted to stay close to him.  That is what eternal life is about.

We should want the same.  Jesus delivers us from the roads that lead nowhere: pleasure, power, and prestige.  He gives us not just the promise of “immortal life” but meaning and goodness every day.  Even if it means martyrdom like St. Andrew Kim’s, we stand in the best good company with Jesus.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 4:12-16; Luke 7:36-50)

We may think of Jesus as unfriendly toward all Pharisees, but this is not the case.  True, he chastises a few, but then he eats with others.  He has a lot in common with Pharisees.  Like them Jesus is a layman and learned in the Law.  Also like the Pharisees, Jesus teaches in synagogues and exerts effort to live righteously.  Nothing should seem peculiar, therefore, in Jesus’ entering a Pharisee’s home in the gospel today.

Simon, the Pharisee, becomes scandalized with Jesus.  He sees our Lord allowing a notoriously sinful woman to bathe and anoint his feet.  As if that were not enough, Jesus also lets her kiss them. Although he does not say it, Simon thinks that Jesus cannot be a prophet.  If he were, Simon figures, Jesus would look into the woman’s heart and see that she is not worthy.  But Jesus proves himself a prophet with Simon’s criterion.  He knows the woman’s heart to be repentant and thus receptive of God’s grace.  Likewise, he reads the cynicism of Simon’s heart that criticizes too much and loves too little.

Jesus demonstrates God’s mercy as he forgives the woman her sins and enlightens Simon of his.  Mercy at times requires fraternal correction as Jesus calls Simon to task for cynicism.  It also allows a humble person to express love in her own way even if it means embarrassment.  We should pray that Jesus will treat us as graciously as he does these two sinners.  As church-goers, we are susceptible to cynicism, which is finding faults in others.  When we criticize others harshly, may Christ remind us of our sin.  May he also offer us opportunities to show our love for him.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 3:14-16; Luke 7:31-35)

Cardinal Avery Dulles once wrote a book that must have sold a million copies.  Titled Models of the Church the book described alternative ways to understand the Church.  Sacrament, servant, and herald are just three of the images he used.  In today’s first reading the writer gives two others.

The Church is termed “the household of God.”  Its members belong to God’s family by virtue of their baptism.  They are in a process of spiritual growth to become like their heavenly Father.  The Church is also called a “pillar and foundation of truth.”  This metaphor conveys permanence of doctrine in a world where truth seems to be relative to circumstances.  The reading exhorts the contemplation of Jesus, who is named “the mystery of devotion.”  Church members find in him their model for living.

It is said now that the young do not want to commit themselves to anything.  In other words, they do not want to devote time and effort to anyone or anything but themselves .  They want to stand aloof and to “be cool.”  Doing so, they might be noticed and perhaps admired.  However, they might as well miss something. They might not be “taken up in glory” like Jesus,

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Timothy 3:1-13; Luke 7:11-17)

Today’s first reading lists criteria for choosing bishops and deacons in the late first century Church.  These offices are only roughly equivalent to what has developed.  Still the advice provides guidance in selecting ordained ministers given today’s clerical crisis.

Both bishops and deacons need to be stable, practical, and caring.  Most importantly, they should not give the devil inroads into their souls.  That is, they should not be deceitful, greedy, or self-indulgent.  They will keep the devil at bay by remaining close to Christ in prayer.  If they mean to serve the Church, they must be intimate with Christ, its head.

Much is being said about the cause of sexual abuse.  Pope Benedict wrote that it is to be found in the sexual permissiveness of our time.  Pope Francis seems more convinced that it is the misuse of power inherent in clericalism.  Both these men would agree that the cancer needs to be treated by prayer.  They no doubt would agree that there must be greater attention to the selection of candidates.  But even there what should be sought are humble men who seek God’s assistance.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and St. Cyprian, bishop and martyr

(I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 7:1-10)

Saints Cornelius and Cyprian lived in an age of martyrdom.  Both also faced challenges to their offices as they traced middle ground in a controversy over apostasy.  Cornelius was pope; the latter, the bishop of Carthage in the middle of the third century.  An upstart priest named Novatus assumed Cyprian’s office during a persecution which sent Cyprian into exile.  Novatus accepted back into the Church lapsed Catholics without any significant penance.  They had given up the faith rather than be martyred. Cornelius supported Cyprian’s stand against easy return. 

In Rome Cornelius was challenged by a priest named Novatian on the other side of the return issue.  Novatian taught that no one who apostatized could be readmitted to the Church.  He also declared himself pope.  A synod of bishops eventually condemned and excommunicated him.  Both Cornelius and Cyprian were martyred not long after their status controversies were settled.

The first reading today recommends that we should pray for everyone.  We want all to be saved although we realize that salvation is beyond human capacity.  It requires that we take up our cross to follow Jesus.  This means doing what only what God can do; hence, the need for prayer.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

(I Timothy 1:1-2.12-14; Luke 6:39-42)

Pope Francis has raised eyebrows by moving out of the papal apartments.  This is the spirit of St. John Chrysostom whom the Church remembers today.  As Patriarch of Constantinople, then the capital of the Roman Empire, John criticized the wealthy for not caring for the poor.  Pointedly, he accused the empress of lavishness.

John Chrysostom criticized the aristocracy of Constantinople as he was a faithful disciple of Jesus.  As Jesus says in today’s gospel, when a disciple is fully trained, he will become like the master.  As Jesus chastised the powerful for neglect of charity, so John Chrysostom challenged spendthrift Christians.

Pope Francis is calling the Church to a deeper sensitivity toward the poor and war-weary.  No doubt, he realizes that the complexities of poverty and of warfare are daunting.  Nevertheless, he wants Catholics to show more urgency in dealing with them.  In other words, he wants us to become true disciples of Jesus.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 6:27-38)

Paper ghosts, witches, and skeletons have already invaded department stores.  Halloween decorations can be purchased now for an event still seven weeks away! Children and certainly some adults as well are wondering what costume they will put on.  Today’s first reading suggests some articles for Christians to wear.  They are to be put on not just on one day a year but every day.

The passage recommends that the Colossians “put on…heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” It means that they are to practice the virtues of forbearance and love. In his Letter to the Romans St. Paul says it even more poetically.  “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ…,” he says. He wants his readers to act like Jesus day in and day out.  If they do not know how, they might check today’s gospel for instructions.

It has been said that it is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking than to think yourself into a new way of acting.  In other words, if we wish to lose weight, it is better to eat less and exercise more than to imagine ourselves as thin.  Alternatively, if we wish to become like Christ, we best stop judging others and pray for those who mistreat us.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 6:20-26)

The first part of today’s first reading serves as an alternative second reading for Easter Sunday. It conveys the less emphasized implication of Christ’s paschal victory.  Christians have been lifted up by Christ to live exemplary lives.  It is as if they were moved to a mountaintop where the air is fresh and the atmosphere free from distortions.

The author, who is either Paul or one of his later disciples, names two sets of vices corrupting earthly existence.  Both can be seen for what they are in the new, clear environs.  The first set largely deals with sexual desire which often moves people to shameful acts with tragic consequences.  The second group has to do with inner disorder that may burst out to inflict serious injury on others.  The writer also reminds Christians of the equality Christ bestows on his adherents.  Paupers and princes, nomads and farmers have the same exalted status in Christ.

It is always helpful for us Christians to remember what we have become.  We principally do not belong to a race, nation, or family.  We are not even our own.  We belong to Christ who empowers us to live righteously in an often corrupt world.  We will probably experience many advantages living so, not the least of which is a clear conscience.  But the most marvelous reason to hold close to Christ will be realized at the end of time.  Then he will unite our bodies and souls to live with him in glory for eternity.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 2:6-15; Luke 6:12-19)

Long before the bricks and mortar of a new church are set in place, the architect must draw a blueprint.  Without one, the structure can never be satisfactorily completed.  In today’s gospel, Jesus demonstrates that he has such a plan for the building up of the community of Church. 

The passage significantly begins with Jesus at prayer.  Because naming of the apostles is a critical step in Jesus’ design of salvation, it requires intense prayer.  The disciples chosen for the office are not any “Tom, Dick, and Harry.”  Rather they are individuals who are differentiated when two happen to have the same name.  By calling them “apostles,” a Greek word meaning ones sent, Luke indicates their preaching mission.  The fact that there are twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel, should not be lost.  Jesus is establishing a new Israel with twelve tribes albeit from the whole world.  For this reason after Jesus’ resurrection the disciples will elect someone to replace Judas Iscariot.

We might ask ourselves what plan we have for our own lives.  Whatever it is, hopefully it leads to God.  If it is not yet formed or if it needs revision, we are wise to begin with prayer.  We pray for wisdom to draw up a plan that will be doable and satisfying.  We also pray that we may have the courage to carry the plan out. 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest

(Colossians 1:24-2:3; Luke 6:6-11)

The scribes and the Pharisees watching Jesus in today’s gospel have a counterpart in the contemporary Church.  Many people waited to see what St. John Paul II would do regarding the definition of Mary as “co-redemptrix of the world.”  Knowing that he had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother some thought that John Paul would bestow on her the title. Others, realizing the title would cause some to confuse her role with Jesus’, were wary of it happening.  In the end the pope never made the declaration perhaps because he did not want to alienate Orthodox and Protestant Christians who see some things differently than Catholics.  However, today’s first reading gives some biblical justification for bestowing the title.

Paul claims in the passage that his sufferings make up for “what is lacking in” Christ’s.  In other words, he is working with Christ for the salvation of souls.  Or, it might be said, that he is sharing in the work of redemption.  This makes him, in a sense, a “co-redemptrix.”  Indeed, it may be said that everyone who prays for or make sacrifices on behalf of others has that role.  Of course, Mary may be considered the principal co-redemptrix.  Her prayers like her being excel above others’.

We regularly pray for others and it is not passé to fast or donate to charity on their behalf.  Doing so, we assist Christ in his redeeming work although his death and resurrection are sufficient.  It is like our fathers bringing us to work when we were young.  They may have asked fold some papers for them and we thought of ourselves as partners.  Christ allows us to have a role in the salvation of souls.  In doing so, we marvelously contribute to our own salvation.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 5:33-39)

The novel All the Light We Cannot See won a Pulitzer Prize a few years ago.  It tells the story of perhaps the world’s greatest diamonds.  The jewel gets concealed in an intricate box for safekeeping during World War II.  The first reading today follows a similar story line.

The passage reveals how Jesus is God’s image on earth.  He created the universe, holds it together, and is bringing about its destiny.  He accomplishes the last objective by founding the Church.  This institution, which becomes like his avatar, gather people together from every race, nation, and language.  Yet Jesus Christ is almost hidden in history.  He is in a back-water part of a historically almost irrelevant nation.  He commands no armies and wins no military victories to manifest his power.

Christ is our secret and, at the same time, our glory.  Imitating his legacy in the gospels, we reflect his merciful power.  Growing ever closer to him by means of the sacraments, we prepare ourselves for eternal life.

Thursday, September 5. 2019

Thursday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 1:9-14; Luke 5:1-11)

When people win at slot machines, almost invariably they play again.  They may think they are on a winning streak or may feel a need to give back some of what they have taken.  In any case, they feed the slot at least one more coin.  Fishing may be compared to slots inasmuch as the result is beyond one’s complete control.  Therefore, Simon, James, and John might be expected to return to the deep at least one more time after the miraculous catch they make in today’s gospel.

But the account indicates that the three do not even bother to sell the fish that they have hauled in.  Rather, they leave everything at once to follow Jesus.  Their reason is obvious.  Despite the fact that Jesus is “Lord” in whose presence they cannot help but feel unworthy, he has called them to follow him.  At this point returning to fisherman’s life would be like preferring Roman graffiti to the Sistine Chapel. 

Jesus calls us to do likewise.  No, he does not mean that we must leave our careers, but he insists that we look at what we do in a new way.  We will no longer consider our work primarily as a way to make money.  We will look upon it more so as a way to serve others.  Whether we are builders or beauticians, assembly line workers or sales reps, we will make sure that what we do conforms to his righteousness.  Then we will redouble our efforts so that our work duly honors him.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

(Colossians 1:1-8; Luke 4:38-44)

The Gospel according to Luke presents Jesus in many different ways.  He is the preeminent man of prayer.  It is said that in the third gospel Jesus prays before taking every significant action. Jesus appears here as one of the world’s greatest story-tellers.  Who could argue that his most moving parables are not found in Luke’s gospel?  Luke also presents Jesus as the great reconciler.  Even Herod and Pilate become friends after dealing with Jesus.  It also may be said that in Luke’s gospel Jesus is peripatetic; that is, he is always on the go.

Today’s gospel shows Jesus ready to hit the road again.  It also gives the reason for his constant travelling.  He says, “’…I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.’”  Jesus is intent on moving from place to place because his message is vital.  The “Kingdom of God” is nothing less than God Himself.  Jesus is saying that now God is at hand in a way never seen before.  Through Jesus God gives the people practical help.  Jesus with God’s grace drives out demons, cures illnesses, and reconciles enemies.

Surely today the same message needs to be preached.  In many ways the world is losing its moorings.  The increasing number of refugees manifests the lack of social justice.  We need God to save us from our excesses and to lead us to genuine care for one another.  And so we are needed to follow Jesus in proclaiming God to the world.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor of the Church

(I Thessalonians 5:1-6.9-11; Luke 4:31-37)

In the choir loft of an old church there are images of St. Cecilia and St. Gregory the Great, today’s patron.  Very little is known with certainty of Cecilia.  But Gregory’s incredibly productive papacy is well documented.  He evidently at least dabbled in music so that “Gregorian chant” is attributed to him.  Gregory also promoted missions and wrote theological treatises.  He was a Renaissance man, nine hundred years before the Renaissance unofficially began!  As people are amazed at Jesus in today’s gospel, others stood in awe of this great churchman.

Jesus speaks with such authority that demons supposedly heed his words.  The reservation implied by “supposedly” is not meant to deny evil spirits.  The Greek word daimon originally meant an uncontrollable urge, perhaps to do something evil.  It may be that Jesus is speaking with such insight and authority that people take control of their lives.  His words may fortify them to act justly despite the impulse to do otherwise.

People often confess the same sin time after time.  It may be anger or lack of attention to prayer, but the most confessed sin is lust.  More specifically, it is viewing pornography.  We have to look to Jesus to overcome this demon.  Gregory the Great, who wrote a famous treatise on morals, would certainly recommend a turn toward Jesus.  It may take time, but asking our Lord for help in prayer can arrest any urge however seemingly uncontrollable.