Stepping On The Serpent

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By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC (Mar 17, 2018)
Father Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, the spiritual director of Friends of Mercy, answers questions from club members:

Cheryl wrote in: This question is about making restitution for stolen goods. If the proper place or person to whom restitution is owed is unknown or not there anymore, is it OK to just put the money in the offering at Sunday Mass? Or should it be given to the poor?

Restitution is always necessary in the case of stolen goods (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2412, 2413, and 2454). However, when the person is no longer alive or able to receive those goods, one can give it to the priest (see Num 5:5-8). As far as I know, there is no strict regulation regarding whether it must be to the poor or to the Church. If it is given to the Church, the only stipulation would be that it must be over and above what is required to fulfill the fifth precept of the Church: You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church. The Catechism explains, "[this] means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability" (2043).

Anonymous wrote in: I pray a Chaplet and Rosary every day. I try to make it to Mass as often as possible, but I still feel like I am not growing any closer to God. What can I do to grow closer to Him?

There are many ways and means to grow closer to God. Applying them to oneself can be a difficult process since we all have blind spots that result from original sin. The purpose of a spiritual director is precisely to aid you in illumining those areas of your heart with His light and guide you along the path to union with God. In addition, a director helps you to see how the general rules and guidelines of growing closer to God apply to you in particular. For this reason St. Faustina wrote in her Diary that it is such a grace to have a spiritual director (34), and indeed it is! Most of the great saints in the Church had spiritual directors. Beyond the help of a spiritual director, St. Jose Maria Escriva mentions how important reading books can be and how study of the faith has made more than one saint.

There are several books out there on how to grow in holiness and union with God. My favorites include Ralph Martin's The Fulfillment of All Desires or Wilfrid Stinissen's Into Your Hands, Father. My own book, Stepping on the Serpent: The Journey of Trust with Mary, is an attempt to show how trust is the one thing necessary to grow in union with God.

Lastly, St. Faustina herself states that all that is necessary is good will and obedience to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit (Diary, 291). She states that this is the secret of holiness, since the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals the Father's will to us and enables us to fulfill it. All union with God and all holiness consists in fulfilling His will at all times and everywhere, as Faustina resolved to do (Diary, 374) when she crossed out her own will in imitation of Jesus and Mary (see Lk 1:38, 22:42). As Jesus told Faustina in the conversation with a suffering soul (Diary, 1487), the soul that states often and sincerely, "not my will but Yours be done" can reach the heights of sanctity in a short period of time.

And what is this will of God? That we always and everywhere fulfill the new commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you" (see Jn 13:34 and CCC 2196). Everything else is simply the details of how to apply that commandment to the here and now.

Got questions for Fr. Thaddaeus? Email us at FriendsOfMercy@marian.org or write to Friends of Mercy, Marian Helpers Center, Stockbridge, MA 01263.

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