March 25, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 195
Venial Acts Of Non-Vigilance
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Mar. 25--Little things mean
a lot. Or, do they?
It's a big and little
question. How many times can I forget to be Vigilant
before I'm Complacent? How many times can I
turn my head to "what's right" before I become "wrong"
for doing so?
The Catholic Church
is big in the news these days. Dirty laundry is
heaped on the sacred altars of trust, making many afraid that
the Vigilance of the Shepherd was really the Terror Of The Wolf
How many times does a priest who knows something have to turn
his head and not say anything before the crime he witnesses
but ignores becomes his own?
How many times does an
employee watch a fellow employee rip off the company's stockroom
before the petty crime of stealing becomes theirs?
How many times can a parent
come home and be "too tired" to play with his or her
children and ask them about their day, and get involved in their
schoolwork, in all the questions about life teeming from their
sponge-like minds, before that parent becomes a negligent parent,
a blind and deaf guardian of the child's emotional security?
Every day we all face the
Venial Sins Of Non-Vigilance. Nobody's perfect.
Maybe it's just a little
courtesy like holding a door open for someone instead of rushing
in first, or offering a greeting to an older person who appears
to be lost in the shuffle of humanity bumping and pushing by,
or taking a moment from the hectic list of our personal worries
and woes and making a gratitude list of things we have that
dwarf the problems we face in quality, in purpose, in depth.
Complacency is a habit.
In so many ways, it is
a comfortable habit, because we don't have to "stop and
think" about the impact of our words or deeds upon others--we
just act "normally." As our thinking narrows
about what we do, who we are, why we are, our Complacency broadens,
its path widens, engulfing almost all the beauty around us because
the path it beats is the same, worn, well-trodden path we can
hoof with our eyes shut.
We walk the same way to the store every day. We talk to
the same people. We avoid the same things we avoided
the day before. We think the same thoughts, continue with
the same opinions about ourselves as we held just 24 hours earlier,
and look to the future just as we did the day before, and probably
will the next day, and the next.
Vigilance cannot exist
in the vacuum of Complacency because Vigilance requires Action
and Alertness; and Complacency, by its nature, is the "lack
of action--a state of satisfaction, of acceptance of things
the way they are."
This brings us to the "venial
sin," and its cohort in spiritual crime, the "mortal
As my readers know, I'm
not a religious man, but I am a spiritual one. That
simply means I believe the universe has some great plan, some
far-reaching organization in which the good overpowers the bad
in the long run, and where there is a responsibility for us
all to seek to find at least 51% more good in ourselves and
others than bad, so that we don't turn back into animals seeking
solely survival at any expense.
The Catholic Church is
best known for the distinction of "venial" versus
"mortal sin," although it is not the author of these
two degrees of spiritual error. Armenian theology also
embraces the two concepts.
The Catholic distinction
between a "venial vs. mortal sin" is that venial sin
doesn't put the soul in jeopardy of "going to Hell!"
It is a "simple sin" such as impatience, anger, stealing
getting slightly drunk. (Examples given are from Lesson 10,
Mortal and Venial Sin, www.olrl.org).
A "mortal sin"
is one that endangers the soul--one that cuts off one from God,
and unlike a venial sin, is not pardonable.
The website gives rudimentary examples of getting very drunk,
adultery, stealing something valuable."
One other way of distinguishing
between the two is that a venial sin is like trying to sneak
something you want to do you know isn't right past God.
While a mortal sin is simply turning your back on God, or what's
right, and doing it anyway.
I'm not a theologian, neither
am I here to promote religion or extol spiritual dogma at anyone.
But I find this issue of Complacency closely allied to the concept
of a "venial sin."
It seems as though somewhere
in our chemistry as human beings our genes authorize the "lack
as a right to act with inaction--or, to be Complacent.
To compensate, we shuffle our responsibility to others so we
don't have to face it ourselves.
The child molestation issue in
the Catholic Church is one big example. Everyone is waiting
for Cardinal Egan in New York City to fess up and admit the
Church needs a sexual overhaul, but he's remaining tight lipped.
The Pope, holding off the winds of change to allow women to
be priests and priests to be married, is swatting at the locust
with his Papal Staff.
Lawsuits are flying. Exposes
are being written. But the volleys being fired at
the Church all come from the people who were in it--people who
had the responsibility to be Vigilant but fell into a state
of Complacency because they abdicated that responsibility of
protecting their children to men whom they "trusted!"
I don't see much difference in
the situation of the Catholic Church to that of the United States
on September 11, 2001, or on December 7, 1941. In
both cases the citizens of America "trusted" their
government to protect them from the "molestation of enemy
forces!" It didn't work.
Citizens of a society cannot afford
to turn the welfare of its children over to any institution,
whether it be social, political or religious. To do so
is an act of Complacency! And, a venial sin--taking the
Unfortunately, the members of
the Catholic Church are more to blame for the problems of child
molestation than the priests or the leaders who covered them
up and shuffled the molesters to other parishes where they continued
to violate children.
The Church is full of men who
are sacrificed their sexuality to become priests, and that by
its very nature creates the biggest threat--one about which
every Catholic knows but doesn't speak. To
ask a person to eliminate their sexual urges while being in
the body of a human being fraught with frailty and twisted by
temptation is an absurdity that has finally exploded into
the faces of those who turned their heads to the reality of
I find it difficult to accept
that a group of parents, or society at large, is shocked at
the Church. I wish our nation and media had attacked
the U.S. Government with as much ferocity as they have the Catholic
Church when the unexpected attack upon our nation occurred on
Our government let us down just as badly as the priests who
committed the heinous crimes against the children of the Catholic
Church have done, and the Church leaders have been just as remiss
in addressing the truth of the matter as our government's leaders
have about how to fight Terrorism.
Vigilance is the key to both
A mortal sin is when one turns
his back on God, and a mortal sin is also when a parent turns
his or her back on Vigilance, and puts the safety and security
of his or her child in the hands of government, or religious
leaders, or schools, or society.
The child is blocked from the
Sentinel of Vigilance when that happens, for no one has more
responsibility or concern for the welfare of a child than his
or her parents. The buck of responsibility stops at the
doorsteps of America's 100 million households, not only in the
battle against Terrorism, but also in the battle against molestation,
and other "high crimes" against the innocent.
If Americans look
deep into the issue of Terrorism they will see that its poisons--Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency are not that well hidden.
They can be exposed, just as the Church's Complacency to fight
molestation has been exposed.
Instead of crying
to the government to "fight Terrorism," Americans
can chose to become Parents of Vigilance. They can
sign the Pledge of Vigilance and vow each day to replace Fear
with Courage, Intimidation with Conviction, and use Action to
They can renew a
relationship with their children so that should another at any
time attempt to molest them, or terrorize them in any way, the
parent can be there to hold up the Shield Of Vigilance and quash
Members of the Catholic
Church can rise up in protest against the archaic policy of
celibate men singularly in charge of the ecumenical feeding
of the flock, and force change to occur, while not relying on
that change as ultimate protection against their children's
welfare, but certainly more than existed prior to their action.
But how many will act?
How many will chose to
turn their heads, offering up a venial sin of Complacency they
think isn't a mortal sin? But if they keep turning
their heads, keep waiting for the U.S. Government to kill bin
Laden, or the Pope to open the gates of the Catholic Kingdom
to women priests and married priests, perhaps those countless
venial sins will mount and grow and permutated into a mortal
Our U.S. coins
and bills carry a slogan: "In God we Trust!"
If this is
the sole nature of our Trust, then we need to see God's face
to know we are being protected. And, when it comes to
seeing God for me, all I have to do is look into a child's face.
There is God. He or She exists in the child's innocence,
in it's right to be safe and secure.
And if I am the parent
of that child, or the grandparent of that child, my trust goes
no further than to the child. I do not trust society,
government, religion or politics to do what's right for my child
or any child. I trust only the sanctuary of parenthood,
and the power of the loving, caring family to form a circle
of Vigilance around the child.
That can only be
achieved by a Pledge of Vigilance--my Pledge--not someone else's,
that I will be the child's Sentinel of Vigilance.
Who is your
child's Sentinel of Vigilance?
Go To Mar. 24--Clouds of Vigilance