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Sincerely yours,

A couple of days ago I heard a talk that greatly impacted me on the issue of sincerity. Most of us admire people who are sincere: the frank grandmother, the courageous songwriter, or the recovering drug addict. Even Jesus admired sincerity.  In the gospel of John there is a humorous account where Jesus selects Nathanael to become an apostle.  Before accepting Jesus' invitation, Nathanael literally mocks Jesus' hometown by saying, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (cf. John 1: 46)  Yet Jesus didn't mind, he actually commends Nathanael as being a person without "guile."  To Jesus it was more important who Nathanael was - not what he said. There are many other characters in the bible who were severely flawed but sincere:  Abraham, David  & Jacob to name a few.   The great news for us Catholics is that there is a tool out there that can help all of us along our path of sincerity and that tool is the examination of conscience.

The examination of conscience is typically a set of questions that is designed for a person to examine their lives within the context of the 10 commandments.  The hope is that through this questioning one will discover their weaknesses and confess those weaknesses to a priest in confession.  The beautiful thing about this is that once a person goes to confession all of his/her sins are completely forgiven.  The best part of this is that alongside the forgiveness is the promise that the person will receive Jesus' supernatural help (grace) to become better and more sincere.  

I would like to end this post with a humorous account of a candid encounter between President Andrew Jackson and Peter Cartwright, it comes from the book 21 Indispensable Qualities of A Leader by John C. Maxwell,

"A nineteenth century circuit-riding preacher named Peter Cartwright was preparing to deliver a sermon one Sunday when he was warned that President Andrew Jackson was in attendance, and he was asked to keep his remarks inoffensive:  "I have been told that Andrew Jackson is in this congregation.  And I have been asked to guard my remarks.  What I must say is that Andrew Jackson will go to hell if he doesn't repent of his sin."  After the sermon Jackson strode up to Cartwright.  "Sir," the president said, "if I had a regiment of men like you, I could whip the world."


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