When I was a child, I had the blessing of being able to hear my grandparents praying every night before bedtime, – writes Bisop Peter in Church and Life.
The both of them, together, not noticing whether I was listening or not. The whole process took about 20 minutes each night. The prayers were in part what you would expect, the Our Father, Hail Mary, The Creed and all the prayers you can find in the Catechism “Christ our Pascha” page 313-316 of the English translation. The prayers I understood as being important, but there was another part of their routine which I, at my very young age, could not immediately understand. Why did they recite the 10 commandments the six prescripts of the church, the virtues and gifts of the church, and of course the grave sins of mankind? Each night, from memory. For one thing, I grew up learning these things myself, but I do not think that they were saying these things from memory to teach me. They were doing it for themselves. I came to realize that when they were young in Ukraine, in the second half of the 1800’s, this is what they learned in Catechism from the priest or their own parents. This is how Ukrainian Catholics were educated then. This is why Ukrainians have been so pious historically . It is basically how they lived their lives. They inadmittedly passed their faith on to me. I would like to deal more with what my grandparents each night titled “The deadly sins” before they dutifully listed each one.
An interesting note, Roman Catholics only list seven deadly sins. We list eight.
Listing sins is not part of the prayer they spoke, it was a daily reminder to themselves what a sin is. Which acts are sins, and therefore take us away from God. I now think, that this part of our ancient prayer routine is really a way to stay on the straight and narrow and close to God. We have to know what a sin is and what is a virtue.
I won’t list the sins here. You can find them in the Catechism yourself, but I ask the question, “Do we really know what is good or bad? Do we avoid sin and choose good?”
The Catechism says that pride, gluttony, lust, anger, etc are sins. Do we know what other acts which are commonly accepted in our society are grave sins which have very serious consequences.
If we do not know or accept these actions as being wrong anymore, we should ask, “Why not?” God has not changed His mind on any of this, why have we?
Bishop Peter Stasiuk C.Ss.R. AM
This article was published in The Church and Life Newspaper, October 2017