Kathleen Peterson

a disciple along the way

From Ice Cream to Biden

What does ice cream, the diaconate, and President Biden have in common?

Bear with me…

Sometimes it’s difficult to make a choice and stick to it.  FOMO is a term most often used to describe this part of our human nature: Fear Of Missing Out.  I find it striking that ‘fear’ is often the motivation for changing one’s mind.  To be fair, there are times when changing your mind won’t matter to anyone but the person making the change and there are times when making a change is for the better.

Take, for example, choosing a flavor of ice cream.

You head into the restaurant with a chocolate craving and tell the server that you’ll have a chocolate cone.  But then someone from another table is eating a strawberry sundae and you decide that it looks much better.  When the server returns with your order, you make the change.

Winding up with two desserts is the worst that could happen (that’s relative if you really like ice cream).

Other decisions are more difficult and may affect those around us.  Our choices could have serious consequences – good or bad.  In these cases, changing one’s mind should involve great discernment… and, resolve once the decision has been made.

My husband, Jerry, with Bishop Lawrence Persico during the Mass of Ordination.

On to my husband.

Jerry had a powerful conversion in March 2011 that left him wanting to serve God in an extraordinary way.

Shortly after his experience, he began to research the role of the deacon in the Catholic Church.  He spoke to deacons, we went to dinner with deacon couples, and attended an informational night hosted by our diocese which answered most of our questions. A year or two later, he formally entered the diaconate program for the Diocese of Erie.

Unlike choosing an ice cream flavor, the decision involved more than a waitress and Jerry’s taste buds.  Both of us worked full-time and our youngest daughter was still in school.  Saying yes to this movement of the Holy Spirit meant five years of monthly formation weekends – of which the wives were expected to attend (rightly so), graduate level coursework, and a lifetime commitment to serving the people of God and His Church.

To be fair, the discernment to become a deacon works both ways.  The man, along with his wife (if he’s married) continually pray and discuss the movement forward.  The wife must even give her support in writing by submitting a formal letter to the Bishop.  At any time, the couple may request removal from the program.  At the same time, the Church – through spiritual directors, formation heads, and professors – also discerns if this is an authentic vocational call.

There is no part of the diaconate program that is easy… nor should there be.  It’s an arduous journey full of sacrifice, but also of great joy.

Jerry’s decision to begin the program was firm.  He did the prayerful work of discerning this call and did not turn back.  His commitment was stalwart, and the motivation completely selfless.  My husband is the most humble, virtuous, faithful man I know.  He is a man of great integrity; a courageous and resolute man.

Because Joe Biden is a public figure and speaks often of his devotion to his ‘strong’ Catholic faith, I believe he is a fair subject to assess.

Many people have talked about President Biden attending Catholic Mass and regularly receiving Holy Communion. Often they will criticize his participation because of his support for abortion.  Many people will counter with,

“Well, we don’t know the state of his soul; maybe he went to confession”.

While we must reserve judgement of the soul for God alone, I thought I would add a caveat to this confession defense.

In order for a confession to be valid, a firm resolution not to commit the confessed sin again must be present.

Taking President Biden’s example:
If he had gone to confession in order to participate fully in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he would have needed to make a firm resolution to decry the sins of abortion and no longer support it in any manner.

Among the penitent’s acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again.”(CCC# 1451).

This poses a huge problem for Joe Biden.

He has demonstrated his support for abortion over the years; this support is increasing exponentially and extending beyond our borders since becoming president. (*See a timeline at the end of this post.)

If he were to confess the grave act of being complicit in the matter of abortion, how can he be resolute in not committing the sin again?

Foundationally, his party platform lists access to abortion as one of the issues that he will (by default of representing the Democratic party) fight for.  And, since becoming president, several of his executive orders directly promote the spread of this evil.

How does one confess the grave sin of supporting abortion and make a firm resolution not do to it again, when access to abortion is one of the very issues that he promised to support when he lobbied for the presidency?

He could fulfill all of the requirements necessary for the sacrament of reconciliation to be valid – thereby allowing him the supreme gift of receiving the Blessed Sacrament – but it would take a man of heroic integrity to publicly affirm the resolution to fight for the right to life, instead of fighting against it.

I don’t know that this is the kind of man who was elected to the highest office in the land. But, what a profound statement he would be making if he were to show such courage!  (Not to mention growing in personal grace and virtue.)

One more thought, critical of some of the Catholic Church hierarchy. Again, bear with me to the end…

This is a picture of our family immediately after Jerry’s ordination.  All of us, including those unseen and unknown, make up the support system for my husband in his role as a permanent deacon.

We pray for him, hold him accountable, guide him if necessary, and offer gentle correction if needed.

Jerry is not a Catholic just on Sundays, or while in a church, or serving at the nursing home where he is assigned.  Jerry lives his faith out loud, in the workplace, the grocery store, at home, wherever he goes.

I think of those Catholic clergy and media who supported Joe Biden, and wonder what happened.  Where were they to encourage him to live his faith authentically.  Where were they when he needed fraternal correction?  Where were they to help him live an integrated Catholic life.

  • Archbishop Gomez who released the USCCB Statement on the Inauguration.  Why wasn’t information like this released early last year – for the sake of Joe Biden and for those in the pew.
  • The priest, Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan who gave the invocation prayer at the inauguration; the action only affirms the cowardice to correct.
  • And, I think of the Catholic media who rallied for Biden’s win as the ‘second catholic president in history’.  Their term is nothing more than a marketing strategy and is nothing to celebrate.

Back to FOMO.

As much as Biden professes his faith, quotes Augustine, and decorates his office with photos of Pope Francis, there must be some sort of fear deep in his heart.

Fear that if he continues this support to kill the unborn, his soul remains in a state of jeopardy. And fear of losing face if he publicly rejects those policies that uphold and spread the evil of abortion.

It’s much easier to put on the mask and play make-believe; there are a lot of baptized Catholics who will profess the same.  If he continues this path, a greater weight of sin will be upon him as the Biden administration continue their abortion agenda under his leadership.

There is hope.

I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

If Joe Biden does have a conversion, renounces sin, and makes the firm resolution to turn away from those great barriers of grace, my prayer is that he finds a support system: strong and faithful men and women who will help him through the healing process and give him the courage to publicly renounce his support of abortion, and stand firm living the faith outside of his church as an example for all to see.

There is much more at stake than the flavor of his gelato.

Pray for Biden’s conversion and courage to speak truth.  Then, please pray for me as I pray for you.

PS:

[For those who are not Catholic… in order for the sacrament of Reconciliation to be valid you needs 3 things:

  1. True contrition for the sin.
  2. Confess the sin to a priest.
  3. Make a firm resolution not to commit that sin again.

I intentionally did not include the fact that abortion is a mortal sin, and because Biden is a public figure who vocally and actively supports abortion, a more stringent set of guidelines must be adhered to in order to be reconciled with the Church. This post was meant to focus on the issue of making a firm resolution not to sin again; which tends to get lost in the discussion about the sacrament.]

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