Sermon Notes – March 26, 2023 – Sin Stinks!

Sin Stinks!

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

March 25 – 26, 2023

Gospel: John 11:1-45

The first Sacrament course we study in seminary is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Now, for all you Catholic lawyers, the Mass is not a Sacrament, but Holy Communion is. The Mass produces the Sacraments. And only he who celebrates the Mass can give the Sacrament. That’s why only bishops and priests can give the Sacrament. Deacons, by exception – and it should be rare, can baptize and witness a wedding. So, the Mass is studied first in seminary. From the Mass, the Sacrifice of Christ produces the Waters of Life and the fruits of Christ’s redemption that come to us through the Church. Along with the Mass, we studied Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Last Rites. They go together because each deal with the remission of sin. They are called the Sacraments of the Dead. That’s weird, isn’t it? These Sacraments are not administered to dead people. They are called Sacraments of the Dead because they are given to souls that are dead to sin and brought back to life. There are conditions to giving the Last Rites. It must be given within two hours of death when there is no putrefaction and rigor mortis . . . “stiff or stink” as we used to say. Before that, if someone is clinically dead, which happens a lot, I will go in and silently say, “If you are living then I anoint you.” The Sacraments are meant for the living.

Now, I love to read about almost anything. Do I understand it all? Oh heck no. I read medical journals. Yeah, how much do I get from that? Not much. I realized that I don’t know much, so I just love to read. I’m in awe and stunned about how much other people know and how good they are at their jobs and everything else. My brain has been full for years, so I don’t know how they do it. One thing I read recently was really encouraging. Soon there will be dogs trained to detect cancer. That’s great! I’ll go to the doctor’s office and get puppy love! It probably won’t work that way, but I hope it will. Dogs can detect anything. They are used at the airports. Dogs can sniff out money and drugs. All those things have a unique smell. Even sin has a smell. Did you know that? Ask any nurse about people who come into the emergency room. “Oh yeah. He was drinking well above his weight class.” People come in a day or two later, and they still smell like alcohol. People who have smoked marijuana smell like smoke and Fritos. People who have smoked crack smell like burnt cork. Sin has a smell. Some of the great saints could detect sin. “I smell sin. If there’s a sinner here, I’m going to find them.”

Our Lord had been dead for days so there was certainly a stench. If you really want to find out what a dead body is like after four days in Palestine, an oven, go to talk to a nurse, EMT, fireman, or police officer. Fair warning: don’t have breakfast before you do. It’s not like television. There are all sorts of bodily changes that happen, and they are not pretty. Even then, sin has a stench. It has a certain odor. We know that from our own experience. Law enforcement officers pull drunks over, and when they roll down the window the car smells like a brewery. “Oh, I’m fine officer!” Sin has a smell as do certain diseases. There is a smell to a dying soul. . . a soul that is dead because of sin.

Our Lord went out searching for dying souls so that He could bring them back to life. He waited three days before going to see Lazarus. He already knew what He was going to do, but He wanted to make His power manifest so that people couldn’t say, “Oh, Lazarus was just sleeping” or “He was in a coma.” Our Lord waited for three days so that Lazarus was really, really, truly dead, and He brought him immediately back to life. He does the same with sin. He restores us immediately to His friendship. Through His Most Precious Blood which He shed on the Cross and offers to us in Holy Communion and the Sacrament of Penance, He wipes away all the decay on our soul and restores the divine image. Restoration is immediate. The Sacrament of Penance takes a dead soul and brings it back to life by restoring God’s friendship. Sin is totally washed away, and faith, hope, and charity, three theological virtues, are infused into the soul. Like Lazarus, we come back to life. No matter how awful the sin, the Lord washes our sins away. So great is His love for us.

When I was a young priest at Saint Gabriel’s in Charlotte, a man served us breakfast every day. He had a German accent, and one day I saw a tattoo on his arm. He was a member of the SS or the Schutzstaffel. They were bad boys, and he was lucky that he wasn’t shot on sight. But he changed his life and died with the grace of God. Sin makes us feel guilt, shame, fear, and remorse. “I could never be worthy of God’s love.” That’s what He came for. “Father, I’ve done everything in the book.” I doubt that . . . I’ve known some pretty strange people. “Father, what goes on in Confession?” It’s like being stoned to death with popcorn. However, every sin is bad. The difference between a mortal sin and a venial sin is the difference between slapping your wife and punching her.

Everything can be restored immediately as if untouched when we receive the Sacrament of Penance. The Most Precious Body and Blood of our Lord anoints a soul. People have all sorts of excuses they use to stay away from Church. Guilt, shame, and remorse keep them away, and that’s a direct result of sin. Either we are living tabernacles, or we are not. If we are bringing the presence of Christ to others by God dwelling in our souls, we are a living tabernacle that we bring to people or we are worse than Covid-spreaders who bring the stain of sin to them. All of us can be called back to life. The resurrection of Lazarus from the dead continues every day in the Church.

Whenever someone goes to Confession, someone who was dead comes back to life. When we go to Confession, we are saying, “God, I love you. I messed up, and I turned my back on you. But now I’m here.” And our Lord says, “Hooray! Even though you have sinned, I will restore your life and My friendship.” That’s why our Lord came so that we may regain our life by the forgiveness of our sins which is how we know His love. On a practical level, don’t ever be afraid of proclaiming God’s forgiveness. This is the only thing we can teach people. We may not have an alphabet of letters past our name like DMin, PhD, MDiv, JD, MD, etc. A lot of people do, but I wouldn’t want to be in a spiritual foxhole with them. The greatest lesson we can teach people is to tell them what God has done for us. “I know the love of God by the forgiveness of my sins and the reception of His Most Precious Body and Blood.” Tell them about the comfort you get by coming before the presence of God in the Most Blessed Sacrament. That is what we preach. Go out and preach that. No matter what addiction you have, and no matter what crosses you bear, this is the message of hope that translates all the way through to the heart. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen. God loves you and wants you back in His arms.

How will you apply this message to your life? _________________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.” On a cell phone: click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories.” Sermon Notes are also available on the church Facebook page at Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”

Sermon Notes – March 5, 2023 – Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

March 4 – 5, 2023

Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

The last part of the Gospel says that the devil went away. In another part of the Gospel, it says that the devil will wait for another occasion. And that’s true. When we resist his temptations, he goes away and waits for another opportunity. The devil did it to our Lord, and he will do it to us. However, with the Lord, we can be victorious over our sins. But the devil is cunning, powerful, and patient. He will wait for another opportunity, and it will come. The prime opportunity for the devil’s temptations is when we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. During those times, we tend to make poor decisions. Our will is already weakened by original and repeated sin. So, he just waits for us. He also waits for pride. “Hey, I’m not like those little people. I’m very, very good. I don’t do that anymore.” Really?

We have to be careful during those times when we are most vulnerable. When we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, our will and our body are weakened. You can set that to a country music song by Johnny Lee: “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” which includes people, places, and things. “Oh, Father, computers and phones are great!” Yeah. They are a source of temptation for me. You should hear the words I say in my office about my computer. I have a backup phone which I also had words with this morning. I have no idea how to use it. Basically, I have a phone anchor.

Do you know where the biggest potential for sin is located? It sits on our shoulders. You can avoid certain things, but everything is inside our brains. We tend to forget what we’ve been taught in school but can remember every bad joke we’ve heard and every bad picture we’ve seen. It’s all in our brains. What goes in stays forever like all those electronic messages we send. They exist forever. You may wipe them off your phone, but they are out there.

We have to remember how weak we are. The devil plays on our pride just as he played on the pride of Adam and Eve. We feel very good about ourselves when we can drive all day without using any Italian hand gestures to people or commenting on someone’s ancestry who is driving erratically on the highway. “I didn’t flip that idiot off even though he needed it.” “I’ve done really good. I’ve avoided this and I’ve avoided that.” When I was a young soldier, I saw a World War II Army training film. The film was about broken shoelaces. It’s not the big things that will get you killed. . . it’s the small things. We do okay with major calamities but it’s the small things that trip us up. It’s our broken weakness. “Oh, I’m too old to commit that sin.” There are other sins. Trust me. There are a lot of sins out there, and you’d be surprised about the sins and depravity of old people. As Saint Peter recorded in his epistle on admonition, “Keep sober and alert, because your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (Peter 5:8).

Our will and intellect have been weakened by original sin and sins committed since our baptism. However, the innocence we have lost can be regained, and that’s what we try to do every day and especially during this Lenten season. We can regain our innocence by fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and prayer. What does almsgiving do? It covers a multitude of sins. Saint James said, “anyone who can bring back a sinner from his erring ways will be saving his soul from death and covering over many a sin” (James 5:20). Those are the things we are called to do. That’s how we grow in virtue and regain what we have lost through sin. Will our intellect be perfect again? No, not until Heaven. But we have to be vigilant about temptation because the devil is always out there and waiting. While you are pious by being here in church, he’s outside doing pushups and chin-ups. He’s waiting for us. Right now, he may be wondering when Father is going to shut up. And I agree with that. Sometimes I go on longer than usual.

Always be vigilant. And do not ever, ever think, “Oh my God! We are so unpowerful.” when we have the greatest Power in the world ready to help us. Remember, in the face of temptation, the first thing we should do is run away from it. Don’t walk into a mine field if you don’t have to. The second thing to do is retrace your steps and get the heck out of there. And the final and most important step is to pray.

How will you apply this message to your life? ________________________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.” On a cell phone: click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories.” Sermon Notes are also available on the church Facebook page at Click on “Groups” and then “Sermon Notes.”

The Catechism in a Year – Day 58 – Man’s Spiritual Battle

Fr. Mike explores the hard battle which each and every one of us must face, the battle with sin. Together, we examine the mystery of us being both free and under the power of the Devil. Fr. Mike emphasizes that if we are unaware of our wounded nature, it can lead to grave errors in our own lives. If we have an attitude that, “since I’m made good, then everything I’m drawn to must be good,” we can fall into temptation and evil. We conclude on a hopeful note; however, that even after we sinned, God did not abandon us to the “domain of death,” and with God’s grace, evil will never have the last word. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 407-412.

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The Catechism in a Year – Day 57 – Consequences of Adam’s Sin

Fr. Mike examines the consequences of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. He discusses that even though they committed a personal sin, it affected all of human nature. As Fr. Mike states, “Original sin broke the world.” Additionally, we explore the idea that although we are good, we are still broken. Fr. Mike also discusses how each and every one of us has an inclination towards evil and sin known as concupiscence. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 402-406.

The Catechism in a Year – Day 56 – Man’s First Sin

Together, with Fr. Mike, we explore the nature of man’s first sin or our “freedom put to the test.” Fr. Mike unpacks the importance of us understanding that freedom is not the power to “do what we want,” but rather, the power to “do what I ought.” Though the story of the first sin is that of our first parents, Fr. Mike emphasizes that we still repeat the grave error of the first sin in our own lives by preferring our own perceived “goods” over the “goods” of our Creator and Father in heaven. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 396-401.

The Catechism in a Year – Day 53 – Man in Paradise

In the beginning, humans were in friendship with God and in harmony with creation. The Catechism unfolds this harmony and introduces us to the “original justice” that our first parents lost in sin. Fr. Mike reminds us that, although our original callings to leisure, love, and labor have been twisted by sin, they are renewed in Christ. Today’s readings are Catechism paragraphs 374-384.

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Temptation or Sin? How to Tell the Difference

There’s a difference between temptation and sin. Simply put, temptation is an invitation to sin, and sin is the acceptance of that invitation.

To help tell the difference, St. Francis de Sales offers a helpful illustration of a woman who is extended an indecent proposal.

The woman is unable to control the fact of the proposal, but she can control her reaction.

We will never be rid of temptations, but we should do everything we can to root out sin.

Bible Love Notes – Does God Make Mistakes?

How can we understand this passage:

“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:5-8 

How can a perfect God regret something He did? Did He make a mistake?

God is not like man, so the Bible uses figures of speech that help us understand Him with our finite minds.(1) 

In this passage, God isn’t admitting a mistake—He’s expressing His deep grief over mankind’s sin. Our disobedience grieves our perfect, holy, loving God (Ephesians 4:30). 

Before the Flood, mankind had become completely evil. Noah was the only righteous man alive.(2)

If others had repented, they’d have been saved. We know this because later in history God stopped his plan to destroy Nineveh because the whole city repented (Jonah 3).

God’s grace is big enough to forgive the worst of sinners if they repent (Romans 5:20).  

Our perfect God never makes mistakes. We can completely trust in His wisdom and His grace (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Bible Love Notes – You Can’t Blame it on Your Stove!

I watched an HGTV house-hunting show about a couple searching for a feng shui home. 

Feng shui is a Taoist belief that homes have “energy maps” that affect fortunes and relationships. This couple believed a stove placed across from the sink caused arguments.

Now, I’m in favor of setting up a house efficiently, but feng shui is more than that. It bases happiness on external things and requires rigorous rules and regulations with no moral basis. It’s definitely what Colossians 2:8 calls a “hollow and deceptive philosophy.”

We’d all like to blame our arguments on circumstances or other people, but we sin because we choose to sin (James 1:14).

Christianity is the only belief that adequately explains sin, spells out our responsibility, and shows our need for a Savior (Romans 3:23Romans 5:8Romans 10:91 Peter 2:24). 

“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow…”  Isaiah 1:18

Only the God of the Bible makes that promise.

We can be assured that if we have arguments with family members in our kitchen, it’s a personal problem, not the placement of an appliance!

I encourage you to take a look at this Bible Love Notes collection of more than thirty devotions: Improving Family Relationships.