Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Condition of Contradiction

In line with my last post, I would like to think about more contradictions. This one has to do with confession, sin, hypocrisy and condemnation.

We all like to judge people. In a certain sense, this is appropriate. So your friend is pounding Jack-and-Cokes like they're water? It's not like that's a good thing or anything. In fact, we may very well have a duty to tell him as much. A politician gets caught with his pants down and we're supposed to not judge? Please! That is totally on the wrong side of the line.

At the same time, remember the plank/speck line in the Bible. You may be right that your friends relationship is grossly inappropriate, but what about your own? You think your piety excuses you from the "lapses in judgement" that so often catch us off guard...or maybe not so off guard.

Switchfoot has this song called "Company Car" and it's a good one.

In it is the line "I'm the king of things I've always despised." Sometimes we find ourselves in this position. We never thought this would happen but it did. Now what to do?

We can try to justify our own failings and sins. We can compare them to others and say "Oh, it's not that bad." Well, it probably isn't, but really does that matter? This is your soul we're talking about?

So you decide to go to Confession...or at least consider it. You start to prepare and then realize something. You would have to say that you would never do it again. Or at least try, and you're not prepared to do that. You're not willing to give it all up for a relationship with God. After all, it wasn't that bad. You didn't hurt anyone. And you wouldn't mind doing it again. In fact, you want to do it again.

So you don't go to Confession because doing that would admit that you should change your behaviour. However, you realize that you are certainly not living how God wants you to...avoiding the Sacrament of Penance because of weakness of will. Because of this, you avoid the other Sacrament...the Eucharist. You know better than to defile THAT. But you can't get right with God.

So, should you go to confession and lie that you will change or just say "forget it. I don't think this is serious enough" and forget confession?

I believe this is where spiritual direction can help. We all go through this type of thing. We need advice. We can tell the priest that we are struggling with actually being sorry for our sins. We are human after all. We're not perfect and even when we know what is right, we don't want to. It's called concupiscence. It kind of sucks, but there you go.

You know, maybe that's where all those pro-choice politicians are in life...just sayin'


thisjourneyofmylife said...

It's indeed so easy to minimize your sins because we're attached to them. I don't get the "avoiding the Eucharist" though. Why would you do that? I've read about it before on the internet, but after asking a priest about it, he said there is no reason not to receive communion. Everyone receives communion here. Always. The only people who come to mass and choose not to receive are tourists. And I didn't receive communion before I entered the Church, which a lot of people (priests included) didn't understand.
I'd be gladly going to confession if it wasn't for the priest who said: "forget it, I don't think this is serious enough" during my confession. He didn't even give absolution, but instead talked about Egyptian art. Now I'm just trying to find a priest who doesn't minimalize sin. Harder than it seems around here.

Nate said...

The whole point about "avoiding" the Eucharist is because to receive the Eucharist in the state of Mortal Sin is a sacrilege. If one is still attached to a form of Mortal Sin, one should not approach the Eucharist. It is like (not very like, but like) discovering a very old manuscript that shows something about our history that we never knew before. We wouldn't want to touch it with soiled hands. In the same way, this is receiving the very body of God and in order to touch God, we should have an "unsoiled" soul.

I think you should find another priest because if you have something on your mind, it may not be a sin, but he should still give you absolution for what you have done. If you are wondering about something, he should at least be able to put your heart at rest.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

I don't go for confession to that priest anymore, but that also means I don't go to confession anymore, which I really want to change. It's just hard to find a priest who thinks confession is important.
And I'm certain that what I confessed were sins, but the priest told me those were all forgiven during mass.
Isn't a state of mortal sin almost impossible to reach? I mean, most people don't go killing each other or denouncing God, do they?

Nate said...

Aren't there other priests in the area? I would really look into it. This just goes to show how much I take for granted even with all the hardships with finding confession in the US and Italy. It sounds a lot easier than in Belgium.

Re: sins forgiven in Mass. Yes, venial sins are forgiven through reception of the Eucharist, but one of the specific graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is the grace of avoiding sins. Unconfessed venial sins aren't going to land you in hell, but they might become more frequent without the graces of the Sacrament. Also, confession can be used as both a reminder of our need of God and an encounter with Christ himself through the person of the Priest. It is God who forgives and so He is present in the confessional.

Re: Mortal Sins. There is an idea out there that it is almost impossible to commit mortal sins. I disagree, although I can see the point. If you really knew what was wrong and wanted to get to heaven, you wouldn't do anything that would jeopardize it. However, that doesn't take into account human weakness. Many of the mortal sins are sexual sins. You may know they are wrong, but you may be tempted by the feelings involved. You personally may not be tempted by these things, but there are some who are. There are some who say "I know this is Church teaching" (as in Contraception) "But I won't listen." That is mortal sin.

Furthermore, sins of the intellect, which CS Lewis says are more harmful than sexual sins, can lead us farther away from God, especially sins of Pride. They can become mortal or at least serious enough to bring to confession.

Maybe I should do another post...