Saturday, May 17, 2014

FALLING SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD BUT IN A HUMBLE WAY


All of us, including this blogger, believe it or not, are sinners. We all fall short of the glory of God.

Some of us sinners are racists and bigots neither loving God completely nor our neighbor as ourselves.

Some of us sinners , worship at the altar of the false god of materialism and take the Lord's name in vain, work on Sunday, miss Mass, dishonor our parents, steal, lie, cheat, kill, gossip and ruin others reputations, and covet others spouses and goods.

Some of us are fornicators, adulterers, sodomites and self abusers. Others do nothing about their disordered sexual desires and compulsions and act on them to the harm of others and self.

The sinner who knows what sin is and how it damages and destroys one's relationship with God by our turning away from God in these sins, knows that the only way to repair the damage and restore the relationship is through acknowledgement of one's sin, true sorrow and repentance, confession, absolution, penance and a firm purpose of amendment. 

One never identifies oneself as more than or less than a creature of God created in His likeness and image. So our identity and self-worth isn't based upon our sexuality or sexual orientation nor is it based upon our sexual desires and habits. It isn't based upon our materialism, lack of love or concern for the poor and marginalized,  dishonesty, adulterous, cheating hearts or our bigotry and hatred of others. Our identity is based upon the perfection of God created in His image and likeness. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So the sinner comes before God as a poor, miserable sinner seeking God's mercy because he knows that without God's mercy he is condemned to the fires of hell. He does not gloss over his sins small or large. He does not make his sin the basis of his identity and way of relating to others. He does not glory in making public his sin or institutionalizing his sin by seeking the approval of others for the sin or the state's recognition of the sin in a public forum such as illicit marriage.

How do we treat each other as sinners? We love each other and admonish each other and support each other in repenting and seeking God's grace to avoid sin in the future. But for our sins that are only known to us, we seek God's mercy under the seal of the Sacrament of Penance, with a firm purpose of amendment.

Should we ever encourage sinners to sin no matter how nice, good looking, pleasing, effervescent, kind and good in other ways the sinner is?  No, only enablers do that! Thou shall not enable people who are alcoholics to drink. Thou shall not place money in a place where thieves are enabled to take. Thou shall not provide pornography to enable someone's sexual compulsions. Thou shall not allow your unmarried children to be enabled to have sex in your home. Thou shall not look the other way when stolen goods are brought to you and enable the thief. Thou shall not participate in ceremonies of marriage that aren't really marriages as the Church teaches and thus enable a mockery of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Thou shall not encourage thy children to live together prior to marriage and thus enable them to fornicate all they like. Thou shall not encourage adultery no matter how nice and well suited to each other the couple is and thus enable the destruction of the marriage vows.

Mortal sin is mortal sin. Do we make public our mortal sins and glory in them? Do we wear tee shirts to Mass that proclaim I'm an abortionist; I support abortion; I slept with my significant other last night; I'm a single heterosexual and active sexually; I'm a nymphomaniac and love it; promiscuity is my middle name; I shoplift; I drink till I throw-up; I shoot up drugs and proud of it.I have sex with anyone; I'm married but my girl friend doesn't know it.

We keep our sins in darkness because these are acts of darkness. We only bring these sins to the light in the Sacrament of Confession and when we ask for forgiveness in the secret of our hearts.We do not want to give public bad example and lead others into sin.

We compound the seriousness of our sins when we make them public, enable public sins and fail to admonish the sinner. We are corrupt when we live a  public life of institutionalized sin that is not of the perfection of God and of us created in His image and likeness.


6 comments:

Carol H. said...

THANK YOU, FATHER!

It is very refreshing to see the truth printed without being watered down by political correctness!

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Father. True love speaks truth and does not enable sin.

Anon friend said...

"Character is what you are in the dark."
--Dwight Moody
I know, I know...Protestant evangelical. But, still...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Agreed, but what about us sinners who have no character in the light or the dark--mercy and forgiveness are our only hope combined with the grace that leads us to repentance and the Sacrament of Penance.

WSquared said...

Should we ever encourage sinners to sin no matter how nice, good looking, pleasing, effervescent, kind and good in other ways the sinner is? No, only enablers do that!

Thank you, Father.

There seems to be this tacit understanding that "nice," "respectable," and "successful" people get a free pass when it comes to mortal sin: fornication is somehow "okay" or "minor" if someone "helps the poor" at a soup kitchen. Anyone who calls fornication fornication is necessarily a "moralizing, legalistic Pharisee." Hypocritical as any form of false piety is, it's just as hypocritical to lie about love, sex, and marriage in private as well as in public.

Moreover, there's widespread presumption that good intentions excuse bad results. But the road to Hell is oft paved with good intentions. Just as tiresome is the idea that "supporting" someone means enabling, even celebrating, their mortal sin. It's also interesting that we fawn over how smart and how quick to learn our children are in "getting good grades," but we expect them to be completely and utterly stupid when it comes to spiritual matters-- our educations make us and our children "too smart for Catholicism" but we whine loudly in the next breath that Pope Benedict was "too intellectual" and St. Thomas Aquinas would turn our brains inside out.

Presuming that philosophy has nothing to do with spirituality and spirituality has nothing to do with reality is itself a theological and philosophical position. Holding to those presumptions while professing the Nicene Creed every Sunday Mass is heresy, hypocrisy, and contrary to Caritas. One cannot live a holy life only with the intellect, but one also cannot live a holy life without an intellect attuned to the things of God. Plain dumb is any neglect of how ideas and beliefs have logical consequences.

Mortal sin makes EVERYBODY poor unto death. It creates a society and culture that destroys persons from the inside out, and all the more so when it is not confronted. When we refuse to have any true sense of sin, we give other people permission to make up new sins for ourselves and everyone else-- notice how the most mortal of mortal sins for most people is "not being nice." Pope Francis is absolutely right when he says that the Devil always rips us off: if I remember correctly, theologians have not only called sin a deprivation of what's truly good, but have also likened grave sin to stealing.

We bear wrongs patiently, especially when we "don't feel like it." But patience and mercy do not obliterate the fact that wrong is wrong. Justice acknowledges the truth; patience and mercy always give sinners another chance to persevere in charity. The distinction to make here is between the standard and getting people back on the right track. The saint does not tolerate sin, but has abundant mercy for sinners-- that last point where we tend to really struggle with discernment, and it's where Pope Francis is showing us the way.

What is also worth noting is how Pope Francis has identified bad practice leaning any which way, and how we tend to disguise ourselves as saints, in two basic and fundamental ways: leaning either too strict or too lax. C.S. Lewis discusses this also in the introduction to The Screwtape Letters.

Holy balance and true understanding only come through embracing the creative tension of the Cross. We often forget that the learning curve is steep and that it's allowed to be hard. But that's what it means to persevere in charity, isn't it? Surrender to Jesus Christ does not happen all at once, but we are made perfect in weakness.

WSquared said...

Agreed, but what about us sinners who have no character in the light or the dark--mercy and forgiveness are our only hope combined with the grace that leads us to repentance and the Sacrament of Penance.

Bingo.

Catholicism always takes it one step further: there is no real integrity without the fullness of the Truth.

Lead, kindly light.