I don’t travel to a lot of different parishes, but I’d imagine you’d come across plenty of “Happy Talk” in most of them with an emphasis on things like peace, love, joy and tolerance; where the spiritual battleground seems more like a spiritual playground. Perhaps we’ve forgotten that in the past few decades we have lost about half our priests, two thirds of our nuns, Mass attendance is way down and the confession lines are now strikingly shorter than the communion lines.
Catholic families are being destroyed at about the rate as non-Catholic families. They abort, contracept, sodomize, fornicate and divorce at about the same rate as everyone else, but some say all this is “progressive”. I’d argue that calling someone who supports these things “progressive” is like calling a cannibal a chef.
Now don’t get me wrong; a Christian clearly has good reason to be joyful. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”(John 15:11), but next week (Holy Week) is perhaps the best time to reflect on our sins and the sins of the world, go to confession and do penance.
The following is based on a reflection I happened across from St. Bernard of Clairvaux; a doctor of the Church, which convinced me that I was a thief and a murderer—in a spiritual sense. See if it persuades you.
As is often the case, we need to start with some basics. Our souls consist of a will and an intellect. To love God is the highest act of the will and to know God is the highest act of the intellect. In this life, we can choose to move our will and intellect either toward God or toward “self”. Are we really thieves? How so? Since we were made by God and for God, we do not own ourselves. Therefore, when we commit acts of selfishness we are thieves who try to steal ourselves away from God. The only things we can truly claim ownership to are our sins and our vices.
How can we be murderers? Well, think about what murderers do. They kill a person and try to conceal the crime, perhaps by burying the victim in the ground. Likewise we too are murders, since we kill our souls via sin, which is of far more value than our body. What do we do once we kill our souls? We try to hide the crime by burying our souls under mounds of filth. Gluttony, greed, addictions and perversions of every sort hide the fact that we are dead. Even everyday “innocent” distractions like texting, gaming and social media can prevent us from seeing the crime that has happened.
So here are some questions to Catholics that never go to confession or maybe go once per year because they really don’t do anything bad. To those that firmly believe “I’m okay and you’re okay”……
- Have you committed any selfish acts? Yes?
- You are a thief! Go to confession.
- Have you committed the kind of sin that kills the soul? Yes?
- You are a murderer! Go to confession.
- Have you injured your soul with any type of sin at all? Yes?
- That is assault; you are an assailant! Go to confession.
Just go to confession, because I’m not okay and you’re not okay. You’re not likely to hear these things in a typical Sunday homily because they are unpleasant realities; but I’m a realist, and there is a rather blunt phrase we use where I work to remind us of harsh realities and their consequences. When someone does something they should not have, and the consequence is finally actualized, the phrase we use is…. “You’ll have that”. And any “Happy Talk” can wait until the reality is dealt with.
Have a good Holy Week.