Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bless me father, for I have sinned...

The road to hell is shoulder to shoulder with nice people who never do anything very bad, but also never do anything very good...This road is a broad, nicely paved road with a very, very slight downward incline--enough to keep us coasting, but not enough to notice that we're going downhill.

From Father Dwight Longenecker's recent post Why Confession? over at Standing on my Head.

When a person is immersed in the vital, life-giving heart of the Sacraments, like confession, one thing will dawn upon that person, and it is this: how not normal is the "normal" discourse between people in their everyday interaction. "Not normal" in both its good sense and its bad sense, as the situations vary.

The person may start to wonder if he or she is being sanctimonious. Which world is the real one? will come to that person and quietly demand an answer: is it the world you have been familiarizing yourself with for so long, or this other world that you enter for a few minutes, or less, once every few weeks, or months, or years?

This is not of course a gnostic division that views this world as not real; this world is very real, more so than we observe, and the very physical practice of going into a confessional and pronouncing your sins with your mouth is proof that this is not some gnostic division but is a division between the subjective world of the self and the objective, more real world of the supernatural.

When a person's subjective world becomes infected, or illumined with the objective world of the supernatural it leaves a kind of...good wound. A being emptied out that you cannot produce by yourself. As Pope Benedict has said in so many words, having your sins forgiven is also the way in which you see your sins for what they are: to have the full grievance of your sins and to see your inability to remove the stain that has been removed, is the same moment of experiencing God's mercy in the full.

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