Endurance, Labor and Trials

LTNS, no?¬† I’m sorry for being such a fair-weather blogger, but I’m now a mother of two who also works full time and manages a husband… ūüėÄ

I’ve been thinking a lot about my recent labor and the correlation that Paul makes in Romans to the endurance it takes for a Christian to be faithful to Jesus and a woman going through labor.

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us. For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to futility, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope:¬† Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now. And not only it, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.¬† For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, we wait for it with patience.”¬† Rom 8:18-25

Certainly this has been running through my mind for the past month as I awaited the arrival of my second son, especially since he was late.¬† As anyone who has had a child knows, waiting the last¬†few weeks¬†(and then some) is beyond trying.¬† Waiting to meet your baby, see his face, hold him, be done with the inability to sleep, get comfortable; this mirrors exactly hoping for that which is not seen, but known, awaited and hoped for.¬† This also coincides with labor.¬† Labor (as the medical industry describes it) is made up of three stages, first stage (which is also in three stages):¬† early labor (light contractions building), active labor (bigger contractions) and transition (“GIVE ME MEDS!!!¬† I CAN’T DO THIS!!”), second stage (pushing/baby) finally third stage (after birth.)

How is this like the endurance it takes to be faithful to God?¬† We go through trials in life, that come in varying degrees of difficulty.¬† The hardest ones require an endurance despite discouragement, scandal, despair; the only way to make it through this “transition” (exodus, if you will) is to hope, to trust in the Mercy of God.

My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety. These will deprive you of the ability to practice virtue. All temptations united together ought not to disturb your interior peace, even not momentarily. Sensitiveness and discouragement are the fruits of self love. Have confidence, my child. Do not lose heart in coming for pardon, for I am always ready to forgive you. As often as you beg for it, you glorify my mercy.”¬† Divine Mercy in my Soul, part 70

Write that by day and¬†by night My gaze is fixed on him, and I permit these adversities in order to increase his merit.¬† I do not reward for good results but for the patience and hardship undergone for¬†My sake.”¬† Divine Mercy in my Soul, part 86¬† (bold indicates the words of Jesus)

We see from the writings of St. Faustina also the focus on endurance despite trials, complete trust.¬† This is exactly what it takes to get through labor, I imagine especially without meds, but I don’t know since I haven’t gotten the meds.¬† Trusting that your baby is at the end of the labor, knowing not how long or how difficult it will be, but giving in to what is and trusting in God’s plan.

All of these things are foremost on my mind as I watch people go through the trial of the annulment tribunals.  The loss of faith amidst scandal which causes despair is a great injustice, on so many parts:  of the person who lets himself be harmed (No one can harm the man), the person causing the scandal and a Church which seems to allow that which she also preaches against.  Endurance in these times, for the little things that harm our souls, to the great difficulties facing families, is often the best gift we can give.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings.”¬† Rom 8:26

Just like pushing in labor, wherein the body takes control and pushes the baby out, despite the mother’s fear or pain.¬† We should joyously pick up our crosses, like Simon of Cyrene, because Jesus is already carrying our cross for us; He only asks us to consent in trust.

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Some light marital blogging

I bet you thought I fell off the earth. Actually, I’ve just been super busy, Lenting, working, momming, expecting and being married. All these things take time and blogging has just not been at the forefront of my probabilities. I did however just read a book that has me inspired enough to not clean and blog instead. (That just might be laziness)

What book, you ask? None other than Jesus the Bridegroom by the fantastic Dr. Brant Pitre, which I read in four hours. (Honestly, I would download every single of his bible studies, but they are just so expensive!!!!) This book, which breaks down the reality of marriage as shown by Jesus in his crucifixion and through biblical history is perfectly timed for all of the hulabaloo going on right now regarding marriage.

Some interesting, though not unknown, themes stood out to me in the reading of this book.

Sin as Adultery
Church as Israel
Love as it relates to the Father and Son (although mentioned very much in passing as Triune)

Why do these themes stick out so much to me? Certainly my chosen blog theme is marriage, so the importance of marriage can not be downplayed, IMHO. Each of these themes in a unique way, give a deeper perspective on the indissolubility of marriage, the necessity of unity among Christians and the deeper reality of interconnected salvation or kenosis (Phil 2:5-8 -> 1 Cor 7:14.) Not separately, although they can be discussed separately, but how these themes form one marital reality; a reality which transcends earthly bounds.

As I said, these themes are certainly not unknown and Dr. Pitre himself states that he isn’t saying anything new, Church Fathers have been saying it since Bible times. So why is it that, in my personal church going and pre-Cana experience, these themes get very limited attention? Obviously, no one can answer why; but the need for these understandings is great. It would be easy to say that we need them in our time, we do, but as history, rife with schism shows, these are teachings that are eternally relevant.

I invite any corrections to what I say, especially as it refers to Dr. Pitre, who I don’t know and don’t intend to represent in any way. Thank you!

In any event, the intent is to talk about these themes in a few upcoming posts. Let’s see if I can keep up my end of the bargain!

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The Holy Spirit, honestly!

I’ve become a little obsessed with the Holy Spirit lately.¬† Obviously, one can’t really have a favorite member of the Trinity; especially since they are so unconnectable.¬† Perhaps it is because the Holy Spirit has the least definition as a member of the Trinity, perhaps I wasn’t perfectly catechized since Vatican II (I doubt this since I went to a super Catholic school, but it is a prevailing general opinion), maybe it is that I’ve recently become rather attached to the filioque¬†or perhaps I’ve been listening to too much Dr. Scott Hahn, but the fact remains that the Holy Spirit is fascinating me.

I was reading the news today and stumbled upon this article regarding the upcoming Noah, starring Russell Crowe.¬† My first question was whether or not the clean animals for sacrifice would be included in the movie, but apparently there is a whole other storm a ‘brewing!

“Moore says Aronofsky’s Noah is not in the more literal vein of the blockbuster Bible series produced for the History channel by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. ‘They’ve been very effective in terms of communicating to and being embraced by a Christian audience,’ says Moore. ‘This movie has a lot more creativity to it. And therefore, if you want to put it on the spectrum, it probably is more accurate to say this movie is inspired by the story of Noah.'”¬†¬† (emphasis mine)

I noticed that, in this instance and¬†often when the word creative/creativity is used, is it more or less code for story-telling or taking license or maybe just not being true to reality.¬† Basically, the gist of the article is that the story isn’t the bible Noah, exactly, on purpose.¬† The interesting thing is, this term:¬† creative/creativity is closely associated with (ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaa) the Holy Spirit.¬† ”¬†Thou shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created,” (Ps 103:30)¬† “In the beginning God created heaven, and earth. And the earth was void and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said: Be light made. And light was made.” (Gen 1:1-3)¬† The incident with Solomon’s gift of the Holy Spirit which gave him the ability to create God’s dwelling on earth and allusions to the Holy Spirit’s involvement with the new creation in Romans 8.

I’m re-listening to one of¬†the St. Paul Center’s audio studies and Dr. Hahn was talking about the reality of the truth of God.¬† Basically, God is thought, word and action; in one.¬† If God thinks something/expresses something:¬† it is.¬† (Gen 1:3.)¬† Not because God can’t “not do something” but because well, God is God.¬†¬†In fact, the¬†bible begins with a creation story, because God, by his nature, is creative.¬† So, if God is truth, and the Holy Spirit is God, and the Holy Spirit is also heavily associated with creativity, how did we get to:¬† creativity is a half-truth?

Maybe it is the same reason that I firmly believe:¬† “You are what you eat.” ¬†But I always want sugar, not veggies.¬† It satisfies me in the moment, it is faster, easier… but it isn’t the right choice.¬† Let’s face it, I can buy a candy bar at the grocery store, but that doesn’t make it “food.”¬† Maybe the first place we need to be honest, is with ourselves.

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God as Love

Well, I wrote 80% of this blog yesterday, but for some reason dashboard decided to delete most of it.  On the bright side, I think this might be an even better post than the original, so here goes!

I’ve been inspired to read P.E. Benedict XVI’s set Jesus of Nazareth, by none other than Dr. Scott Hahn.¬† For whatever reason I decided to do it out of the intended order by starting chronologically.¬† (I don’t always do things by the book.)¬† Today, I was particularly¬†struck by the chorus of angels in Luke 2 for a number of reasons.¬† Hopefully I can work some of those out.

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were filled with fear.¬† And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.¬† And this will be a sign for you:¬† you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.¬† And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!‘” Luke 2:9-14¬†¬† (emphasis mine)

Of course, we have heard this before or read it ourselves, likely both.  This however, was a different reading because of a tidbit from P.E.B. XVI.

“What was it, though, according to St Luke’s account, that the angels sang?¬† They link God’s glory¬†‘in the highest’ with peace among men ‘on earth.‘”¬† (p 74, emphasis mine)

On any other day a few years ago, this would not have jumped out at me; but having had it beaten into my head, by Dr. Hahn, that the “glory of God” is a euphemism for the Holy Spirit, this was an altogether different reading.¬† The first thing that I recognized is that the Holy Spirit accompanies the angel, in giving his message; not only the angel, in fact, but He “shown around” the shepherds who were the recipients of the message.¬† This could mean any number of things:¬† the Holy Spirit was there to present the fullness of the Trinity (Gen 1:1-2), the shepherds who were listening were accepting of the grace of the Holy Spirit to hear the angel’s message (John 16:12-13), the palpable presence of God as understood in the OT was bearing witness to the message of the angel, etc…

The second thing I realized was that Luke link’s the Holy Spirit to “peace among men with whom he is pleased.”¬† P.E.B. XVI goes into lengthy discussion about the necessity for careful translation of this phrase in particular because there are two ways to understand it that could cause confusion.¬† One:¬†¬†God gives grace to who he wants and man is little more than a pawn, having no choice in the matter.¬† (Translation option:¬† “men that he loves”)¬† Two:¬† that people, by their will alone, bring about peace, love and joy.¬† (Translation option:¬† “men of good will.”)¬† On the one hand God only loves some people, on the other hand God is powerless to the will of man.¬†¬†While those interpretations¬†make for fun discussions on sola¬†fide vs works righteousness, neither allow God to be God, therefore, neither can be right. ¬†Here is where he makes his case for the best possible translation (and why.)

“In the account of Jesus’ baptism, Luke tells us that as Jesus was praying, the heavens opened and a voice came from heaven, saying: ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased. [= I have good pleasure]’ The man, ‘with whom he is pleased’ is Jesus.¬† And the reason for this is that Jesus lives completely oriented toward the Father, focused on him and in communion of will with him.¬† So men ‘with whom he is pleased’ are those who share the attitude of the Son – those who are conformed to Christ.” (p 75)

This, of course, brought me directly to the high priestly prayer of John 17.  In this prayer is the most brilliant:  explanation of the Trinity, example of what it means to have a personal Trinitarian reality, guide to the mission of the Church, argument for the Real Presence, really everything.

“‘The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, every man to his home, an will leave me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.¬† I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace.¬† In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’¬† When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee […]¬† I have manifested thy name to the men¬†whom thou gavest me out of the world […] ¬†for their sake I consecrate¬†myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.¬† I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they all me be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us.”¬† (John 16:32-33; 17:1, 6, 19-21)

The truth is, I should have just typed in the entire thing instead of doing such a cut-and-paste job, but here we are.¬† In this selection we run into the Father, the Son and the ever present theme of glory and unity, or the Holy Spirit.¬† The unique relationship of Father to Son and Son to Father, which is the life-giving, unifying Holy Spirit, is the basis for an orientation, like Christ’s, to the Father, that P.E.B. XVI wrote about regarding “men with whom he is pleased.”

At the outset of Luke 2:9 the Holy Spirit manifests himself around the shepherds whose faith is shown through the action of being open to the message of the angel.¬† Then in Luke 2:14, the angel connects the Holy Spirit to the peace of Christ, which¬†is now available for all men who actively¬†orient themselves toward the Father.¬† And John teaches us that to orient ourselves toward the Father is to be one, as the Father and Son, with the Spirit,¬†are one.¬† This is not a peace of the world, this is a peace of the Spirit, a manifestation of perfect Love.¬† Love “does not insist on its own way.¬† […] It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13; 5,7)¬† This is a peace that, by its very nature, brings unity; in marriage, in family, at work, home and in the Church.

A little late for the week of Christian Unity, but always an important thing to remember.¬† And perhaps, a little bit of illumination into the great importance¬†of “dying to self” as Lent comes around the corner.

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Ed Peters, Marriage and Me

“To me, though, the whole thing is rather simple: either holy Communion is Who the Church says it is or it isn‚Äôt; either typical divorce and remarriage by Catholics constitutes objective grave sin (nb: no one is reading souls here, rather, one is noting public conduct) or it doesn‚Äôt; and, either those manifestly remaining in objective grave sin are prohibited from reception of holy Communion, or they aren‚Äôt.”

¬† From Ed Peter’s blog

This conversation has been floating about in the blogosphere for quite some time.  I have avoided the dialogue because I have some very specific feelings about this conversation that come from a deeply personal place.  Actually, it is a personal place that I ran into earlier today while watching The Other Woman.  My kid was sleeping and I decided it was a good time to watch an actual movie; you know, while I had the time off.  I like Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow, who did a great job in a serious role, by the way.  When you are a kid from a broken home, movies about the subject matter obviously always bring up emotional reactions. 

This is one of those conversations I would really always prefer to avoid.¬† For one, I’m not perfect and it is not even remotely fair for me to expect anyone else to be.¬† I say the Our Father near constantly, in hopes that I spend every day in forgiveness, for the amount I need to be forgiven.¬† I’m also completely non-confrontational, to an extreme.¬† But the biggest difficulty is that divorce is everywhere and¬†no matter how many specialists write books about dealing with divorce or healing from divorce, no one wants to admit that it is an actual problem.¬† We say:¬† “so and so is having a problem dealing with divorce”, but divorce itself is never a problem.¬† The problem is that divorce fractures identity, permanently.¬†

What is identity?¬† Whether we like it or not, our identity is family.¬† There is no smaller unit of society than family.¬† We make decisions to distance ourselves from family; this relates our identity to family.¬† We make decisions to continue traditions; this relates our identity to family.¬† Whatever we do, who¬†we are is where we came from and who we grow to be is a direct result of who we are.¬† As Christians our family is greater than our immediate family, because we call God Father; “Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt 6:9).¬† Our identity is also shaped by how we define God as constant; “For I am the Lord, and I change not: and you the sons of Jacob are not consumed.”¬† (Mal 3:16)¬† This is further impacted by a Son, so perfect he gave his life for ours, in perfect harmony with his Father; “The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works.”¬† (John 14:10)¬† So, the Father is eternal and thereby eternally begetting the Son, who reciprocates this in his constant Sonship to the Father, both through the Holy Spirit, who is the breath of¬†life emanating from the Father to the Son and reciprocated from the Son to the Father; “When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”¬†(John 20:22)

This destruction¬†of family identity is what makes God recoil in his conversation with Malachi:¬† ”¬†And you ask, “Why?” Because Yahweh stands as witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have broken faith, even though she was your partner and your wife by covenant.¬† Did he not create a single being, having flesh and the breath of life? And what does this single being seek? God — given offspring! Have respect for your own life then, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.¬† For I hate divorce, says Yahweh”¬†(Mal 2:14-16)¬† Which Jesus reiterates:¬† “Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”¬†(Matt 19:8)¬†¬†God didn’t create two people in Eden; he created man and from man he built woman.¬† “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”¬†(Deut 6:4)¬† Genesis states “Let us make man to our image and likeness.” (Gen 1:26)¬† Paul considers the image and likeness:¬† “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in regard to¬†Christ and the church.”¬†(Eph 5:31-32)

The magnitude of this reality is unfathomable.¬† Our image is not alone that we have a soul, but that we are one and in our oneness we can give our life to and for another.¬† But this is a joyous reality, not one that should arouse anger in the discussion of the indissolubility of marriage, as it often does.¬† The reality is that the Eucharist is Christ and the Godhead is constant and if we are to be the light of life to the world, we must be constant, both in marriage and in Eucharist.¬† Any denial of the indissolubility of marriage denies the constancy of the Trinity, which is a denial of God.¬† Any denial of the solemnity of the Eucharist, denies the gift of eternal life, which also denies God.¬† Our calling out, if you will, is to be the city on a hill, the light of the world, the salt of the earth; the visible reality of the life of God.¬† To be this reality merely confirms God’s eternal mercy, which often appears as judgment, but is in fact “Love and Mercy itself”¬† (Divine Mercy prayer) and the only hope of any person who ever turned his back on someone else in any situation.

Hosea is perhaps my favorite book in the bible.¬† “Therefore, behold I will allure her, and will lead her into the wilderness: and I will speak to her heart. And I will give her vinedressers out of the same place, and the valley of Achor for an opening of hope: and she shall sing there according to the days of her youth, and according to the days of her coming up out of the land of Egypt.¬†¬†And it shall be in that day, saith the Lord, That she shall call me: My husband, and she shall call me no more Baali. And I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and she shall no more remember their name. And in that day I will make a covenant with them, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of the air, and with the creeping things of the earth: and I will destroy the bow, and the sword, and war out of the land: and I will make them sleep secure. And I will espouse thee to me for ever: and I will espouse thee to me in justice, and judgment, and in mercy, and in commiserations.¬† (Mal 2: 14-19)

God is always calling us to contrition, because he will never abandon us.¬† The message we need to be living is that there is a covenantal marriage reality,¬†but we need to come to a deeper understanding of what that is to be able to share it.¬† The greatest gift we can offer our family is¬†the beauty of marriage.¬† There are marriages that never existed due to one factor or another, but without clarity on what marriage is, this can never be determined.¬† We can not let our family live like this, especially in this Advent season, “know that he is near, right at the gates.” (Matt 24:33)¬†

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In anticipation of the true Knight in Shining Armor!!

Ok, I promised a tale about why all Christian countries have hero tales, almost uniquely male savior themes.¬† I then realized that I sold God short.¬† Paul states:¬† “For the invisible things of him (God), from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity”¬† (Rom 1:20.)¬† Meaning:¬† natural existence, the world, natural law, order originating out of chaos, etc… all relates the existence of God, his power and his divinity.¬† So by narrowing the field only to Christian hero tales, I sold God short, because he is always revealing himself to us; whether we choose to see it or not is our choice.

Some disclosure before preceeding:¬† First, I can only genuinely speak to my culture.¬† I have been exposed to many cultures, but I can not pretend to know their intricacies.¬† Second, when I say all I mean all without distinction, not all without exception.¬† I can’t possibly know everything, and quite often I wonder if I know everything.

Most cultures have male heroes (Beowulf, Odysseus, Gilgamesh, Osiris).¬† Most religions have male heroes (Jesus, Joseph Smith, Krishna, Mohammed)¬† Even, biologically speaking, males are (generally, not always) stronger from a¬†one on one standpoint and historically seen as hierarchical enforcers.¬† On a macro level male heroes seem to be a universal truth.¬†On a micro level, we were just talking about the “Princess syndrome” and the need/desire to be saved, as a generally female attribute.¬† Or, we all have an immediate reaction to the phrase “knight in shining armor.”¬† I certainly don’t mean to say that the reaction is necessarily positive, but this is a phrase with which we are familiar.¬† Whether our reaction is positive or negative, it is a strong reaction, meaning this has a palpable reality to us.

Men, on the other hand, always seem to want to fix things.¬†¬†I say:¬† “Gah, I hate¬†that the trash is full.”¬† My husband replies:¬† “Is that your way of letting me know I need to take the trash out?”¬† And you know what, maybe I do want him to fix it!¬† So this macro level axiom also appears to be a micro level axiom as well.¬† We are all taken with choosing partners because we genuinely want assistance!¬† Taking Paul into consideration, we may then assume that there is something to this male savior thing.¬† Women desiring to be saved, maybe just even helped; men desiring to save, maybe just even help… mostly save.¬† (It is far more gallant.)

In church, as in the home, we have gender specific roles.¬† There are sacramental times wherein a priest is acting in persona Christi or¬†offers the¬†guidance of spiritual fatherhood.¬† The congregation, along with the priest in the Liturgy, acts in the role of the female, awaiting the Eucharist (which many church fathers saw as an immediate¬†parousia.)¬† On one hand the priest offers the Liturgy on behalf of the people and speaks the words invoking the Holy Spirit; this is a decidedly male role in persona Christi.¬† On the other hand,¬†we know it is the Holy Spirit who transforms the offering into the Eucharist and we all await it together.¬† Is it really such a leap then to see why we have this “knight in shining armor” complex???¬† Even though the priest offers the sacrifice, as the Bride/Body of Christ, we all need saving!

It is fascinating to see the continuance in our Advent season, surrounded by the harvest imagery of the Day of the Lord, from the feast of Yom Kippur, which is also an autumn festival.  On the feast of Yom Kippur the high priest (and only on Yom Kippur) entered into the Holy of Holies to offer incense and blood as an atonement for sins (Lev 16:11-17; Heb 9:7.)  But the much anticipated return of the high priest from the Holy of Holies signified the acceptance of the offering of the high priest.  When he returns, he returns in splendor, imaging the bridegroom  (Sirach 50:1-17.)

This is what we celebrate in Mass every Sunday, the offering up of Christ to the Father, in the Eucharist.  This is not a new offering but a communion with the once for all sacrifice, that Christ is currently offering on our behalf (Heb 9:11-12; 24-26; Rev 5:6.)  He returned to the Father, where he is offering himself  in the Holiest of Holies in atonement for us.  All we await is his return in splendor (2Pet 3:10-13; Psa 24), as the bridegroom, for the eternal Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:11-13)!

 

Happy Advent!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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I must confess…

I was recently involved in a discussion regarding contrition. The thesis posited was: When Jesus forgave he didn’t ask any questions. He merely told the recipient to go and sin no more. Therefore, the idea of contrition is a later addition and more or less irrelevant to the sacrament of reconciliation. Further, requiring contrition (specifically the intent not to repeat sin) was putting limitations on the ability of Christ to forgive. Being the cradle Catholic that I am, my first thought was: Are you serious? This is Church doctrine! What kind of malarky is this? Then of course, I started to question.

I had to overcome the immediate Pro-Papa reaction that occasionally results in throwing out the baby with the bath water.¬† Of course, by skipping confession due to¬†a lack of desire¬†to discontinue confessed sin, one is limiting the power of Christ to forgive because he is skipping confession altogether; however, that wasn’t part of the discussion.¬†¬† (Although, I will say one could argue that requiring confession at all “limits the power of Christ to forgive”, but that is for another day.)¬† The discussion was about going to confession, essentially unrepentant.¬† Should one go to confession fully intending to commit the¬†confessed sin again, simply out of a desire not to limit the forgiveness of Christ?¬† I would argue that the very act of confessing a sin with no desire to not stop sinning is in fact what limits the power of Christ.¬† That is to say:¬† limits the salvific effect of Christ on that particular person out of his own desire for said salvific effects to be limited.¬† So the essence of the discussion seems to be:¬† are there requirements to making confession?

In what circumstances are sins forgiven?¬† “Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38) This seems to suggest that baptism remits sin; however, some form of penance is required for baptism.¬† So baptism remits sin.¬† “‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’¬† And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.‘” (John 20:21-23)¬† In this case there is no mention of penance, but there is an indication that an apostolic successor might retain sins:¬† not forgive.¬† This implies a requirement or the sentence would have ended after “they are forgiven.”¬† There is also no mention of a confession.¬† “Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;¬† and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.¬†¬† Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”¬† (Jas 5:14-16)¬† Peter states that penance is required for baptism (which remits sin); James teaches that there is a requirement for forgiveness¬†and James states that forgiveness of sins requires confession.¬† So if sins are to be forgiven in baptism, penance is required.¬† If sins are to be forgiven otherwise confession and meeting an unnamed requirement is required.¬† (The Church teaches that this requirement is honesty and the desire to not repeat the sin.)¬† What then is penance?¬† The Greek word is:¬† metanoia:¬†to think differently after or to reorient one’s self to a opposite way of thinking.¬† In essence, to desire to sin no more, sin having been the original way of thinking.¬† There is it:¬† contrition (remorse that causes the desire to discontinue sin) is in the bible.

So what is with the word¬†contrition?¬†¬†David mentions the word contrite¬†in Psalm 51, but the idea of contrition is¬†never mentioned in the New Testament.¬† Contrition:¬† detestation of sin committed, either imperfectly out of fear of hell, or perfectly out of grief for causing sorrow to God (definition courtesy of a mixture of sources.) The¬†meaning of the¬†root¬†of the Latin word contritio is to crush, grind or wear down.¬† (God is so amazing, btw.)¬† David mentions “a “contrite heart you never scorn” (Psa 51:17.)¬† A contrite heart then would be a crushed, ground or worn down heart.¬† All of these images then imply that the heart (pre-contrition) must have been hard.¬† Where have we heard about hearts being hardened?

Obviously the go to verse would regard God hardening Pharaoh’s heart after Moses asked him to:¬† Let my people go.¬† But¬†we find this hardening of heart as well with the northern tribes “And they made their heart as the adamant stone”¬†(Zec 7:12.)¬† Every instance this hardened heart is mentioned it is mentioned in reference to:¬† unfaithfulness to God, in the betrothed relationship of covenant with humanity/Israel.¬† So allowing ones heart to harden is essentially turning from God to idolatry, in those days there were false gods, today we often worship ourselves.¬† (one might say:¬† and vice versa)¬† Have you ever wondered why David would have written that God would be more or less pleased with a broken heart?¬† What he meant was:¬† God, please give me a soft, living, beating heart again.¬† A broken heart isn’t how we perceive it, but a heart of flesh, the promise of a new heart in Ezeckiel.¬† The heart of fidelity, fidelity is at it’s core openness to love.¬† And openness to the acceptance of love¬†(undeserved forgiveness)¬†is exactly what one grapples with waiting in line for confession.

Coincidentally Psalm 50/51 was written in the context of the affair with Bathsheba

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