Friday, March 11, 2011

"Grant that I may Perceive My Own Transgressions..."

We aren't fully conscious of most of our sins, or of our true inner condition. This is (in part) because of God's never-ending mercy, Who will not allow us to perceive our own wretchedness in full, because it would crush us, send us reeling into despair.  God only shows us as much as He knows we can handle at any given moment - and that, barely, sometimes!

Most of the time, we don't even want Him to do that, do we?  We are reluctant to face the things we've done and failed to do; we persuade ourselves that our sins are really pretty trivial, after all. 

I remember once knowing a Catholic ex-priest, who must have weighed at least 400 pounds.  He suffered a heart attack and when I visited him in the hospital, he expressed his amazement that he was still alive.  Why, he wondered, had God allowed him to live a little longer?

"Probably for the same reason He lets all of us keep living," I said.

"And that is - ?"

"To give us time to repent!" 

"Repent?"  He looked genuinely bewildered.  "Repent of what?"

See?  Isn't that the attitude we all tend to adopt?  I'm a decent person, I pay my taxes, I try to help people when I can, I don't kick the dog, I don't need any repentance.

In reality, of course, most of us need to repent of virtually everything, but I laughed and only said to my friend, "For whatever."

Yet somewhere just below the horizon of our consciousness is the awareness of our sins, as a little niggling, nagging discomfort, such that when Christ comes to judge us, we will have to admit we knew all along everything He will tell us about ourselves.  As the Psalmist says, "Thou art vindicated in Thy judgment." 

Sometimes even a seemingly trivial commission or omission has appalling consequences we didn't think of or know about, or chose to ignore.

So how often do you floss your teeth?  (Did you know that your chances of a heart attack skyrocket if you don't do it faithfully?)