Blog in Haste. . .

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repent at leisure. The remainder of the Scupoli/Robinson passage which I only managed to get to at lunch time.

A fall should make us detest the fault "and the unruly passions which have occasioned it." That is, rather than allowing ourselves to be overcome with emotions of self-disgust or anger at ourselves, we should direct our dislike onto the fault itself and the disorganization in our nature that has led us into sin. Too much attention to the fact that it is we who have failed may very well deflect us away from what it is we have done. The sin itself is, as it were, left unscathed and its attractions really unaltered, because our energy has not been directed against it itself.

. . . There must be real contrition, but the energy generated by our reaction to the fall--if I may put it this way--must be spent on hating the sin and resolving to fight it more effectively in the future.

. . . Scupoli says the following:

I would that these things were well considered by certain persons so called spiritual, who cannot and will not be at rest when they have fallen into any fault. They rush to their spiritual father, rather to get rid of the anxiety and uneasiness which spring from the wounded self-love than for the purpose which should be their chief end in seeking him, to purify themselves from the stain of sin, and to fortify themselves against its power by means of the most holy sacrament of penance.

If I may say this in a way that makes a certain sense to me--in the matter of sin, there must be a prayerful metacognition that seeks to separate the fact that we sinned from the sin, the occasion of sin, and the fault that spawned the sin. That is, rather than feeling hurt, wounded, and scared and going to confession on that basis, we need to seek God's insight into what provokes us and prayerfully ask His assistance in the avoidance of future occurrences of the sin. We need to use the mirror of our fall to reflect on the fault that caused it, not upon the hurt sinner. Finding the fault, we must seek, with the grace of the sacrament of penance, to excise it completely and allow God to fill the empty spaces that the cancerous sin had once occupied.

True contrition for sin seeks to track down its cause and eradicate it--always with grace as our foremost weapon. It does not roil about in self pity or blithely excuse the fault and sin on the basis of modern psychology.

Hope this helps to amplify and clarify the previous post in which I may have given the indication of too blithe and nonchalant an approach to sin and sinfulness.

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"True contrition for sin seeks to track down its cause and eradicate it--always with grace as our foremost weapon. It does not roil about in self pity or blithely excuse the fault and sin on the basis of modern psychology."

O. Hobart Mowrer took this a step further. He said that Calvinist Protestantism took the first major step toward that brand of personal irresponsibility which is sociopathy, by making us supposedly powerless to do anything constructive about our guilt and sin; and then psychoanalysis came along and took us the rest of the way by insisting that not only can we not help ourselves move towards recovery; we are wrong to blame or punish ourselves in the first place.

How much better is the Catholic, and yes, Jewish way, who perform the sacrament of penance and teshuva respectively which includes a journey from self-deprecation, sorrow and guilt, through firm resolve, to a feeling of cleansing and purification, culminating with repose and joy in God's grace and love. And let us not forget good works to atone for our sins.

Wallowing in self-pity, we can certainly spend too much time examining ourselves, striving to conquer all our faults, acquiring certain qualities of character, but I think, and this is only me, that we bother too much with ourselves. God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.

Thanks so much for this very delicious post.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 21, 2006 8:42 PM.

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