JMJCat3 is proud to introduce "Stumbling Toward Sainthood" Blog Author, Kate July 18 2017, 3 Comments
Don’t Talk to Me About Sin
I still remember the homily from the first Mass I attended at my university’s parish. Unfortunately, I remember it because of how uncomfortable it made me.
It was a homily about sin, but this priest used really strong imagery. Unlike the stereotypical “fire and brimstone” speech, this priest used filth. In this particular homily, he described visiting a family with a baby that was severely neglected. The poor child was sitting in an absolutely overflowing diaper, covered in its own excrement. The priest compared that to the sin we bury ourselves in when we refuse to go to confession. Needless to say, my heart broke for that child. I was also uncomfortable hearing sin discussed in such vivid detail.
His point was we should go to confession. There is no reason to sit in our own filth when Jesus is waiting patiently for us to reveal His mercy and forgive us. It’s a great point, but I didn’t get it at the time.
At that point in my life, I had this perception that talking about sin was rude. It existed, but we had no reason to talk about it. Rather than being aware of my own sin, I was upset he was talking to people like that.
I added that horrifying image of sin to my list of things I didn’t like about the Catholic Church, and the bitterness built up over the years. That priest ended up being transferred (as priests so often are), but I still let that bitterness fester.
Fast-forward five years. I was on retreat with my university parish. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that my faith had changed quite a bit. The topic of the retreat happened to be mercy. A big point of discussion was the sacrament of confession. When it was time for confession to start, I saw that same priest from my first year of college and found myself feeling that bitterness I had been holding on to rise up. Fortunately, I decided to pray about it.
I had a really important realization: the reason I was so disgusted about the homily wasn’t just the imagery; it was guilt. It was making me aware of my own weakness, which is never pleasant. I held this ridiculous micro-grudge about a really good priest because he talked about something I really, really needed to hear but really, really didn’t want to listen to.
As I look back, I realize that the growth I got from that wasn’t just something that took 5 years to sprout; it actually affected me then (although it was a little delayed). The summer after that memorable homily, I went to my second ever confession. It had been 10 years, and since my family didn’t go to confession, I’m not sure if it would’ve even crossed my mind to go when I stumbled across an opportunity if the priest had not talked about sin.
Hearing someone talk about sin is really difficult, and I’m still not sold that comparing it to a poop-filled diaper is the best way to get the message across, but the Holy Spirit worked through that talk. We need to be open to hearing about sin and really listen to it. Reminders of the necessity of repentance aren’t attacks; they are loving reminders of our need for God’s mercy. We’re all flawed, imperfect, and sinners, but the grace of God can heal us. We have to acknowledge that we sin and repent, but our all-good, all-loving God forgives us and Christ’s sacrifice saves us.
Read more at https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/dont-talk-sin/
Kate is a cradle Catholic, but she didn't fully embrace her faith until the end of her time in college. She works as an engineer. Kate writes for her blog, Stumbling Toward Sainthood, which touches on the challenges Catholic young adults face as they strive to live authentically Christian lives.
"Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope"- 1 Peter 3:15