Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash and sin

I was told a story about Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently, who when he was the reforming Rector of the North American College, said, "Good Morning" to a student and in return was greeted with a grunt. He retorted, "When I greet you, you return the greeting".
The seminarian replied, "Oh well, I'm just not a morning type of person, it's just me!"
The Rector answered, "If you want to stay in this seminary, you have got to become "a morning person"".

I like the story, when I was first ordained every nun I met seemed to introduce herself by: I am Sister ........., I am a "5", "rabbit", "neurotic extrovert" on the Myers Briggs, Enneagram or Beaufort Scale. The implication was, "I am what I am", "this is me", "take me or leave me", "I am the result of my experiences", "I am comfortable or come to terms with what I am". Basically what they were saying was, "This is what I am and I am not changing, live with it"!

It is the absolute opposite of Jesus' message of "Repent", of change.

The symbolism of being smeared with ash as a symbol of sin says much about the nature of sin. It clings to us, it obscures the fact we are made in the image and likeness of God.
For those who are baptised we can never actually be anything other than the Sons of God, "for what Christ is by nature we have become by adoption". Sin. for the baptised can never substantially change our nature, it can obscure our Sonship but never remove it.
Like ash, like leprosy sin is not of our nature, it can be pretty deeprooted, but it is removable, it is not part of us, we not are trapped it, we can actually live without it.
Catholicism tells to hate sin and any attachment to it, it is possible to do it without hating ourselves.


gemoftheocean said...

Hope the rector was really a 24/7 person, because that's what a priest ends up being!

[Who is always suspicious of anyone who is particularly cheerful in the morning. It probably means they've been up to no good all night!] ;-D

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

My usual greeting is 20 more min, (which is the time my snooze button is set to) (At least in the morning)

Beautiful reflection.

Volpius Leonius said...

This plague of conceited egoists is widespread and what's worse is accepted, even lauded in our modern world. In fact instiling such a proud and rebellious spirit is the key element in modern "youth culture". For anyone who doubts this I suggest you go and listen to young peoples music or watch young peoples tv programmes. It is utterly saturated in the idea that any action is perfectly ok for the sole reason that the person doing it wants to do it, and anyone who says otherwise is to be hated and resisted.

It does great harm to all of humanity, you are right its not Christian, the Christian is called to be perfect as our Father is perfect.

The purpose of our earthly pilgrimage is not to come to terms with our sinful natures and then having made peace with the devil get on with enjoying the earthly pleasures available to us in this life. We are to battle against them and overcome them by discipline, force of will and most importantly God's grace which we receive through prayer and the sacraments.

Anonymous said...

When we are young it is called immaturity but after we are grown it is a character flaw. I believe many have begun to celebrate flaws in character as rebellion, bravery and progressiveness. It is imperative to teach our children that character is not completing the "Character Counts" course at school-but living it every day of your life.

Bernadette said...

Amazing great post, Fr Blake. I can't add to it. I don't know why I bothered trying to add to it.

Jane Teresa said...

Great post, Father! I laughed quite a lot about the "I am a 5 / rabbit / neurotic extrovert" comment!

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...