Friday, February 10, 2006

Weekend Wonderings -- Choose-Your-Own Edition

Well, it's back to the monastery again, folks. This time it's a community formation weekend .... Father Joseph Nassal, CPPS, a Precious Blood priest from the Kansas City diocese is going to be speaking to us about Peace through Reconciliation. Should be interesting ....

However, since I haven't yet answered the questions from last week, I figure I'll give you a couple options:
Add to the list of questions for me to answer
Ignore my slacker self until I finish my work from last week
Contribute your thoughts on Peace and/or Reconciliation


Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Bless me, Sister, for I have sinned. It has been a couple of months since my last confession. So tonight I'll talk about Reconciliation.

I find myself thinking about confession a lot. I remember years ago, running from doing something I knew was wrong to a church, begging to see a priest. Even a few days ago I looked through the diocesan listings of parishes, looking for one that has scheduled lunchtime confessions near my work. (There were none.)

The reason I feel that I am compulsed to confess (even if it's only a few times a year) is because of guilt from sins that have been absolved, yet the 'residue' of sin remains. Like a scar, I keep thinking that if I confess it again and again it'll fade. My guilt is my purgatory, and I often feel that my miscarriages are my penance - and so I have a lot more physical and emotional agony coming before the debt is paid.

And yet there are other denominations that believe that simple agreement with God is all that it takes, or baptism as an adult. What if they're right? What if I got baptized again at the age of 35? But I can't escape the beliefs of my Church - that one in particular I retain, at least - and so I feel that I can never be free.

I read a book last year called 'Hamlet in Purgatory' and it talked about the concept of Purgatory and the traditional wisdom is that purification takes thousands of years for most people. Even in the most horrific of life circumstances, even for people with terrible disease that ravage their bodies and minds, it is never enough.

God is forgiving, yet we have to pay. It's as though we crashed Dad's car and have to mow every lawn on the block for a year to pay for it. Only instead of all year, it's for a millennium. Why is it that people can forgive and forget, and yet God can't? Why is it a priest can absolve, and yet the residue remains? Why do we turn away from sin and change our lives, and yet are held accountable for it because of the POTENTIAL of a repeat offense based on something from years before?

No wonder it's hard for me to look God in the face, and why I'm so afraid of death. I never feel truly reconciled, because according to the Church, despite what Jesus said, we're never good enough.

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die
I don't know what's up there beyond the sky...

We sin and that's part of being human. But the big things... even things that are part of a past life, follow us like ghosts in this current life, and even the one beyond. It's hard to look forward when you know even God isn't going to overlook your past.

2/10/2006 9:26 PM  
Anonymous jeana said...

Hey Lorem,
The concept of purgatory grew out of medieval concepts of hell, and it grew and flourished largely during the time when people were into quantifying grace, as if that were possible. Quantifying expiation for sin was the flip side. I don't think there's any really serious support for saying purgatory takes "thousands of years" anymore. Time is so relative for God. God exists outside time. Jesus is "the eternal Word." Yes, we need to be purified before entering God's presence for eternity, but for all we know, it could be but an instant, like Isaiah getting his lips touched with hot coal.

I think you point out a real truth. So many people carry their guilt or their physical or emotional pain as their purgatory... I think of the suffering some of our sisters went through with cancer before they died. They did their time. One in particular just seemed to accept it at a certain point, and it was so beautiful. It showed me that really, all suffering can be a mode of grace. That's the lesson of the cross. Suffering, embraced and given over to God's purposes, can bring about resurrections we can hardly imagine, let alone see most of the time.

God is so merciful, so loving. I don't know all the divine mathmatics, but I do know that God's love is enough to bring us to God, one way or another. Love enough to die and be raised for us is enough.

I don't know where all this came from but something you said touched that part of me that has to return again and again to God's love. We judge ourselves so harshly sometimes, and it seems we try to put God in a similar judging box, when deep down I have a sense that God's love and mercy are so much bigger.

2/11/2006 11:28 PM  
Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Jeana, thank you. 'I have a sense that God's love and mercy are so much bigger.' It just takes so long for Rome to back that up!

I wish I could call up Pope Ben and ask him, 'Seriously, there's the official version and the version you think is the real deal. What happens?'

I wonder how much of what we believe translates to reality. For example, a person who believes that there is nothing after death, just 'when you're dead, you're dead,' experiences just that, nothing? Or a person who believes they're 'saved' and automatically going to meet Jesus gets the express train to heaven? Or if I believe that my time in purgatory is going to last a week short of eternity, that'll be the case for me?

What do the Sisters believe?

2/12/2006 10:38 AM  

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