Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Fool's Paradise or Sin Makes Us Stupid

"We've been living in a fool's paradise", declares Lee of the sweetly nuanced Swiffer commercial. She and husband, Morty, have endeared themselves to television viewers - waltzing in their kitchen and discovering the dirt of which they were formerly unaware. My husband sometimes calls me 'Babe' (Morty's term of endearment), to hint at our goal to be that couple as we age.

In the same way Lee speaks of the hidden dirt her new cleaning gadget has helped her find, we can speak of the hidden sins that we gloss over. During an online retreat I recently heard the good Fr. Ripperger, FSSP say, "sin makes you stupid" - and so it does. Whether it's difficult to discern (like the dust on Lee's kitchen floor), or glossed over by carelessness or habit - we all have sins that, if laid bare, would alarm us.

Sin Makes Us Stupid

To elaborate on this point, lets think about the types of sin: Original Sin, Venial Sin, and Mortal Sin. Original Sin is an effect of the fall of our First Parents. Although not an actual sin that we have committed, it has an actual effect on us - a lack of Grace. If not washed away by Baptism, it causes a lack of subordination to God and therefore makes it difficult to do good. With Original Sin has come sickness and death of the soul.

Venial sin involves matters that are not seriously sinful but can certainly act as the gateway to serious sin. When we mortally sin, we disengage from God - we turn our backs on Him and willfully do evil. This serious sinfulness makes us more prone to evil and it becomes difficult to do good. Our passions are disordered and the control that we have over the flesh is diminished. Therefore we are more and more likely to give in to disordered appetites. This, in turn, darkens our intellect - blinds it to the sin committed. This blindness is our punishment - the resulting cycle of sin makes us more and more stupid...too stupid to be fully aware of the dire straits we are in. The further we fall into sin, the more fixated we become on the created things to which we are attached. Our lower faculties win out with our desire for sinful pleasures. We find that we have an inability to concentrate on spiritual things: even meaningful prayer becomes extremely difficult.

Thankfully our natural light of reason, however diminished, remains with us - giving us a way toward what is right and holy. Although sin darkens our intellect and dulls our senses that judge our sinfulness, with repentance, we can come back to the full light of reason. For this reason, it's prudent to take full advantage of the sacrament of Penance frequently. Holy Mother Church, in the wisdom endowed by Jesus, has given us a perfect way to balance our lives and therefore our souls. Each time we come to Him with the burden of our sins, he presents the perfect means to enhance our holiness, our awareness and our ability to live as we should. We, like Morty, we make dirt (sin) and so must utilize that with which we have been equipped - to make clean what was once dirty. Confession can be the Swiffer* for our souls - cleaning every nook and cranny we are willing to find.

*The Swiffer and Confession comparison is solely mine and not to be confused with the substance of Fr. Ripperger's eloquent message. I have only lightly touched on the wisdom shared in these talks. To hear more from Fr. Ripperger, FSSP click here.