Though I’m sure the complaint could be made that I only want to gain more readers, or that it’s fun to make people feel depressed about themselves, I maintain that we’re all bad Catholics. There’s this misconstrued notion out there that, if one were to put the priest in the confessional and the sinner on a holiness chart, the priest would win. Or that the old lady praying rosaries is a good Catholic and the kid in the back, distracting her by playing loud music…well he’s getting there. Perhaps that’s not exactly what I mean…let me try again…there’s this notion that the faith gets easier the closer you get to being the priest or the lady praying a rosary in the back pew.

But, before you say, “Well hey, doesn’t it? I’m going to get over all these sins and weaknesses in my life, and then it’ll peaceful and easy,” think about the prerequisites that make a sin grave or mortal (really freaking bad, resulting in a loss of grace). It must be:

  • Of grave matter
  • Committed with full knowledge of the sin’s evil, rejecting God
  • Committed freely

What this means is that, the greater your relationship with God, and the greater your faith, and the more knowledge you have of God and sin – the harder holiness gets. The just-beginning Catholic is not held to the same level of accountability as the Saint. It is the Saint who – with such great knowledge of God, and of sin, and with such a fantastic personal relationship with Christ – it is he who can really sin, and sin hard. From such great heights comes such a fall, because he has that full knowledge. Because he knows – thanks to his life of faith – how grave the matter may be.

That’s why I’m not shocked when I hear that the Pope goes to confession every week. Of course! How much more aware is a holy man of the reality of sin, and thus, how much more accountable for sinning! I would be sincerely worried if our Pope did not visit the sacrament of reconciliation more often than me.

So what am I saying, that we should never become Saints, for there we will fall? No! I’m saying that sainthood is tough. The world loves to portray Saints as being out of touch with the world, as being so beyond all the sin and death that well, roses just sprout from their feet and they only ever look happy when posing for portraits. No. I do believe that they are heroes, because they wrestle with sin we often do not acknowledge, understand, or even know. Once again, Catholicism proves itself as a religion of reality. Like any game worth playing, it gets harder as it goes. Like any book worth reading, it gets richer, more complex as it develops. Sound scary? Well it should, this isn’t a religion for pansies. It is a religion for humans.

And we’ll rest when we’re dead.

The Difference Between a Renaming and a Baptism
Get Thee (Or Your Friend) To a Nunnery
An Open Invitation To David Crowder To Join the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
  • Jonah Arc

    You just reminded me that I need to go to confession! Thanks! :D

  • Lady Caitie in the Pretty City

    Wowza! You sum up in one post what would take me hours, days, weeks, months to stumble through! Love, love, love this! And yes, I need to get to Confession too, Jonah! :)

  • Tim


  • beez

    Plus, the holier a person is perceived to be in the parish, the greater chance that he or she has of leading another into sin by his own behavior. That's why we future priests are repeatedly reminded that priesthood isn't a job it's a state of life. So, while your average computer programmer stops being a computer programmer at night, or on vacation on when he retires, a priest is always a priest! 24x7x52!As one of my priest professors likes to say, "I suspect most of the people in the pews will be in heaven long before we priests are."

  • Manny

    I found it ironic too that someone can sin all he wants and not realize it's a sin and he goes to heaven while another commits that sin once in full knowledge and he goes to hell. It doesn't seem very just to me.

  • petrus

    @ MannyLuke 12:48But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

  • Subvet

    Yep. You hit the nail right on the head. I was recently reading about St. Vladimir of Kiev. He had a tough time understanding Catholicism (as evidenced by little things like leaving a city under siege in the company of his mistress while his wife & kids had to stay behind). But the guy is a saint! He must have kept on trying and evidently that continued effort & desire was what did it for him.So if he could do it, the rest of us can. But that whole "continuously trying to improve" thing can get to be a real drag if you live long enough. Catholicism isn't for wimps.

  • Manny

    @PetrusThanks, but I guess now I'm going to stop reading the bible and listening to homilies in the possibility I'm going to learn of a sin that I do. Seems like it's better to remain in ignorance. ;)

  • petrus

    The fact that you have a possibility to read the Bible and go freely to the church is already in the "who has been given much" category :D

  • Sarah

    @Manny, ignorance may seem easier. But it's as boring as hell (literally). And if you never learn of sin, you never learn of grace. Basically it's better to meet God and know the truth because God is awesome. Following him is not easy…It's not easy because it is an adventure. And as we all know, adventures are the best things ever. Our relationship with God is like any relationship. If some one you are dating ( or are married to) accidentally hurts you, you are a lot less likely to be angry with them, then if they deliberately cheat on you. That is the difference. But if you really love someone, you don't want to hurt them on purpose or by accident (sin btw is wrong in part because it is harmful to us, not just because God doesn't like it). So that's why it is better to know the truth.

  • Dr. F

    @ beezThe priesthood is a job AND a state of life. I have heard some priests make the case that they should not have to wear their clericals when on vacation (not what you said at all of course). But that is equivalent to me not wearing my wedding ring when I am on vacation. I can take a vacation from my job, but not from MY state of life. All Catholics are called, its just that your job and state of life are more difficult to separate and define in everyday terms.