Why Roseanne and other celebrities need to learn the Act of Contrition

Why Roseanne and other celebrities need to learn the Act of Contrition June 4, 2018
Via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking the same thing, and I’m glad someone is putting this out there. Nobody knows how to apologize or express contrition anymore. So here’s some welcome wisdom from a Catholic upbringing, via Margaret Renkl in The New York Times: 

One of the most useful things Catholic school taught me is the fundamental structure of apology. Whether or not you accept the notion of original sin in its most literal sense — I don’t — it’s impossible not to notice that we’re all born with a powerful inclination for fault and failure. We lie. We treat others unkindly. We nurture wrongheaded notions because they make us feel a little bit better about our imperfect selves. Roman Catholic catechism calls this tendency “the sinful condition,” but here in the 21st century, it’s more usefully known as being born a human being…

…If you are a Catholic of a certain age, you grew up reciting the Act of Contrition every day, and you thereby learned some things about remorse. (Maybe you learned only the language of remorse, but still: “We are what we pretend to be,” as Kurt Vonnegut observed.)

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”

A child who learns these words learns that an apology consists of four parts:

1) Genuine remorse (not “I don’t remember it that way” but “I am truly, wholeheartedly sorry.”)

2) The expectation of unpleasant but entirely deserved consequences (not “I wouldn’t have fired me” but “I’m seeking help to confront my racism.”)

3) A resolution not to commit the same error again (not “I’m not as bad as some of these stories suggest” but “I’m much worse than I ever imagined, and I plan to devote the rest of my life to making amends.”)

4) A sincere effort to avoid the circumstances that led to the error in the first place (not “I won’t take Ambien any more” but “I will no longer hang out online with racists.”)

Read it all. 


Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!