This Lent, I’ve been spending a little time each day with Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Things just sort of came together:
First, a medical board completed their review of an alleged miracle, calling it “unexplainable”, and forwarded to theologians and the Pope for a final decision. If approved, the miracle would advance Archbishop Sheen’s cause, moving one of America’s best-known and loved teachers and preachers along the road toward canonization.
Then, I was fingering books in my bookshelf and came across a book I’d owned but not yet read: Through the Year with Fulton Sheen by Henry Dieterich. In it, I found practical helps and brief reflections for each day of the year. It’s not just a Lenten book–but since I’ve just picked it up, that’s been the focus of my reading thusfar.
The Spirit and sin
The night of the Last Supper our blessed Lord told of three effects of the Holy Spirit.
One of them was: “He will convict you of sin, because you did not believe in me.” How do we know we are sinners? By the Holy Spirit. Not because we break a law. There isn’t a driver who hasn’t broken the law against speeding. Did you ever lean over your steering wheel and say an act of contrition? Nobody is really sorry for breaking a law, unless he gets caught. The law is for the imperfect.
Our blessed Lord relates sin to unbelief–“Because you did not believe in me.” If we did not believe in him, we crucified him.
So what is sin? Sin is hurting someone you love. That is sin. That is why the crucifix reminds us of our sin. The life of each and every one of us has been written. The crucifix is my autobiography. The blood is the ink. The nails the pen. The skin the parchment. On every line of that body I can trace my life. In the crown of thorns, I can read my pride. In the hands that are dug with nails, I can read avarice and greed. In flesh hanging from him like purple rags, I can read my lust. In feet that are fettered, I can find the times that I ran away and would not let him follow. Any sin that you can think of is written there. This is what the Spirit does for us.