I see that nothing disinfects like daylight
Fr. Gera goes to his sudden and well-deserved retirement (thanks to the ministrations of Roman Catholic Faithful, Drudge and the Smoking Gun) and a reader writes:
I was thinking about Fr. Francis T. Gera and his meretricious habits, and something occurred to me. It seems to me that each act of sinning incrementally dulls the ability of an individual to see the sinfulness of the act. After a while, that which would horrify a repentant man is seen as not so bad, perhaps even good. In that respect, it is a bit like night vision – after a while the eyes get used to the darkness and that which was nearly black can seem quite light. Conversely, this could explain why the saint is so humble. His life of humility, repentance, and grace fills his life with so much light that even the slightest inclination toward sin can seem like the darkest of things.
I suppose that this is one reason such things as loving, fraternal correction and a magisterial faith are so important. It short-circuits the natural tendency of the sinner to minimize or relativize his misdeeds and thus aids the individual in correctly assessing the state of his soul, bringing him to a point of repentance and grace.
I would agree. A *healthy* magisterial faith (and Catholic faith is virtually unique in this regard in that it is magisterial: most religious traditions are not) can be a huge help. But of course, there’s always a danger that the *mechanism* of the institution can be corrupted to protect the sin rather than to stop it. But on the whole, I find the Church to be enormously helpful, particularly in the sacrament of penance. We have a huge capacity for self-deception. I find it is usually the young who say things like “Why do I need confession? I can just go in my prayer closet and confess to God and I don’t need to talk about my sins with a man. Living for a while tends to blunt one’s confidence about our ability to avoid gross self-deception.