October 18, 2005
Archbishop Sheen Today! -- Denying our sins (Part Two)
By Barbara Kralis

Many years ago, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote a theological book in which he capitalized the word Hell. His editor corrected it by putting in a small "h." Sheen sent it back putting the capital letters in again. When asked why, he said: "Because it's a real place!"

Today, we need only look around us, even in our own families, to see so many people have lost belief in the place called Hell. Why? Because they have lost the sense of sin.

The greatest obstacle to man's journey toward God is perseverance in and the denial of sin.

We may ask, "What does disbelief and the loss of the sense of sin in others have to do with me? I haven't lost my faith."

It has a lot to do with us. In fact, the Church teaches that every sin committed drags down with itself the Church and, in some way, the whole world. In other words, there is no sin, not even the most intimate and secret one, which exclusively concerns the person committing it. [1]

Unbelievers, no matter what their faith, unfortunately impact all of us. Unbelievers convey their disbeliefs to all believers through evil advertising, television programs, movies, literature, music, newspapers articles, clothing fashions, school text books, computer games and internet content.

When man thinks that the Church's moral laws are simply directives drawn up by men to make society run more smoothly, then man will change these laws to suit the likes and dislikes of the majority. The unbeliever wants the majority to rule. 'Do not bother to think, just count,' they say.

Many so-called Christian faiths have lost their Christian identity as their church constitutions acquiesce to the pressure of a perverted society. These unbelieving denominations now freely embrace abortion, sodomy, contracepting, and euthanasia when at one time all Christians believed these actions to be immoral.

Oremus — instaurare omnia in Christo! [2]

What is the obvious result of so much denial of sin? People, unconcerned or unsure of what is right and what is wrong, will follow the loudest majority to perdition.

It is true that a large number of people are leaving the Church because they have never been taught the truth about sin. However, it is encouraging to know that people who have been taught the Faith well are not leaving the Church but are, in fact, becoming more resolute.

It is the primary responsibility of every Catholic to learn their faith and recognize their sins. If we do not know our faith, how can we know what is from God and what is from the Devil.

There are excellent catechetical books with absolute moral content available to us. We must study the true faith ourselves to insure our salvation. The eternal life of our soul depends upon it.

Let us meditate for a moment on the apparition of Our Blessed Mother who appeared to three children in Fatima:

On Saturday, October 13, 1917, more than 70,000 people, both believers and critics, had gathered in the field, despite the heavy rain. Many newspaper reporters and photographers were there to record the miracle or prove the three child visionaries were lying. The crowd, standing in the relentless rain and mud, were praying the Rosary aloud, as if with one voice. Suddenly Lucia cried out:

"Put down your umbrellas everyone!"

To Jacinta and Francisco, Lucia said:

"Kneel down. Our Lady is coming! I have seen the flash!"

Lucia then said to Our Lady:

"What do you want of me?" Our Lady replied,

"I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it everyday."

Then the miracle of the dancing and spinning sun appeared.

Later, Our Blessed Mother at Fatima spoke these words:

"Will you offer yourselves to God, and bear all the sufferings He sends you, in atonement for all the sins that offend Him, and for the conversion of sinners...

"Make sacrifices for sinners and say often, especially while making sacrifice: O Jesus, this is for the love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary...

"You have seen hell, where the souls of sinners go...

"Pray, pray very much. Make sacrifices for sinners. Many souls go to hell, because no one is willing to help them with sacrifice."


Let us now ask Jesus in the words of John Paul II:

    "Help us to conquer our indifference and our sloth! Give us a sense of sin. Create in us, O Lord, a pure heart, and renew a willing spirit in our minds." [3]

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, in one of his popular commentaries below, makes a similar analogy to the danger of our eternal salvation when we deny our sins.


Denying our sins - Part Two

By Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

J.M.J.

Friends: It used to be that people escaped admitting their own guilt by blaming it on capitalism, communism, lack of soft drink parlors, Grade B milk, and naughty ductless glands. Now a new psychology arises to blame the unconsciousness, or poor old Oedipus or wrinkled Electra. It is now claimed that the fault is in that part of ourselves which is not responsible, namely unconsciousness.

Those escapists who deny personal guilt make all people 'nice people,' in the sense that they are without sin or guilt. By one magic stroke, the escapists rid the world of 'nasty people,' here understood as sinners.

The 'nice people,' according to the escapists, may be diseased, but they are not 'sinners.' We are going to maintain the contrary thesis that the increase of psychoses and neuroses and mental disorders is due to the fact that too many people think they are 'nice' or sinless. In addition, there would be much more hope for the 'nice people' if they began to recognize they were not so nice at all, maybe even nasty; by nasty, we mean responsible for their guilt.

Never deny personal guilt; it has five serious effects in the soul:

  1. It destroys character by eliminating responsibility and therefore freedom.

  2. It makes forgiveness impossible by denying there is a sin to be forgiven.

  3. Denial of personal guilt turns people into scandal-mongers, gossips, tale-bearers and violent revolutionists, because it makes them project their own guilt to others to escape their uneasy consciences.

  4. Denial of personal guilt leads to greater sin by making the conscience less reproachful and virtue more distasteful.

  5. Finally, denial of personal guilt leads to despair, which develops into a positive fanaticism against religion and morality, which hatred is a sure sign of guilt.

In brief, the principal reason for the unhappiness of the modern soul is his denial of personal guilt, thereby excluding not only forgiveness, but also the peace that comes from a reconciliation with the God of Love.

The worst thing in the world is not sin, but the denial of sin; this is the unforgivable sin. If the blind deny they are blind, how shall they ever see?

Because sin is the breaking of a relationship with divine Love, it follows that it cannot be treated exclusively by psychology. It is not enough just to analyze the sin in order to cure it. Simply because the dentist learns that the decay in the tooth is due to eating candy, it does not follow that the tooth immediately becomes healthy. Digging about an oak tree to discover the rotten acorn from which it originally came, is not explaining the tree itself. Sin can be healed only by the restoration of friendship with God.

Nor is it true that a sense of sin induces a guilt-complex and, therefore, morbidity. Because a child goes to school, does he develop an ignorance complex? Because the sick go to a doctor, do they have a sickness complex? The student concentrates, not upon his own ignorance, but upon the wisdom of the teacher; the sick concentrate, not upon their illness, but upon the curative powers of the doctor; and, the sinner concentrates, not on his own guilt, but upon the redemptive powers of the Divine Physician.

There is no evidence whatsoever to sustain the position that a consciousness of a sense of sin has a tendency to make a person morbid. To call a soul an escapist when it asks God for forgiveness is like calling a man whose house is on fire, an escapist, because he sends for the fire department.

The greatest refinement of pride, the most contemptible form of escapism, is to refrain from examining oneself, lest sin be discovered within.

There is not a person who denies personal guilt who is a happy person, but there is not a person who has admitted it and been forgiven and lives in the love of God who is an unhappy person.

A sense of moral unworthiness has never saddened a soul, but souls are sad and frustrated because of their own self-love. There is no hope for you if you think you are a nice person; but there is a world of hope for you if you know you are 'nasty.' Be not deceived by those sexologists and escapists who refuse to face the fact of personal guilt. Make a holy hour a day by prayer, meditation, and attendance at Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Be brave enough to confront yourself with yourself at all times, having trust in God.

The greater the consciousness of your own misery, the greater will be your confidence in the goodness and mercy of God. For how could God show the attribute of mercy unless there was misery? God would have been infinite Goodness if He never made the world, but unless 'nasty' persons like me existed, He never could have shown His sweet mercy.

God love you. [4]

(Read Part One of 'Denying our Sins' here)

NOTES:

[1]  Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, 'Reconciliatio et Poenitentia,' n.16.

[2]  In English, "To restore all things in Christ."

[3]  Pope John Paul II, 'Homily at Opening of the Holy Year of Redemption,' 3/25/83.

[4]  Source: excerpt from the address entitled "Morbidity and the Denial of Guilt," delivered by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen, delivered February 1, 1948, and produced by the National Council of Catholic Men in cooperation with the National Broadcasting Company [NBC].

© Barbara Kralis

 

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Barbara Kralis

Barbara Kralis, the article's author, writes for various Christian and conservative publications... (more)

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