Modesty and/or Embarrassment and an Examination of Conscience
Oh the drama! The outrage! The finally!
All of the many emotions and opinions, both voiced and unvoiced, when an “explicit” examination of conscience appears in the weekly church paper.
When a survey responder to our newsletter asked “What is sin and what are the many sins we commit”, what should be the reply? Should sin be dumbed down? Is it appropriate to put it in the church paper? What about the children?
Yes, this is about an exam of self for the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, you know, the sexual ones. In today’s highly sexualized culture all things related to sex have been normalized. Sex has been used to sell almost every product. Books and movies get people excited and allow them to escape their mundane lives. Sex even has so-called health benefits; it is the great stress reducer, etc. And so if someone has never had the opportunity, for whatever reason, to do a good examination of conscience how would they know that the cultural “normal” is sinful?
I found a good examination of conscience on-line, very much like other examinations of conscience I have seen. I parsed it out over several weeks for each of the Ten Commandments and put it in the church paper, with the pastor’s blessing of course. Not much feedback with the earlier articles, but now we know people are reading them, or at least this one caught the attention of many.
We Catholics are at all different stages of formation. We are all at different places in our relationship with Jesus. Knowing what offends Him drives our existence hopefully if we make regular use of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Or we may have no clue as to what offends Him. We missed that part in CCD or we forgot about it or we just fell away from the Church all together. Shouldn’t we let those lost or misguided souls know the nature of sin? Candy coating what sin is doesn’t help them, nor does it help us, the presenters and teachers of the message, if we don’t paint a clear picture. People that are ready to have a better relationship with Jesus are very thankful to have sin made clear to them. They may be ready to have a better relationship with Christ, but they don’t know where to start, that’s why the parish needs to provide guidance in clear language. Not everybody participates in parish activities beyond Mass, and the church paper may be the only way to connect with some people.
But what about the children? Certainly we don’t want to corrupt our children, but don’t you think the culture has already done that? Between school programs and TV, our children have been exposed to a lot of corruption. If a child can understand the phrases and concepts of a particular sin then they better well know what they need to avoid and confess if they commit that sin.
Yes, talking about some sins can be embarrassing to some people, but does that mean they shouldn’t be talked about? Again, we need to let EVERYBODY know the nature of sin and how their choices can get them into spiritual trouble. If we don’t voice the many ways that we can get into spiritual trouble, the culture will make those ways sound harmless and fun.