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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Devil is in the Details

I know that saying "Oh my God" is using God's name in vain and is against the ten commandents. But what about "Oh my gosh"?

There are people who would argue that is is a sin because "Oh my gosh" is some kind of  old time way of actually saying "Oh my God". 

I would not be one of those people.While it might have been true that at some point in time people actually knew gosh really meant God, the truth is, these days, people saying "Oh my gosh" are expressly trying NOT to take the Lord's name in vain.

Sin is about intent.

When my mother was upset she would shriek, "Oh St. Peter and Paul and all the saints!"  I think she was praying, because she did that when something had scared her really badly, like the time she answered a knock at the front door and my dad was standing there with glasses on that had eyeballs on springs. He manages to time it just right so that the eyeballs boinged off the glasses just as she opened the door. I really think she wanted the saints to save her from the google monster and wasn't taking anyone's name in vain.

And look there. Google means something different these days, too.

 Sister, I just read a wonderful book called Let the Great World Spin that made me think of you, because one of the main characters is I guess what you'd call a mendicant friar, ministering to prostitutes in the Bronx in the 1970s, when New York was at it's lowest point. It's the most compassionate novel I've ever read and I'd recommend it to you unreservedly except for some un-nunlike language and situations. One thing bothers me, though. That character fell in love--genuine, deep, requited love--with a widowed nurse in the nursing home he worked at and after much spiritual torment broke his vows, then died before confessing. I can handle the thought of him doing time in purgatory because of that sin, but being kept out of heaven altogether after all the Christlike good he had done...? Surely not! Please tell me it's not so! He voluntarily turned away from God, did he not? 
I can't tell you it's not so.

I also can't tell you that it is so.

This is why we have the canonization process, to prove that a person is in Heaven. This is why we would rather you didn't pray for the intercession of your dead Aunt Millie, saintly old soul that she may have been, because we don't know where she is. The Catholic Church never says anyone is in Hell. Not even Hitler, because at the last moment, Hitler might have had a moment of clarity and repented somehow.

What happens to you after you die is between you and God and not the rest of us.

And this case isn't cut and dry for that exact reason.  Priests do leave the priesthood.  Did they get married or did he just run off with the nurse?  He could have a boatload of mortal sins there. Scandal would be on that list because the sin of scandal is that you doing something makes it seem like it must be okay for the rest of us. If he didn't reconcile himself with God, then the ex-priest has a problem. A really big problem, as clergy get harsher punishment in the great beyond because they are responsible for the souls of others.

I wouldn't worry about it. He's a fictional character. So he's not in Heaven or in Hell, or anywhere else for that matter.  He is ink on a page.

I can't think that New York was at it lowest point in the 1970's.  New York in the 1860"s?  New York in 1930? New York in 1960?  What did I miss? 

1 comment:

Nily said...

"Not even Hitler, because at the last moment, Hitler might have had a moment of clarity and repented somehow."
Was it Thompson (I can't remember-I'm old)who wrote: "Between the stirrup and the ground, he mercy sought and mercy found." We never know....