Thursday, July 23, 2009

Holiness and Sin

The church, however, clasping sinners to its bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, follows constantly the path of penance and renewal. (Lumen Gentium, section 8)

I am thinking about holiness and sin these days. In the above passage, Lumen Gentium links holiness and sin, church and faithful. As we know from the Nicene creed we recite at mass, the Church is "one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic." We also know that everyone who is a member of Holy Mother Church is a sinner. Though we are sinners, we are called, we are urged, we are begged, to become saints. Lumen Gentium tells us of "The Universal Call to Holiness" (Chapter 5, sections 39-42). There we read:

Therefore all the faithful are invited and obliged to try to achieve holiness and the perfection of their own state of life. (Section 42)

How do we become saints? By being aware of our sinfulness before the God who is goodness itself. By using that awareness to seek God's love and mercy. By going to the Sacraments frequently and humbly to strengthen us in the struggle to be holy, to love as God loves.

As such, I am realizing that I need to go to Confession much more frequently than every month or two--or longer. I am realizing that I need to go to mass and adoration more frequently than weekly.

I like the first quotation from Lumen Gentium because it causes me to reflect that the Church models for us penance and renewal. In addition, the Church, which is a holy institution, is made up of sinners who are touched by the holiness of the Church and who stain the Church with our sin, even while the Church maintains its holiness. How does this interplay of holiness and sin work? It's a mystery.

However, what we do know is that we must follow the Church's model of constant penance and renewal. Now comes the hard part: living that penance, that renewal.


Brother said...

This is always a good topic and I am forever helping people understand the the church is made up of saints and sinners.

Pete Caccavari said...

I think that we often suffer from the effect that we too easily recognize the sins of others while be rather oblivious to our own sins. I know I fall into that category. As a result, we either see ourselves as saints when we are not. Just as bad, we may experience the opposite, where we think that being saints are for others and not for us.