When it comes to the bestowing of guilt and who gets the championship ring, there is a fine line between Catholics and Jews. I can only speak from my experience with the former when I say that sticking a symbol of a brutally murdered dead guy over an impressionable young child’s bed and telling her “He died for your sins” kind of messes with a kid for life.
Then there was that confession thing. It was hard to come up with new material every single week. I mean, what kind of really bad stuff could a little kid do? Still, I knew I was a sinner so the pressure was on and I’d often just make stuff up. Father Timothy eventually became suspicious and gave me 40 Hail Marys for lying to a priest.
There were so many sins to keep track of. Mortal sins, the big guys, which assured you were going to hell, and then a whole host of “venial” sins, which pretty much covered everything else anyone could possibly do. All this was meant to keep one on the straight and narrow path in a world where Satan was waiting around every corner with a cocktail and his recruitment pitch.
A little guilt is not such a bad thing though. Without a sense of guilt one has no conscience and without a conscience one becomes a sociopath like Dick Cheney and the members of Congress who have sold their souls to Wall Street. We might have a much better world, we’d certainly have a better government, had every one of them had their little prepubescent asses enrolled in Catholic school with nuns who could reduce you to a shivering puddle of bodily fluids with one stern look.
While I still talk to God, I no longer go to church or confession. I guess you could say I’ve cut out the middle man. But I do have a strong sense of right and wrong, and firmly believe that karma will kick my ass when that line is crossed. I have empathy for those less fortunate, those challenged with difficulties and struggling in ways that I, who have been so blessed, cannot begin to truly understand. I believe we are all created equal, neither sinners nor saints, and that we are our brother’s keeper.
I believe Jesus was a socialist and if he came back today preaching feeding the poor and healing the sick he’d be ripped to shreds by the same fear machines who are doing their very best to pit us against each other every single day.
So no. A little guilt is not such a bad thing. It provides us with a moral compass and, because we have been given free will, we have the choice of whether or not to follow its direction.
On my death bed, I will ask for a priest to provide Last Rites, the act of absolution or forgiveness for all my sins. What the hell? It couldn’t hurt. And I think Father Timothy would be proud.
Last week I asked for your votes in a contest I’d entered at the Recovering Catholic Girls website. They were looking for a new tagline and my entry was: “… serving guilt with a twist of lime.” Well, I won! Thank you to all who voted for me.
Now leave a comment. You don’t want to feel guilty do you?