Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cantalamessa on impurity

After telling all of you to read Fr. Cantalamessa's Advent sermons, last night I finally got around to reading them myself. This is the season for Priests to hear lots of Confessions, and one of the sins that a confessor rarely hears today is impurity (so much so that when we do hear a penitent say the word, it "stands out") I bring this up because Fr. Raniero's first Advent sermon had this quote (and I placed what I thought were important passages in bold print):
"... there is a tendency to minimize sins against purity to the advantage (often only in theory) of attention to our neighbour. It is an illusion to believe that we can put authentic service to our brothers – which always demands sacrifice, altruism, forgetfulness of self and generosity – together with a disordered personal life, entirely directed toward gratifying ourselves and our own passions. We end up, inevitably, instrumentalizing our brothers, just as we instrumentalize our own bodies and the other sex. He who does not know how to say no to himself does not know how to say yes to his brothers.

One of the "excuses" that contributes most to encourage the sin of impurity in the popular mindset is the discharging of any responsibility, the claim that it hurts no one, that it does not violate anyone's rights unless, it is said, we are talking about physical violence. But apart from the fact that it violates the basic right of God to give a law to his creatures, this "excuse" is false even in regard to our relations to our neighbour. It is not true that the sin of impurity ends with those who commit it.

In the Jewish Talmud there is an apologue that illustrates quite well the connection that exists between sin and the damage that every sin, even personal sin, does to others: "Some people found themselves on a boat. One of the passengers took a drill and began to make a hole beneath his seat. The others seeing this said to him: 'What are you doing?' He answered: 'What is it to you? Am I not making a hole under my seat?' But they replied: 'Yes, but water will come in and we will all drown!'" Is this not what is happening in our society? The Church too knows something of the evil that can be done to the whole body by personal mistakes of the clergy in this sphere."

Young Fogeys out there, take heed.

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