Slowing the process of rot may not seem like a worthy goal, but give Fr Vallee a chance to explain.
I know that I usually have jokes, songs and stories for you. But today we deal with a topic which is not so funny or entertaining. Today, alas we deal with sin and ashes. We will get to the ashes later.
As for sin, sin is so abidingly odd. I dare to preach to you young girls today on the topic of sin. I know you do not think of yourselves as young, but even the juniors among you, without your rings, or the seniors among you, with your rings, are so young – too young to know what real sin is or might be. Nonetheless, the Church tells me that I must speak to you of sin today … so odd and so useless — no matter how eloquent I might be or how smart you might be! You cannot know what sin really is until it has entangled you in its wormy windings. Most of you do not, and cannot, know the true nature of sin, at least not yet. Sin is not to be found in the simple transgressions of your aberrant actions – those things are laughably trivial. Sin will be found in the tortured lies of your hearts. The first time you lie to someone you love, even for good reasons, or compromise on what you really believe, then you will begin to understand sin, then sin will sink softly into your hearts and your souls like a too-sharp knife, which will trouble your sleep and haunt your dreams. If you have never lain awake at night, afraid and anxious, you have no clue as to what the terrible and terrifying meaning of a conscience is.
I remember, when I was 12 and my parents divorced, I laid awake on my top bunk-bed in North Miami Beach thinking it was my fault. Absurd! It was not my fault. It was theirs. Yet, I blamed myself. The fact that my conscience was too-tender did not make me a saint; it made me a neurotic little boy. In some ways, that is what I still tend to be. There is such a fine line between sanctity and masochistic self-flagellation. True humility is to see yourself as you are seen in the eyes of God, not more than you are and not less than you are. Too often, on either score, we get it wrong – so horribly and tortuously wrong. Lent is the time to try – though we will probably fail – to get it right. Maybe this year we will get wrong. But, if we try to move toward it, even just a bit this year, we may eventually begin to get it right. Those ashes you will wear on your foreheads are not decorative, mine are not either. They are an outward signs of inward hurt. And make no mistake, it is through the doorway of unhealed hurt that sin slips into our hearts and begins the slow and inexorable process of rot.
We have not built up a number of Fr Vallee’s homilies on this blog – just search ‘Vallee’ in the box found in the upper left hand corner.
The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com