I was playing a musical engagement recently and between songs told the story of how I acquired a 35 year old Martin Brazilian rosewood guitar. I shared with them how I felt a little guilt for the amazingly low price I paid. Someone from the audience piped up and said “Catholic eh?”
So on the way home from the gig I started to think about this idea of Catholic Guilt and my conclusion is that I am proud of Catholic Guilt!
I never hear of non-denominational Christian guilt, but often hear of Catholic Guilt. Perhaps because Catholicism has moral standards that have been quite codified and turning away from these precepts causes a sense of guilt or shame? Alas, that’s a good thing if that guilt draws our hearts in repentance back to Christ. The Bible calls that godly sorrow.
In our present culture, there is a wholesale attempt to abolish the concept of sin. Sadly, in many churches, what used to be called sin is no longer sin. For example, abortion and same-sex unions had been considered grave sin in every Christian denomination up until 30 years ago. Now there are major Christian denominations in the
Returning to Catholicism hasn’t made me feel guiltier, but has enhanced my desire to please God and increased my awareness of the sins in my life that keep me from Him. I am not scrupulous and any religion wrongly taught could lead to that. Quite honestly, I have been freer in mind and spirit since receiving the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist than I have been for 30 years before my reversion to the Church. I am thankful that I feel guilt when I sin because I trust that it is the Holy Spirit that is pointing me back to Him and convicting me of wrong doing. We should allow guilt which is godly sorry to always lead us to repentance. The Catholics have a spiritual exercise called an examination of conscience which allows the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and illuminate any areas of sin which hold us back from experiencing the grace of God more fully in our lives. So when I hear “Catholic Guilt,” I think two things:
To me it points to the fact that Catholicism still stands for unchanging truth and right living according to God’s moral standard. A sense of guilt comes from walking in disobedience.
Christ’s death on the cross was for our sin and shame and He continues to apply His shed blood through the sacrament of reconciliation. He gives me the anti-dote for guilt through sacramental confession.
21 He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.
22 When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
23 Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.
PS: I feel a little guilty for being proud of Catholic Guilt......just kiddin'