This is Canon Victoria’s letter in our weekly Parish News email. To sign up for our newsletter, please visit: Constant Contact. To see the full weekly Parish News email from Feb 24th, please visit: http://conta.cc/2msZdIK
This week I reread sections of a little book I was once given by an older priest. It is called St. Augustine’s Prayer Book. An Anglo-Catholic collection of prayers and devotions, it has a chapter on each of the sacraments. For the sacrament of penitence, it began with examination of conscience with the seven deadly sins as the framework.
It being Lent, I re-read that section. How searching and surprising are some of the considerations of the “categories” of sin. The sin of pride was laid out as the refusal to accept the status of creature. I nodded, but then stopped when I read that under pride was distrust and over sensitivity and sentimentality. I thought about these. In fact, when I distrust things I am putting my judgment first. When I am overly sensitive, I am putting my feelings first. I began to reconsider; yes, those habits stem from pride. I think my beautiful feelings, say in prayer, are more important than Christ’s commands to action do something good before “the night comes.”
Under greed, along with avarice and collecting stuff, it puts the desire to control or possess or use others. Also under greed was prodigality, (lovely word) whether of possessions or time. We can fall off the bike on both sides. I was not surprised with gluttony also including its opposite of being a gourmet: the focus is still on food. Lust rounded up the usual suspects, in the view of the author, but also in the net were prudery and sexual repression. Anger, the sinful kind, is ‘open rebellion against God or our fellow creatures.” Good anger always springs from a sense of justice, but I had not considered that deliberately being a spoilsport is a type of anger, nor rudeness, nor annoyance.
Traditionally, the purpose of such examines was not to wallow in being a sinner, but to move to repentance and change of life. How do I move through my day and space aware or unaware of God and others? How do I look through and beneath my habits to grasp the principals of living in love and awe of God and with respect to creation? The goals of the old author are mindfulness and humility. Or as a far older prophet wrote: “To do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God.”