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What Does Lie Behind the Concept of Sin as a Catholic?

Stephen Hornsby-Smith


Central to Catholicism is the understanding of sin, but in wider society we find more contemporary associations and references that account for a 21st century view of sin. However in this blog I will not try to focus on any secular, pagan or non christian religious contributions as such, but leave that job for you.


Is sin about guilt, shame, penance and self-mortification? Is it a socially functional regulation or social requirement? Or is it part of an exonerating process of admission, gratitude, forgiveness and transformation that Catholics believe is essential to be forgiven from, in the sacrament of confession?

There exists an association of victimhood and cliches of self-flagulation, steeped in clerical mystique that makes non-Catholics suspicious and cynical about confession and its corollary Sin.But for me this myth surrounding Catholic ideas of Sin, is misplaced and anachronistic. How? By the true realization of the centrality of the Holy Mass(HM) being a celebration of sharing a meal with ones friends and family. Furthermore, we must debunk the myth of the preparations that lead to the Marriage at Canaan and the 'Last Supper', both involving Christs message of peace, mutual acceptance and the joy of a spiritual and metaphorical ' 5 course meal' with Jesus. Sin was not the mainstay of both Christian events in history, even Judas' betrayal did not overshadow the dignity and love of the Last Supper. So the HM was never meant to be a suspicious and self-harming process of self-denunciation, but a fun time spent in a gathering of a few friends. Even the call to the congregation to admit their sins so early in the HM is actually about cleansing oneself, or washing ones proverbial hands before the shared meal etc, or taking ones sandals off as a social custom would allow, and only forms part of the metaphorical confessional box, as well as reminders of our 'Baptism' in faith. This prepares us for the communal meal where in faith, we share social and literal communion. We therefore immerse ourselves once again clearing away the detritus of materialism, consumerism, rank and social importance not in some 'Socialist hippy gathering' but a discovery of the miracle of the loves and fishes - everyone was more than well fed, and where politics is left outside and where we get to listen as well as deepen our faith. So Jesus turned water into wine to share and to include rather than to elevate the HM to an elite or the opposite. The haves and have not as much aren't meant to excude or expel anyone from church, only God has that right. Perhaps our contemporary concept of Sin would be defined as what Rousseau would have called the 'General Will' but determined by the todays Pharosees as opposed to the love, faith, and forgiveness and inclusion of those we most personally dislike or disagree with

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