Father Joseph V. Corpora | November 4, 2017
Someone bumps into someone in the supermarket, “Oh, I’m sorry,” says the first person. “No worries,” the second person says, “It’s all good.” A student helps another student carry some books and accidentally drops them. “Oh, sorry about that,” says the first student. “It’s okay,” the second one says, “It’s all good.”
To be honest, I don’t like the phrase. But you hear it everywhere and I’m guessing it’s going to be around for a while.
Somewhere along the way it got into our minds and hearts that the goal in the life of any serious Christian is to stop sinning or to get beyond sin. I hear it all the time when I meet with sincere and earnest students. I hear it from people who take their life in Christ seriously.
We say it in the Act of Contrition. “I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.” If we are honest, even as we say those words, we feel a little inauthentic, because we’re fairly certain that we’re going to sin again.
Last Sunday I was traveling, so I went to an early Mass at Sacred Heart Parish in the crypt of the Basilica at Notre Dame. And for some reason, the words the priest spoke at the beginning of Mass, words that I myself have said tens of thousands of times when I preside at the Eucharist, really struck me. “Let us call to mind our sins to prepare ourselves to celebrate these sacred mysteries.” And then, of course, we ask God’s mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Two competing views?
On the one hand we promise to try to sin no more, and on the other we say we cannot begin celebrating these sacred mysteries without first calling to mind our sins. Is it possible that we cannot even think about truly celebrating the Mass without knowing ourselves as sinners? Or that perhaps our sinfulness is what makes us — like nothing else does — need to celebrate the Eucharist?