Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Lest we forget about sin

From the CWN story today, the Pope used his Angelus address to remind people that at the end of this life comes death and that we all must be cognizant of the state of our souls because we are not in control of that time of death. One wouldn't think the Pope would have to busy himself talking about things like this that should seem to be obvious to Catholics, and indeed anyone paying attention, but as he pointed out, wealthy societies do not like to talk or even think about death and so it is cheated out of the attention it should properly attain. After all, how many people do you know that honestly, truly talk openly about the Last Things? Maybe Il Papa is reminding us that a periodic thought on the subject isn't entirely out of line.

Through his redemptive suffering, the Pope continued, "Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death," making Christians realize that death is not a final end. Since the Resurrection, he continued, "death is not the same; it has been deprived of its sting."

However, the Holy Father remarked, there is a form of death that should be more fearsome to believes: the death of the soul in sin. "Indeed," said the Pope, "those who die in unrepented mortal sin, closed off from God's love by their prideful rejection, exclude themselves from the kingdom of life."

There is much for which we have to hope and only one thing we have to fear. But we must never let our ease in our hope become a reason we forget that we have anything to fear. As Catholics we know God desperately wishes our eternal salvation and union with Him, but we also know He won't force anything on us we won't accept.

I do find it interesting that this pope has been very much on-message about the "yes" of Christ and the "yes" of Christianity and Catholicism, about how religion is very often improperly seen as a series of "no"s rather than a series of "here is how to say 'yes'" statements. Interesting because in that light this is one of the few times I have heard him say something that is part of that "no" that people are afraid to confront. Without some "no" a "yes" means nothing and is entirely out of balance. I think I like his balance on this - almost always reminding us of the "yes" of our faith, and every once in a while also giving us a sharp reminder that we must not take the "yes" for granted. That balance, I believe, is something many could learn from.