Tag Archives: confessional

MIRRORS AND SINS

Mirror tricks can be delightful. Who has not found himself placed between two mirrors, and noticed in the background a diminishing cascade of reflections; telescoping images of mirror and self and mirror and self…

Another trick, my favorite, requires an array of mirrors, as you might find in a bathroom with a front mirror over the sink, and another mirror on the door of a side cabinet (you can do it with a big enough hand-held mirror, but it is harder).  We all know the oddness of looking at ourselves in a mirror, and noticing that my right side shows up on my left side; my mirror reflection is reversed!

But if you can adjust or tilt one of the mirrors, you can reverse the reversal, and actually see a reflection that is as right-handed as you are in reality. (It probably works just as well if you are left-handed; I don’t really know.)

I was reminded of all this while preparing for my most recent visit to the Confessional for the sacrament of reconciliation. 

Reflecting on my sins, I distractedly wandered into thinking about some of the GOOD things I have done (like a defendant preparing to bolster his guilty plea with character references to show he isn’t ALL bad.)  And I instantly challenged myself – had I done the good things simply to square my accounts with God? Or worse, had I done good so that I might feel good about myself?  In other words, was I doing good for my own sake, rather than to help others or to please God?  If so, was that not a sin of pride, or presumption? A kind of greed for praise or self-praise?

And then I started a round of second-stage self- judging.  Was I being too fastidious, worrying about my motives?  Was I committing the sin of excess scrupulosity, exaggerating the importance of very small distinctions?  (My confessor had in the past introduced me to this sin.)  Was I making too much out of a small sin?

And then I rebuked myself for even entertaining the idea of a “small” sin. Is there such a thing? Or are all sins better categorized as either “big” or “bigger”?

I started with self consciousness in pursuit of self examination. Then, my self-criticism led to an automatic reversion to self congratulation.. That triggered self condemnation. A self-referential cycle of over-thinking, spiraling into confusion.

At some point, I felt like the man in the first trick, standing between two mirrors and puzzling over the endless array of reflections, wondering which one is real.  Then, when mental flip-flops led to mental exhaustion, I remembered the second trick I described above. I needed to get back to my reversal-reversing mirrors to find a true picture of my sin.

But where could I find the properly placed mirrors of my soul?

In the confessional, of course.

Beng a catholic can seem very complicated at times.  But it can also be very, very simple. Not easy, but simple.

God bless you all.  Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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