You can not earn things from God. His blessings fall like rain.
I am so glad to see this video. On one hand, it is horrible – but it was our life for so long. I find it so sad that the one mom who had placed her child in residential services didn’t want to be shown on screen. It is hard – you don’t want to be the parent who gave up and even though you want to think that people will be understanding there are always those people who will say “I could never do that.”
Years ago I read George Elliot’s Middlemarch and though the book itself will never make my list of most beloved novels, I was changed in a lasting way by the final line:
“… the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
A life of quiet virtue lived out doing good for those we know adds to the general good of the world. The ocean does not exist without every drop of water in it and even accepting that if this drop were missing or that one was gone there would not be a material difference in the ocean’s depth and breath each drop contributes to the greater whole. Each star adds its own unique sparkle to the night sky. I can not make the world good, but I can improve my little corner of it and by doing so add to the general good of humanity.
I somewhat hesitated sharing this video. Watch it first, if you are interested and want to avoid “spoilers”.
So you watched it?
Are you sure you don’t care about spoilers?
Ok – you have only yourself to blame at this point.
I loved this video. From the lady using confession to gossip about her snotty neighbor the the anguish of the priest when he realized that the penitent before him was the man who killed his father. And I get that he was lifting a burden by lying. But he was lying. I don’t think it was necessary for the story and there were other ways that it could have been dealt with.
When I considered sharing the video I hesitated. Do I really want to share this with such a problematic bit in the ending? It is human nature to pick these sorts of things apart and blow them up far past what the deserve. But in the end this video has several qualities that I think make it worthwhile.
First: the priest is just a guy — who at that moment is acting as God’s active conduit of mercy and love. It is a struggle for him, he does it (arguably) badly, but he does it. I think it is valuable for us to keep in mind that our priests are men, men who love and hate and weep and laugh. Media has a tendency to often either idolize priests or debase them. This video does neither.
Second: the penitent really needs confession and illustrates the need for confession. It is one of those common “Ask a Catholic Questions”: “Why do I need to confess to a priest, I can just confess to God.” Sure you can, but when you are heart torn and painfully aware of the magnitude of your sin, when you question the very possibility of redemption then you need to hear in the physical world the comfort of absolution. The penitent could have prayed for forgiveness a thousand times, but until he heard the words he would never be able to start letting go of the sin and the despair that accompanies it. One of Satan’s most successful lies is the idea that you don’t need to speak your sin to anyone but God. I chains us in despair and prevents us from acting forward in mercy and forgiveness.
Now for the problematic part.
We can look at the idea of lying to the penitent in a few ways. One rather artistic idea from the comments on the video was that our sins are washed away in confession to the point that in the eyes of God they never happen – so in a certain sense the priest’s father wasn’t killed by the penitent. But that is really an Obi Wan “certain point of view” moment and not really satisfactory.
We could also attempt to view it as just an act of Mercy. The priest lied to comfort a dying man There is no denying that the man who is relieved of this burden feels immense joy, but the joy was based on a lie. At the very end the priest even postulates that it might be worse that he lied as a priest. In the end if the priest had maintained honesty, forgiven the penitent both in the sacramental and in his own heart and had communicated that to the penitent we could have had a very powerful ending. Not the joy that the penitent shows, but a something based on reality and truth.
So in the end I decided to share this, not because it is perfect, but because its imperfections make me think and make for a good conversation. Is a lie ever worthwhile? If this is not such a case what would have been better and what would have looked like? How would Christ have approached this differently?
There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. G.K. Chesterton
Born – 3 January 1840
Died – 15 April 1889
Feast Day May 10
Image credited to Sacred Hearts Archives, Rome [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I managed to hurt myself. Random back spasm has turned into four whole days of barely being able to move.
The Martyrdom of St Agatha by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
Born – 231
Martyred – 251
Feast Day – February 5th.
St Sylvester – Feast Day December 31.
Pope from 31 January, 314 to his death 31 December, 335.