Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sinner, I Admonish Thee

TBM Topic 28: Admonish the Sinner

"Sinner, I Admonish Thee" by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We're here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.

There's a Protestant church up the street from my house that has a sign up for Lent. It reads, "Pray. Reflect. Prepare."

This sign makes me wrinkle my nose. Mere semantics, perhaps, but why "reflect" instead of "repent"? Aren't we called not just think about what we have done but act to more align ourselves with God's will, as the Kingdom of God is at hand? As the Christ is going to unjustly die for our sins? My sister says it's because "repent" has more of a negative connotation. So does the Spiritual work of Mercy "Admonish the Sinner" - which is precisely why it is needed.

Americans love admonishing the sinner. Who hasn't signed up to promote some cause, using social media, clothing or dolla-dolla donation? Who hasn't felt that twinge of guilt at the grocery store when you don't give a dollar to the Very Good Cause? Oh, so you don't support this cause? Do you kick puppies and take candy from babies too?

The second route of admonishing the sinner offends the "Don't Judge Me" movement. Fraternal correction (as we Catholics prefer to call it) is a private correction of a fellow soul as a way to lead them to God and, ultimately, repentance. As we say in the Act of Contrition, we should be sorry we sin not out of the loss of Heaven or the fear of Hell, but because we have offended God, whom we love. This is why people cannot separate their conscience from their public actions anymore than one can separate the facts from a situation.

Admonishment should always happen out of love, and in a loving way. To act otherwise is to distort the meaning of God's way, and perhaps turn people away. This is always a tragedy.

There are, however, some sinners need to be admonished publicly. There is a new social experiment growing to draw attention to Joseph Kony, the leader of a rebel group in Uganda who abducks children to be sex slaves and soldiers. Kony wants to establish a theocratic government based on the Ten Commandments and says God sends spirits which communicate directly with him.

His actions go beyond not practicing what he wants preached:


Admonishing the sinner is the loving thing to do, even when it is the unpopular position. Admonishing the sinner is the right thing to do, even when the sinner claims to the higher moral ground. When Jesus lived among us, he did so in order to relate to us human, to understand our tendency towards sin, and to forgive when we ask it of him.

Repent, my fellow sinners, and believe in the Good News of Jesus Christ! The most we've got to lose is our pride.

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