Happy Fault, Necessary Sin!
Those words ringin’ any bells? Could it be…the Easter Exsultet? But these words sound so strange to us! Happy fault? Necessary sin? Isn’t sin a bad thing?! Then what’s with these adjectives?
Yesterday, I was reading a biography on Pope Francis as part of some research I’m doing for a paper that I’m writing. In that book, which is a series of interviews with then-Cardinal Bergoglio, our pope said some things about sin that struck me as refreshing, beautiful, and encouraging. Here are just a few brief quotes:
“For me, feeling you have sinned is one of the most beautiful things that can happen to a person, if you take it to its ultimate end…’Good is the sin that made us worthy of such redemption. This is what we sing on Easter night: Good guilt, good sin.'”
“…for me, sin is not a stain I need to clean. What I must do is ask for forgiveness and reconcile myself to it, not go to the dry cleaner around the corner. I need to go and find Jesus, who gave His life for me.”
“In other words, sin properly assumed is the privileged place of personally finding Jesus Christ our Savior, of rediscovering the deep meaning that He has for me. In short, it is the possibility to live the wonder of having been saved.”
Those words from the Exsultet may confuse us, but I think that Pope Francis has explained it beautifully. We sin, we’re weak–and it is precisely because we are so weak that our Father is constantly close to us, ready to pick us up when we stumble and fall on our way. It is precisely because sin is so bad that Christ came to save us, to free us from its bondage. Our sin, our misery, cries out for the great mercy of God, and He never tires of forgiving us when we turn to Him.
I’m not really sure what I want to say about this…but I know that I found these quotes from Pope Francis to be liberating, refreshing, and deeply moving. God brings goodness even out of our sins. Only God could turn an evil action into an opportunity to grow closer to Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I think that sin also teaches us something. It shows us how dependent we are on God, how much we need His love, grace, and mercy in our lives. When we sin and know in our hearts that we have sinned, we automatically feel this deep need for God and His forgiveness, which is something that we could not experience if we never sinned.
Sin, as bad as it is, is also an opportunity for us to cry out to God, to recognize our own weakness, and to let God pick us up again. When we reflect on our sins, we sometimes fall into despair at the thought of the many things we have done against God and neighbor. Maybe, though, if we made an effort to recognize that God turns our sin into an opportunity to grow closer to Him, we would be less hesitant to approach His mercy in Confession.