It Is difficult not to agree that the Christian religion Is a sad and sorry business, an affair of guilt and guilt-consciousness in which the crucifix, the Image of a moat cruel execution, is the chief symbol; and according to which we are not even born free of sin. How does one meet this objection?
IT is just not trite that Christ.' lenity i's a sad and sorry business. In fact the sentiment of the Church as a -whole and the greater part of its Liturgy is most neatly summed in John Wesley's tine hymn: " Rejoice. the Lord is king, Your King and Lord adore, mortals give thanks and sing. and triumph ever more; lift up your heart, lift up your voice: rejoice, again I say rejoice." This is a fine paraphrase of St. Paul's " Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice." With regard to guilt and guiltconsciousness all the masters of the interior life are agreed and are. Insistent that guilt once recognised must not be brooded upon, for this is a wholly self-regarding attitude. They insist that an immediate act of contrition (mortal sin being sacramentally confessed) must be made as pure, as perfect, as can be achieved and that then the sin be dismissed wholly from the mind. The tears of the so called great penitents spring from their great love of God, not their great guilt-consciousness.
Any director of souls will witness that if his subject is sad and miserable, there is something very wrong, and that no progress in the interior life will be made until the basis in the soul is peace and joy. As for the crucifix it was hardly known in the Church until the sixth century and representations of Our Lord suffering or dead did not become general until the lath century. The traditional Catholic crucifix, happily still often seen, shows Our Lord crowned. robed, alive and reignink from the Cross. "Sin " is a vastly ambiguous term in connection with "Original Sin," so too is "guilt." not that the force of these words properly understood may in any way be impugned, but in modern phrasetaste the basic truth might better be conveyed by some such words as "inherited disability and inclination." it being remembered that only Grace can blot out the effects of original sin, as of all other sins.