Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Nice Explanation about Avoiding Extremes

I'm almost done reading Archbishop Dolan's new book To Whom Shall We Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter. It's a lovely and very readable book which draws simple, manageable spiritual lessons from the life of St. Peter. It seems like a lovely parting gift to our archdiocese, especially given the dedication:
To my brother bishops, priests, and deacons, the consecrated religious men and women, and the wonderfully faithful people of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
There are lots of wonderful tidbits and stories in the book, but I just wanted to share his explanation of one important concept that's on my mind a lot (and applies to many things):
Despair will never be ours if we believe in the power of the sacrament of Penance and tap into it very often. This sacrament helps us avoid both extremes - the presumption of the Pharisees and the despair of Judas - and it keeps us, with St. Peter, in the healthy center. Contrite? Yes, but confident in the Lord's mercy. Aware of the sin? You bet, but equally aware of Christ's desire to forgive. Repentant? You bet, but renewed as well. And for us, this moment of honesty and healing takes place, concretely and personally, in the sacrament of Penance.
The concept of hope being in the happy middle between presumption and despair is actually my favorite example when I try to explain to others the important theological (and practical!) concept of means and extremes. It's a very useful way of keeping us in balance in every aspect of our lives.

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