“Forgiving the unrepentant is like drawing pictures on water.” Japanese Proverb
In today’s comic page, two characters go for coffee after the formalized ritual of repentance referred to as confession. Most Catholics who frequent confession know that they will be confessing the same sins in the future. Does that mean the sacrament of confession doesn’t have the power to change us? Or does it mean we don’t have the power to change ourselves? Or is it a mixture of both?
My guess is this: repentance is the primary way we cooperate with our own salvation. The first divine command from Jesus in St. Mark's Gospel is “Repent and believe the good news.” For most of us, repentance happens in stages. Each act of repentance forms a rung on Jacob’s ladder. Few of us get repentance perfectly and perhaps that is what purgatory is for, to fill in rungs of emptiness that stand between the remaining length of the ladder rails.
Repentance is not easy. It can be likened to getting a hoarder to cooperate with a house cleansing. The hoarder dies inside each time another load of garbage is removed. Each trash exit adds more space and daylight to the home. But the removal is vital. I think that is why we needed a God-man, someone psychologically tough enough to endure a torturous death on the cross for us, to be our life coach in this. He can guide us in our exertions to part with the trash we have become emotionally attached to. Old underwear that is in shreds? "Cast it into the fire. Destroy it." Me: "No." My old scratched up Polka CDs? Loud fashions from yesteryear? (They were of expensive material but somehow they shrunk in the closet) Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus? "Cast it into the Fire. Destroy it." Me: "No." This is going to be a long process. Man, do I need God.