On humility and our hidden faults, as seen in a commercial

The video below humorously illustrates a biblical principle of our hidden faults. Indeed we all have sins and behaviors that are often clear to others but of which we are unaware. Indeed there are even deeper faults of which no one is aware except God himself who sees our innermost heart. Consider some of the following quotes:

By [your ordinances] your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. But who can discern his errors? From my hidden faults acquit me, O Lord. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. (Psalm 19:11-13)

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. (Psalm 90:8)

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Eccl 12:14)

Mind you, I have nothing on my conscience, but I do not stand thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (1 Cor 4:4).

The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear only later. (1 Tim 5:24)

Call no man happy before he dies, for by how he ends, a man is known. (Sirach 11:28)

Yes, some of our sins are obvious to us and we may rightfully work upon them. But lest we sin through pride, we ought always recall that we have sins and faults that are often hidden from us. Others may see them, or perhaps only God.

At the end of the day we’re all going to need a lot of grace and mercy!

Enjoy this commercial that well illustrates this fact. And enjoy a little humor, it’s been a tough week on the blog!

9 Replies to “On humility and our hidden faults, as seen in a commercial”

  1. Monsignor you do an incredible job of finding a video for every teaching! Great one above!

  2. That was a good video! The question is, if we commit sins that we are completely and seriously unaware of and oblivious to, are we held accountable for them? Hmmm, although I do think the closer you get to God, the more aware you become of even the tiniest ones. Yes? No?

    1. if we commit sins that we are completely and seriously unaware of and oblivious to, are we held accountable for them?

      We are aware of a lot more than we let on or will admit to. Complete and utter ignorance is extremely rare, especially in cases of intrinsic evil. That one ignores his conscience is not a defense or justification for claiming he was ignorant of and oblivious to the evil. Willful ignorance, willful blindness to truth, is no excuse. Indeed, with most sins, we justify doing them before we act, insisting that they are not sins at all. That is what happened with the first sin.

      But God is not fooled by our insistence that we thought that the evil we are doing is actually good, He is not fooled by our claims of ignorance trying to minimize our responsibility for our actions. He is not fooled by those Germans who, in all subjective sincerity, asserted that Jews and other social undesirables were harmful drags on the nation, a disease that needed to be treated and eliminated.

      Fairly often a defendant at trial will insist that he didn’t mean to kill the victim during a robbery. He didn’t mean to pull the trigger. But upon closer questioning, he will have to admit that he intended to buy the gun and the bullets. He intended to load the bullets into the gun. He intended to put the loaded gun in their pocket. He intended to go over to the store where the victim worked. He intended to enter the store. He intended to confront the victim and demand money. He intended to take the gun out of his pocket. He intended to raise the gun and point it. All of these things he did with conscious knowledge and intent. So he cannot then escape guilt by insisting, “but I didn’t mean for the gun to go off.” He cannot legitimately insist that he was unaware and oblivious to the evil that was being perpetrated throughout.

      And even if knowledge and intent of the result is lacking, there may still be a great deal of culpable negligence, a knowing lack of carelessness or a knowing disregard for whether the act is good or not.

      Similarly, beyond culpability for the act itself, or culpable carelessness leading to the act, failure to properly form one’s conscience so as to recognize the good and discern the evil is also something that one might be held accountable for. Assuming the person was, in fact, unaware and oblivious, it is fair to ask him “Why were you unaware and oblivious? Why didn’t you seek to learn all the relevant facts before you acted? Why didn’t you seek to properly form your conscience? Why didn’t you pray more and ask God for the grace to tell the difference between right and wrong?”

      To be sure, even the claim of ignorance before God, that one was unaware and oblivious and is therefore completely innocent of any possible wrongdoing, is itself indicative of a certain lack of humility and lack of contrition. The truth is, the more mired one is in sin, the more difficult it is for him to even recognize his sinfulness. But to let him claim ignorance in such a case would be to say that, because it blinds him in this way and deadens his conscience, it is his very sinfulness which justifies him and excuses him from culpability for it.

      If that is the case, then in all charity, instead of trying to get people to see the sin in same-sex sexual relations, as has been discussed here recently, we should instead leave them in their ignorance of truth, leave them to say with sincerity that they are unaware and oblivious to any possible sinfulness in such conduct, because if they remain ignorant, then (according to that logic) it is not a sin and they will go to heaven despite that conduct. But if we convince them of the sinfulness, then they are more likely to be condemned to Hell for it, thereby defeating the purpose of our convincing them of it.

      But such an outcome is absurd, of course. Rather, moral truth is objective and some acts are intrinsically wrong, they are evil per se, such that one cannot legitimately claim he was unaware or oblivious to its wrongful nature.

  3. You were awsome this week monsignor. Tuesday was a bummer but you definitely stole the thunder. Right on.

  4. The best and worst confession I ever participated in (my own confession) was one where the Priest told me to say penance for all the ways and people my sin affected and set a bad example for. Then he started to name names, figuratively: my children, others that knew me, people that looked up to me, etc. The more he spoke, the more I cried and felt the real magnitude of what I perceived to be just ‘a sin’. He was a visiting Priest and I have always gone to confession since then both wanting him to be there again and dreading him being there, at the same time.

    Sometimes it takes another to show us the extent of the planks in our own eyes.

  5. I agree. Its been a really tough couple of weeks. Especially with hurricane Sandy, the election, the failed referendums, no power, no heat, no gasoline, then the Nor’Easter. I am looking forward to Advent.

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