Thursday, February 23, 2012

The burden of our sins is intolerable

The General Confession, which is made at Holy Communion:

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we from time to time most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [The Anglican Book of Common Prayer]

Candidates ReligionI once knew a regular churchgoer who never repeated the words, ‘the burden of them (i.e. his sins) is intolerable’,’ because he did not feel that they were intolerable. But he was not understanding the words…. [I]t might be clearer if we said ‘unbearable’, because that still has two meanings: you say ‘I cannot bear it,’ when you mean it gives you great pain, but you also say ‘That bridge will not bear that truck’ not meaning ‘That bridge will feel pain,’ but ‘If that truck goes on to it, it will break and not be a bridge any longer, but a mass of rubble.’ I wonder if that is what the Prayer Book means; that, whether we feel miserable or not, and however we feel, there is on each of us a load which, if nothing is done about it, will in fact break us, will send us from this world to whatever happens afterwards, not as souls but as broken souls.

C.S. Lewis, "Miserable Offenders," God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 120-121.

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