Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Thoughts on Guilt

I was watching Star Wars last night on Spike (not the best TV network). I think it was "Revenge of the Sith." Whatever it was, it is the one in which Darth Vader goes over to the dark side of the force. You can see him struggling during the movie. He is torn between good and bad, giving and self-seeking, pride and humilty. Slowly but surely, step my step, he is leaves the good power of the force and chooses the dark side. His choices are not always big but often little compromises. He is also driven to protect his wife whom he loves. What could be wrong with that?

There is one moment when he seems to make his choice. He looses hope when he wounds the Jedi Knight who is about the kill the Evil Counsul. Darth's motives are mixed and confused. He wants to do the right thing and give the Counsul a fair trial (nothing bad with that), he wants to protect his wife (still a nobel cause) he is intriqued by the power and promise of the evil counsul. Aren't we all intrigued by the power and promise of sin from time to time? His downfall happens when he laments "What have I done?" At that moment I think he lets go of goodness and looses hope for redemption. Doesn't it sound familiar ? Aren't those also the words of Judas who was also overcome by guilt and grief ?

I have to say guilt has been good to me or maybe even good for me. There have been moments when feeling guilty has challenged me to repent and try harder to do good. Guilt in its proper dose can be a blessing a catalyst for change and conversion. This is especially the case when we keep in mind that God's mercy and God's goodness are much more powerful than evil. Darth, at least for a while, forgot that fundamental truth, so did Judas.

Yes, guilt can help us turn around when we find ourselves on the wrong road. By the way, guilt is not a gift that keeps giving. We feel guilty the first time we mess up and maybe the second time and depending on what we are doing guilt may still work the third and the forth time. However, after a while we just stop feeling guilty about our bad choices or actions. Then the road back to "the force", back to what is good, gets harder.

Yesterday I was encouraging some students to go to House Mass as they walked down the hill from Leahy Hall past the House. They were on their way to the Pryz to eat their 4th meal of the day.. (anytime dining baby). As they walked on I shouted out "we have the Bread of Life here" one turned around and stopped. She said," Catholic guilt always works well on me".

Thanks be to God, but like any good thing always in moderation and never without hope.

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