When we work in the Conscience space, we remember that strong emotions do not automatically equal sin. Many of us are brought up to believe that becoming angry is the worst thing that can happen, and that all by itself, feeling angry is sinful. Yet we cannot help but feel anger at times, along with many other strong feelings. Our Catechism teaches us that "In themselves passions are neither good nor evil" (1767 CCC).
These storms we encounter in our minds tell us something. They tell us we are having a difficult time. They tell us we are walking through a tough period. The fact that we find some thing or some one difficult does not make us bad people; nor does it mean we have deliberately contributed a sinful response. If we choose to lash out and deliberately harm ourself or another, then those actions require examination. But acknowledging to ourselves that we are having difficulty with a person or a situation will prompt God’s compassion for us, not his condemnation. There's no need to panic when we find life tough going. Also, there may be no need to "fix" something or someone, either. At times, we must simply keep going and wait for a situation to pass or a relationship to reconfigure. “This is difficult for me and it will pass.” There are times to use that sentence.
In the Conscience Room of our Contemplative Prayer structure, God sheds his merciful light. That light is the light of truth. So often, we loop around and around on a past mistake or mistakes. We may have no idea how heavily we carry these burdens, but sometimes the past can lurk to disturb our peace. If we bring these matters to Christ, the Saviour, he will have the opportunity to draw us into better understanding and acceptance of what actually occurred. Often, we make a small mistake and there is a permanent or terrible consequence, perhaps something that is seen by others. We may inflate the mistake because the consequence on self or other was grave. Perhaps we feel humiliated in this situation. We all have to live with these human experiences (everyone has their own version), but they can cause us unnecessary suffering if we do not allow God to send us better comprehension of what, in truth, happened at the time.
In summary, most of us are harder on ourselves than we should be. In terms of the actual sins, the actions; Do not let either a sin or mistake go past you without explaining to yourself why it happened. The formula for understanding our negative contributions can look like this:
“I felt ______, and then I did _____.”
"_____ happened and then I did_____.”
We have to fill in those blanks in our lives because that is our life’s work, to understand ourselves in God’s merciful light. Often it is only here, in this work, that we will find the relief we so badly need.
The journey continues…