Good Friday! The darkest and grimmest day of the year! The world stops, and time stops. We are overwhelmed. Christ dies for our sins. Sin. What is it? Some people used to think that eating meat on Friday was the worst thing a person could do, and others claimed that the greatest (and perhaps unpardonable?) sin was to ingest any alcoholic beverage. In addition to being absurdly simplistic, such views actually trivialize the Gospel.
Although remorse for an acknowledged misdeed or uncharitable attitude is painful, we have at least some idea what happened. The deeper consciousness of sin is different: it is a God-awful feeling, a profound Angst, and we do not know the source of this feeling. Feelings, however, are good servants but poor masters, and they are of little help in recognizing sin itself. When a weepy penitent effused, “Oh Father, I have been proud,” “Who the hell hasn’t” was the confessor’s retort.
An exegetical tradition sometimes called “The Paradox of the Fortunate Fall” maintains that without sin there would be no salvation, no Easter without Good Friday . “O felix culpa,” goes the Latin liturgy for Good Friday, “quia talim ac tantum meruit habere redemptionem.” “O happy fault that merited such a deliverance!”
“My god, my god, why hast thou forsaken me?” “But thou art he that took me out of the womb.” Our spiritual journey is constantly two steps forward, one step back. Every day we die with Christ, and every day we rise with Him.