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Friday, July 20, 2012

Good Old Catholic Guilt


the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability: He admitted his guilt.
a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined."
I was thinking about guilt recently because a friend accused me of making her feel guilty.  Is guilt something that you can impose on another person?  According to the definition above, it doesn't seem like it.   Guilt is a feeling of responsibility for having committed a wrong.  If you are feeling guilty, then you feel responsible for the wrong.  I didn't give it to you.  Maybe I reminded you that it was wrong, but I didn't make up the rules.
I also notice that many people get angry about things, the same things that they often feel guilty about. It's hard to escape your conscience, especially since God's law is written on your heart.  If something wasn't truly wrong, would you get so angry about it?
Here's the example of what I am referring to:  My friend and I were having a discussion about contraception.  I told her that I didn't use contraception for many reasons, but one being that it is against Church teaching.  She got very defensive and told me to stop pushing my Catholic nonsense on her (in some not quite as nice words).   My friend was raised Catholic, but now doesn't practice any formal religion, but has her own spirituality, her own relationship with God, outside of "religion".  
Now, if she wasn't feeling guilty, if her conscience wasn't nagging at her, why would she have gotten so angry?  Couldn't we have had a discussion about the risks and benefits of contraception?  Agree to disagree? 
Perhaps Catholic Guilt isn't so bad after all.  It seems to me that it is just your conscience nagging at your heart, trying to tell you that perhaps something you are doing or the way you are living isn't in accord with God's way. 

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