Thursday, February 18, 2010

Innocence and Penitence

These early days of Lent invite reflection on the theme of innocence and penitence. Last year, there was a good sermon available online that spoke to subject. Unfortunately, the sermon is no longer accessible. There, Father affirmed that innocence is, of course, best. He described penitence as next best, however, and said it is very pleasing to God.

Father went on to talk about how the Blessed Mother is the model of innocence and the Magdalene is the model of penitence. He pointed out that in Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, the Blessed Mother and St. Mary Magdalene are shown staying together in Jerusalem during Christ's Passion and that this could be a metaphor for the closeness of true penitence to innocence. He said that St. Mary Magdalene was the only saint in the entire canon given the title of "Penitent", which suggests her perfection as a model for all penitents.

In his Modern Catholic Dictionary, Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., defines the two concepts as follows:
"INNOCENCE. Freedom from sin or moral guilt. Applied to Adam and Eve before the Fall, to those who have just been baptized, and to persons who never lost the state of grace because they never committed a grave sin. (Etym. Latin innocens: in-, not + nocere, to harm, hurt.)

"PENITENCE. The state of being repentant for having sinned. It is therefore a disposition of soul, arising from a realization of one's sinfulness and includes the willingness to expiate the wrongdoing."
Of course, no one can approach the innocence of the Blessed Mother who was born without the stain of original sin (the Immaculate Conception). Several saints, however, are believed to have preserved their baptismal innocence. These include: St. Dominic de Savio, St. John of the Cross, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, St. Pio, and St. Gemma Galgani.

Most of us, unfortunately, lose our baptismal innocence then regain it for a time through the sacrament of confession, as we struggle to become more like St. Mary Magdalene in penitence. There is a good post at Vultus Christi that speaks of "Innocence Restored".

The image above of St. Mary Magdalene (left) and the Blessed Mother gazing at the Crucified Christ after he was taken down from the Cross and prior to his burial might be useful for meditating on the closeness of true Penitence to Innocence.

May all the readers of this blog make a good Lent!

Detail from Perugino's "Companto sul Cristo Morto", from Wikimedia Commons. The painting is in the public domain. For compilation copyright free licensing information click on this link.

1 comment:

Marie-Jacqueline said...

Leilani, Thank you for the comment you submitted for moderation. I am not going to publish it, but you will find a pretty good answer to your question at The Black Cordelias, here:


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