Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
Why, for the same reason you and I do: for the greater good, of course. That’s how all human beings justify lying or any other sin they commit. Normally, for *ordinary* people in *ordinary* situations, such behavior is “wrong”, we say. But for me, in my oh-so-special situation, it’s okay. Or if not okay, then, courageous because I’m bravely willing to defy even God in order that some essential and good thing be preserved despite his inexplicable and pharisaic rules that stand in the way of the Greater Good. In fact, I’m actually a *hero* for being willing to go to hell for the Greater Good. The graver the sin, the more likely the sinner is to spout the language of courage to justify the sin. It is all, of course, an elaborate kabuki for covering up the fact that when we advocate some sin, whether grave or venial, we are, in fact, afraid to trust God and obey him.
Permit me to repeat: We all do it. And we all, when our minds are clear, recognize the baloney when others say it and we have no vested interest in the Greater Good they are pursuing by their sinful actions. It’s only in our own case that we manage to muscle down conscience, tell ourselves this load of bushwah and make ourselves believe the lie—at least temporarily. Eventually conscience catches up with us, whether through exposure of the bushwah to the light of day or because we just can’t live with ourselves anymore. Then we have the choice to listen to conscience or keep up the “courageous” denial of it.
Happily, there is always the option of repentance, confession, and the forgiving grace of God. Lent’s an especially good time for that.