Monday, June 13, 2016

Fr. Perrone on analogy between spell-check and sanctification

Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" (Assumption Grotto News, June 12, 2016):
Technology has made possible a certain kind of perfection that was not obtainable before. As an example of this, I refer to the word processor on which I wrote this. Like the majority of writers, I use my PC to make facile corrections after I've written my draft. Though I often succeed in defeating its capabilities for producing a perfect document, tools for it are readily available, for cutting and pasting, for spelling and grammar correction (which I insist on not using -- perhaps you can tell) and many similar features. With a sufficient number of rereadings and redactions I should be able to produce a flawless piece of writing, one -- be it noted -- artificially constructed. It's only through much 'doctoring it up' that this computer lends me a semblance of competence and mastery that I do not claim for myself. With my computer, I can go back to correct errors I had made in verbal construction, grammar, logical sequence of thought, and so fix it as to give the false impression of a refinement and precision that may not have existed from within me readily and naturally. In short, the end product of my work is a deception. (In recordings of music, a similar process of recreation can make a note-perfect performance.)

The artifice of the computer lends a kind of dignity to its user that is false. How often we are wowed by the savvy and agile manipulation of those who can rapid-fire all the needed clicks to produce technological marvels. We are thus foolishly led to conclude, for example, that our youth who have been weaned on computers from their infancy are much more intellectually advanced than those of former times. Here again technology works its deceptive magic in proposing an illusory facade that many well mask gross ignorance.

The motive for these ruminations is the analogy of the perfected document to the spiritual life of all of us, fallen descendants of Adam. What technology can do by a simulation of perfection is actually possible by supernatural means. The grace of God works in such a manner that it heals the self-inflicted wounds due to one's sins. This is the work of reparation, understood in a broad sense. Through Confession, the Mass, prayer, and a worthy Holy Communion, we can effectively correct, edit, reconstruct and recreate our spiritual life, not in a metaphorical, analogical way but in very truth.

When God forgives a sinner who has real remorse for his sins, who confesses them entirely, intends to reform his life, and receives the absolving, sacramental action of the priest, sins are removed, discarded and forgotten, as if they never happened. (However, inevitable consequences remaining after forgiveness are the sinner's memory of his past sins and whatever damaging effects they may have caused others or banefully affected events and things in this world.) By means of this spiritual rebuilding, one reconstructs his life and successfully edits-out evils and defects, making a new man formed after the pattern of Christ. This is a real perfection which is possible to achieve on this earth and which will be absolutely necessary for entry into heaven. No one in heaven is defective; all there are in a state of perfection such that all past sins are out-of-mind. In this light, purgatory is seen as a necessity for those whose lives ended with any remaining venial sins or with punishments owed for sins forgiven. Hell, it seems to me, would be the mirror opposite of the blest saints of heaven. For the damned, all the "good parts" of their earthly life would have been eternally edited-out and the composition of their eternal existence would be utter depravity.

Every biography and every autobiography is a selection of some events and facts about someone's life. What is recounted and what is omitted is decided by the writer who can at best only approximate the reality of a person's life. In this, there is always something necessarily incomplete and even false about all attempts to write about teh life of oneself or about that of anyone else.

To belabor my point. You will not be able to lead an absolutely perfect life. Sin has a certain inevitability in this world. But you can, and indeed should, daily go about the work of perfecting your life, rewriting your life's story, healing it by the supernatural 'technologies' given you by the Church. In the end there will be only one human form to inhabit heaven -- that of Christ, to which all the saints will have been conformed, after the pattern of His likeness. Be confident then in the power these transforming and restorative tools you have at your disposal for remaking your life. A perfect autobiography is possible.

Fr. Perrone