The shop assistant at the video store was a friendly young girl wearing a T-shirt proclaiming - I DON'T DO GUILT. I was stunned.
She came back to my mind a few days later on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I wondered whether, if Mary, the young girl from Nazareth, were to wear a T-shirt, it might read - I DON'T DO SIN.
Sin and guilt - how close they are to the human situation! They are always with us, and most especially when they are being denied.
As a consequence of sin, guilt has an irreplaceably useful purpose - it is the uncomfortable stirring of a compromised integrity which urges us to repair the past. For an honest person this is the only way forward.
And yet, ironically, this T-shirt was an admission of sin. In denying its consequences this girl was affirming its reality and thereby, again ironically, flying in the face of the modern tendency to deny outright the very existence of sin. I do like old-fashioned girls!
Sin haunts the restless, aching conscience of modern society like illness and disease stalk the human body - there seems to be no escape. The problem is that no matter how shrewdly we redefine it, or how large the consensus which rejects it, the word sin, and the words mercy and forgiveness, just seem to want to remain the best way to describe what happens when we wound, destroy or heal a relationship.
Well, I have to admit, I DO SIN and I DO GUILT too, and then I do repentance, confession, and absolution. Mysteriously, just like Jesus said, I then find peace, joy, and freedom.