A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a concert by Great Big Sea, who hails from Eastern Canada.
I wouldn't call myself a huge fan, but I did enjoy their music a few years back. This concert was good.
It would seem that their songwriters have some issues with Catholic upbringing.
"Consequence Free" states:
"I could really stand to lose my Catholic conscience. 'Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time"
"When I am King" says this:
"Wake up, without a care. Your head's not heavy, conscience clear
Sins are all forgiven here, yours and mine
Fear has gone without a trace
It's the perfect time, it's the perfect place
Nothing hurting. Nothing sore. No one suffers anymore,
The doctor's found a simple cure.
Just in time"
To me, the aforementioned verse, up until the mention of 'the doctor' sounds like someone is describing Heaven. Nah.
While the lyrics are about the same things that most popular music sings about, I find the mention of conscience and forgiven sin interesting. It's a bit difficult to find mention of sin anywhere else in popular culture!
So, what is the 'Catholic conscience' that GBS is singing about?
It sounds like what we hear so often...big Church inflicting guilt on its pathetic group of adherents by making everything fun a sin.
A few years back my daughter and I were a captive audience to a local merchant. Finding out that my children had gone to the local Catholic high school, the merchant bluntly stated "I used to be Catholic, but I left. Too much guilt!"
My daughter later quipped to me that he really should just stop doing things that make him guilty!
That's my girl.
Guilt isn't what the Church teaches. We do guilt to ourselves.
[As to using guilt as an excuse to leave the Church, please see here]
Catholics are expected to have a well-formed conscience. Forming one's conscience is not an easy task! The Church takes it way beyond the little voice in the head going "unh-uh".
To form ones conscience, one is required to learn what the Church teaches on moral matters. Ideally, this begins in infancy in the Domestic Church...the home. This is where we begin to learn right from wrong.
We often hear, sometimes even from within the Church, that we are to follow our consciences in all matters. This would be fine, if we had well-formed consciences. We are, however, a fallen people. Left to our own devices, we incline toward sin.
When we aren't sure, we have the Church to guide us. That is the Catholic conscience. If your conscience is giving you permission to act against Church teaching, you have work to do. You're part of all humanity on that one.
Guilt is a way of knowing that we're messing up. Getting rid of that involves correcting what we're doing wrong, and confessing our sins.
So where are sins forgiven? Some can be forgiven through prayer, attending Mass, blessing oneself with Holy Water. The mortal, or serious sins require confession to a Priest, who acts in Christ's place to absolve us (assuming we're of the correct disposition...feeling genuinely sorry for what we have done and wishing not to sin again). Sins are all forgiven here.
Whether or not the Church makes everything fun a sin...that is for another day.