Live Rightly Or Live With Regret

1 Apr

“There is no man, however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived in a way the consciousness of which is so unpleasant to him in later life that he would gladly, if he could, expunge it from his memory.” ~ Marcel Proust

The reading at yesterday’s Mass, from the Book of Wisdom, spoke of the wicked who stated, “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.” (Wis 2:12)

It always amazed me that the wicked would recognize that “the just one” was speaking the truth about them but that they would rather rid themselves of the just person rather than repent of their sins.

Sooner or later, though, our sinfulness comes full circle and looks us in the eye.  That confrontation can be quite painful.

As a priest, I often speak with people later in life who are plagued with memories of things that they have said or done much earlier in their lives.  As they age, they cannot get over what they did and their guilt racks them.  They begin to question — even doubt — that God can or will forgive them.

“If only they had not done those things or said those things” I often say to myself.  If only they could live with a clear conscience rather than be beset with memories that will not let go.

Then I realize that “if only” hardly ever exists for any of us because we have all done things or said things — as well as left things undone or unsaid — of which we should have steered clear.  That is a part of our broken, sinful human nature.  And, as we age, the devil gets a hold of those memories and twists them, trying to make us doubt God and God’s merciful love.

Throughout Lent, we have been doing our best to live rightly.  That is not necessary just for the season.  It is also necessary so that we do not be plagued later in our lives with regrets of things done or undone, said or unsaid.  “Live for today” we often hear.  The lesson of Lent, the lesson of Christ, is to live rightly for the Lord every day.

FAITH ACTION:  Examine your words and deeds this past week and determine if you need to make reparation to any person(s).