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Monday, February 25, 2008

A New Creation

Tonight I watched the show, "Moment of Truth". When I first heard the premise of this show, I wondered how far we as a society have hear and watch the reality of the deepest, darkest secrets of others.

But I watched it tonight, in a sort of horror that made me want to look away...but I couldn't. Because I was the person in the hot seat.

Not because what she was confessing was what I would confess or what I lived, but rather, because I realize the "contestant" is a reflection of us all. I could not condemn her, because I AM her. We all are.

At first, I wondered what sort of person would go on a show that might ask such terrible questions about one's deepest, darkest, most hidden, shameful secrets. And I still wonder. I would NEVER want to be under such a spotlight. Because if someone sat me down and asked me about such awful things, even if there was no money at hand, I would have to make a choice; lie, and make my sin worse, or tell the truth and alienate anyone who ever thought they loved me?

This seems more like a torture technique rather than a game show. In fact, I think perhaps some horror writer such as Stephen King may have written of such an idea...but this is far more horrible than the blood and guts that spill from the pages of his or Peter Straub's works. It is something akin to perhaps Edgar Allen Poe might write for our viewing pleasure, should he have lived in our day.

The Telltale Heart has nothing on this show...but what it does is EXPOSE the telltale heart that we all might feel it beating within ourselves.

And of course, I wondered why I was watching this, and whether I was complicit in sin in doing so? Why am I giving in to the temptation to know the sins of another?

Every single question asked of that poor woman involved a sin. There with her husband watching, her parents, her brother and sister. She had to tell the truth. For money.

What a sensation.

And in the end, the final question, after she had publically confessed to theft, to an adulterous heart (if not action), to adultery in action, finally, the final question she was asked, "Do you think you are a good person?"

She answered, "Yes, I'm a good person."

The outcome was "false". She probably destroyed her marriage for money, but she did it, just the same. But that answer, that evasive answer. Analyze it.

"Do you THINK you're a good person?"

She answered "Yes, I'm still a good person." Indeed, she didn't mean it, and she knew it. She feels like dirt. And that's why she couldn't answer directly. She didn't answer what she THINKS. She answered what she wants to be true.

I sat there watching in horror as this woman really was seeking what we as Catholics have access to all the time; God's mercy.

And after watching her very public trial, which is going to cause repurcussions for her likely for the rest of her life, along with waves of destruction through her family, I became more and more grateful for the Sacrament of Confession.

There she was, up there proclaiming terrible secrets...for money.

I've had horrible secrets, too. I have confessed to terrible things, some more terrible than others. Who hasn't confessed to these things?

But we have somewhere to go with them. We can be healed. We can bring them straight to the heart of Jesus, who was pierced for our terrible sins...and who loves us anyway.

That woman, she will return to her husband, he, now aware of her divided heart and her infidelity, her family now aware of her dishonesty, and maybe her husband will leave her. Maybe her family will proclaim their love...but keep her at bay.

After her confession, nothing is resolved. Nothing has been gained; she didn't even win the money she went after. She went into the game as though it were a game...and I think she may very well have nearly lost her soul.

Go back to her final answer, the answer determined to be "FALSE." That's right. She lied. Because she DOESN'T feel like a good person. She knows that she is broken, somewhere, somehow. She is lost. And she doesn't know how to be found.

She's carrying around a lot of guilt. During the course of the questioning, she said that it's hard, but she's glad to get these things off her chest. I imagine so!

But who is going to catch her in this free-fall?

Jesus knew what He was doing when He gave his Apostles the authority to forgive sins. He knew what He was doing, because He knew that if he didn't, we all be in a free-fall, spiraling downward, not knowing how to stop. Not knowing where it ends. Wanting to be good, but not able to reach it and stop ourselves.

The truth about what and who we are can be hard, and most of us will never be under a spotlight, publicly, answering these questions. God already knows what we did. He was there. He watched. He wept. He bled.

He forgives.

Throughout the Old Testament, God never ONCE turned down a contrite heart. Jesus especially reached out to those seeking forgiveness, needing mercy.

It's hard for us to face ourselves. It's hard for us to truly examine our consciences and face what we have done. But once we do it, we can run away...or we can choose to be healed. We can unburden ourselves.

We can go to Confession, reveal our very souls at the feet of Jesus, and we can be forgiven. And a funny thing happens; we really ARE forgiven. We are a new creation.

Back when I was really struggling, trying to come back completely burdened by my past, a very holy priest, one with a particular gift, the ability to read hearts, heard my Confession. I don't even know if at the time I could put it all into words, but I really wanted to start over, free from all that STUFF. I was truly repentant, but I wasn't free. And I wasn't able to accept God's mercy; not fully.

He sent me off to read Isaiah, and I had to repeat my penance to him. It was my penance to read over and meditate on a passage from that particular book. He knew my struggle; to let go, to move on, and to accept my inheritance as an adopted daughter of God.

"Lo, I am about to create a new heaven and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind..."
(Is 65:17)

We live in a terrible world. A world that rejoices in the sins of others and calls them "good." A world that rejoices in the sufferings and destruction of individuals and families. A world that has no time for mercy, and in fact excludes mercy because it holds the lowest standard to mean "good."

I don't know why I watched that show tonight, and maybe I should bring it up the next time I go to Confession.

No, I don't think that woman was a bad person, per se, but rather, she is a misguided person, an adopted daughter of God who has gotten lost.

God Himself knows how lost I was, and how lost I still am. Judge her? No. I'm a sinner, to, no better, maybe even worse. Pray for her? Yes. Because no matter how lost we are, we can always pray for others, and those prayers will ALWAYS be heard.

I thank God for the Sacrament of Confession, though, because at least it means that I will never have to prostitute my sin for money, under the spotlight of primetime TV in order to get something off my chest.

Because no one could PAY me to reveal what belongs only to God, and what He has taken away.

This Lent, pray for the conversion of souls, for suffering souls to return to the Sacraments so that they may know the constant and infinite love and mercy of Christ. And if you can't get them back to the Sacraments...then be Christ to them in whatever way you can. Because you may be the only line to salvation in their lives.


Angela M. said...

This show should be called "sell your soul to the devil."

Melody said...

I totally agree that "entertainment" has sunk to a new level. However I'm not sure I believe in the reality of all this. When I was a kid, there was a magazine called "True Confessions". Women supposedly bared their deepest secrets in its pages. However this genre was pretty well known as a fiction market among writers. I wonder if shows such as "Moment of Truth" aren't an update of that concept. That doesn't mean that we should encourage the "trash t.v." mentality by watching those shows; they will certainly do our souls no good.

Melody said...

P.S. to my previous comment; I am aware that they use a "lie detector" on this show, but it would not be impossible for this to be faked.

adoro said...

melody ~ I remember that magazine! LOL!

What you suggest could be true...most shows are "staged", even the "reality" shows. But the polygraph is accurate enough for their usage, and they are likely banking on it giving false answers...after all, it IS a game. And we don't see the machine itself, we don't see all sorts of things, so there is no veracity of what is really happening.

But just the same...even if it's completely fake, it's still a brutal new low in the industry, IMHO

Cathy_of_Alex said...

I've seen the commercial for that show and that's more than enough. Yuck. The commercial acting appears "stagey". Next week they will probably throw a chair!

Theresa said...

I came to your blog for the first time today. It is really lovely. This post really caught my attention and expresses one of the reasons I feel so GRATEFUL to any priest who hears my confession. When I return to my pew to pray my assigned penance, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Why? Because, who would want to listen to this? I have never watched the show you are discussing, and I am sure I would be horrified like you if I did. But priests have to sit there and listen to these kinds of things in the confessional all the time. (I remember a quote from St. John Vianney that said something like "I never knew evil until I heard it in the confessional.") Yet, the priest responds mercifully: he does not recoil in horror, he does not deride or judge us. He lets us cry and encourages us to "get it all out" (abeit probably a little more delciately than the people in the TV show). He tells us that it is good to bring this all before the Lord . And then he forgives us by the power of Christ Himself! At a penance service, priests listen to penitent after pentitent after penitent, from small children, to adults; from venial sinners, to the worst of the worst. I have a priest friend who his helping out at four penance services a week this Lent! Imagine. . .!

We have a children's group in our parish that is designed to help kids seek the will of God for their lives through prayer and service to others. We do an interview of a local priest for each monthly newsletter, to get their vocation story. Most priests, if you ask them the greatest joy about being a priest, will say it is in celebrating the sacraments, esp. Mass, Baptism, and Confession. They receive great joy in bringing Christ's healing love to us and revel in reconciling us to God in the confessional. But first, they have to hear it. God bless them. They are Christ to us.

My favorite line from a preface to the Eucahristic Prayer often used in Lent is "When we were lost and could not find our way to you, you loved us more than ever." Isn't that exactly how you feel after coming out of the confessional?


adoro said...

Theresa ~ Yup, you pretty much nailed it! And welcome!