Have you lost your sense of sin?

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In the early 60s the proponents of the “there’s no God,” “God-is-Dead” and the more cautious but also anti-religion “leave us alone to define what God is” mentalities had not yet won the print and broadcast mass media, There were discussions then about the “sense of shame” and “the sense of sin.”

These discussions were in radio and TV talk shows and on the pages of The Manila Times. Young people don’t know that this paper was the largest-circulation and most-respected newspaper before it was destroyed by the Marcos Martial Law dictatorship. Many of the present college students don’t even quite know what the Marcos Martial Law regime was all about.

In those days, to be publicly called “walang hiya” (shameless) not just by a political enemy but by a writer for a serious publication like The Manila Times—names like should-be-Nobel awardee Frankie Sionil Jose, Philippine Star Founder Max Soliven, Inquirer Founder Eggie Apostol among others—made the corrupt break into paroxysms of guilt that made them come out and point to their accomplices.

More painful was to be asked “Don’t you have a sense of sin?  How could you have done that?”


Exposure of the grasping schemes of Napoles and the congressmen and senators to take away food from the mouths of the poorest of the poor babies, inventing non-existent humanitarian NGOs to get money budgeted for indigents, would have made the politician-officials of the 50s and early 60s run to the nearest confessional and then disappear from public view.

But some of them have thick-skinnedly survived. They lead the pack in the Napoles PDAF scam and the Benigno Cojuangco Aquino DAP scam.

These have neither sense of shame nor sense of sin.

They should shudder to hear Pope Francis about the “sense of sin.”  But they wouldn’t because they know that they are very much like the majority of the Filipino population—we Filipinos have generally lost the sense of sin.  And that’s why we can easily forgive ourselves and those among us who commit incest against their own daughters and nieces and steal milk from the mouth of indigent babies! But I’m using that inclusive “we” rhetorically. I am proud to say that I have an acute sense of sin and go to confession as often as I can, as every Catholic should.

Pope Francis revives the issue
Last week, in his homily at Casa Santa Marta in Rome, Pope Francis brought up that very crucial matter to Christianity. You can’t be a proper Christian but only a mediocre Christian if you don’t have a sense of sin.  We are Christians because we believe in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ—who died for our sins.

The Holy Father was talking to people at Santa Marta who he knew were mostly correct Catholics. So the worst he could say about not having the sense of sin is that it leads others to pay for our “Christian mediocrity.”

This is what the Zenit News Agency report said under the headline
“Pope Francis: Loss of the Sense of Sin Leads to ‘Christian Mediocrity’—Reflects on Those Who Suffer the Consequences of Other’s Sins.”

Christian mediocrity
“VATICAN CITY, January 31, 2014 (Zenit.org)—Losing the sense of sin causes others to pay for our “Christian mediocrity.” This was the central point of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.

“The Holy Father reflected today on the first reading which spoke of David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba which led to the murder of her husband, Uriah. David, he said, rather than seeing his adultery as a grave sin, sees it as a problem that needs to be resolved.

“This thing can happen to all of us,” he said. “We are all sinners and we are all tempted and temptation is our daily bread. If one of us said: ‘I never had a temptation’, either you’re a cherubim or a bit stupid, no?”

“Struggle is normal in life and the devil is never calm, he wants his victory. But the problem – the most serious problem in this passage – is not so much temptation and the sin against the 9th commandment, but how David behaves. And David here does not speak of sin, he speaks of a problem that he needs to resolve. This is a sign! When the Kingdom of God is lessened, when the Kingdom of God decreases, one of the signs is that the sense of sin is lost.”

“The Holy Father went on to say that in praying the Our Father, we pray for God’s kingdom to come, meaning ‘thy Kingdom grow.’ When the sense of sin is lost, so is the sense of the Kingdom of God lost. In its place, he said, ‘emerges a very powerful anthropological vision, in which ‘I can do anything.’ “

“The power of man in place of the glory of God! This is the daily bread. For this [reason]the everyday prayer to God ‘Your kingdom come, your kingdom grow’ [is important], because salvation does not come from our cleverness, our astuteness, in our intelligence in doing business. Salvation comes from the grace of God and from the daily training that we do with this grace in Christian life.”

The Pope also cited Pius XII’s assertion that “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin.” He was the Holy Father from March 2, 1959 to October 9, 1958. Pope Francis reflected on Uriah, who represents the innocent victims who suffer as consequence of our sins.

“I must confess, when I see these injustices, this human pride, also when I see the danger that would happen to me, the danger of losing the sense of sin, it does me well to think of the many Uriahs in history, the many Uriahs who even today suffer from our Christian mediocrity, when we lose the sense of sin, when we let the Kingdom of God fall.”

St. Josemaria  Escriva’s words
Almost half a century ago, St. Josemaria Escriva said in a letter to priests:
“Revival of the practice of sacramental confession is one of the greatest challenges for the present day world, which needs to rediscover the sense of sin and experience the joy of God’s mercy. A priest, by making himself available to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, and in such a way that – through prayer and study— his ideas are in harmony with the doctrine of the Church, is absolutely irreplaceable.”

Why, many people, Filipinos and foreigners, ask: Why are the Filipinos so self-destructive, so unable to get their acts together, so undisciplined and chaotic?

James Fallows, probably thinking of Filipinos as people who should be guided to greatness by their Christian faith, gave the answer in the 1980s: They have a damaged culture.

Well, yes. We have lost the sense of sin.

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9 Comments

  1. Too much attachment to material rather than spiritual drive Filipinos lost their identity, before we embraced the word, Bayanihan, Mano po, Oracion, Sunday mass family together, and Salo-Salo in the family once a week. But now it’s lost from the reality of our ancestors that makes us already lost our sense of sin. When we only think to became rich, famous and easy money, everything collapsed we lost our true identity of being a Filipinos, let’s look back and see let’s bring good from the past.

  2. Thanks for publishing this splendid article about TRUTH. It is sad,but true that to some or greater extent we are if not yet, practically lost our sense of sin. Here in Toronto we have now access on cable TV Pilipino Channels on 7/24 time slots and I almost can’t believe the contents of the programs/ shows.Without sounding like a critic one can easily observed what is going on in our beloved Philippines. There seems to be so much mayhem,crime,murder, robberies or what have you to easily lead one to feel that there is indeed..absence of ” sense of guilt or sin” anymore. It is unfortunate that as a Christian country (if that still holds true) we sort of have bartered this virtue of holiness in our heritage…so sad…thanks, for the article, I will follow your articles..God bless.

  3. Many Filipinos use their thin Christian belief as a banner not as a way of life. Unfortunately after decades of corruption by our lawmakers and leaders Filipinos believe the only way to exist is to be corrupt. The Marcos era and Government since 1986 have led us to a sinful nation with no conscious. The quality of service infrastructure and armed forces suffer from the illegal plunder suffer to a state of a very weak nation.

  4. I find it so difficult to understand why so many intelligent people still believe in god. Lets take confession for instance, it seems if you sin & confess, its ok you will be forgiven. So how do you no if janet napoles didnt go to confession & confess her sins because if she did would she also be forgiven everytime she confessed. Its a big con to get power & control & money. When 2 countries go to war they each claim god is on their side & when one loses then we know they were wrong & the winners were right, what a loa of cobblers. Its a brilliant idea isnt it do anything you like but just confess & its ok, no one else will find out as the priest hearing your confession is heald to secrecy. No you believe i wont. I then look at all the idiots chasing after the black nazarine, its the height of stupidity & how many get injured or killed all for the want of touching a stupid statue. It truly beggars belief.

  5. When we have a president who openly claims that there is nothing wrong with influencing a constitutional process of impeachment where impartiality is guaranteed or at lleast expected where evidence is proferred by the accusers and counter evidence is offered by the defenders of the accused addressed to the supposed independent assessment of a group of “honorable” senators and where pundits justify this interference as a “political” privilege, let us brace ourselves hapless Uriahs for this display of lack of the sense of sin with the consequences that will befall us. I count myself among the few who still feel guilty for having missed a Sunday mass at my retirement age and still account for it among the sins I confess. A damaged culture is one that we Filipinos have brought and continue to bring to ourselves but hope springs eternal and I still pray for the day when the good Lord in His mercy will bring His Kingdom especially in this part of the world.

  6. Ruben V. Calip on

    Thank you for trying to awaken your readers to this very fundamental issue about us Filipinos. Our kings and queens of the TV media and the entertainment world are the shapers of our intellect. Christian priests and ministers, or Muslim imams, and not even those atheists who preach a religionless goodness and honesty are not the voices our people love to listen to all day.
    The hungry masses and the richer OFWs and their families as well as the very rich who own the corporations and the TV stations are under the influence of entertainment personalities and prophets of immorality.
    If Filipinos can’t be virtuous in their homes, why expect them to be honest in their offices, shops, schools, shops and markets?
    We have a lousy government and greedy corporations because as individuals and as a society we have no sense of sin.

    • I quite agree with your comments but all is not lost as implied by your last statement “….. because as individuals and as a society we have no sense of sin.” God is a God of mercy and of love. He wants all of us to be with him in His Kingdom. God’s power can never be equalled by the power of darkness. We need to pray unceasingly and we need to pray for one another, that we may be able to conquer every temptation that comes our way. In the end, the power of good will triumph over the power of sin.

  7. You really got it right, Mr. Bas. That’s why we can easily forgive ourselves for not giving to the needy even if we hear or read the news about how much our fellow Filipinos are suffering for being very poor and for having been made homeless by typhoons. That’s why no prosecution of corrupt officials, lawmakers, kotong and worse cops, smugglers and their government partners and protectors and regulators of Meralco, etc. ever happens.

    Carlo L. Adan