catharsis (kάθαρσις): purification or cleansing

October 13, 2007

That it is difficult to repent genuinely will not come as a surprise to those who have pondered the gravity and power of human sin. One of sin’s most notable features is that it unfailingly refuses to acknowledge itself as sin. We usually not only refuse to admit the wrongdoing and to accept guilt, but seem neither to detest the sin committed nor feel very sorry about it. Instead, we hide our sin behind multiple walls of denial, cover-up, mitigating explanations, and claims to comparative innocence.

–Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge

Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things
which we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
which we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us …

–“Evening Prayer,” The Book of Common Prayer


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