I love words. I love reading them and writing them. I love new words, and old words with new meanings. Recently, the Merriam Webster Dictionary has been tweeting words of the day that seem to be trolling a certain someone. Who do you know that could use a dose of self awareness of their faults? Who do you know that is “venal”, “abominable”, “obdurate” or a “grinch”? (Other recent words of the day.)
Today’s word, “mea culpa”, is steeped in catholic memory. Remember the thrice beating of the breast during the confiteor?
Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault!
I groaned when this gem was brought back with the new Roman Missal. Yes, I’m scum. I’m a sinner. I ooze guilt through my catholic pores. But, as I get older, I resent standing and professing my guilt. I much prefer to point my finger at the real sinners. You know, those who are WAAY more evil than I. The headlines of 2018 were filled with these scoundrels.
We are currently watching one of the world’s greatest democracies implode because of a greedy, corrupt, selfish leadership focused on feeding the rich at all costs while demonizing the poor, migrants and visible minorities. They rationalize their evil agendas with bastardized interpretations of Christianity. The hypocrisy is staggering. There is no sense of personal fault. They do not perceive their acts as sinful.
Within the church, those of us “of a certain age” remember the threats of hell for sins as “grievous” as missing Mass on a Sunday. Now we know that some of those same priests who lectured us from pulpits and confessionals were sexual abusers, moving from parish to parish. Bishops chose to protect their priests at all costs within a clerical culture of secrecy, denial and cover-ups. Again, the hypocrisy is staggering. Where is their sense of sin?
Mea culpa. I am no saint, but I know when I have done wrong. It makes me feel like kaka. Many times I curse my catholic guilt, but at least it keeps me on the straight and narrow – or at least the bumpy and uneven.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary declared JUSTICE to be the word of the year. A timely word. Our world is hungering for justice more than ever. We yearn for leaders of integrity who will use their power in service for the common good, so all God’s people may live with dignity, security and peace.
The Dictionary’s word of the day for Christmas was BENISON, a “blessing or benediction”.
Blessings to you and yours in this New Year!