The Value of Guilt

Sage thoughts from my favorite Dominican blogger-priest, Fr. Phillip Neri Powell, O.P. He is discussing the guilt feelings of people who were involved in abortions, but the principle applies to all kinds of sin.

In my experience, people often express horrible guilt over sin. They are shocked when I exclaim, "Good! You should feel guilty! Do you know what that means?" They usually say, "That I'm a bad person, a terrible sinner?" I say, "Nope. Just the opposite. Guilt tells you that you have a correctly formed conscience and that though you have sinned, you are not fundamentally a bad person."

We have been told for too many years now that guilt is bad and we must do everything to expunge it from our consciousness. In the pursuit of a guilt-free life, we have not eliminated sin in practice but rather made sin rare by making most everything permissible and therefore no longer sinful. No sin, no guilt. But guilt is one way we know that we are good people. If you cannot feel guilt over deliberately and directly killing an innocent life, then something is very seriously wrong.

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