A homily I just heard this weekend reminded me about the concept of guilt. It seems that in our time, the only evil that exists is the feeling of guilt. Guilt is viewed as a negative emotion that stunts our growth as individuals. We attempt to rid ourselves of guilt by ignoring it, discussing it away, and if necessary, medicating it to numb its effects upon us. It is funny how some of the simplest gifts of God are really quite mistaken in our attempt to feel good.
Guilt is not the hindrance that we all imagine it to be. It is actually quite the opposite. We experience guilt as the product of a properly formed conscience. In fact, the truly sick person is the individual who goes through life experiencing no guilt, no regret for past actions or nudges to act according to a higher standard. In a world of pleasure seeking gone wild, we need to have our consciences fully functioning, and guilt is the indication that we are keeping ourselves in check.
The next time someone says “don’t feel guilty” to you, please be careful in discerning whether or not the intentions of that person align with the intentions of God. God intends for us to recognize guilt, process its validity, and renew our commitment to Christ. Guilt is good, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.