Human nature is a curious mix.
Ron Rolheiser, OMI


Most of the time, we are quite generous, warm, and hospitable. The same is true in terms of the desire and scope of our embrace, both of our minds and our hearts. Inside of everyone, easily triggered by the slightest touch of love or affirmation, lies a big heart, a grand soul, a MAGNA ANIMA, that’s just itching to show itself.

But there’s another side: We’re sinners too, more so than we think. Just as we possess a big heart and a grand soul, we also possess a petty one, a PUSILLA ANIMA. Inside us too, congenitally, there’s selfishness, jealousy, and a pettiness of heart and mind that is never far from the surface.

Moreover, generally, we are blind to our real faults. As Jesus says, we too easily see the speck on our neighbour’s eye and miss the plank in our own. There’s a real contradiction here: Where we think we’re sinners is usually not the place where others struggle the most with us and where our real faults lie. Conversely, it’s in those areas where we think we’re virtuous and righteous that, most often, our real sin lies and where others struggle with us.

For example, we’ve have always put a lot of emphasis on the 6th commandment, sexual ethics, and haven’t been nearly as self-scrutinizing regarding the 5th commandment (that deals with bitterness, judgements, anger, and hatred) or with the 9th and 10th commandments (that have to do with jealousy).

It’s not that sexual ethics are unimportant, but our failures there are easier to see and harder to rationalize. The same isn’t true for bitterness, anger, especially righteous anger, nor for jealousy. We can more easily rationalize these and not notice that jealousy is the only sin that God felt it necessary to prohibit in two commandments. We’re worse than we imagine and mostly blind to our real faults.

Recognizing that we’re more lovely than we imagine and at the same time more sinful than we suppose can be helpful, both for our self- understanding and for how we understand God’s love and grace in our lives. The truth will set us free and the truth about ourselves is that we’re both better and worse than we picture ourselves to be.

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