Scrooge and Sacramental Confession
I found John Clark’s reflection on Dickens’ Scrooge to be as the less literary say (i.e. me), “Right On!”
“There is an antithesis to “sleeping in Heavenly peace”; and that is, lying awake in hellish chaos. It’s a theme that arises in the great literature from the ancients to the moderns. The solution is repentance, which Scrooge would soon realize.
“He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk— that anything— could give him so much happiness.”
“Everything could yield him pleasure.”
Dickens’ words will resonate with the penitent who has just been absolved in the sacrament of Penance and regained the state of grace.
This Christmas, many penitents will stand in lines for Confession. When they step out of that Confessional, you may not see them dancing, but their hearts are doing what Fred Astaire could only imagine. Mere gravity is hopeless against tethering that joy. One need not try to fly; the tough task is staying on the ground.
There is a theological term for all this: the state of grace. The “state of grace” is a very formal term. It seems very stately and very graceful. Yet, there is a childlike exhilaration to the state of grace and an infantile innocence. The state of grace is the state of happiness, of peace, of rest, of joy, of love, of wonder, of excitement, of newness.
The story of Scrooge is a story of repentance. But the best stories of repentance are fact. Not fiction. As I have said, I love this story. It is regarded as some of the finest prose in the English language.
But please remember this: If Scrooge’s story moves you to sacramental repentance this Christmas, the greatest chapter wasn’t written by Charles Dickens. It will be written by you.”
With Charles Dickens’ Tiny Tim, we say, “God bless Us, Every One!”