This past week, a couple of my reflections have recalled to mind an apparently little known doctrine of the Church: that at the end of the world, all will be known to all. As we read in the Catechism:
In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare. The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life…CCC #1039
As an adult, I see what an advantage it was to be taught the Catechism as a child. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on it, and for it to shape my worldview. Two ways in which this particular doctrine formed me are as follows:
1. Knowing that ultimately all my sins and all my good deeds, all my good and evil thoughts would one day be revealed to all as part of our great rejoicing in God’s story of our Salvation, I had good motivation to go to Confession. Although I might be mortally ashamed of my sins, it was probably a good idea to get used to them being out in the open—to one man, who acts as Christ Most Merciful. Besides, to go to Confession quickly would mean I would sooner have more grace to avoid falling into more sin. That in turn could mean less filth ultimately to be exposed! Heh. Cunning as serpents, innocent as doves. Sometimes conniving is a good thing!
2. I began to desire that kind of openness. In the present, it is often prudent to keep one’s sins discreetly, for many reasons, all ultimately that we are still broken and do not have the vision we will one day have to see all things in the light of God’s glory. The Devil loves to use sin to distance us yet further from God: shame, judgment, gossip, scandal.
However, it is not just sin that will be revealed, not just our heroic achievements when we responded to God’s grace, but the naked soul in all its beauty. This thought led me to reflect on the profound beauty of each unique, individual soul, including my own. Nothing seemed more glorious an existence than that when all darkness and dimness of vision will cease and each person will be known as God intended him to be known.
But why wait until the final day? Why not work towards that beautiful transparency of soul?
Of course, to work towards this now one must be absolutely convicted that each soul is made Very Good, and that sin can never fully corrupt that which God has made, as existence itself is good. These concepts aren’t difficult for me to accept and believe, in part on account of my gift of faith, and in part, no doubt, thanks to the love of my parents. I have never been able to believe on any deep level that I am not good, and in turn I have not been able to believe that any other person in the history of the world has been pure evil. (Does pure evil even exist? Even the Devil is God’s creature and therefore good in one sense, something that must disgust him and make him hate himself.)
Contemplating the end of the world not only motivated me to be shrived when I often wished to hide, but it also motivated me to live with transparency of soul, not to hold back in “letting my light shine,” to put it more colloquially.
It’s a funny thing, too, that when you believe you are good, it’s easier (in some ways) to be good. You understand goodness is your true nature, and when you also believe that Christ has died and rose from the dead for our sins, you know that it’s Game Over for Evil. Christianity is all about choosing the winning side—who really wants to be a loser? Sin is totally irrational.
Joy is what we were made for. Do not be afraid to confess your sins. Do not be afraid to live transparently and let your light shine. Love Who is Christ conquers all fear.