THE INNER WORK OF THE SPIRAL PATH -- THE SEVEN ROOTS OF SINFULNESS

            1) The White Marble     2) The Dark Brokenness                     3) The Red Stone

                CONFESSION                 CONTRITION                                     SATIS-FACTION

            To OWN and TELL         To FEEL/ REVEAL/EXPRESS                 To REPAIR outwardly

            (See and say)         (sorrow for suffering caused)                                 To AMEND inwardly
                                                  To ASK (forgiveness)                                          bringing completion
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BACKGROUND:

    The Medieval Roman Catholic Church recognized:

                         That people of every station of life committed sins –

                                Some sins would be sins of commission and
                                 some  sins would be sins of omission

                                Some sins would be mortal – those fulfilling the three features of mortal sins – namely,
                                                                                serious matter, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will.
                                Some sins would be venial – destructive acts but not rising to the level needed in the
                                definition of mortal sins, namely,
                                                when the actions involves less serious matter, and/or
                                                 is done without full knowledge and/or
                                                 is done without full consent of the will.

        Sinful behavior and the attitudes giving rise to sinful behavior were seen as taking us off our path to wholeness, to holiness, to being the kind of people God intended us to be.

        In a time period with a robust doctrine of free will, we are responsible for our wrongdoing (and for our “rightdoing”).  We are responsible for our bad choices (and for our good choices).  We are responsible for the habits of character that we install through our choices – the good habits (or virtues) and the bad habits (or vices).

 In light of this, the Catholic Church regarded the sacrament of penance one of the seven sacraments –

                     Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Marriage, Ordination, Eucharist (Mass) and
                        Extreme Unction (the Anointing of the Dying – now generalized and named
                        the Sacrament of the Sick).

 Of course, when a person committed sin – especially serious sin – there was a need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness – that was a NECESSARY condition – ESSENTIAL,  in fact, -- the INNER CORE OF REPENTANCE,

                                    and yet, in ordinary circumstances, it was NOT SUFFICIENT!

Not sufficient because it was believed GOD ASKED MORE – that we go to his representative and admit our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness through this human representative of God for the offense that was both against God and our fellow humans.  This was the outer side of repentance – the sacrament of penance or as it is now called the sacrament of reconciliation.

Every sin – especially every mortal sin was seen as an offense against God – the All, the Great Mystery – and an offense again human beings – our brothers and sisters.

 So, according to Catholic theology, where possible, one had in addition to asking God’s forgiveness, to “go to confession” – to confess one’s sins to a priest and ask forgiveness from God through the priest.  Every Catholic was under this obligation.  Priest had to go to confession to other priests and even the Pope had to go to confession to a priest.  This was the outward manifestation of the inner state.

 The scriptural basis for this was seen by the Church in Matthew 16:13-19

 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philllipi, he asked his disciples saying:
        “Who do men say that I, the son of man, am?”
 And they said, “Some say you are John the Baptist; some say, Elias; and others Jeremias
        or one of the prophets.”
 He said to them, “But who do you say I am?”
 And Simon Peter answered saying, “You are the Christ [i.e. the Anointed, the Messiah],
        the Son of the Living God.”
 And Jesus answered and said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonas, for flesh and blood has
        not revealed it to you but my Father who is in heaven.”
 And I say to you:  You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of
        hell shall not prevail against it.
 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall
        be bound in heaven and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in
        heaven.”

 Around the great dome of St. Peter’s in Rome are written this verse Matthew 16:18

                     Tu es Petrus and super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

                     You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.


Now the sacrament of penance had these three steps –

confession,
contrition and
satisfaction.
                    WHITE MARBLE STEP:  CONFESSION –

                                    To see and say what is happening -- how I get "hooked," deluded & collapse into
                                    small mind/ false center.

                   BLACK STEP – rough, cracked in the sign of a cross: CONTRITION --
 
                                    To feel and reveal the suffering of false separateness.
 

                    RED STEP – the color of blood::  SATISFACTION –

                                        To reverse false separateness, recover oneness, reinstate the conditions for mature love.

                    DIAMOND STEP: – the completion of the process

      Yet notice – when we transcribe this one time event for Dante back unto this life and the inner work we have to do -- we begin to see

                                    PENANCE AS TRANSFORMATIVE PRACTICE.

         we begin to recognize that PENANCE AS PROCESS is an ongoing training to help us move

            from the broken person we are ----- to ----   the person we are becoming –  a person with the
                                                                                                        realized capacities for mature love.
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The path of this ongoing PENANCE AS PRACTICE takes Dante on a spiral path through the terraces of the
        seven deadly roots of sin.
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 1)           From False Sense of Separateness         to         a True Sense of Self-in-Interconnection

            From PRIDE                                             to         HUMILITY
                                                                                                (Blessed are the poor in spirit)

        Overinflation, superiority (everything)
                                                                                To be somebody in partnership
        Underesteen, inferiority (nothing)

(Clue: To bend downward under weight of rock -- To face the earth again -- humus, humility, humor)
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 2)            From ENVY/JEALOUSY toward others  to         GENEROUS SHARING with others
                                                                                                    (Blessed are the merciful.)

(Clue: Eyes shut we must look inside and find our true worth, so we can again share and rejoice in one another's joys.)
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3)             From ANGER/RESENTMENT             to                     PEACE WITH JUSTICE
                        (roots of revenge)                                                         (To each, his/her due)

(Clue: When blind, listen beneath likes/dislikes, beneath positions.) -- Blessed are the peacemakers.
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4)            From SLOTH                                         to                         ENTHUSIASM/ ZEAL

(Clue: Running as a discipline; exercises for enthusiasm.) -- Blessed are those who mourn.
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5)              From AVARICE                                    to           NOBLE SERVICE/ WORTHY POVERTY
            (False Notion Success)                                             (Liberality; simplicity; Blessed are those
                                                                                                            who thirst for justice)

(Clue: Face down to earth-as-not-enough; bound hand and foot; unable to look to the heavens.)
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6)                From GLUTTONY                                 to                         TEMPERATE LIVING
                                                                                                        (Blessed are those who hunger for justice.)

(Clue: To pass by the tree and the water; to do without so that the mouth will learn to praise again.)
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7)                    From LUXURIA (lust)                             to                         PURITY OF HEART
                                                                                                            (Blessed are the pure of heart)

(Clue: The fire of passion -- mixed with sexual fantasy/illusion -- is the vehicle for transformation to a truer love. The heart bewitched is liberated. We can acknowledge true partnership of self and others according to their true worth -- a purging by fire -- from one kind of fire --- for a more mature love!)
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REVIEW:

        In regard to the Inferno, the key notion was sin and punishment -- these needed to be seen not as arbitrary nor arbitrarily connected but as revealing the true nature of the destructive behavior. The key move was to switch from the afterlife to this life and to recognize how we -- on corporate and personal levels -- create Hell on earth for ourselves, for others, and for the fabric of our interconnection.

        In regard to the Purgatorio, the key notion is repentance -- confession, contrition and satisfaction -- not as a one time event but as an on-going process of uncovering the roots of sinfulness and letting those roots die away in the light of the sun. The key move is again to switch from Purgatory as task in the afterlife to a process of spiritual development in this life.

        Confession -- To see and say what is happening -- how I get "hooked," deluded &
                                                                                    collapse into small mind/ false center.

        Contrition -- To feel and reveal the suffering of false separateness.

        Satisfaction -- To reverse false separateness, recover oneness, reinstate the
                                                                                                conditions for mature love.
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Notes toward Practice -- How to engage in Inner Work --

Begin with this affirmation: I am centered in the Love that moves the sun and other stars.
                         I am a unique gem in the great web of life. I affirm that, in truth, we are one.

For Pride or Acting from a false, separate self or center and then putting myself ABOVE others:
            Knowing my true size -- not more nor less than others,
                I can exchange "power over" others for "partnership with" others.
                I will not diminish any being.
             I accept the stone which brings me back to earth -- to my sense of interconnection.
                                    Humility reminds me of humus and humor.

On the corporate level, pride or acting from the false, separate center will result in racism, sexism, ageism, species-ism, etc. --

   Generic def. X ism is a system of ________ (e.g. racial ) inequality and discrimination
                having its roots in a generalized feeling of __________ (e.g. white) superiority
                        and sustained and reinforced by the institutions of the culture.

On the personal level, pride or acting from a false center will lead to my over-inflating myself and diminishing others. In Dante, through pride of race or social class, pride of fame, pride of domination.

Warning signs: JUDE A.B.C. -- Justifying, defending, attacking, blaming, complaining. Most often, the undertow of separateness is a work and the placing myself above others is close at hand.
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For Envy or fearing I am BELOW others

            I let go of prideful envy and my false sense of separateness.
            I have all I need to give my gifts and to celebrate the gifts of others.
            I cannot be diminished by others.
                        Generosity opens my heart; keeping score closes it.

Warning signs: Much comparing of how I am with respect to others. Awareness of what I don’t have.
            Tendency to put down others so as to feel good about myself.
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For Anger or becoming OPPOSED to others:

            I let go of prideful anger and my false sense of separateness.
            I shall not be blinded to our oneness.
            I will solve problems in awareness of partnership.

Warning signs: The build up of resentment, anger, desire for revenge, desire to crush the other.

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