Your sins are forgiven


It is divine forgiveness that we need, since no sinner of us all knows the full malice of sin.

One man is a slave, let us say, to a sin of the flesh, and seeks to reassure himself by the reflection that he injures no one but himself; ignorant as he is of the outrage to God the Holy Spirit whose temple he is ruining. Or a woman repeats again every piece of slanderous gossip that comes her way and comforts herself in moments of compunction by reflecting that she "means no harm"; ignorant as she is of the discouragement of souls of which she is the cause and of the seeds of distrust and enmity sown among friends.

In fact it is incredible that any sinner ever knows what it is that he does by sin. We need, therefore, the divine forgiveness and not the human, the pardon that descends when we are unaware that we must have it or die; the love of the Father who, while we are yet a great way off, runs to meet us, and who teaches us for the first time, by the warmth of his welcome, the icy distances to which we had wandered. If we knew, anyone could forgive us. It is because we do not that only God, who knows all things, can forgive us effectively.

And it is this divine forgiveness that we ourselves have to extend to those that sin against us, since only those who so forgive can be forgiven. We must not wait until wounded pride is made whole by the conscious shame of our enemy; until the debt is paid by acknowledgment and we are complacent once more in the knowledge that justice has been done to us at last. On the contrary, the only forgiveness that is supernatural, and which, therefore, alone is meritorious, is that which reaches out to men's ignorance and not their knowledge of their need.




Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson. "Your sins are forgiven." from Paradoxes of Catholicism, 1913.

Paradoxes of Catholicism is in the public domain.


Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, became a Roman Catholic priest, a novelist, and a prominent writer of apologetics. Benson was the youngest son of E. W. Benson, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, as head of the Anglican Church, was the upholder of the Protestant establishment in England. As such, his son's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1903, and his subsequent ordination, caused a sensation. Not since Newman's conversion almost 60 years earlier had the reception of a convert into the Church caused such a commotion. Shudders of shock shook the Anglican establishment, whereas many Catholics rejoiced at the news of such a high-profile coup with unrestrained triumphalism. Hugh Benson was lauded in his own day as one of the leading figures in English literature, yet today he is almost completely forgotten outside Catholic circles and is sadly neglected even among Catholics. Few stars of the literary firmament, either before or since, have shone quite so brightly in their own time before being eclipsed quite so inexplicably in posterity. Almost a century after his conversion, Benson has become the unsung genius of the Catholic Literary Revival.

Benson was a prolific author. His works include theological writings, such as Paradoxes of Catholicism, An Average Man, By What Authority?, Christ in the Church, The Religion of the Plain Man, and The Friendship of Christ, as well as novels, among the most famous of which are Lord of the World and Come Rack! Come Rope!

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