The Awful Truth about the Bear
"For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death." 2 Corinthians 7:10 (RSV-2CE) The note to the Didache Bible from Ignatius Press (with notes based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, plus apologetic resources) warns, "worldly grief leads to despair and loss of faith and hope."
Everything the Bear does smells of pride. It is the ripe stench of pretending to do something for God, while being secretly motivated by ego.
Lentblogging is a great example of this (as might be, for all the Bear knows, Catholic blogging in general; bloggers are mostly smart people, who write well and have something to say, so that's not a condemnation, just speculation). Committing to doing something every day for 40 days is a pretty big deal for a Bear of irregular habits, for a Bear whose energy is unevenly distributed throughout the month.
Daily Lentblogging was Bear's commitment as part of his Lenten bona opera. It was supposed to be an edifying gift to his readers. He would share his own Lenten observations and maybe come at some things from a different direction than other writers. He would talk about different things or some of the same things in a different way than he did in his Lenten Companion for Bearish Humans. It was an approved discipline in service to God.
It's All About the Bear
If that is the case, why is the Bear's first thought about himself? Why does he want to apologize to you, to explain why he failed to post something every day recently? He has some good reasons, you see. It would make him feel better to lay them out so everyone would go, "aw, poor Bear," and then we could all move forward.
The answer is easy. It is because this ephemeris, like everything the Bear does, is tainted by his ego. (Of course, part of this ego trip is imagining anyone cares whether he misses a day here and there.)
Shame versus Contrition
Another example is confession. When Bear commits a sin, he feels shame. That does motivate him to go to confession, sometimes, but what kind of confession does that make? Shame is a wound to his pride. He thought he was better than that and knows that if others learned of his sin, they might think less of him. Shame is a pretty miserable feeling. Confession can bring some psychological relief.
And, yet, what does shame have to do with anything? Contrition is something different. It is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1451) as: "a sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with a resolution not to sin again." (Citing Council of Trent, 1551). Also, "when it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is 'perfect' (contrition of charity)." (CCC 1452).
Deal with your shame with your therapist and pray for the grace of contrition, but at least recognize the difference.
The Grace of Mixed Motives
However, even imperfect contrition is a gift that may get you to the sacrament of confession and absolution. (See CCC 1453).
Maybe you can give a moment today to wonder if you have mixed motives for your religious work. At the same time, however, remember that mixed motives are better than no motives at all for Bears- and Bearish Humans.
This Buddy Miller song (from Universal House of Prayer album) seems appropriate.