(PHOTO: LAURENCE FREEMAN, FRANCE)
This new understanding of sin as something that blocks us or complicates us and hinders us from this journey to simplicity, as something that simply interrupts the state of continuous prayer or interrupts our entry into the prayer of Christ, begins also I think to change our understanding of God. If our understanding of sin begins to change, if we see that sin is something that blocks us rather than being the breaking of a rule, sin as something that blocks us from the state of a child, our true state, then we begin to see that God does not punish us. I think most of us have received early in our lives an image of God as one who punishes. Intellectually, theologically we may have changed that image, but emotionally, psychologically probably that image still has some force in us and creates a certain fear, an unhealthy fear. But I think this pure prayer, bringing us to self-knowledge as it does, also brings us to the knowledge of God, and therefore to the awareness that God does not punish us for our sin. St Augustine said every disordered soul is its own punishment. Sin contains its own punishment, God doesn’t have to add fuel to the fire of hell.