Pardoning the Unpardonable :: Weekends With Chesterton (Hosted Here Today!)

Well, hi!

Sarah asked me to sub in for her for Weekends With Chesterton as she gets some much needed rest and recovery this weekend.  I'm sure I don't need to remind you to say a quick prayer for her and her family, right?  Anyway, I'm glad you're here!  I'll try not to talk too much  ;)

I saw a quote attributed to Chesterton floating around that I loved and really wanted to use this weekend.  But alas, when I went to dig into what he really meant by it, it looks like he never really said it.  At least not in those words.  Silly internet.  But I did find the real quote that I think it was referencing.

This is from Heretics as Chesterton discusses the paradox contained within many of the virtues.  

A challenge, it is, this difference between ordinary faith, hope, and love and that of the supernatural virtue variety.  Pardoning those who we as society have deemed irredeemable.  Extending mercy towards those who have hurt us, even those who have hurt us deeply.  Daring to have hope in the face of disappointment after disappointment.  Hoping even when the world would call us a fool.  And faith.  Faith in things beyond the limitation of our senses.  Faith in things that the world calls fairy tale.  
All of these are gifts, graces granted to us to live beyond an ordinary, natural life.  

Pretty much understood it, I thought.  

And then I saw another side of it, a side I'm not sure Chesterton even intended, as I mulled it over a bit.  It was about extending this idea outward, sure, but even more so 
it was about me receiving it from Him.  

I'm the unpardonable who is pardoned.  I'm the hopeless case who is given hope.  I'm the one who trusts (or tries to) in the incredible belief that even I can again be redeemed.

My sins may be as scarlet but I may become as white as snow?  Incredible indeed.  He is the One who has extended these mercies to me and it is only because of that that I can extend them to others.  It is me who is to be pouring out my ointment over His feet and asking to be forgiven much so that I can love much.  It is only in seeing my own sinfulness and brokenness that I can be ready to forgive the unforgivable.  Because they are a reflection of me.

Nowhere is this reality Chesterton speaks of more evident, I believe, than in the confessional.  Where we have this incredible crazy belief that God will pardon even the most unpardonable sin and bring hope to those who are most hopeless.  And He waits for us.

Today our Michael will be making his First Reconciliation.  Entering into the mystery and grace of the confessional and allowing the Lord to make him new again through the simple words of a simple priest.  I'm fairly certain that at seven he hasn't done anything unpardonable but what a beautiful thing it is to learn from such a young age of God's unfathomable mercy.  To get comfortable with acknowledging that we need a Savior and familiar with the idea that God constantly wants to make us new.  (If you could say a prayer for him, too, it sure would be nice of you!)

I did some looking around to see if Chesterton had any words specific to the Sacrament of Confession and had to share this gem:

"It is almost a good thing that nobody outside should know
what gigantic generosity, and even geniality, can be locked up
in a box, as the legendary casket held the heart of the giant.
It is a satisfaction, and almost a joke, that it is only in
a dark corner and a cramped space that any man can discover
that mountain of magnanimity."
(from The Catholic Church and Conversion)

(Yikes.  I think I did talk too much.  Sarah is never ever going to ask me to host anything again...)


Every weekend in 2014, we're digging into the work of G. K. Chesterton at Amongst Lovely Things.  Join us!  All you need is a snippet - a short quote taken from anything he's written.  Blog it and link up below, or share your snippet in the comments of this post!


  1. Mary,
    Thank you for hosting! I have not joined in the WWC linky in about a month; though I always enjoy others' ability to apply his wisdom to so many situations! I loved your marriage post last weekend, but just didn't have a minute to comment then. Thank you for the honestly in your words. SO so true, friend. So much of it, could I relate to.
    Two kids, 17 years and a lot of replaying the "in sickness and health, for better or worse" part of the vows on that day. Your words were really a blessing to me last weekend. This post, too. Thank you.

    Havea lovely weekend, friend!
    "See" you in blogland again soon..

  2. We've had two receive their First Reconciliation so far -- it's a strange sensation as a parent, I think. Especially since our second got nervous standing in line and was weeping by the time it was her turn. Thank GOD for a wonderful priest -- she came out smiling and ready to go again the following week! I'll say a prayer for your Michael.

    1. Oh no! That would be hard! It is such a weird feeling as you watch them walk away, isn't it? Thank you for the prayer! He did wonderfully and was so happy!

  3. "My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober." --G.K. Chesterton I don't know much about him, other than having heard of him and read some quotes from time to time. However, I saw this group and thought it might be an interesting place to start learning. Thank you.

    1. Oh, I like that! When we love something we want to see it at it's full potential, living it's best version of itself. It is a sign of love when we want something to be the best it can be. Thank you, Stacy! Hope you can find a great piece of Chesterton to dive into!

  4. I loved reading this today. One of the best parts of becoming Catholic was being able to go to confession and have that tangible experience of bringing my broken soul to God and trusting Him to make it new again.

    1. I can't even imagine what that must be like to go for the first time as a convert! I get chills when I hear people speak about it!

  5. Thanks for hosting the link up, Mary. This quote is in The Quotable Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte: 'Charity is the power of defending that which we know to be indefensible. Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.' from Heretics chapter 12.

    1. Yes! That comes just a few lines after the quote I selected! Definitely something to ponder. It reminds me of Jesus' words, "if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?"

  6. Beautiful Mary! I really love those quotes and the are a truth that is so apt for confession and to ponder this Lent. And happy first confession to your precious boy! What a wonderful occasion, and he'll be full of grace for Easter!


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