The Imputation of Holiness
By denying what we affirm, we affirm what we deny
Ostensibly, we esteem ourselves neither holy nor wise. Indeed, we are much more likely to say, I am a sinner, than, I am holy.
We recognize a terrible presumption in the latter statement, and the even greater likelihood that our uttering this would be a clear sign that we, indeed, are not holy even as we secretly relish what we publicly repudiate: being esteemed holy. We are so clever, so subtle in our pretensions that we ourselves inwardly hold it to be true by virtue of our repudiating it. By denying what we affirm, we affirm what we deny.
· Truly holy people do not deem themselves holy
· I do not deem myself holy
· Therefore, I must be truly holy
It is logic itself in its most seductive ... and subreptive ... form. This form of reasoning is called Modus Ponens. The problem with this type argument, however, is that while the form is indeed valid, it does not, simply for this reason, give us warrant to hold that the statements within it are necessarily true. In this case, the form of the argument is completely valid it is sound reasoning. However, while it is the case that the first premise is true, it is also the case that the conclusion is false.
The argument presented above is really a paradigm for Catholics. And the great deception within it is not so much that we succeed in deceiving others, but that we succeed in deceiving ourselves.
How can we succeed in deceiving ourselves?
Now, we must think on that a moment. We deceive
ourselves. It is almost an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.
How can we succeed in deceiving ourselves? One cannot deceive without
being aware of the deceit ... right? This is the great deception.
We deceptively deceive ourselves. It is, in other
words, deception as a duplexity: it is a double negative, A negation
of a negation which is always its opposite: an affirmation. I
am not not-X which is to say, I am X. It is a false negation.
It is the mere appearance of a negation, and that is why
it is the greater deception. It is not that we simply deceive others
by appearances (in this case, in the the form of words), but by
another and involuted turn of appearances we attempt to deceive
We nevertheless ascribe holiness to others (and deem this a virtue, a kind of largesse) but in reality, we do not, or seldom, sincerely believe it. We are reluctant to concede to others what we do not possess ourselves. The circle of deception grows wider, consuming others in that incessant consumption of itself. So and so is holy ... but ... We distrust holiness because we are not genuinely acquainted with it.
The real question involves the question itself. Why.
Why are we asking the question of others, or more importantly,
why are we asking it of ourselves? Something is amiss.
Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in Rome