The Sin of Omission

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I was particularly struck by yesterday’s homily, which focused on the two types of sin: the sin of commission and the sin of omission. According to the priest, the sin of commission is when you commit a wrongdoing. The sin of omission, however, is when you fail to do a good deed that you should have done in the first place.

I think we are all guilty of this sin. How many times have we turned a blind eye to someone else’s need or cry for help on the pretext that we have enough problems of our own? The priest ended his sermon with the lines from Margaret Sangster’s poem “The Sin of Omission,” which captured that point quite succinctly.

Here’s the complete version of that poem. I hope you’d be enlightened as I was to do what is right not just when you feel like it, but all the time.

The Sin of Omission
by Margaret E. Sangster

It isn’t the thing you do, dear;
It’s the thing you leave undone,
That gives you a bit of heartache
At setting of the sun.

The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts to-night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of a brother’s way,
The bit of heartsome counsel
You were hurried too much to say;

The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
Which you had no time nor thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.

Those little acts of kindness,
So easily out of mind;
Those chances to be angels
Which every one may find

They come in night and silence
Each chill, reproachful wraith
When hope is faint and flagging
And a blight has dropped on faith.

For life is all too short, dear,
And sorrow is all too great;
To suffer our slow compassion
That tarries until too late;

And it’s not the thing you do, dear,
It’s the thing you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache
At the setting of the sun.

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This blog was originally put up to document my son’s growing-up milestones, all for posterity’s sake. But there are other things to write about, aside from “mommyhood,” that merit my attention, and I’m including them all here. This blog now chronicles my life as a mom and a wife and everything else in between. For collabs, please email tgfiguerres@yahoo.com.

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