Actions have consequences

Originally Appeared in : 9908-4/11/19

Let me preface this by saying that if it were up to Magan, this entire entry into the annals of large family living would never have happened in the first place, including me making my daughter cry, because the device in question for all of the ruckus in our living room would not exist in our house in the first place.


That being said, the great TV streaming wars of the late 2010s had afforded us the opportunity to cut the cord, and about 40 bucks per month from our cable bill.


Like any good Chief Financial Officer of a large corporation, Magan was excited at the savings, but both of us were equally excited to reduce the number of chances our viewing would provoke an unfortunate conversation or quick channel flip thanks to all of the horrible medical/hygiene/alcohol/lifestyle commercials that find their way onto the air in between cartoons. Yes, cartoons.


Saturday evenings after Vigil Mass usually involve supper, followed by dessert and some light viewing on our “Blame Thing.” Her words, not mine. The time change had seemed to push all of that forward, however, with the sofa failing to fill up until closer to 8 p.m.


While we were watching a children’s program devoid of suggestive interruptions, Magan took a moment to check her email. A minute or so into her inspection she turned to me and said, “Did you make a Vudu (video streaming service) purchase at 7:47 p.m.?”


“Um, no. Why?” I asked, afraid of the reply.


“We have a charge,” she said. “It actually looks like two.”


“Let’s click on it and see,” I said.


Sure enough, sitting at the top of our recent purchases was Aquaman in UHD.


“We don’t even own a 4K TV!” I said, disgruntled. “How on earth?”


The kids looked afraid like a bank robber had holed up by the toy kitchen in our foyer, Magan was scrutinizing her phone, and I was trying to make sense of it all.Then the lightbulb clicked on above my head.


“I know what happened,” I said. “That would have been about the time I caught Isaac playing with the remotes on the coffee table. I asked Eli to grab them, then I did. I bet he pushed just the right combination and made a purchase.”


The kids turned into the Jews condemning Stephen shouting, “Bad Isaac. Bad. You’re a bad boy.”


Before anyone started looking for stones, though, I stopped the mob and turned the whole conversation on its head toward dear old dad.


“Y’all, it’s not his fault,” I said, “it’s mine. I shouldn’t have left the remotes where he could grab them in the first place. It’s my fault. I’m just going to have to do better.”


Immediately AnnaMarie burst into tears and ran onto my leg and clung tightly.


“What’s the matter, honey?” I said.


“I’m sorry it’s your fault.”


“Yeah daddy,” Eli added, “I’m sorry you got in trouble.”


I had made the entire house despondent.


“Guys, it’s okay, I just have to do better with putting up the remotes.”


Magan, who I thought might have tossed out a, “That’s why I just don’t like the ‘Blame Thing,’” comment to reinforce her position instead said, “Well, at least he bought something we might actually like. Praise the Lord it wasn’t one of those awful films from the Oscars.”


I’m not sure how many dads can say they made their daughters cry over their brother buying a middle-of-the-road comic book tentpole, but I am officially on that list.


The more important lesson I hoped everyone in the room would take to heart, though, was my willingness to admit to my failure and ask for forgiveness.


This post-relative world in which we live would rather us shift blame and accountability, live in a gray existence where there are no consequences and only introspection for the sake of joy, happiness or fulfillment.


Magan and I want our children to know that actions have consequences, and that it is our humility and piety, not self-celebration or self-satisfaction, that ultimately keep us on a path to salvation.


It also speaks to the larger issue for us, as Catholics, concerning the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Likewise, the Bible makes clear that participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation will “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
Because when we take time to participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our hearts, much like our family’s relative opinion of our unintended purchase, will be “Certified Fresh.”


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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