Eleanor Farjeon was a popular British author who won several prestigious literary awards before her death in 1965.
But it is not her literary career that concerns us here but her journey of faith. She had shared her life for 30 years with George Earle, a schoolmaster living apart from his wife. All during this period she was searching and her search eventually led her to the Catholic Church.
In July, 1951, she wrote a troubled letter to Father Richard Mangan, the priest who was instructing her, and included 12 typed pages of her doubts and thoughts on many aspects of the Catholic faith. “Sin” was an element that caused her anxiety:
“If I become a Roman Catholic, I would have to believe many things are sins that now I do not… How can I acquire a sense of what Sin is, among things that for so long have seemed to me sinless? Here are some of them: I don’t feel it is a sin for two people to live together, if the choice is made with love and respect and a sense of true union … I don’t feel it is sinful for an unmarried woman to have a child. I don’t feel it is sinful to save a mother’s life in childbirth at the child’s expense.
I don’t feel it is sinful for a man and woman to cohabit without having children. None of these things seem to have evil in them, in themselves. Evil may be brought into them (as to the same things within marriage) by the nature of the persons involved.”
Nevertheless , despite her misgivings about the nature of sin, Eleanor Farjeon was received into the Church in 1951 and remained a Catholic until she died in 1965.
Is sin a failure to obey external criteria imposed by authority?
Or is the real sin a failure to become the person we were intended to be i.e. missing the mark.