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False Piety (3)

Finally we come to the last type of false piety, which I call froward. Many years ago, the word "froward" was the opposite of "toward". "Froward" was a combination of the word "from" and "ward" ("from-ward" shortened to "froward"). "Toward" was a combination of "to" and "ward". The word "ward" connoted direction (as also in the word "homeward"). Thus "froward" meant to face away from the desired place, and "toward" meant to face in the direction of the desired place.

All this is to show the visual connotation of "froward". If someone is froward they face away from where they are supposed to; always (turning as needed to keep away). It is similar to the trait of being "contrary" or "obstinate" (a person who always disagrees with others). In our context of false piety a froward person will often appear to be a nice person; someone who is genuinely working on his personal sanctification. He will often speak about the spiritual disciplines that he practices (prayer, novenas, Scripture reading, etc.).

Yet, if he makes a mistake, his froward nature will come to the surface because a froward person will always resist correction. He seems to be deeply committed and fully dedicated to the faith on the surface (as long as things are going well), but since he will not listen to correction from anyone (even his priest) he lives in a fantasy world of false piety. He believes that he is always correct, so no matter how much someone else will show him to be wrong, he will always find an excuse to ignore their admonitions (even if it means claiming something that he clearly does not believe). The froward person will find ways to justify any kind of sin (always in the name of being "truly holy") because he cannot conceive of the idea that he has made a mistake.

Froward hearts will not usually be obvious in the ordinary day to day activities; they show up for Mass, they pray, they tithe, and go to confession. Yet, their practice of the faith is more coincidental than intentional. For example, if the Church commands us to do "x, y, and z" and the froward person already wants to do that, then he follows what he is told to do. Later though, if it is pointed out that he is not properly following some other command, he will ignore all rational thought and explain away his sin (sometimes with nothing more than, "I don't see it that way").

Beware the froward heart. It truly is one of the worst forms of false piety because it always degenerates into total impenitence. Refusal to repent of even one sin is serious enough; refusal to repent of any and all is the path of the devil.


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