A Sinner in Need of Grace

How is one to find forgiveness for a sin that he has no intention of renouncing?  Henry Scobie, a policeman in a British colony in West Africa during World War II and a devout Catholic, is stuck in an unhappy marriage.  In an attempt to please his wife, he sends her to South Africa, where she has always wanted to live.  While she is gone, he gets involved in an affair.  Much to his surprise, she decides to return.  What is he to do now?  If he confesses his sin to the priest and does the assigned penance, he will have to leave his mistress and make her miserable.  If he refuses to leave the mistress, he will not receive absolution, but when he declines to accompany his wife to Mass, she will know something is wrong, and he will make her miserable.  If he goes to Mass unconfessed, he will be in a state of mortal sin and will condemn himself to everlasting punishment.  How can he love God if obeying Him makes someone he loves unhappy?  The trap in which Scobie finds himself is the central dilemma of Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter.  Few books illustrate more clearly the ineffectiveness of Roman Catholic traditions and dogma in dealing with human sin and providing real forgiveness and a way to grace, thus reminding us of the blessing to be found in the free grace of Christ that is obtained only by faith.