The Parson's Tale
Publication Date: February 24, 2011
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The Parson's Tale is the final chapter of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Because of its profound Catholic content, this tale has been selectively excluded from most modern versions of Canterbury Tales. In it a humble parson, or priest, educates us on the topic of sin: its identification, repentance, and atonement. A primary emphasis is given to the seven deadly sins. Upon delving into this section, a person may subtly undergo an examination of conscience pertaining to each sin that is being discussed. This book is a guide for spiritual perfection. Foreword by Charles A. Coulombe.
After all the profanity of the Miller, the scurrility of the Pardoner, and all the rest the one-sided presentation modernist teachers usually afforded the Canterbury pilgrims, reading The Parson's Tale is eye-opening. I have read The Canterbury Tales through about five times over the years, but the The Parson's Tale was invariably excluded fro every edition read. It seems right that a 14th century collection of tales should end with a examination of conscience. The Parson's Tale reminds us of why this disparate group undertook the pilgrimage. If this part of the work is not to modern taste, that is a comment on modern taste.
In this modern age where everything is so lacks, where we as Catholics can't even be hassled to abstain from meat on Fridays, this was a fresh new perspective on Catholic spirituality and prudence. I think the parson, even for his time, does use exaggeration a little bit because it's better to err on being too strict than too lackadaisical. For example, he condemns things which normal Catholics don't even think about, like extravagant clothing. He says that all the vain labor and excess materials used in creating overly extravagant clothing is sinful. Whether this is true or not, it gets your mind turning in a new direction! You wonder what this parson would say about our modern day styles and luxuries.
This is a wonderful little book on Mary. Makes you realize just how important Our Lady is. She is not to be relegated to a back burner devotion for pious but misguided old ladies!