Seems we're finding some important areas of agreement, Ariel. Thanks for hanging in there with the discussion.
Fwiw, while I recognize the gift that Magisterial leadership can be in behalf of clarifying teachings and promoting unity, it does seem that, at times, they can use their position as something of a "bully-pulpit." Their recent wrist-slapping of the Leadership of Catholic Women Religious is a case in point.
- http://www.catholicnews.com/da...ries/cns/1201796.htm (straightforward view)
- http://ncronline.org/news/wome...on-vatican-officials (more liberal perspective, especially in comments)
It also bears noting that not all doctrines are equally important. Catholics recognize what we call a "hierarchy of truth," with different duties or responses to be given to these different levels.
I just looked up 1452 and 1453. Don't know if you still want to discuss it, Ariel, but here's the context of Acts of the Penitent for what "contrition" means in 1451:
Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin comitted, together with the resolution not to sin again."
1452 says perfect contrition (contrition of charity/ love of God) remits venial sins and "also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible."
1453 does say that imperfect contrition (contrition of fear of damnation, penalties, etc.) is a prompting of the Holy Spirit, but by itself "cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance."
Phil and Shasha---
Yeah, I do want to get back to the Confession question, Shasha. I'm having "one of those days" where I'm really more pressed for time than I prefer to be, so I'll come back to it again hopefully this evening unless I go out.
Phil, I do have a deep appreciation for Catholicism. I enjoy learning what it teaches, though at best I can't see me a being anything other than a "cafeteria Catholic" and then ending up feeling guilty at times for dissenting. So I'm remaining where I am. If I'd been raised Catholic or Orthodox, I'd probably remain as whichever one I grew up with. I think part of it is personality---I'm much more geared to care about how people relate to each other in the space between their differences, than who has the most correct doctrine. So from my perspective, the spaces between people created as a byproduct of our divisions are fertile ground in which to grow the fruit of the spirit.
That being said, my experience as a Protestant has been in stable churches which are moderately conservative without being fundamentalist. I've felt pretty well-grounded by them and don't struggle over any notable theological questions---other than, sometimes the question of innocent suffering; but then I don't expect any person to fully have an answer to that this side of heaven. But, I recognize that some people have a less settled peace over theological issues than I do, or they may have falllen into a "toxic" church that really messes them up. So I do see where the free-ranging diversity within the Protestant world has a real downside----even while I value the diversity myself.
I guess I need to add that I realize the question of which church a person should be a member of isn't just a human-centric question, but also a matter of what God wants. That's were we get into the "One True Church found by Christ" thing, but that's where things also get really confusing as Jacques and I were saying, in trying to sort out the historical record with brilliant people in disagreement. So I'm just giving that whole question a long rest, while being obedient in the real tasks placed before me which God has called me to concern myself with. I still find it profitable to learn about Catholicism and Orthodoxy, but I'm sick of the one-upmanship games that go in apologetic efforts. At this point I really doubt Christians can be trusted with unity if we still haven't learned to be charitable among ourselves.
I don't mean here.
Ariel, it seems that has been the discussion you've alluded to wanting to see happen here for some time. I'm glad we've given some time and space for it.
Maybe sometime you, Jacques and others can point out to me just what the issues are between the RCC and Orthodox that seem to be in such dispute as to suggest some kind of ambiguity concerning the guidance of the Spirit in matters of doctrine. I posted a link above to the RCC understanding of the hierarchy of truth in the Church, and the levels of consent called for by each level. Aside from disputes about the language regarding the Holy Spirit (Filoque' issue) and the role of the pope in the Magisterium, I'm just not aware of much else that's very important. The Filoque' issue has long been resolved by pointing out the distinction between "Economic Trinity" and "Metaphysical Trinity" and the place of the Spirit in each; the issue of the Pope was, historically, more about politics than theology, as the churches that we now call Orthodox recognized the authority of the pope for centuries before the split. I know there are other issues that Jacques, in particular, has mentioned, but I'm just not seeing anything that justifies confusion nor, less, despair concerning the guidance of the Spirit regarding essential doctrinal issues.
Maybe you all don't know this, but the Catholic and Orthodox traditions are on very good terms these days.
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C..._declaration_of_1965 for info on a joint declaration of regrets, 1965.
Here's a statement from the Second Vatican Council, which is a highly authoritative pronouncement:
Maybe you won't find those kinds of statements at the Catholic Answers forum nor from some of the Orthodox web sites, but you can see the respect the Catholic bishops have for the Orthodox! A couple of decades later, Pope John Paul II referred to the two traditions as the "two lungs of the Church."
My general take on things, as stated above, is that most of the differences are matters of style more than substance, owing to different cultural influences and, hence, very different approaches to articulating and celebrating the Christian mysteries. There's nothing going on to raise questions about the reliability of the guidance of the Spirit in guiding the Church in matters of faith and morals.
Phil, sometime over the next few days I'll see if I can find a short and sweet thread from Orthodox posters at CAF saying in their own words what they perceive to be main blocks towards full communion with the CC. I think the Catholic "reaching out in peace" attitude towards the Orthodox is very admirable. However, I do see more often than not that Orthodox Christians say that Catholics downplay the differences.
I'm mostly just interested in my Confession question right now, since that's an old question that I'm still confused about. I don't know how to paste something from that CCC link using my tablet. At some point could you (Phil) or Shasha put 1451, 1452, and 1453 from the CCC up here? Those are the parts I've seen most often quoted at Catholic Answers.
I forget to say a few days ago that, yes, that Wiki description of sola scriptura was accurate.
1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50
1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51
1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52
Just wanted to say that I'm reading along. I've been listening to a series of podcasts by Taylor Marshall called "Paul is Catholic".
Short insightful discussion on topics like Purgatory, the catholicity of the Church, Sacraments etc. all from Paul's Epistles. I'm enjoying them very much and find myself nodding along as he makes points that contradict basic Protestant beliefs and practices...perhaps your "Anonymous Catholic" jest was more prophetic than either of us imagined
I thought this Eastern Catholic website brings some helpful insight into the state of Catholic-Orthodox communion.
I think that East to West site takes a good approach, Jacques. Professor Dragnani seems to have his feet in both traditions and a good understanding of the issues.
- - -
Thanks, Shasha, for responding to Ariel's request to post those sections from the Catechism. Ariel, maybe you can elaborate more on what you wanted to discuss about them?
Thanks, Shasha. I'm out of the discussion for a few days because of mild tendonitis in my right arm from doing my artwork. My trick for the day is that I typed these couple of sentences with just my left hand. (I'll assume everyone is suitably impressed by my feat.)
Wow! You're now typing with your feet?
Take it easy...come back when you can.
I just started listening to Taylor Marshall's "Paul is Catholic" podcasts.
Episode #3 "Did Paul believe in the Catholic Church?" is very good! Clear, cogent points.
Thanks for sharing them.
Well, Taylor Marshall has a wonderful story of conversion to the Catholic Church; he calls it his "Canterbury Trial to Rome." Marshall shares many of the same points that Phil and Pops have been making.
Here's a snippet from Marshall's website, but I recommend the whole thing, which is short:
When I was an Anglican priest, I accepted an amorphous "package" of historical Christianity. I believed in the importance of the sacraments, the priesthood, Apostolic succession, tradition (to a certain extent), the infallibility of Scripture with respect to faith and morals, the communion of the saints, the centrality of Christ, the role of Mary in the incarnation of Christ, etc.
However, I was not willing to grant the Roman claim that the Church is the Catholic Church under the pastoral oversight of the Pope. I believed that the Church consisted visibly of all baptized and faithful believers. Consequently, I had believed as an Anglican that the Church was "visible" in a certain sense. It was "one" in that all the baptized faithful consisted of one single group. However, the problem was that this "group" was not free from error. In fact, as I experienced it as an Anglican clergyman, the "group of baptized" was indeed plagued with heresy. There was no final authority for truth, except the Bible and then even the Bible might be subjected to many conflicting interpretations. In Anglicanism alone, even among the "conservatives" there were Low Churchmen (more Protestant) and High Churchmen (more Catholic). These doctrinal parties never could unite together in order to fight the evil liberals who also carried a very different interpretation of Christianity. So my quest was one for authority.
The ultimate "breaking point" for me was the realization that the Episcopal Church officially condoned abortion and supports groups like Planned Parenthood. I couldn't in good conscience persevere in fellowship with those who stood silent about the destruction of our society's most vulnerable members. (my bold)
The argument for the authority of Rome is not sophisticated. It is simply that Christ instituted Saint Peter to bind and loose on earth (clearly "earth" denotes his universal jurisdiction) and that this office is protected by the Holy Spirit so that the Catholic Church will never be led into error in the realm of faith (doctrine) and morals (ethics). The buck stops with Peter and with his successors in Rome, which includes the present Pope, His Holiness Benedict XVI. This charism for truth is not based on the moral superiority of the popes or their intellectual astuteness. It is based in the power of the Holy Spirit fulfilling the promise of Christ made to Peter and the Apostles. I believe everything taught by the Catholic Church based on this solemn and divinely insured promise of Christ to St Peter.
... And lastly, it feels GREAT to be a Catholic! I cannot quite explain it. But it is a wonderful feeling!
Yep, that's where I always come out as well, Shasha. Marshall's reasoning is what brought John Henry Newman from Anglicanism to the Catholic Church, especially his study of how the Church responded to the Arian heresy. You can read about it here. There's also a good write-up on Newman in Wikipedia.
Yes, this is the same Newman that Catholic campus ministries are named after all over the country.
- - -
Ariel, if I understand correctly, your question was about "perfect contrition," mortal sin and absolution. This is a complicated topic in that what constitutes "mortal sin" needs to be properly understood. It's not simply a kind of act, but a matter of the will as well, with even circumstance being factored in. As for contrition, all that one can ever be expected to do is to be as sincere as one can, including the resolution to sin no more. It's impossible to be more sincere than one can be in a circumstance, although scrupulous people can trouble themselves about this interminably.
Don't give me ideas, Shasha....some dark, snowy winter evening I may get curious to see if I can.
Phil, I'm still trying to figure out how to rephrase my question more clearly. Don't hold your breath.
Ariel, seems we've come to this point several times. No need for perfectly clear questions, you know. Rambling around a bit is OK.
Okay. I'm asking if Confession is necessary, not just beneficial, in order to obtain forgiveness from God in the case of a person who commits a mortal sin. A priest on staff at Catholic Answers said it's impossible for one to really know if he/she has perfect contrition, and other people say "perfect" contrition is very rare. So according to how the CCC is understood at CA by staff and forum members, and from what I've seen elsewhere on other Catholic sites, the answer to my question is "Yes, the Sacrament of Confession is required except in extraordinary circumstances, or a person who commits a mortal sin will not be forgiven by God."
So I'm asking if this is a correct understanding of Catholic doctrine, though I realize I've left it without nuance.
As for me, I don’t think that perfect contrition is a rare event. One can be sincere in their contrition because their sin offends God who they love sincerely. That said, those who truly are contrite due to love of God are accordingly eager to please Him and therefore will indeed follow through with subsequent confession. So, in a certain sense your question borders on unnecessarily placed. IMO, of course. Man on the street … but sincere.
What a first-rate set-up for scrupes!
Let me just say that mortal sin is probably very rare, as one must know something is gravely wrong and then willingly and freely commit the act. Implied in all this is a complete rejection of God, which is why the sin is considered "mortal." If you die in this state, then you will go to hell. If one sees the wrongdoing and repents of it, then they are no longer rejecting God, especially if they are as sincere as possible in their act of contrition. I do not believe that God suspends forgiveness until such a person goes to Confession. I mean, consider the billions of people who have committed serious sin, repented, and had no recourse to Confession. Those who have access to the Sacrament would be wise to do so, of course, in which case the Sacrament should b considered a gift from Christ to us rather than a legalistic imposition.
Phil and Pop-pop---I understand what you're saying. Phil, if I can find short articles or staff answers at Catholic Answers about this question, are you okay with me posting the links here so you can read answers first hand instead of through me? I don't want to put anyone in the spotlight for public criticism here, but from my perspective, it's like I'm hearing rather different answers as to how Catholic teaching is to be understood. In the interest of not being publically critical of anyone who's not included in the discussion, I'm fine with going to a multi-person PM if that seems best to you.
Ariel, go ahead and link to the discussions or posts you find significant. We've gone this far in a public forum, so let's continue.
I can probably guess what they say, the tone, etc. I don't care much for the Catholic Answers forums or most of the Catholic boards on the net, fwiw, as they seem to be dominated by legalistic uber-Catholics who have little sensitivity for ecumenical and interreligious issues.
You and others might also check out the wiki article on Mortal Sin.
- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortal_sin
That's quite a list of acts considered grave matter!
But note, again, that one must know something is seriously sinful and freely/willingly commit the act anyway. Interesting that artificial birth control is not on this list! It used to be.
Personally, I don't find this approach to defining grave matter and labeling sins mortal or venial helpful at all for a number of reasons. It so easily becomes legalistic and gives rise to scrupulosity. Scrupes will agonize, for example, over whether taking an extra Ibuprofen constitutes "Drug Abuse," or wonder if they are being envious when they admire or desire what others have but they do not. Even healthy-minded people can fall into this trap. It's what we grew up with prior to Vatican II and I've no nostalgia for this approach.
I much prefer considering mortal sin a matter of the spirit and even lifestyle rather than pinning it to specific acts (though there is generally an association between the two). Is a person open to the Spirit or not? If they are, you will see some evidence of the fruits of the Spirit; if not, you will see a preponderance of the fruits of self-indulgence (see Gal. 5: 19-26). I think it's almost always the case that we are caught up in a self-indulgent value system and lifestyle prior to committing acts considered grave matter. Such acts reinforce the lifestyle. I also think that there are many, many people caught up in self-indulgence who never chose to live in such manner, but were conditioned in this direction from birth. As such, they would not be considered mortal sinners "for they know not what they do" and don't have the inner strength to resist the destructive habits of mind and will that have become ingrained in them.
So . . . OK . . . bring on the CAF links.
Phil---Here are two links to an "Ask an Apologist" answer from a priest on staff at CA: http://forums.catholic.com/sho...highlight=Confession ---- http://forums.catholic.com/sho...t=perfect+contrition
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