MarySue---I thought your post was good, but now I don't see it.
Well, now that's a cheery article!
I'm feeling like a sin 'expert' after going through those lists!
There's hope for the worst of us.
I do appreciate the Sacrament of Confession. I agree with Phil and others that God must forgive those who are truly repentant and, through no fault of their own, have no reasonable access to a priest or don't belong to a Sacramental Church. Maybe it works like the 'baptism of desire'? An 'absolution of desire." But knowing of this Sacrament and then choosing to reject it seems like a bad idea to me.
Confessing in your prayer closet is a world apart, at least experientially.
There is something VERY humbling about kneeling before a priest and saying those words out loud: "I have sinned!" Yup. Nice, sweet, intelligent, lovely me. And then, furthermore, having to be explicit...but trying to be succinct, but not defensive! And then hearing yourself stammer on and on about how you almost couldn't help it!...aiyee. And sometimes a priest will say, "Anything else?" And you think, "Yeah, but I can't open up another can of humiliation right now."
It gets easier after a few rounds, trust me. :
It's very nurturing too. I am moved by the visible fact of the priest who actually cares about me! Those words he prays for your soul, will just melt you to pieces...there is nothing like the tenderness of the Father's love through absolution.
Not much else that priest could say, though for the first link he's being a bit dramatic with the "if you knew that you were going to die next week" bit. I notice there was no attempt to clarify just what constituted the "mortal sin" in this person who nontheless deeply desired to go to Holy Week services and receive Communion (something incongruent about "mortal sin" and such desires, imo). Confession would be the place to sort all that out, however.
I'm still very cynical about this "perfect contrition" requirement -- as though God's forgiveness and the rejuvenation of the soul is somehow predicated on some act we perform perfectly out of perfect love of God. The Father in the prodigal son story doesn't even let his humbled, mortal-sinning son make his little speech before the words of forgiveness and acceptance are given. It also seems to me that anyone who is capable of making an act of perfect contrition is also unlikely to commit mortal sin in the first place.
Any other links for us to reflect on?
Just a few thoughts on your previous question.
[kuhn-trish-uhn] Show IPA
sincere penitence or remorse.
Theology . sorrow for and detestation of sin with a true purpose of amendment, arising from a love of God for His own perfections (perfect contrition), or from some inferior motive, as fear of divine punishment (imperfect contrition).
I have understood God as being Love. Since
I'm no theologian this is simply my feel
for the situation you gave.
In the above definition this arising of love of God for His own perfections I see as being God's love flowing through the person of sincere penitence or remorse. So this sense of how would we know if contrition was perfect would be beyond total human understanding to me..
In the example you offered to us I
got a sense that the answer given in response to the person wanting to go to confession, was based in part, by fear.
I don't know why I wrote what I wrote before???
It didn't seem to pertain to what you were
asking. My understanding of contrition & the Sacrament of Confession is
a recognition that one's sin has injured not only one's own relationship with God but has, in some way, harmed the Body of Christ. That one has sincere penitence for their action and wishes reconciliation.
One thing that bothers me about labeling sin is that the understanding of what is sin seems to change. I don't comprehend yet how this can be???
There's something else I've been wondering.
For those parts of Christianity that wish
to become one again or whole, are they willing to compromise with one another in their
beliefs. Or does each wish to hold onto
their own beliefs & have the other
Since I'm on a Taylor Marshall run, I found this marvelous podcast:
Saint Paul on Confession and Mortal Sin.
I am finally getting it! That these doctrines of the Catholic Church are not just arbitrarily dreamed up, but really are based on Scripture.
In this podcast I learned, for instance, that St. Paul clearly taught about mortal sin, the possible loss of salvation, a priestly order set up to minister Christ's forgiveness, and even the need for penance to make amends for sin.
That's helpful, MarySue.
Phil, perhaps this is similar to what you're saying, but I don't find the perfect/imperfect contrition distinction very useful in real life. I'd have to say of myself that I'm almost always a mixture of motives, and it would be hard to quantify how much of which kind of contrition is moving me to repentance. Even if it could be measured, how much "perfect" contrition is enough for me to know I've met the requirements for forgiveness? I think that was partly the point of the priest's answer from CAF. But, what puzzled me about his reply in the second link was that it appeared to me he was telling the questioner to go ahead and call a priest in the middle of the night if need be so he could confess his sin. Do people really do that?
I know there's some difference of belief among people about whether mortal sin is rare or fairly common, so perhaps it would be helpful for me and others to back up and go more in depth on that.
About a year ago there was a thread on perfect contrition at CAF which I'll look up in the morning. Someone on that thread brought the "fundamental option" idea, and said that John Paul II reviewed it, said it had some merit, but that it was ultimately heretical. I was curious about tha too, but couldn't find a really good description of the theory or exactly why it was heretical. I am sleepily meandering around here, but the fundamental option theory seems related to me to the question of what constitutes mortal sin, so I'm hoping we can discuss that, too.
Shasha---So far I'm not getting the podcast to play continuously, but I'll try again tomorrow. I read the short text intro, and FWIW, I've never attended an evangelical church that teaches "once saved always saved". That idea, so far as I know, is from Calvinism and some Reformed Baptists.
I bought the two books in Marshall's 'Catholic Origins' series this weekend for my Kindle - The Crucified Rabbi and The Catholic Perspective on Paul. I'm really enjoying the Crucified Rabbi, which connects the doctrines and ecclesiology of the Catholic Church to Judaism. Some real food for thought
Ariel try finding the podcasts in your itunes and then downloading them from there...that way the podcast will download completely before you try to listen to it and shouldn't "jump" as it attempts to buffer - just search for Taylor Marshall in your itunes store and it should come right up.
I read something from the book that interested me and that maybe somebody here could help me with. Marshall discusses the similarities between the Jewish yarmulke/kippah and the Catholic zucchetto/pileolus (skull caps). I hadn't thought about this before, but St. Paul says (1 Cor 11) that it is disgraceful for a man to pray or prophesy with something on his head...but that it is disgraceful for a woman to pray or prophesy uncovered. Why then do Catholic clergy wear these pileolus and if Paul means something else in these verses, what does he mean?
Phil---Here's a thread on perfect contrition at CAF from a year ago. Post #9 is where the CCC is first quoted, and in post #40 someone brings in the fundamental option theory. The thread is fairly long, and I don't think the whole thing needs to be read necessarily. http://forums.catholic.com/sho...t=perfect+contrition The poster in #9 is being very black and white, but I think he has a point in that CCC 1453 seems pretty clear. The CCC is careful in its language, so I assume it to be a straightforward statement in what the poster of #9 underlined.
Thanks Jacques, I'll see what I can do.
That's a good question, MarySue, and probably a complicated one.
Your statement below just goes to show that you would indeed profit from the gift that the sacrament of confession is.
None that I know, Ariel. Maybe highly scrupulous people do, however. I'm sure it's not much appreciated by priests, however.
Friends, can you see how this matter of defining some acts as mortal sins and some as venial, which are forgiven in the latter case by "imperfect contrition" and in the former only by "perfect" (though always forgiven in the Sacrament) can easily lead to an unhealthy/scrupulous focusing on sinful behavior and a legalistic attitude about God's forgiveness?
In the early Church, the three mortal sins were apostasy, murder and adultery. OK, those are pretty serious, and reconciliation could be a long, drawn-out affair. This all evolved through the years and became much more complicated as the barristers took over. By the time we got to the 1950s and the Catholicism that Pop and I grew up with, there was an excessive focusing on sin and human sinfulness. To this day, people still call themselves "recovering Catholics" because of all that. It took me years to get it out of my system and I want nothing to do with it any more. Neither do most priests, for that matter.
The emphasis now is on growing in the love of God, and recognizing how, at times, our behavior and attitudes sign-i-fy a denial of divine love and goodness. This focus on relationship-with-God is much more motivating and edifying, and likely to move us to sincere remorse and repentance when the Spirit convicts us of pulling away from God. Then we can recognize the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as a gift from God to the Church to provide reassurance of God's ever-ready forgiveness and to help strengthen our resolve to sin no more.
- - -
Ariel, I'll get back to you sometime soon on "fundamental option."
I really liked the way you explain the shift in focus from the past to now...gives me hope that the Catholic Church really isn't as legalistic as I once thought
Pop-pop---I was trying to describe how I'd probably end up feeling if I made a big deal of trying to distinguish which kind of contrition I have----in real life I'm aware that I have a mixture of motives for my repentance, but I ask for forgiveness in the midst of that mixture, instead of trying to manufacture a purer kind of contrition before facing God full on with my sins. He does the clean up and healing, I just have to show up and confess. I'm not saying confession to a priest isn't a powerful and beneficial gift---it is.
Fine. You realize though, I hope, that one does not have to 'manufacture' a pure kind of contrition in order to be forgiven or for the sacrament to be effective.
Sure, Pop-pop, I understand that.
I'm noticing the quotation marks around manufacture, and I'm wondering if you're slightly miffed by my use of that word. I don't mean "manufacture" in a necessarily negative way, as if I was describing the creation of something artificial.
Phil, maybe you said this before, but in your own life and during your own self-reflection, do you mostly dispense with using categories like mortal and venial sins, or do you find those distinctions helpful at times but not at other times? As a spiritual director, do you feel some people benefit by those categorizations while others are hindered by them?
I realize that your question of 14 May 7:28 was directed to Phil, but butting-in in the interim pending his reply, I have used the distinction between mortal and venial all my life. I always use it to determine whether or not I can receive the Eucharist without committing a sacrilege –in the vein of 1 Cor 11: 27 & 28. I believe that most RCs do so as well.
p.s. yes I was responding to your use of ‘manufacture’ as you surmised.
Ariel, spiritual direction is different from Confession so I don't discuss mortal and venial sins with directees. If the directee is Catholic and shares that they believe they have strayed from God in various ways, I do encourage them to go to Confession.
In my own life, I practice the examen of consciousness taught by St. Ignatius before going to sleep. It's more of a glance back at the day to express gratitudes and regrets. I almost never think in terms of mortal or venial sin any more, but if there comes to be a pattern of behavior that signifies a pulling away from God, that's definitely something I'll take to Confession. Otherwise, I believe the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass (I go several times a week) is sufficient for my needs.
- - -
Jacques, what would Protestants do without the old straw-man about Catholicism being just a bunch of rules and regulations?
We do have a nice, thick book called the "Code of Canon Law" that stipulates procedures for dealing with almost all aspects of Church life. It's inevitable that any organized religion have something like this. And from where I sit, I do believe that "organized" religion is better than the converse!
Btw, do Protestants have no rules and regulations?
I'll look up that examen of conscience, Phil. I've seen it mentioned before but I haven't read it.
Phil--Am I looking for his Examen of consciousness, or examen of conscience? I see both on Google.
It's the examen of consciousness, though a very simplified version that I use. The examination of conscience is different -- more a method for preparing for Confession.
OK, I slogged through some of that and I think it's pretty clear that things can get legalistic fairly quickly once one begins to define certain acts as mortal sins with the requirement of perfect contrition or Confession for their forgiveness. My, there are some uber-Catholics on that forum!
You question was about "fundamental option," however, which is not an official doctrine of the Church but a theological speculation on how the judgment of an individual might work. My sense of it has been that the choices one makes write into the basic orientation of one's will an option for or against God. This isn't so different than speaking of good and bad habits, and how they condition our choices. One can still commit an act that constitutes "grave matter," but some fundamental optionists (new word! ) would maintain that no single act can over-ride the depth of intentionality ingrained in one's being through a life-time of living. I think some aspects of this kind of thinking were condemned in Veritatis spendor and other teachings, but many other apsects are probably OK.
See http://www.twotlj.org/G-1-16-B.html for a good presentation, including several nuances. There are some heavy hitters mentioned, like Karl Rahner, Bernard Haring and Richard McKormick. It's a complicated topic, imo, and one of those issues I'm resigned to letting God sort out.
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