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Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Modern Misunderstanding of Mercy

On this blog, in several posts, I have written about the neo-religion of psychology as ruining people's awareness of sin. This idea is not new, and some prominent people in the 1970s, '80s and '90s wrote about this problem. One can follow the tags for my notes on this problem.

The worst expression of this would be the denial of personal responsibility for sin because of circumstances.

But, a nuance on the false religion of psychology seems to come up in conversations more with the Gen-Xers than with the Boomers.

This false idea involves the great misunderstanding of God's Mercy.

For most people who want to discuss sin and mercy, the idea of mercy seems to be that God excuses one from sin because of a set of circumstances, emotional problems, history, or even genetics.

Not so.

The CCC helps us realize, first of all, how sin is actually defined.


1849 Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law."121

1850 Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight."122 Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods,"123 knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God."124 In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.125

1851 It is precisely in the Passion, when the mercy of Christ is about to vanquish it, that sin most clearly manifests its violence and its many forms: unbelief, murderous hatred, shunning and mockery by the leaders and the people, Pilate's cowardice and the cruelty of the soldiers, Judas' betrayal - so bitter to Jesus, Peter's denial and the disciples' flight. However, at the very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world,126 the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly.


1852 There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."127

1853 Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man."128 But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.


868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

- by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a "social sin."144

What we have now in America and in many Western countries are structures of sin, "legal moralism" as I wrote days ago.

Sin is in the will, not in the emotions, which psychology falsely teaches. Sin may be of a less or more culpability, but never completely without culpability. There are too many so-called healing ministries which attempt to "heal" sin, when in reality, one must decide not to sin.

Can trauma or abuse, for example, lead to sin? Yes, but even if one's will is weak, one can choose not to sin.

God always gives one enough grace not to sin.

Here is St. Paul on this subject:

Romans 5 Douay-Rheims

5 Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:

2 By whom also we have access through faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God.

3 And not only so; but we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

4 And patience trial; and trial hope;

5 And hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.

6 For why did Christ, when as yet we were weak, according to the time, die for the ungodly?

7 For scarce for a just man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man some one would dare to die.

8 But God commendeth his charity towards us; because when as yet we were sinners, according to the time,

9 Christ died for us; much more therefore, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from wrath through him.

10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

11 And not only so; but also we glory in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received reconciliation.

12 Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.

13 For until the law sin was in the world; but sin was not imputed, when the law was not.

14 But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even over them also who have not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam, who is a figure of him who was to come.

15 But not as the offence, so also the gift. For if by the offence of one, many died; much more the grace of God, and the gift, by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

16 And not as it was by one sin, so also is the gift. For judgment indeed was by one unto condemnation; but grace is of many offences, unto justification.

17 For if by one man's offence death reigned through one; much more they who receive abundance of grace, and of the gift, and of justice, shall reign in life through one, Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as by the offence of one, unto all men to condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men to justification of life.

19 For as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners; so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just.

20 Now the law entered in, that sin might abound. And where sin abounded, grace did more abound.

21 That as sin hath reigned to death; so also grace might reign by justice unto life everlasting, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psychological problems do not justify us, Faith does.

And, God's Mercy does not make excuses for our sins so that we "get off the hook". God's Mercy shows us the depth of our sins, shows us the Justice which would demand reparation, or even hell, and then, forgives us, not because we are worthy, or emotionally damaged, or ill, or poor, or abandoned, but because Christ died for each one of us.

Mercy comes flowing out of the Blood of the Lamb of God on the Cross, not from psychological explanations of sin.

Sin is in the will-whether one has a formed conscience, or an ill-formed concscience, sin comes from a decision.

Of course, it can be much more difficult for those who have been wounded in any way to become saints. But, this woundedness makes for great saints, not for little ones.

God allows the woundedness in order for His Own Glory to shine forth.

Mercy is not based on excuses, but on God's tremendous love of the sinner.

Only those who face their own sins, daily, will become saints.

Such is the way of perfection... To face one's woundedness is part of carrying the Cross. To not sin while carrying this cross is sheer grace, and the need for God's Providence, Mercy, and Justice.

to be continued...

but I am having severe problems with the Net and may not be able to blog for the rest of the day...