Admonishing the Sinner: A Spiritual Work of Mercy

Hey everyone. I have often mentioned admonishing the sinner which is a spiritual work of mercy. Unfortunately it seems that every time I mention it someone will tell me that it is not my business to be admonishing sinners. Now, I may be wrong here and I am open to correction but if it is not my business to be admonishing sinners then why would the Catholic Church list it as a spiritual work of mercy?

Anyway, I post this thread because it seems to me that there is a misunderstanding either on my part or on the part of others that admonishing sinners is not something we are supposed to do. I believe it is something we are supposed to do but that we are supposed to do it with gentleness and kindness.

Here are some articles on Admonishing Sinners:

catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=8158 - This is an article about admonishing sinners by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R who I believe appears on EWTN from time to time.

catholicity.com/commentary/shea/08409.html - This is an article about admonishing sinners by Catholic apologist, Mark Shea.

newadvent.org/cathen/04394a.htm - This is a New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia article about fraternal correction which is the same thing as admonishing sinners.

newadvent.org/cathen/10198d.htm - This is a New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia article about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Also, here is a Bible passage which I believe involves admonishing of sinners:

My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
(James 5:19-20 RSV-CE)

And finally, this is what I believe admonishing sinners is. I believe that admonishing a sinner involves trying to gently, lovingly, and in a non-condemnatory manner to correct a person who is living in sin so that they repent. One should always keep in mind, of course, that all of us are sinners.

So anyway, has anyone else noticed that some Catholics seem to be averse to this spiritual work of mercy?

Mark Shea said: Admonishing the sinner, then, is not an act of cold Pharisaic pride, but an act of genuine Christian love.

One has to remember that the truth…is always the most compassionate way.
Rather than shouting at persons and telling them how wrong they are, it can be a very loving and admirable thing to do to gently point them in the correct direction.
Often, people who are sinning are also very unhappy. When we help people to understand that God desires them to thrive, not merely just get by, we are helping them.
The truth. That’s what we are called to speak, The TRUTH, God’s truth, the truth of love given for them.

There’s a big difference between gentle correction and judgment.
God bless you.

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better myself! :thumbsup:

Amen! I’ve seen/heard comments about “judging others” from just about everywhere, including among Cathoilcs. There seems to be a notion that admonishing/correcting the sinner is equal to “judging”. However a person wants to define “judging”, I think there needs to be room left for the Biblical command to correct one another and help each other avoid sin. If a person wants to call that “judging”, so be it, but that is NOT the “judge” which Christ had in mind when He said “do no judge”. Christ was speaking of not judging the condition of the soul, not telling us to not help each other avoid sin.

To add to the great resources you linked:

Fraternal Correction: It’s What’s for Dinner

Scripture Shorts: Admonishing the Sinner

We are obviously called to admonish each other. “Iron sharpens iron” as it says. We are called to that kind of unity before approaching the Altar. When is the last time, while examining oneself during Mass, has anyone gotten up and exited the Church.

The other side of the coin is, we don’t need an “admonishment fest” :wink:

Matthew 18 spells it out also. Calling out sin, or suggesting that someone maybe should consider their actions in regards to sin, or how they have offended someone, is Christian.

Looking the other way is complicity. That would be sin. Judging the sin, but not the sinner!

Best, Patrick

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