Forgiveness and "Starting Over"


#1

I heard Father Corapi relate an anecdote on the radio to illustrate humility. I will tell it from memory.
*
A priest was visiting the sickbed of a young woman who was dying. He offered to hear the girl’s confession and administer the sacraments for her. The girl said, “I can’t possibly do that. I’m the worst girl in all of New York.” The priest replied, “You can’t be the worst girl in New York, because the worst girl thinks she is the best girl.”*

I googled around for the original story. I was touched by the whole story. Especially this part:[FONT=arial,helvetica] If then your soul is burdened, take it to the Lord in Confession. He died for you. He will forgive you.[/FONT]

[FONT=arial,helvetica] And, just as there is hardly anything more refreshing than a good bath, so there is nothing spiritually more refreshing than absolution.[/FONT]

I particularly was moved by the last line of Bishop Sheen’s article:
[FONT=arial,helvetica]If you had never sinned, you never could call Jesus, ‘Savior.’[/FONT]
The only thing I disagree with is when he added:
[FONT=arial,helvetica][size=2]The beauty of it is that we can start all over again. [after we are forgiven]
[/size][/FONT]
I know that is very Catholic. I would ask, “Start what all over again?” Jesus said “it is finished.” We are forgiven. That’s it. We need never be thirsty again.

                           __________________
            a Lutheran :thumbsup:

P.S. Christ died for the forgiveness of sins, for the salvation of all mankind. This is a free gift. Believe and be saved.


#2

The priest in the story was Bishop Fulton Sheen.


#3

Thanks for that additional information.

Bishop Sheen was a very good speaker. Very interesting to listen to, as is Father Corapi.

But the first time I saw Bishop Sheen on Cable reruns, in all his clerical regalia, I couldn’t help but think, “Is this guy for real?” Five minutes of listening to him and it was obvious that he was for real.


#4

Question: Was Fr. Corapi criticizing the priest’s remark or was that your opinion?


#5

No, Fr. Corapi did not criticize the remark. He agreed with the remark.

Fr. Corapi used the story as an illustration about humility, so he didn’t spend much time talking about the pastoral aspects of the encounter.


#6

I personally don’t think that the priest’s remarks were inappropriate. Did he not say anything but the truth?

The girl was being too hard on herself, and hopefully the priest made her realize that she was being foolish. So long as the priest continued with what Father Corapi recommended (or something along those lines), then I have no qualm with the priest’s remark.


#7

How could you possibly know that? I would assume the girl knew herself pretty well. She probably didn’t think she was the actual worst girl in New York. She was probably using that as an exaggeration to mean “I am a very bad girl”.

If she recognizes she is a bad girl, what is to gain by pointing out someone worse?

and hopefully the priest made her realize that she was being foolish.

When have you ever heard of Jesus, Peter, Paul, pat someone on the head and say “you are being too hard on yourself”?"Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
St. Paul
There, there, Paul, you are being too hard on yourself…


#8

When I read the story, it did not seem to me that the priest was diminishing the girl’s need for a Saviour. Rather, it seemed to me that he recognized her humility and her acknowledgement of her sinful state. She simply felt that she was beyond hope, but because of her humility, she was now within grasp of Christ’s abudant and exceeding grace. The priest, by his statement, showed that there was hope because Christ would never turn away a contrite heart.

It is the heart full of pride (the girl who thought she was the best) that does not see its need for a Saviour.

That’s my take on it.

CSJ


#9

If she is not beyond hope, then she must have hope left. I ask you: what is this remnant of hope? Hope in what?


#10

When we were baptized we were born again with fresh clean souls, removing the original sin of Adam and Eve. Over the years, due to weakness against temptation, we fail to think and behave as Christ-like as we promised to do at our baptism, thus we stain our souls through our own fault. This time we can’t blame Adam and Eve.

Thanks to the gift Jesus left of His church and the sacraments Catholic priests have the authority to absolve us of those sins we committed of our own free will through the sacrament of reconciliation. Through this sacrament and plenary indulgences we have the opportunity to cleanse our souls of our own mess back to the state of our baptism - as white as snow. That’s what we mean about starting over.

The beauty of His gift is that we can ask to receive it as often as we need it, providing we as for the gift with a contrite heart. That gift is not a one time deal. His sacrifice on the cross which opened the gates of heaven to us in the first place was a one-time event in this realm, but eternal in His realm, thus ongoing - which is what we enter into through the liturgy of the Eucharist. That’s a different thread, though. :wink:


#11

I agree so far.

Over the years, due to weakness against temptation, we fail to think and behave as Christ-like as we promised to do at our baptism, thus we stain our souls through our own fault.

It is a construction of human reason that the soul is stained anew. It is not what is revealed in the Word of God.

Jesus’ work is sufficient and effective. The soul that is regenerated in baptism and sustained in the Church and the Lord’s Supper stays fresh and clean, though the sinful nature remains.


#12

Angainor, I think you’re touching dangerously close to, “once saved always saved.” Although personally I see the tension coming from what you’ve expressed in your last post, which right at the end gives echoes of, ‘simul justus et peccator’ (my apologies for misspellings).

My analysis:

I know that is very Catholic. I would ask, “Start what all over again?” Jesus said “it is finished.” We are forgiven. That’s it. We need never be thirsty again.

What do you mean by juxtaposing ‘it is finished’ and, ‘we are forgiven?’ Certainly you must at least make the distinction between the objective redemption accomplished on the cross and the subjective redemption as applied to believers.

Since we know that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the unavoidable conclusion of conflating objective and subjective redemption is that universalism is necessary, which is quite a tricky proposition.

Besides, we must be careful in parsing what exactly, “it is finished” means, because according to Paul all would have been in vain without the Resurrection. (In other words, let’s be fair to Jesus’ last words and not make them bear more weight than they were designed to carry.)

Now, the question is how to examine the subjective redemption of the believer. As the Epistle to Titus explains, “he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Now what happens after we are (loosely paraphrased), ‘baptized and our sins washed away?’ (i.e., Acts 22:16). Which is equivalent to saying, after we’ve been baptized and clothed with Christ (cf. Gal 3:27).

Obviously this is the *beginning *of the Christian life.

What you seem to say is that one cannot, once the Christian life has begun and the soul has been washed and regenerated, he cannot fall away. As you said, “It is a construction of human reason that the soul is stained anew.”

This seems to me to be contrary to Our Lord’s teaching, and that of Scripture, although you say it is not of God’s word.

Take for instance, the Letter to the Galatians. Galatia was an estabilshed Christian church which Paul was writing to, to correct them.

It seems quite clearly that they were in danger of falling away-- or indeed, that some already had, for a false gospel (cf. Gal 1).

It is quite clear that he is speaking to those who are, ‘saved’ in Christ Jesus. After all, he refers to, ‘our freedom in Christ Jesus’ (cf. Gal 2:4). Besides this he asks them how they received the Spirit, indeed implying that they had received the Spirit (cf. Gal 3:2).

Paul certainly opposes the idea. After explaining that one becomes a child and then an heir of God after having been slaves (cf. Gal 4:6-7) he asks them if they want to become slaves again! (Gal 4:9). In context that is clearly forsaking the adopted sonship of God. He comments that he is in labor again until Christ be formed in them (Gal 4:19). In other words, Christ needed to be formed again in them, after they had forsaken him. He is, “perplexed” why they are choosing slavery under the law after having been free sons and heirs under grace (cf. Gal 4:20). His allegory of Hagar and Sarai needs no introduction-- the children of the slave women are driven out.

Hence he says, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1) He tells those who had fallen quite plainly that, “you have fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). We know it is by grace we are saved, and it is quite clear what this means.


#13

These people clearly show the ability to fall from grace, the initial grace of our baptism when we become sons of God and heirs. But perhaps you are talking only those who do not, ‘forsake the gospel’ but just sin.

Continuing in the context of Galatians Paul continues to explain the freedom of the Spirit. Remember that we became sons of God and thus heirs. Hence, Paul tells us that we are to live in the freedom of the Spirit, and not according to the flesh (5:13, 16, 17).

What are the works of the flesh?

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21)

And what is the consequence for the Christian who does these?

I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:21)

Remember before-- we became sons of God, “and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal 4:7). But, by doing works of the flesh we forsake our inheritance in the kingdom of God. Following in Paul’s context-- we fall from grace! Thus both those who abandon the pure gospel and those who partake in the works of the flesh have the same consequence in Galatians 5.

Note how Paul concludes in ch. 6. “God is not mocked,” he says, “for a person will reap only what he sows” (Gal 6:7). “The one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh” he says, as opposed to the one who sows from the Spirit who reaps eternal life (Gal 6:8). Quite clearly, partaking in works of the flesh, e.g., the ones Paul enumerates, leads to, ‘corruption from the flesh’ and forsaking one’s eternal inheritance.

So yes, Angainor. I think the evidence shows at least from this single epistle, (and I don’t have time to examine all of Paul’s epistles, and our Lord’s words), that one can sully the baptismal grace one receives. In baptism one becomes a son of God and an heir, and yet clearly one can forsake this by forsaking the gospel or by partaking in works of the flesh.

-Rob


#14

You hit it on the nose. “At the same time righteous and a sinner”.

My analysis:
What do you mean by juxtaposing ‘it is finished’ and, ‘we are forgiven?’ Certainly you must at least make the distinction between the objective redemption accomplished on the cross and the subjective redemption as applied to believers.

Certainly I do not.

Since we know that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, the unavoidable conclusion of conflating objective and subjective redemption is that universalism is necessary, which is quite a tricky proposition.

We are told Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. We can’t ignore that. The gift of Grace is for everybody. Everybody should receive the gift and be glad.

Besides, we must be careful in parsing what exactly, “it is finished” means, because according to Paul all would have been in vain without the Resurrection. (In other words, let’s be fair to Jesus’ last words and not make them bear more weight than they were designed to carry.)

While you are busy parsing carefully, I will rejoice that Jesus’ job is done, and his work is all that is required. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15

Jesus rose because his work was finished on the cross. His resurrection is a testimony to the effectiveness of his finished work on the cross. If he did not rise, he would have been lying when he said “it is finished”.

Now, the question is how to examine the subjective redemption of the believer. As the Epistle to Titus explains, “he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Now what happens after we are (loosely paraphrased), ‘baptized and our sins washed away?’ (i.e., Acts 22:16). Which is equivalent to saying, after we’ve been baptized and clothed with Christ (cf. Gal 3:27).

Obviously this is the *beginning *of the Christian life.

No. Obviously the text means what it says. We are saved through the bath of rebirth and renewal of the holy Spirit. Period. End of sentence.

What you seem to say is that one cannot, once the Christian life has begun and the soul has been washed and regenerated, he cannot fall away. As you said, “It is a construction of human reason that the soul is stained anew.”

I also said “The soul that is regenerated in baptism and sustained in the Church and the Lord’s Supper stays fresh and clean, though the sinful nature remains.”

The parable of the sower shows us that souls can fall away. What I am saying is that while yet sustained, Christians are simul justus et peccator.

Hence he says, “For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal 5:1)

Good advice.


#15

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:something)

Who can deny that works of the flesh condemn us?


#16

Indeed. And I think this causes some of the tension in your interpretation.

Certainly I do not.

We are told Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. We can’t ignore that. The gift of Grace is for everybody. Everybody should receive the gift and be glad.While you are busy parsing carefully, I will rejoice that Jesus’ job is done, and his work is all that is required. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15

Perhaps I should explain a bit more.

If everyone was saved by Jesus’ sacrifice without having to have the merits of His sacrifice applied personally to them, then all men would infallibly be saved, because he died for the sins of the entire world.

That is the distinction between objective and subjective redemption. Objectively Jesus merited superabundantly such that all men’s sins could be forgiven and all men could be saved. Subjectively man is saved when he is justified. Subjective redemption means the application of the merits of Christ’s cross to the individual, and that happens in justification.

By saying, “everybody should receive the gift and be glad” you acknowledge exactly the distinction I am making-- that in order to be saved Christ must not only complete His sacrifice but that we must, “receive the gift”-- we must be justified.

Jesus rose because his work was finished on the cross. His resurrection is a testimony to the effectiveness of his finished work on the cross. If he did not rise, he would have been lying when he said “it is finished”.

With all due respect, you reduce the Resurrection to testimony. It is not only, “testimony” to God’s work, it is His VICTORY.

If Christ has not been raised then it is the apostles who are the liars, not God (cf. 1 Cor 15:15). Paul’s reasoning for the Resurrection is that, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). In other words, if Christ has not been raised, the work of redemption is not complete. I advise you to look elsewhere for explanations of Christ’s words (for instance, Scott Hahn’s interesting answer). I also advise you not to downplay the victory of our God in the Ressurection of His Son.

No. Obviously the text means what it says. We are saved through the bath of rebirth and renewal of the holy Spirit. Period. End of sentence.

After reviewing this paragraph I find your doctrine to be schizophrenic… compare it with this.

I also said “The soul that is regenerated in baptism and sustained in the Church and the Lord’s Supper stays fresh and clean, though the sinful nature remains.”

So which is it? Are we saved by the renewal of the Holy Spirit in baptism, “period?” Or are we also sustained through the Church and the Eucharist?

The parable of the sower shows us that souls can fall away. What I am saying is that while yet sustained, Christians are simul justus et peccator.

So what precisely are you saying? Is it that we are not stained, ‘anew’ because we never had that stain wiped away in the first place?

Good advice.

Thank Paul. :slight_smile: And God. :slight_smile:


#17

Justification is objectively available to all men through the gifts of baptism and the sacrament of the altar. Honestly, I don’t know why you insist on being a subjectivist when it comes to grace. “Subjectivism” when it comes to other things like natural law is treated pretty harshly around here, isn’t it?

If Christ has not been raised then it is the apostles who are the liars, not God (cf. 1 Cor 15:15). Paul’s reasoning for the Resurrection is that, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor 15:17). In other words, if Christ has not been raised, the work of redemption is not complete.

I would say rather: if Christ has not been raised, the work of redemption would have been shown to be incomplete.

I don’t know how much this exact point matters, but I see Jesus’ resurrection as a result of his work on the cross, which he said “is finished” at the time. Jesus’ death ushered in the new age of resurrection, of which he himself, as the new Adam, was first.

So which is it? Are we saved by the renewal of the Holy Spirit in baptism, “period?” Or are we also sustained through the Church and the Eucharist?

Yes! :slight_smile:


#18

His tv show was in the 50s. He may seem very old fashioned to folks in the 21C, but he was spot on. Most of what he said came to pass. Folks are trying to have him cannonized.


#19

What does that mean-- being a, “subjectivist when it comes to grace?” I used a word to describe a difference-- please address the difference itself, the underlying reality. Don’t get caught up on words and names. It is frustrating when one’s argument is ignored in favor of semantics.

If I was really being a, “subjectivist” I’d be saying that there are paths to salvation apart from Jesus, and that his one perfect sacrifice was not applicable/not necessary for all men (i.e., denying the universality of Christ’s sacrifice).

What I was merely saying was that the fruits of Christ’s one sacrifice must be applied to individuals, which it seems we agree on, but you are reluctant to say you do agree with me about.

I don’t know how much this exact point matters, but I see Jesus’ resurrection as a result of his work on the cross, which he said “is finished” at the time. Jesus’ death ushered in the new age of resurrection, of which he himself, as the new Adam, was first.

According to Paul Jesus, “was raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25).

After this whole topic, I’m still unclear as to what you’re really saying-- 1. that one cannot fall from grace once, ‘saved?’ 2. That our baptism forgives us of future sin, as well as past sin?

-Rob


#20

If you add “not sufficient” we probably agree i.e. a subjectivist would say "his one perfect sacrifice was not applicable OR not necessaryOR** not sufficient** for all men.

Objective grace says Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for salvation for all men. Do you agree?

What I was merely saying was that the fruits of Christ’s one sacrifice must be applied to individuals, which it seems we agree on, but you are reluctant to say you do agree with me about.

Grace is applied to all individuals. The gifts of salvation are available to all.

According to Paul Jesus, “was raised for our justification” (Rom 4:25).

You are right.

After this whole topic, I’m still unclear as to what you’re really saying-- 1. that one cannot fall from grace once, ‘saved?’ 2. That our baptism forgives us of future sin, as well as past sin?

-Rob

I think I answered 1 already. A man may turn from grace.

  1. Baptism forgives our sinfulness, it forgives our state of being a sinful being.

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