How can even venial sin exist in the Body of Christ?


#1

As Catholics we believe that when living in a state of grace, we are within the visible and mystical Body of Christ, that is the Church. We are in communion with the body of Christ,we are assimilated into it.

A christian fundamentalist asked me, if you are in communion with the mystical body of Christ,the real-non metaphorical body of christ, the church—how can you sin? Because logic dictates that Christ Can not sin.

He himself claimed that since his righteousness is imputed to him, and God the father only sees Christ when he looks at him because he has been washed completely in the blood of the lamb, he can somehow continue to sin in his flesh, but still be saved in spirit. (based loosly on john 13 and the different greek words for washing that are used).

My synthesis of the Catholic view.

As members of the new covanent family of God, God the father in his mercy has given us sacraments, which when used with correct disposition allow us to unite ourselves to Him via his grace. This leads to us becoming more holy, , *become partakers of the divine nature *(quotation from letters of peter, I think), but the reality is we have venial sins still. Although not cut off from his grace, the effects of venial sin still make our communion with christ imperfect on this earth. ergo purgatory, the fire of love that will purge all remaining imperfections is necessary.

So is it accurate to say that on this earth we can never truly have a 100% communion with the Church, that is the real mystical body of Christ,in effect we can not partake 100% of the divine nature, whilst in the flesh, due to the damaging effects of venial sin?


#2

I think this is a fair question, and I’m interested in other replies.

My observation: Christ never implied or suggested that the Church ought to be spotless. In fact, if it were spotless, then there would be no need for a new heaven and a new earth, or the return of Christ to gather all things and return them to the Father at the end of time.

Furthermore, since Jesus clearly pointed toward a time of renewal and regeneration at the end of time, it seems to me very presumptuous to think that a certain number of the “elect” is already spotless in God’s eyes. This belief seems to me quite discordant with what Jesus actually said and claimed.

Also, blackfish I do like your answer very much.


#3

Christ came to call sinners this is true. but you comment :

Christ never implied or suggested that the Church ought to be spotless.

Consider Ephesians 5

[25] Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her [26] to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, [27] and to present her to himself as a **radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. **

perhaps this refers to the Church Triumphant in Heaven/at end of time, but as the Church is visible on Earth-it should apply in some sense to that-the church militant.

some more food for thought!

The church contains wheat and tares! saints and sinners! But there is an internal tension in us all between these 2 extremes-saintly things and sinful things.

cant wait for some more thoughts on the question.


#4

Yes, we are the body of Christ, but individually we are each on a journey toward becoming Christ-like:

*Eph 4:15: *
Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ.

We grow into Christ-likeness. We still have a fallen nature and so will continue to sin, but we strive to be as much like Christ as possible.

We know that there is venial (not deadly) sin because God said so in his word:

1 John 5:17:
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:


#5

[quote=Catholic4aReasn]Yes, we are the body of Christ, but individually we are each on a journey toward becoming Christ-like:

*Eph 4:15: *
Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ.

We grow into Christ-likeness. We still have a fallen nature and so will continue to sin, but we strive to be as much like Christ as possible.

We know that there is venial (not deadly) sin because God said so in his word:

1 John 5:17:
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:
[/quote]

“As bodily noursihment restores restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.” CCC-1394


#6

[quote=banjo]“As bodily noursihment restores restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.” CCC-1394
[/quote]

Yep!

In Christ,
Nancy :slight_smile:


#7

AMEN!!!

But still how can there be sin within the actual Body of Christ. is the conclusion that we can never fully maintain 100% communion with Christ in our daily life until our time of union with him in heaven, after we are fully sanctified?


#8

[font=Arial]Although your statement sounds logical, it just doesn’t sit right with me. Perhaps my hesitance to accept your statement comes from my take on sin. Christ became sin. He didn’t “take on” sin, nor did He become “like” sin. He became sin. In doing so, He was able to disarm Satan of one of his weapons (temptation towards sin), but He was able to turn it from a tool of evil, to that of good. This sounds somewhat unorthodox at first. In becoming sin and dying for us, in His “flesh”, sin is conquered. But having said all that, sin will still provide us a one way ticket to hell, but because of Christ we have the Sacraments of healing. With these Sacraments we receive graces beyond our imagination. We receive the Holy Spirit in His fullness. So in this respect, one can suggest that as a result of sin, greater goodness can come out of it, because of Christ’s sacrifice.[/font]

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[font=Arial]Where I have trouble with your comment is where you say suggest that we can never have 100% communion with the Church on earth. I would suggest that you have that 100% communion with the Church and God at every Mass you attend - during the consecration. You are experiencing Heaven on earth in those moments. Also, we, the Body of Christ, are united with Him in our nuptials. Christ, the Head unites Himself to this very imperfect Body, and perfects it – divinizes it. [/font]

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[font=Arial]By applying the dimension of human time, one tends to impose our human limitations on God. In our human time, we sin, and then we are forgiven. Step back and look at the two in concert – almost as a singular event. I look at human time as a reflection of the dynamic in the Trinity. The Trinity is not stagnant, but rather a living dynamic communion of love. Similarly, redemption has this dynamic, where God’s call and our response are united. In a very similar way, our imperfections are perfected in God’s grace in the Sacraments. One can argue that the “effects of venial sin” that you have referred to make our communion with Christ perfect in the Sacrament of Confession. As soon as you have completed your penance, you are without sin. Using your logic, you should be in complete communion with Christ in that moment. I would suggest that those who can see through this veil that original sin has placed on the world do experience this communion. And at the same time, we are (or will be) more closely in communion with God than Adam and Eve were before the fall – because of Christ’s actions.[/font]

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[font=Arial]Your suggestion that in “the flesh” we cannot “partake 100% of the divine nature” leads me to believe that you view the flesh as evil. God created us in the flesh and called His creation “good”. We are redeemed in Christ’s flesh. The Sacraments are ordered to serve us in the flesh. And as Catholics we believe that we will be with our flesh at the end of time in communion with the Trinity. Without the flesh, we could not get to Heaven. But to your point, without flesh, we could not sin. But I would suggest that if we could not sin, we would not experience God in His fullness – in our love for Him. He could have created us with constrained wills, but He didn’t. By creating us with free will, He risked sin, but He is rewarded with something that He has no power over – the chance that we choose to love Him. We just have to look to Mary, who in her flesh was able to experience the fullness that you refer to. But I have babbled long enough here – good question/comment.[/font]


#9

Where I have trouble with your comment is where you say suggest that we can never have 100% communion with the Church on earth

I think you have misunderstood me. What I said was

never fully maintain 100% communion with Christ in our daily life

I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that during mass/nuptials that we have

100% communion with the Church and God…,. Christ, the Head unites Himself to this very imperfect Body, and perfects it – divinizes it.

But the essesence of my question is this…can we maintain this 100% after the washing and communion of the sacraments. we will always go back to sin, even if it is in a small way(venial sin). not necessarily like the pig, running back to the mud of mortal sin. (2Pet 2:22)

One can argue that the “effects of venial sin” that you have referred to make our communion with Christ perfect in the Sacrament of Confession.

this is a interesting statement.

One can argue that the “effects of venial sin” that you have referred to make our communion with Christ perfect in the Sacrament of Confession.

yes, but we always break the 100% communion again, as we always go back to even the smallest of sins, which The Body of Christ by its nature connot perform as it is perfectly Holy.thus is it true to say our communion is not yet perfected!

Your suggestion that in “the flesh” we cannot “partake 100% of the divine nature” leads me to believe that you view the flesh as evil.

No. I do not suscribe to that heresy. I believe in the incarnational principle and that all created matter/flesh has an intrinsic quality of goodness.

But to your point, without flesh, we could not sin.

[quote]

I like your answer following from that… but what is the Flesh anyway. does it contain our spirit. as after all the human spirit is a source of sin as such is it not?

[/quote]


#10

Actually, he did.You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matt. 5:48

[quote=blackfish152]But still how can there be sin within the actual Body of Christ
[/quote]

The Sacraments of Initiation make us members of the Body of Christ. We still have our concupiscence to struggle with after we are initiated into the body of Christ. Conversion is a process that requires constant repentance for the sins we commit – conversion is a process of continual growth in holiness. That said, no one should ever draw the conclusion that it is impossible to live a sin free life. If Jesus commanded us to be perfect, then that must be possible. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1Cor. 10:13

… is the conclusion that we can never fully maintain 100% communion with Christ in our daily life until our time of union with him in heaven, after we are fully sanctified?

We will never see the beatific vision while we are alive on earth. But that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to die in a state where one is completely free from all sin and all temporal punishment due sin. It is possible to go straight to heaven when one dies.


#11

From the Catechism:

Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. "Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness."134

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession. . . .


#12

How can a Christian sin? Because he does not violate our free will, and we cling to our own self love.

When the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Jesus came up with, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I can’t imagine he would have given us such a prayer had he thought we would not need it.


#13

blackfish -

I apologize for misunderstanding your original comments. But I am glad I did, because you have raised some interesting thoughts in your response. You said, “but we always break the 100% communion again, as we always go back to even the smallest of sins, which The Body of Christ by its nature cannot perform as it is perfectly Holy.” I think I see your point now - how is it that the holy Church can be comprised of members who are separated in some degree with God? When we say that we are united with Christ, we refer to ourselves as His body – He being the head. Just thinking out loud here - since our natures are comprised of intellect, will, and body, could it be that it is His intellect and will (“head”) united with our bodies? In His body, aren’t our wills conformed to His? But we are back to your dilemma – how is it that His body could have members with sin? The only answer that comes close is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” In becoming sin, Christ becomes “separation from God”. This is one of the most profound and complex teachings in our theology. Some believe that Christ’s tears in Gethsamane were not so much due to His impending fate, but rather the thought that He would be separated from the Father (by becoming sin). So in this regard, sin is incorporated into Christ – and so perhaps are we incorporated into Him. Just as suffering and death were taken from satan and turned to tools for good, so too was sin stolen from his arsenal. Very good question you raise here, worthy of more thought after my brain resets.


#14

any more thoughts???


#15

So how is it that we can break communion with God (in sin) and perform in the Holy Body of Christ? I had suggested that sin was part of the Body of Christ, and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Let’s look at it from a different angle – that of grace. Grace is not a reward for my goodness, my goodness does not need grace, but rather, grace is found where sin is. We look for God in the good things in life, but never look for Him in our sins. But that is exactly where He is. We see this continuously in the Gospels, when we see Jesus with the sinners. Grace and sin are like two sides of the same coin. Without sin, there would be no need for grace, and likewise, without sinners there is no need for Christ. St. Augustine said, “where sin abounds, grace abounds all he more”. Grace is that which allows me to participate in the divine nature and transforms me into Christ. Grace is found in the transformation – from separation to union and communion.

I had a teacher once who referred to sin, suffering, and death as satan’s ‘unholy trinity’. She had also told me that when we say that the Lord conquered sin, suffering, and death, we recognize that He first had to become these three. He does this by uniting and submitting to them. He takes our problem of sin, suffering, and death, and turns it into the solution of our problem. I would suggest that we can accept how Jesus united and submitted to suffering on the Cross, and how He united and submitted to death on the cross. We can even see ourselves uniting to suffering and death by offering our pains up to Him. But to say that He unites Himself to sin and submits Himself to sin is a little beyond my comprehension.

All I can say is that we not focus on the linearity of salvation (the time aspect), but rather, we should focus on the relations in God and in the Body of Christ. We should look at the dynamics in the Trinity, where love is found, where emptying is found, and even where separation is found (Christ becoming sin). Likewise, we should look for this in the Body of Christ. Think of how we are all tied to the body of Christ. Picture the Catholic Church as the Sacred Heart, from which all grace flows. Picture the blood, the grace, flowing to all parts of the body, where Christians and non-Christians are found. All of us repentant sinners are found there - and united to our sins, we find grace. Separation and communion are intimately tied together. Think of it like a stretched rubber band with you on one end and God on the other, where there is a sense of separation and a sense of union at the same time. And in the tension, we find grace and sin. So perhaps as a member of the holy Body of Christ I can break communion with God in the linear sense of human time, but in the eternal moment I am experiencing the forgiveness and grace of God in my transformation. I don’t know if I’ve made any more sense to you, but I am starting to believe myself here.


#16

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