Is it Possible to be Perfect?

I ask this because a lot of fellow Catholics on this website seem to take everything from masturbation to saying a swear word, to commiting genocide as a “grave mortal sin.” I mean, are there really people out there that are perfect in these aspects? I mean, I can’t fathom a human being with no scandal in the divine image whatsoever aside from Christ and the BVM. Honestly, I’ve only been a Catholic for a year now, and it’s hard being a Catholic. I can’t seem to get the hang of being good. Is there anyone out there who is?

Peace be with your souls. <3

Yes, it is possible to be perfect.

But I need to clarify what I mean.

I used to wonder about that a lot, as it says in the Bible, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Then I wondered, how can that be possible? No one is perfect - even the holiest of saints made mistakes!

Then I finally realized what “being perfect” in the spiritual sense means.

If you are able to develop a perfect attitude, then you will be perfect.

In other words, you will still live in an imperfect world, will still make mistakes, etc. But if your attitude is perfect - if you bear with the imperfections perfectly - then you are perfect within.

That is what makes a saint - the perfect attitude to the imperfections in the world and in them.

I hope that helps :slight_smile:

Somewhat. Accept that it’s not the imperfections of the world that I have the trouble reconciling with, but my own…

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” --words of Jesus (Mt. v, 48; RSVCE)

At the same time . . .

“We have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. iv, 15-16; RSVCE)

Yes, that is the secret of holiness. St. Therese herself said something about that - about how if we can bear with ourselves… if anyone can recall, please post.

As long as you are sincerely trying, then bearing with your imperfections perfectly is the secret to being perfect.

I am not talking about people who are in mortal sin and just say “Well, if I have a good attitude about it, I am ok.”

But if you are trying, avoiding sin, etc., but you still make small venial falls - then it is your attitude that makes the difference and can make one perfect.

It is a tough one for all of us to master.

Isn’t venial sin a sin committed unknowingly? I know what is and what is not sin. I’m pretty much at the point of having no choice but saying “all well” because I can’t seem to do better. I can’t seem to be better. I want to recieve communion but cannot because I’m in a state of mortal sin, and can’t confess it because I know I’ll just do it again and again and again, probably some time right after confession. I know that this isn’t how a Christian should be living, but I don’t even have the self-discipline to get one foot in front of the other as far as moral, perfect living goes.

Of course it’s not possible. It is commanded (as Angeluzza quoted above).

The Marines have a slogan: “The difficult will be done at once. The impossible takes a little longer.”

We in the Church Militant have a similar slogan: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

It is impossible to sin without knowing it. Knowledge is a key component of what makes a sin.

Venial sins are so because of their subject or because of some other mitigating factor.

Yes, truly the secret of holiness… It’s from a note that St. Thérèse wrote to Sr. Geneviève (Céline, who was her blood sister as well) when she was her novice.

«Si tu veux supporter en paix l’épreuve de ne pas te plaire à toi‑même, tu donneras à Jésus un doux asile; il est vrai que tu souffriras puisque tu seras à la porte de chez toi, mais ne crains pas, plus tu seras pauvre, plus Jésus t’aimera.»
archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/carmel/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=870&Itemid=1252

If you can bear in peace the trial of being displeasing to yourself, you offer a sweet shelter to Jesus. It is true that it hurts you to find yourself thrust outside the door of your own self, so to speak, but fear not; the poorer you become, the more Jesus will love you.

From: Therese: Spirituality of Imperfection by Sr. Vilma Seelaus, OCD

carmelitesofeldridge.org/vilma5.html

Venial sin can be committed on purpose, from what I understand (if I am wrong, someone please correct me).

Have you tried speaking with a priest? Maybe tell a priest that you do want to receive communion and go to confession. They may be able to help. You can also ask them for some information on purity if that is what you are alluding to. There are things out there that can help.

Pray for the grace, spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament in prayer, pray the rosary, and try to see if a priest can help you.

I hope that helps. Welcome to the human struggle :slight_smile: We all have our struggles - different perhaps, but we are all struggling.

Thank you for following up on that :slight_smile:

By all means, GO TO CONFESSION. If you are struggling with sin, and want to recover, you NEED TO GO TO CONFESSION. You do not have to guarantee that you are never going to commit said sin again. What you need is a firm resolution to never sin again. There is a difference between struggling with sin and falling after confession because you succumb to heavy temptation (especially when the sin has become an addiction or vice) and just going to confession without a real plan to change yourself.

If you are in the first group, and you do not go to confession regularly, swiftly after every time you fall, then you will not be able to ever receive Holy Communion. The graces necessary to overcome such a vice are contained within these sacraments. While it may not seem possible to overcome at this time frequent confession will help. I struggled for years with certain sins, but I never gave up on confession. Now I am free of those sins by the Grace of God, received through confession.

Do not give in to despair and decide to give up because you have developed some bad habits. They are very hard to overcome, but if its an honest struggle you can overcome with the help of the sacraments.

Consider this paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1735 Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.

A lot of people don’t like this paragraph of the CCC and they have spoken to me as if it did not mean what it says. They will not declare this as revealed truth, as part of the deposit of faith that it is.

But, I do.

If it does not mean what it says, then they should not have put it in the CCC or they should have explained it a different way. You may commit a sin of “grave matter” again and again, but it is not a mortal sin, due to a lack of freedom on your part. What you are describing is a habit, which meets the criteria of exclusion in 1735.

It’s GREAT that you recognize that such and such a sin is considered grave matter. You probably already know that you are hung up on it – you are conflicted about saying an act of contrition, where you say that you “firmly resolve” not to sin again. How empty that makes us all feel, too.

In a separate thread where I discuss this, someone answered my email "on behalf of " Fr. Mitch Pacwa. They said first that 1735 requires a long explanation (which they did not give me) but they sidestepped such an answer and said we have to be careful that we are always striving for perfection.

I don’t have to get into your personal details to say “I know what you mean” – been there, done that.

I attended a Mass recently where a priest almost apologized for the way the Mass starts, with a confession of sin and pleading to God for mercy. But, the Church has always done this – never assuming the mercy of God – and always confessing/pleading at the first instance of our worship. And, in fact, pleading for mercy occurs more than once in the Mass.

Stand on the deposit of faith – 1735 – and the rest of the CCC, and as scripture says,
“work out your salvation.”

The Jews follow the Biblical injunction to observe the Day of Atonement. At least once a year Jews are supposed to “afflict themselves” (fasting, etc.) and repent prayerfully for their sins. Sounds a lot like the Church rule to go to confession and communion at least once a year, during the Easter season.

In one Jewish book on the Day of Atonement observance, it notes that repentence can take place 24/7/365. Even that regret we immediately feel when we sin is a form of repentence.

see my next post

this is the first version of the text I wanted to show you, which is from the NIV (not Catholic)

Lev 19:20-22

20 “‘If a man sleeps with a female slave who is promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment.[a] Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram to the entrance to the tent of meeting for a guilt offering to the Lord. 22 With the ram of the guilt offering the priest is to make atonement for him before the Lord for the sin he has committed, and his sin will be forgiven.

See? the woman is not free, so she is not imputed to have sinned in adultery. But, the man IS, so a guilt offering is required for his atonement (which involves a type of confession).

1735 already includes the idea that you know darn well you are heading into a sin (due to habit, psychological or social factor), but it tells you what it means.

OH, yeah, the guy speaking for Fr. Pacwa emphasized that we have to be earnest about amending our lives – you have to keep trying, like St. Paul say, life is like running a race.

Consider the encounter of the woman caught in adultery. There is no sense that she was coerced. Jesus does not say to her, don’t worry you have not sinned. He says instead, sin no more. This is different from the situation in Lev.

Overcoming our sins is likened in the New Testament to “carrying our cross.” Our illnesses and financial crises, etc. are crosses in our life, no question. But, one of the biggest crosses we bear is overcoming our own inclination to sin.

Don’t give up. Be humble (submitting to God).

I can tell you this, I am perfect when it comes to genocide. Other than that though, not so perfect. I know what you mean about the people on here, and I agree. That has been my biggest issue on here. They consider everything to be evil. You walk out your front door and you’ve already committed several mortal sins that will guarantee you a prime seat in hell. There is no room to be human in it. If you exhibit any human characteristics, you are going to hell.

Your post got me wondering about the Gospel this last Sunday. Jesus told the woman to “Go and sin no more.” Why would God command something she could not do? Often I think what if Jesus saved my life and told me to sin no more. Actual Jesus 2000 years ago. Witnessing miracles and all first hand.
Because honestly that is how we should encounter him in His sacraments.

Protestants put forth the idea, in their attempt to refute Catholics and our sacrament of confession, that Christ died for all our sins, past, present, and future. So, all you need to do is believe in Christ and your sins are washed away – so they say.

Scripture and the early church fathers, though, taught that we need to confess our sins. That is our sacred tradition. Because scripture also says to examine our conscience before we receive communion.

The Jews have enumerated 613 commandments in the Old Testament. They study these, which command tell them to avoid or not do certain things. Then, there are things that we are supposed to do. That adds up to 613.

We have to do good works, or our faith is dead. Jesus says that if we even give someone a drink of water, we have done it for him. He’s not teaching us to be cheap. He’s teaching us that everyone can afford to love their neighbor with good works, even if it’s giving a drink of water. We are obligated to do good works, to help others.

This is the round-about way of saying we need to look at the sins of omission – what we should have done, but didn’t.

We are all running the race, trying to remain unstained by sin.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.