Proverbs 1:31, Matthew 16:25, fear, and contrition


Hopefully I can word this properly… it’s kind of a complex, yet specific question but I’ve been wondering it for a while.

If someone finds themselves in a position where they’re “getting what they deserve” (Proverbs 1:31), and thus in a state of imperfect contrition they can only beg for mercy in a temporal sense (“save their own life” as referenced in Matthew 16:25), they’re obviously on a bad path, but in a state of imperfect contrition I believe they can still be saved. HOWEVER, if they’ve once reached the point where temporal mercy is their objective (imperfect contrition), but then eventually seek perfect contrition, is perfect contrition still attainable in this life? Or is purgatory the best they can hope for?

I ask because in light of all these different scandals that happen seemingly every day now, people (even Catholics) seem very quick to judge the scandalous person’s level of contrition, and I imagine that level of scrutiny makes it very hard for those people to attain perfect contrition, since they’re so bombarded with criticism (which, as mentioned in the Proverbs verse, they do deserve to a certain extent). I would imagine if I were caught up in some sort of serious scandal, if I’m being honest, I would get defensive first, and try and mitigate the damage to my reputation at first. With the HOPE of eventually being able to reconcile with God perfectly. But the temporal effects would probably overwhelm me at first.

EDIT: And, less important, but even though it may not be a priority anymore, would they still be able to redeem their reputation (thus having God “save their life” as also mentioned in the Matthew verse)?


By the way, I may have misrepresented those verses contextually. I’m not highly versed in terms of memorizing citations. So the verses mentioned may not apply to the question as well as I thought, but the question still stands.


There is a problematic anthropical condition called human respect that deserves due consideration - founded in the teachings of S. Augustine, S. Alphonsus, and others. When people fall, victim to their own desire for human respect - it is highly unlikely they obtain the purity of heart to remit sin by perfect contrition. In Augustine’s City of God, these two are mutually opposed: 1) love of self in contempt of God 2) love of God in contempt of self. As Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mt 6:24)


I guess I would say, that is why Jesus gave us the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. Human nature is flawed by original sin and we all fall short daily. However, we can rest assured in Christ’s words to the Apostles “Whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven them, whose sins you retain, they are retained.” Make a habit of weekly confession with a priest, and stop worrying. Christ knows we try and fail. Just look at the example of St. Peter, St. Thomas, St. Paul and all the others who ran away from Christ and his suffering and death. thank God for sending Jesus Christ to love and guide and teach us and especially for the sacraments.


Well, I don’t have an answer for you exactly but here is a comment on the purgatory part. Several Saints have even those who have received private revelations have said that purgatory is not something we have to go through. Mainly faith, trust and confidence in God’s Divine Mercy will keep you out of purgatory. Now do not confuse that with presumption, which is sinful in itself, but total confidence and abandonment in God’s Mercy will gain you untold graces.

So in a round about way there is some sort of answer…lol, I hope I didn’t make it more confusing.


How does the need for human affection factor into this though? Healthy human affection is, well, healthy, and anyone who hopes to repent should at least desire it a certain extent (obviously not more-so than God Himself), but respect goes hand in hand with that.

Also, it just bothers me to see how quick people are to cast others out, and how much delight people seem to get out of seeing someone “get what’s coming to them.” For instance, I know people are to be excommunicated from Churches if they don’t repent, but I would think the faithful should at least pray for those people even if they seem hardened.

I know most of the scandals we hear about today aren’t necessarily anything to do with the Church (I’m thinking mainly of the Kathy Griffin thing, since it’s the most recent), but the basic principle still applies.


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