Well, this thread got me thinking more about my own question.
I’m sure it can boil down to the teacher. When teaching doctrine there can be a fine line between 1)over-emphasizing Gods love and mercy almost to the exclusion of His justice, which I’ve heard catechists do: “God is love so don’t worry, be happy”, and 2) over-emphasizing the other side- “Hell’s reserved for most of us; heaven for a very few”.
But I wonder if it doesn’t mainly boil down to the receiver–perhaps it’s just human nature to focus on the fear of Gods’ wrath until we’ve grown more in our trust and love for Him. This makes sense, I think, because we wouldn’t need to hear the message at all unless we started out far from Him in terms of trust and love.
Adult Catholics sometimes complain that the Church, at least in the past and when they were children, only hit them with the fire and brimstone message but I wonder if it doesn’t have more to do with what our ears are capable of hearing -or what our minds tend to presume -about God, and not necessarily only as children. It reminds me of the enmity between man and God (originated by man) spoken of in the Catechism:
**399 Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness.280 They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives. **
This is obviously not the kind of fear of God encouraged in scripture or Church teachings.
It also reminds me of the verse from Psalms that Jesus quotes in John 15:
**“They hated me without reason.” **
So maybe the transformation must first begin which involves getting past our resistance to even admitting to imperfections as we gain the realization that although we have them, God will forgive them no matter how bad they are. And by* first* possessing the knowledge of this teaching of His mercy, we then become more comfortable with and amicable to considering the possibility of our own sinfulness.
The power of this message of mercy is that it can pierce through a “Catch-22” predicament in us-original sin is a condition which prefers and asserts our own perfection and fears the exposure of our imperfections. Pride apparently automatically senses that if it can’t maintain the pretense of its own righteousness, then it must die. But if it doesn’t die, then humility cannot live and then replace it. And from humility springs love of God. Just some thoughts. I might be derailing my own thread but I thought I’d at least try reviving it.