Thanks for the responses guys… much appreciated!
Your comments seem to conflict with the teachings of the Bible …
[LIST]*]James 5:16 - " … The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much … "
*]Isaiah 59:2 - “ … But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear … ”
*]Proverbs 15:29 - “ … The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous … ”
*]Psalm 66:18 - “ … If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear … ”
*]1 Peter 3:11 - “ … Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil … ”
*]John 9:31 - “ … Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth … ”[/LIST] … God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous before those of the less righteous. For that reason, the prayers of the saints on our behalf can merit more than our own prayers for ourselves since who can be more righteous than those who are already in heaven and free of all stain on sin.
I have to admit that my post was poorly composed, but actually I do not think it is contrary to what Christians generally believe, namely that God’s love is present to all who call upon his name, especially to those who are separated from him. Is this not the message of the Parable of the Prodigal’s Son? Please note that in my post I said that even the greatest sinner if he prays in love can expect God to hear his prayer. A prayer offered in love presupposes the presence of grace, as well as a response, however tentative, on the part of the sinner. This means that God is present to that person and is calling him or her to repentance. Of course, as you pointed out in your scriptural quotes, God does not hear the prayers of the wicked, but then I question whether the wicked are capable of offering prayer in love. My post was refering not to those who are wicked or have chosen to separate themselves from God, but to those, who like the individual who began this thread, wonders if attending mass will help him even though he is in mortal sin. His very desire to attend mass is a sign of God working within him and granting him grace to overcome his sin. His prayer at mass, even though he has not yet experienced the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is still valid and will be heard by God. Of course, it must also be said that all of us are sinners and, as such, are certainly not worthy of drawing close to God and seeking his blessing in prayer. And yet, God’s grace, freely offered, gives us the courage and the hope to pray and draw near our Father in heaven.
If somebody is in a state of mortal sin, then they need to reconcile themselves with God via sacramental confession because that is how Jesus set things up. I don’t understand why they would not do this if they were turning to God with “love”. And if they don’t do this, then their turning to God with love becomes questionable. Thus, invoking all of the passages that I quoted earlier with regards to God not listening to the prayers of sinner.
What final step? (Not yet fully Catholic? Afraid of the confessional? Afraid of the priest?)
Are you the person contemplating it?
In a state of mortal sin, our souls are spiritually deprived of sanctifying grace and are in essence dead. There is nothing to be gained except for actual graces for your own soul (the desire to be in a state of grace).
However, if the person is in a state of perfect contrition, that is to say he/she is sorry for his sins out of genuine love for God and desires to go to confession, the person is already reconciled to God.
The Council of Trent declared, “The Council further teaches that, though contrition may sometimes be made perfect by charity and may reconcile men to God before the actual reception of this sacrament, still the reconciliation is not to be ascribed to the contrition apart from the desire for the sacrament which it includes.”
If you are in a state of mortal sin, no you cannot pray for a particular intention
if you have made perfect contrition, yes you can.
All of this leads back to the question:
Why can’t this person just go to confession?
If you/this person are not yet fully initiated into the Church and cannot therefore go to confession, I would suggest praying the Act of Contrition and hoping your intention is heard.
If you/this person are avoiding confession out of fear I would say, Hell is a lot more scary than an old man sitting in a box.
There seem to be a lot of people asking, “Why doesn’t the person just go to confession?”
Maybe the person is ensnared in a pattern of mortal sin and conflicted about giving up the sin. Caught between love of God and the sinful situation. Maybe married outside of the Church. Maybe having an extramarital affair, knowing it’s wrong but too weak to leave. Maybe stealing from an employer to meet the family’s needs. Maybe involved in an addictive sin and feeling unable to quit. Crying out to God for help.
If you’re not ready to give up the sin, you’re not ready for confession, but you can always pray for help, and daily Mass is a great place to do that.
Okay, work with me on this one. If one is “not ready to give up the sin”, then the person remains a sinner and the infallible Word of God tells us that God does not listen to the prayers of a sinner. So what will praying for help do?
Shouldn’t one first turn from the sin in an sincere effort not to sin? Then pray for help. If they fall into sin again (and they will because scripture tells us that even the most pious of us falls several times a day), then they need to make a sincere effort AGAIN to turn from those sinful ways. God will forgive us as often as we come to Him seeking forgiveness with a sincere heart but He will not listen to us while we are still clinging to that sin.
I can’t begin to understand the idea that a loving God would refuse to hear the prayer of His child who needs help to overcome sin. We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
And another thought - if God cuts off the sinner, where does Actual Grace come from?
The infallible word of God also says,
“But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified …” (Luke 18:13-14)
That’s the danger in citing isolated Scripture verses out of context. Certainly God heard the prayer of the sinful tax collector. Praying for help will do a great deal of good, because conversion is a process — it rarely occurs instantaneously.
Pray for help at every stage of the process. If a sinner is praying for help to overcome the sin, he is already beginning this process of conversion, and God will hear this prayer and assist him with actual graces.
You mean the way that Jesus did in Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 12:35-36; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 6:1-5; Luke 24:27 and John 7:37-38? Citing isolated scripture verses to support what He was saying.
The tax collector was turning to God for forgiveness – thus, his pray for God to have mercy on him.
There is a difference in honestly trying to overcome a sin and clinging to that sin.
As I said above, there is a difference between someone who sincerely wants to give up sinning and somebody who wants to continue to cling to sin.
If God does not cut off the sinner, does it then mean that the bible contains errors in it when it tells us that God does not hear the prayers of the sinner? And of the bible is wrong about those things, how do we know that it isn’t wrong about other things? If those teachings are wrong, then ANY other teaching MIGHT be wrong.
No, it might mean there is an error in interpretation.
How ELSE would you interpret John 9:31 –
“ … Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth … ”
[LEFT]… or Isaiah 59:2 –
*“ … But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear … ”
*[LEFT]… Please advise?
I’m with Sir Knight on this one, the unrepentant sinner is cut off from God by his own doing.
But a repentant sinner in a state of perfect contrition (such as the tax collector who prayed to the Lord) is no longer in a state of mortal sin and is for all intents and purposes in a state of grace even before going to Confession.
This would probobly apply to a recovering alcoholic/gambleholic/adulterer etc… With that being said, there is nothing more efficacious at breaking an addiction/habit of mortal sin than Confession, and the habit itself is no reason to stay away from the confessional. An alcoholic may very well know that he will most likely fall and drink again, but all that is necessary in the confessional is the desire and intent to not sin again.
If the Pope can go to confession every week, so can we.
I can tell you all from experience that God does hear the prayers of those in mortal sin. I can see in my life that He has always been with me. The Bible also speaks of Jesus coming not for the righteous but for the sick and the lame. He ate with sinners & publicans. The Hebrews or Jews of His time also said that God doesn’t hear the prayers of the sinners. Many of the saints were the greatest of sinners before they received the grace of God, God’s mercy etc. Some merely cried out in pain to God, others were turned to Him by Him. Others were the result of prayers by their loved ones. What was the prayer St Augustine said in the beginning of his conversion: Lord give me chastity, but not right now. One of the gifts us big sinners that we are left with is that we know exactly what we are before God and how great His Mercy is and being in the state of grace is a gift from God that we need to take care of because it can be lost or taken away at anytime. One guaranteed way to lose it is through pride…and taking credit where credit is not due. Another good story in the Bible is of the two men in the temple where one was boasting how he is not like the other people and he keeps God’s laws, the other was lamenting and asking for God’s mercy and the story goes on to say…who do you think God was more pleased with? That’s my sermon for today.
And so does sacred scripture in BOTH the old and new testaments. If you disagree with this position, then you are saying that the bible is wrong on this point.
If the bible is wrong on this point, how can we be certain that it is not wrong on some other point or points? We can’t! The bible is either the infallible Word of God or it isn’t. If it is wrong about this point, then it CAN be wrong about other points and there is no way for us to know what those other points MIGHT be. Any and every point that a person refers to from the bible COULD be wrong.
You say that Jesus ate with sinners? Maybe they got that point wrong and He really didn’t. If they got the point wrong about God not listening to sinners, then maybe they were mistaken about this as well.
See what happens when you take the position that a bible teaching is incorrect? You open up the entire faith to question and doubt. For that reason, I accept all of the bible’s teaching as being correct including the position that God does not listen to the prayers of those that cling to sin.
Contrition is a process that is not necessarily an all-at-once moment in the Confessional. Section 1453 of the Catechism speaks of imperfect contrition as the “stirring of conscience” that “can initiate an interior ***process ***which, under the prompting of grace, will be ***brought to completion ***by sacramental absolution” (emphasis added). This same Section states that this process begins by a “prompting of the Holy Spirit.”
This is entirely consistent with my own “walk” to the Confessional, which began by attending daily Masses for roughly an entire month, even while I was still in my sin (homosexuality). Eventually that walk landed me in the Confessional, where I finally turned my life away from that sin.
Arguing that daily Mass attendance is of no consequence is a vain exercise; the very notion is foreign to Scripture and to the Catechism. Sinners belong in Church. Regardless of whether a sinner’s prayers actually do anything, the sinner must be in Church to listen and open their minds and ears to what is there to hear. Importantly, it was a particular gospel message and homily on a particular day (on a date that I will remember forever - 27 August 2007) that was the immediate cause of me getting into the Confessional and out of my sin. I would never have heard that message or homily had I not been receiving ***something ***out of these Masses. Whether that was due to my own prayers, or the prayers of the faithful who were surrounding me at Mass, or the prayers of the Saints whose intercession we were requesting, or some combination of those, I do not know. What I ***do ***know was that I received the prompting of the Holy Spirit somehow, and that I am now free of that sin and will be forever grateful and thankful.
My two cents.
While success is obviously desirable, we are to make a (1) sincere (2) attempt to turn from sin. If it is not sincere or we do not try, then it is of no value.