Why so little fear of offending God?


#1

This is the question I ponder in my encounters with other Catholics, other Christians, and the apparent lack of fear of offending an all holy God. I wonder why so many others seem to not operate out of this primary reality in their Christian life. Example, the large number of Catholics who use cohabitate before marriage or use contraception in “good” conscience or take the Lord’s name in vain. I use 2 Corinthians 7:1 as my reference for the fear of God I am referring to: “……beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God”. Am I missing it in others? Has anyone else likewise pondered this? In my own life having a real fear of offending God and ending up in hell for all eternity has been a saving grace to want to stay on the straight and narrow. Any thoughts?


#2

I think you’re right felra.

I think also that religion has been used for many years to instill fear and control people. Before the reformation, heresy was super scary. To have a heretical idea was scandolous and could cost you your life. People are more educated today and feel more capable of making their own decisions. This can only be a good thing, to supress people’s freedom is not something I agree with, but people will and do make the wrong or easy choices. True Christian freedom is about limiting your own behaviour. Having the freedom to make the choice for God.


#3

[quote=felra]This is the question I ponder in my encounters with other Catholics, other Christians, and the apparent lack of fear of offending an all holy God. I wonder why so many others seem to not operate out of this primary reality in their Christian life. Example, the large number of Catholics who use cohabitate before marriage or use contraception in “good” conscience or take the Lord’s name in vain. I use 2 Corinthians 7:1 as my reference for the fear of God I am referring to: “……beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God”. Am I missing it in others? Has anyone else likewise pondered this? In my own life having a real fear of offending God and ending up in hell for all eternity has been a saving grace to want to stay on the straight and narrow. Any thoughts?
[/quote]

The reason so few Catholics fear God is because they never hear about the justice of God. All they hear is that God is merciful and loving and kind, etc., which of course is true; but they are never told about the justice of God who will severely punish every sin we commit - either in this life, hell, or purgatory (or a combination of those three).

It is true that God is merciful, but only to those who fear Him - “His mercy is from generation to generation to those who fear Him” (Luke 1).


#4

Before the reformation, heresy was super scary.

I suggest you study history a bit more thoroughly. Heresy was super scary in every generation. It ought to be, as it can cause one to lose eternal life.

You may want to read up on Bishop Dioscorus and the “robber council” of Ephesus in the 5th century ( circleofprayer.com/church-crisis5.html ). Pretty scary stuff.


#5

In my own life having a real fear of offending God and ending up in hell for all eternity has been a saving grace to want to stay on the straight and narrow. Any thoughts?

I think such fear emphasizes attrition, when I believe the Catholic Church is attempting to emphasize contrition.

According to Pope St. Pius X:

Sorrow is of two kinds: perfect sorrow or contrition; and imperfect sorrow or attrition. … Perfect sorrow is a grief of soul for having offended God because He is infinitely good and worthy of being loved for His own sake. … Imperfect sorrow or attrition is that by which we repent of having offended God because He is our Supreme Judge, that is, for fear of the chastisement deserved in this life or in the life to come, or because of the very foulness of sin itself. (*Catechism of Pius X, *Sacrament of Penance)

I believe the Church emphasizes sorrow for sins because God is worthy of all our love rather than the alternate approach: fear of chastisement. I think it’s better to emphasize perfect sorrow than imperfect sorrow.

Yet, some seem more motivated by “sticks” than by “carrots” to use the vernacular of behavior modification. I happen to be the opposite.


#6

I don’t know if God can really be offended in the traditional sense – but we can certainly do things that are offensive to God – if that makes any sense.

There are those that sin regularly without repentance or feelings of remorse – those people in my opinion have rejected God and why would someone who rejected God fear him? They fear Hell and punishment but not God.

Every single one of us though is a sinner and will sin, this does not mean that we do not fear God.


#7

Admittedly I am not there yet! …but by the grace of God … and depending what state of grace or need of forgiveness that I find myself in, I am driven by the threat of the “stick” or the taste of the “carrots”.

1 John Chapter 4

18 [size=2]There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. [/size]


#8

I think it’s indifference, or faith alone. It’s like, I believe in God, I’m a good person. I don’t hurt people, I’m not mean…I’ll go to heaven, sure thing!

Why not cohabitate/lookatporn/pirate software, whatever…when you have nothing to fear?

The fear of dicipline kept me good when I was young, but it was also combined with the love of my family; I think you need both.


#9

[quote=Shibboleth]I don’t know if God can really be offended in the traditional sense – but we can certainly do things that are offensive to God – if that makes any sense.
[/quote]

That’s an interesting point. We tend to imagine God in human terms. If He was offended in the human sense, He’d be perpetually pretty ticked off! :eek: This reminds me of a homily preached by a priest at a parish we visited where he made this very point and went on to suppose that God never gets angry at anything we do; thereby undermining the entire “fear of the Lord” concept. :confused: I realize that he was trying to give people comfort, but as other folks have pointed out, this emphasis on the loving side of God and avoidance of the just side of God has led to a whole generation of people who don’t have a proper sense of reverence.


#10

Fightingfat,

You wrote: “Before the reformation, heresy was super scary. To have a heretical idea was scandolous and could cost you your life.”

This is quite a statement! What, after the “reformation” people didn’t have to toe the line in their new religion or fear for their lives? I suggest you study some history, and ponder why, for just one instance, that the incidence of deaths due to the Witch Hunts in Europe was much higher in Protestant countries than in Catholic countries.

You wrote: " People are more educated today and feel more capable of making their own decisions"

This is an example of what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery”----oh, we’re SO much smarter than those silly early Christians! Yeah, smart enough to reject God—now that’s real progress…not.

But in answer to Felra’s thoughts: yes, I think that the idea of Hell has been de-emphasized to the point of disappearing in some areas. There’s a line between faithful trust in God’s mercy and love, and the presumption of their being showered upon us. I think that faithful teaching does not forget hell, nor does it threaten it at every turn. A good parent disciplines, but with love: apparently some people view God as an over-indulgent Grandparent who can be counted on to shower them with gifts whether deserved or not.


#11

Hmm I’m not sure I fear the Lord. But often, I do tell myself- if I love him with my whole hard, how can that justify my ever doing anything against him, wether it be something uncharitable, a “white lie” to something like murder or whatever. Although one may seem lesser- they are both an offense against a God I try to love with my entire being, and that is how I try to keep my outlook on my daily life.


#12

If we do not fear God, we can expect a rough ride. Satan has done his spin and many many people have fallen for it hook line and sinker, without exploring what the church has always taught via the teaching Magisterium.

For instance, doing my own research, I came across this sermon recently which is quite sobering. It is something to be printed off and meditated on. The full sermon is at olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml Once you have done this, please comment. This is important for every catholic to get a grip of. Share it with your friends and family.

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved

by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Saint Leonard of Port Maurice was a most holy Franciscan friar who lived at the monastery of Saint Bonaventure in Rome. He was one of the greatest missioners in the history of the Church. He used to preach to thousands in the open square of every city and town where the churches could not hold his listeners. So brilliant and holy was his eloquence that once when he gave a two weeks’ mission in Rome, the Pope and College of Cardinals came to hear him. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were his crusades. He was in no small way responsible for the definition of the Immaculate Conception made a little more than a hundred years after his death. He also gave us the Divine Praises, which are said at the end of Benediction. But Saint Leonard’s most famous work was his devotion to the Stations of the Cross. He died a most holy death in his seventy-fifth year, after twenty-four years of uninterrupted preaching.

One of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice’s most famous sermons was “The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved.” It was the one he relied on for the conversion of great sinners. This sermon, like his other writings, was submitted to canonical examination during the process of canonization. In it he reviews the various states of life of Christians and concludes with the little number of those who are saved, in relation to the totality of men.

The reader who meditates on this remarkable text will grasp the soundness of its argumentation, which has earned it the approbation of the Church. Here is the great missionary’s vibrant and moving sermon. For sermon go to olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml


#13

[quote=alyssa]Hmm I’m not sure I fear the Lord. But often, I do tell myself- if I love him with my whole heart, how can that justify my ever doing anything against him, wether it be something uncharitable, a “white lie” to something like murder or whatever. Although one may seem lesser- they are both an offense against a God I try to love with my entire being, and that is how I try to keep my outlook on my daily life.
[/quote]

I just listened to a CD of Fr. Larry Richards on Confession which illuminated this attitude with word-pictures better than I ever could. I would write out an example, but it wouldn’t have the same effect (for the same reason my retelling of jokes usually falls flat :slight_smile: .

I highly recommend it for Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It is a very good explanation of sin, our relationship with Jesus, confession and examination of conscience. (MichaelP - it even includes a bit about why missing Mass once would send you to hell :smiley: )

The CD, along with seven others, is pretty much “free” at the link which follows. So far, the only other one I’ve listened to is John Corapi’s Amazing Story.

www2.catholicity.com/maryfoundation/onlinetapes.asp

God Bless,

Robert.


#14

[quote=Gunner]If we do not fear God, we can expect a rough ride. Satan has done his spin and many many people have fallen for it hook line and sinker, without exploring what the church has always taught via the teaching Magisterium.

For instance, doing my own research, I came across this sermon recently which is quite sobering. It is something to be printed off and meditated on. The full sermon is at olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml Once you have done this, please comment. This is important for every catholic to get a grip of. Share it with your friends and family.

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved

by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Saint Leonard of Port Maurice was a most holy Franciscan friar who lived at the monastery of Saint Bonaventure in Rome. He was one of the greatest missioners in the history of the Church. He used to preach to thousands in the open square of every city and town where the churches could not hold his listeners. So brilliant and holy was his eloquence that once when he gave a two weeks’ mission in Rome, the Pope and College of Cardinals came to hear him. The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were his crusades. He was in no small way responsible for the definition of the Immaculate Conception made a little more than a hundred years after his death. He also gave us the Divine Praises, which are said at the end of Benediction. But Saint Leonard’s most famous work was his devotion to the Stations of the Cross. He died a most holy death in his seventy-fifth year, after twenty-four years of uninterrupted preaching.

One of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice’s most famous sermons was “The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved.” It was the one he relied on for the conversion of great sinners. This sermon, like his other writings, was submitted to canonical examination during the process of canonization. In it he reviews the various states of life of Christians and concludes with the little number of those who are saved, in relation to the totality of men.

The reader who meditates on this remarkable text will grasp the soundness of its argumentation, which has earned it the approbation of the Church. Here is the great missionary’s vibrant and moving sermon. For sermon go to olrl.org/snt_docs/fewness.shtml
[/quote]

Gunner,

I love that sermon. I try to read it about once a year. If you notice, in one place he speak of “libertines” who always talk about the mercy of God, but never about His justice. I think that is a big part of the problems today.

If I were a priest I would probably memorize that sermon and give it once or twice a year.


#15

[quote=Sherlock]Fightingfat,

You wrote: “Before the reformation, heresy was super scary. To have a heretical idea was scandolous and could cost you your life.”

This is quite a statement! What, after the “reformation” people didn’t have to toe the line in their new religion or fear for their lives? I suggest you study some history, and ponder why, for just one instance, that the incidence of deaths due to the Witch Hunts in Europe was much higher in Protestant countries than in Catholic countries.
[/quote]

I’m not suggesting people were no longer murdered for ‘heresy’, but that before the Reformation, heresy could be construed as anything said against the Church.

[quote=Sherlock]You wrote: " People are more educated today and feel more capable of making their own decisions"

This is an example of what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery”----oh, we’re SO much smarter than those silly early Christians! Yeah, smart enough to reject God—now that’s real progress…not.
[/quote]

That is unfair. Are you seriously suggesting that the general population pre 1800 was as well educated as it is today? I think it is you who needs to study some history!


#16

[quote=RSiscoe]The reason so few Catholics fear God is because they never hear about the justice of God. All they hear is that God is merciful and loving and kind, etc., which of course is true; but they are never told about the justice of God who will severely punish every sin we commit - either in this life, hell, or purgatory (or a combination of those three).

It is true that God is merciful, but only to those who fear Him - “His mercy is from generation to generation to those who fear Him” (Luke 1).
[/quote]

I think you come pretty close to the center of the target, only I would have said “…so few Catholics and Protestants…” because you hear the same thing in Protestant circles. A few (R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur come to mind) speak frequently about God’s holiness and judgment, but not very many.

As concerns the small number of the saved, Jesus seems to confirm that in his description of the broad gate and the narrow gate:

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Matt. 7:13-14

On the other hand, John, in the Revelation, speaks of a crowd that can’t be numbered:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands…
Rev. 7:9

It is an interesting contrast.

In any case, I am very aware that I sometimes offend God, and I am also aware that I also probable sometimes offend Him in ways that I don’t even know. All I can say is, pray for me, and I will pray for you.

DaveBj


#17

FightingFat,

You wrote: “I’m not suggesting people were no longer murdered for ‘heresy’, but that before the Reformation, heresy could be construed as anything said against the Church”.

And AFTER the “reformation”, the same was true. Just look at the situation of English Catholics, for just one example.

You wrote: “Are you seriously suggesting that the general population pre 1800 was as well educated as it is today? I think it is you who needs to study some history!”

You’re missing the point. The general population is, in some ways, better educated in some areas than before 1800: more people can read, more people understand basic science, more people understand basic mathematics. But the original question had to do with belief in God (and lack of fear of Him), as you recall, not whether or not more people know that water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen in specific quantities, or other such knowledge. If what you say is correct, then the more someone “knew”, then it would be an invariable rule that they would believe in God less. However, there are many believers in all of the sciences (do you need some examples?), and certainly when it comes to theology, we ain’t got nuthin’ on Aquinas. Also, I would argue that education in this country was of better quality in past years, and yet the country was more religious than it is now when education is declining.


#18

For the past thirty years the teachings of a just God and things like hell and damnation have been de-emphasized to the point of extinction. Everything now is the love and hug theology. God is our loving Father (not a loving just God) and Jesus is our Brother ( not our Savior).


#19

The reason sin is so rampant today among Catholics is because the bishops and priests have quit preaching the gospel, their primary task (CCC #888). 99% of the priests preach only on the readings of the day or the saint/feast of the day. That is a sure fire way to kill the faith as the bible, the written Word of God, is a narrative of salvation history, it is not a catechism, which by definition presents the faith as an organic whole systematically.

Unless we hear repeatedly the entire oral Word of God as presented in Holy Tradition (CCC #81) which is the creed, sacraments, the commandments and prayer, we, because of our fallen human nature will tend to sin more as we will forget God’s justice and the real possibility of hell.

Until post-baptismal catechesis is enlivened again, as it used to be until 40 or so years ago, Catholics are going to continue to be influenced by the culture instead of changing the culture to conform to God’s will. The Sunday homily is the primary venue for catechesis (CCC #132 & #1074), so until the bishops and priest start obeying the Pope in this regard, things are going to continue going downhill.

One example of the failure to properly catechize is that 40 years ago Sunday Mass attendance was approximately 75%of US catholics, now it is 34% (USA Today poll - Dec 04). After all, if we aren’t reminded of our obligation to obey the third commandment, if hell doesn’t exist, or it is barely mentioned, and God loves everyone, why continue to go to Mass on Sunday? He apparently doesn’t care.

I’ve read that the Boston, Chicago & New York church attendance numbers are in the TEENS. The Church is dying and the shepards don’t see it, or don’t know what to do.

The answer is to obey Christ’s vicar, who is vested with divine authority to teach and to rule, and is manifested in documents such as the CCC, and not theologians and scripture scholars who have no teaching authority. They are the ones who introduced the concept of preaching from the readings only about 40 years ago. They continue to do so as the seminarians are still being taught this.

Joe


#20

Well said Joe.

Bishops are not doing their jobs, plain and simple. They are the powerhouses, if they move the sheep will feed and follow.


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