"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Surprised by Mercy ... What does true repentance consist of? Got perfect contrition?


"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, 
isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon?
 God's mercy is beyond all expectation."




One priest online had this to say: 
It is not simply feeling bad or guilty or ashamed or afraid we’ll get caught. The church calls this “imperfect contrition”
It’s okay, but it’s not good enough “Perfect contrition” is the realization that we have not reached God’s glory for us. It is the deep understanding that we have failed God and his love and that we have “done what we ought not to have done and left undone those things we ought to have done and there is no health in us.”
Once we truly repent we can truly receive mercy. - Fr. L
Imperfect contrition not good enough?

Yes it is.  To be fair, I don't think Fr. L was saying it wasn't - it just read like that to me.  When a person is struggling with habitual sin and making frequent confessions, the fear of only having imperfect contrition can discourage one from seeking reconciliation and continuing to struggle, with the help of sacramental grace, to overcome a particular sin.

Imperfect contrition, or attrition is certainly 'enough' to receive mercy, the forgiveness of sins.  To gain a plenary indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. Therefore, it is necessary to make Sacramental Confession.  Imperfect contrition is enough to receive absolution and the complete forgiveness of sin in confession.  That is what happens in the Sacrament of Penance, reconciliation, confession - the priest in persona Christi absolves the penitent from sin.  The confessional is the 'tribunal of mercy'.

Go and understand the meaning of mercy.

I think a lot of things will be said during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which could have the potential of keeping some souls from even trying to be reconciled or making an effort to receive the Jubilee Indulgence.  In trying to understand 'the meaning of mercy' one can get tangled up in the theological strings attached to it - the formal, technical conditions and dispositions attached by the Apostolic Penitentiary to obtain the gift of Indulgences for the Jubilee.  Ordinary people can be easily discouraged because they do not understand Catholic teaching.

To gain the Jubilee Indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. I tell people to not let that deter them because imperfect contrition can be perfected in and through the sacrament of penance.  Likewise, one may have the 'will' to be free of attachment.  It is better not to get too scrupulous over it. We need to trust in what the Church teaches and especially place all of our trust in the Divine Mercy remembering God's mercy is inscrutable.  In other words - do not let anything stop you from running to the Divine Mercy with confidence and love. The Holy Year has been proclaimed to attract the greatest sinners, and even the not so great - the lukewarm, the fallen away, the sanctimonious, the cino, the poor, the rich. Trust is the key. One does not have to be perfect - far from it.  Don't wait to 'feel' perfect contrition - just go to confession.  As alcoholics like to say - let go and let God.

Don't waste your time on my pious musings, rather check the Catechism.  These matters are explained there for the ordinary person.  Even if you approach the confessional with imperfect contrition - the Lord, in his mercy, imparts the forgiveness of sins, and he himself imparts perfect contrition.  Our actions may never be enough to satisfy - because we have no merits of our own to plead our cause - but the merits of Jesus Christ are infinitely efficacious and supply for all that we lack.

The Catechism on Contrition
1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50
1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51
1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52



"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

11 comments:

  1. When I came back to the Church I was very scrupulous as I had just done a 180 degree turn and no way was I going back to my old ways. For instance: I was literally weighing my breakfast and lunch on Ash Wednesday to make sure they didn't exceed 4 oz. each. So for me to figure out the ins and outs of indulgences just triggers that scrupulosity. I go to confession, try my best and trust Jesus will take care of the rest. That's not to say I dismiss the whole indulgence thing - it's just that it doesn't fit where I am right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4 oz??? I don't remember that weight being in any church document. Just how did you think about that?

      Delete
    2. Angela,
      I just reached a plenary very simply but with God giving me detachment from venial sin very forcifully. The simplest now available can be done in your home after confession, eucharist, an Our Father and Hail Mary for the Pope's intentions, and detachment from even venial sin....one half hour of devoutly reading scripture...right there in your home. Confession does not remove all punishment due in purgatory....plenary indulgence does. In the last rites, there is often a plenary from an apostolic blessing during Viaticum.
      But you can reach the same thing with one half hour of scripture reading devoutly plus the above process details. The Catholic who dies in their sleep, does not have the last rites...likewise sudden heart attack or car crash victims. When the time is right seek the above plenary as one of the most important things a Catholic can do.

      Delete
    3. Bill - I can't even finish your comment as I hear the scrupulosity bells ringing and jangling in my head. I trust Jesus, He knows my heart - I will leave it at that.

      Delete
    4. Julian - I must have read it somewhere. That was a long time ago - I don't remember now and I don't do it anymore.

      Delete
    5. Peace....you'll get looser with time or Christ will give you a plenary as a gift.. I had scrupulosity with OCD in my twenties and broke down and went into therapy....long ago. Did I later get too loose like Lautrec? No...I don't think so.

      Delete
  2. He's right on that. As I've read, imperfect contrition is motivated by fear of Hell and its punishments. Perfect contrition is truly being sorry for sin, cause of what it is and for not loving God. Act of Contrition makes perfect sense now thinking about it word for word

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you read your catechism? I cited it above and here:

      "The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.

      In the sacrament of penance charity is restored to the soul - in the process of Christ forgiving and absolving those sins confessed - the grace of the sacrament effects perfect contrition in the soul. Imperfect contrition on its own does not obtain forgiveness for mortal sins - and that is exactly why we must confess grievous, mortal sins. Perfect contrition and the forgiveness of sins is effected in and through the sacrament of penance."

      Fr. L stated it poorly, hence the misunderstanding inherent in his general statement that imperfect contrition 'is okay, but it’s not good enough." It certainly is good enough to obtain the forgiveness of sins in and through the sacrament of penance. BECAUSE: As the CCC clearly states - "Perfect contrition and the forgiveness of sins is effected in and through the sacrament of penance."

      The implication that one must be perfectly contrite can be an unhealthy preoccupation for some who may be scrupulous or guilt ridden - or tempted to stay away from confession because they are not yet 'good enough'. Know what I'm saying. These discussions may be appropriate for theology class, even RCIA - but read the catechism - it is very clear that imperfect contrition is sufficient to approach the sacrament of penance - and is therefore 'enough' to obtain mercy - that is - the forgiveness of sins.

      This is a problem with religious people - they want to split hairs over these issues and the result is an erosion of confidence in God's mercy. People want to set limits upon God's mercy, as St. Leopold said: "God's mercy is beyond all expectation."

      Listen to priests like St. Leopold.

      Delete
  3. This is a meaty post. Lots to think about. Honestly, I've never thought much about indulgences because I know I have attachments to sins and I've never thought perfect contrition was within my grasp. That's one of the things I love about the sacrament--imperfect contrition, though less than ideal, doesn't stand in the way of absolution.

    You're blowing my mind here, Terry. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "I think a lot of things will be said during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which could have the potential of keeping some souls from even trying to be reconciled or making an effort to receive the Jubilee Indulgence" BINGO! I'm so glad I came here today, Terry, because when I started reading last week about the conditions for receiving the Plenary Indulgence, I just tossed it aside and said "well that's out. How on earth can I be totally divorced from the DESIRE to commit these things when I can't even get myself untrenched from what I'm doing" (read: habitual sin). I gave up. You've given me renewed hope. I'm disappointed Fr. L put it like he did; I immediately felt discouragement all over again. Your explanation, pointing to the catechism and giving Fr. L. the benefit of the doubt has renewed my hope. See what a window of grace you are for Christ?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stick with your Jesuits in St. Louis - no matter what anyone might say. The older the better - or maybe today, the younger the better. I don't care what anyone says.

      Delete


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.