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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Other People Are Worse Sinners Than Me!"

Post by Connecticut Catholic Corner Contributor: Doug

Have you ever heard, or perhaps even argued this dusty and worn out proclamation, “Other people are worse sinners than me!”? Ironically, whoever says it is right. We are all sinners, yet some are worse or better in resisting sin than others. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle to varying degrees. What is (possibly) wrong, however, is the inference drawn from that statement, that “Others are worse so I’m going to Heaven some day and they aren’t!“ Such “logic” is beyond naiveté; it’s a trap, and with potentially serious and eternal consequences, above and beyond the fact that we are supposed to judge acts, and not people.

Consider Jesus’s words in Luke: 13, 1-5:”There were some present at that very time who told Him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, ‘Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Silo’am fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” ( Emphasis added.)

Most of us aren’t serial killers, or even necessarily bad people, but we are all sinners, and sin is an equal opportunity killer. It does not discriminate. It welcomes all. Grave or mortal sin in particular, even if committed only once, can cause our eternal doom, right along with the gruesome and repugnant serial killer you saw on the 6pm news.

A mortal sin is basically a violation of the 10 Commandments. On it’s web site, the National Catholic Register ( has a “Resources” link to a confession guide, for children and adults. When you see this guide, you realize that the range of each of the 10 Commandments by definition is broader than we typically assume. For example, abusing alcohol or drugs falls under the 5th Commandment of “thou shalt not kill,” because of the harm they cause to our bodies. Masturbation, the use of contraception, or even lustful thoughts violate the 6th Commandment of “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and regardless if the sinner is single or married because such practices abuse the intent of our bodies (actually, “temples”) or denigrates the dignity of someone else’s body.

Last but not least, 1857 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that three conditions must first be present for a sin to be considered “mortal,” or “grave”: 1.) The object of the sin itself must be grave matter. 2.) The sin must be committed with full knowledge. 3.) The sin must be committed with deliberate consent.

It is noteworthy, however, that 1735 of the Catechism lists the exceptions for imputability and responsibility of actions which can be “diminished or “even nullified“: “ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.”

I learned long ago to ideally never offer a dissenting opinion without an alternative or helpful suggestion, and Jesus has already supplied such an escape from eternal damnation for us: the Sacrament of Reconciliation, A.K.A.: “Confession.”

Consider the following passages from the book “The Life Of Faustina Kowalska,” the authorized biography of the now canonized Patroness of Divine Mercy, written by Sister Sophia Michalenko, in which Jesus told the following instructions to then Sister Faustina:

“Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of Mercy are burning Me-clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out on these souls. Distrust on the part of souls is tearing at My insides,. The distrust of a chosen soul causes Me even greater pain; despite my inexhaustible love for them they do not trust Me. Even My death is not enough for them. Woe to the soul that abuses these [gifts].” (Page 45)

“I desire trust from My creatures. Encourage souls to place great trust in my fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all will be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy.” (Page 172)

-“The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them!”
-“At that last hour, a soul has nothing with which to defend itself except My mercy. Happy is the soul that during its lifetime immersed itself in the Fountain of Mercy, because justice will have no hold on it.”
-“Write this: Everything that exists is enclosed in the depths of My mercy, more deeply than an infant in its mother’s womb. How painfully distrust of My goodness wounds Me! Sins of distrust wound me most painfully.”
(Page 175)

"{Let} the greatest sinners {place} their trust in My mercy. They have the right before others to trust in My bottomless mercy. My daughter, write about My mercy toward tormented souls. Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight me. To such souls I grant even more graces than they ask. I cannot punish even the greatest sinner if he makes an appeal to My compassion, but on the contrary, I justify him in My unfathomable and inscrutable mercy. Write: Before I come as a just Judge, I first open wide the door of My mercy. He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice…” (Emphasis added) (Page 180)

Notice how Jesus discerns the terms “justice” and “mercy.” As I once heard a priest wryly explain in a Homily, “Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is getting what we don’t deserve!”
And where do we attain that mercy?

“Write, speak of My mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy [The Sacrament Of Reconciliation].” (Page 214)

Jesus also admonished that we should recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet (done on Rosary Beads) daily and that great graces will be granted to even the most hardened sinner, if he recites the Chaplet even once, and likewise if it is read in the presence of, and on behalf of a dying person. Both Jesus and The Blessed Mother in their appearances to Saint Faustina also emphasized three Christian virtues: humility, love and purity. Without the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which grants as much healing and Grace as it does forgiveness, we cannot realistically hope to attain such Mercy.

That is where the humility comes in, as Saint Bernard once sagely noted, “Humility is the mother of all salvation.” Purity is important, because as our Blessed Mother has said, sexual sin is so common that many souls drop like “snowflakes” into Hell. As for love, for God and for each other, it is the most vital virtue because by definition, any sin violates love, as so noted in 1 Corinthians, 13, 13: “So faith, hope, love abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.”

So while some may be worse sinners than us, the wages of sin are indeed potentially death for any sinner who does not seek mercy through repentance and reconciliation. Even venial, or lesser sin, weakens us and makes us more prone to commit more serious sin. And to that aim, we must always be on guard, as Jesus warned us in Luke: 12, 35-41: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You must also be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Given our human frailty, actually caused by original sin, this all can seem overwhelming, which is why we need to be mindful that each of us is a work in progress, and that is why Scripture is so plentiful with words of encouragement, advising us not to be afraid, because God is merciful, patient and loving, so long as we are faithful and diligent, in spite of our seemingly endless failures, and trusting in His Son, Jesus as our Savior. Saint Padre Pio, a man of reputed good cheer, put it thus succinctly, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

Saint Augustine gave us yet even more perspective, and hope: “God does not impose impossible things, but by giving His command, He admonishes you to do what you can and pray for what you cannot do (yet).”

From this fellow sinner, I wish you God’s loving peace, and above all, His mercy.


1 comment:

  1. "We are all sinners, yet some are worse or better in resisting sin than others." You're totally correct.


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