Discernment

Wilful ignorance and sin

Not every kind of ignorance is the cause of sin, but that alone which removes the knowledge which would prevent the sinful act…This may happen on the part of the ignorance itself, because, to wit, this ignorance is voluntary, either directly, as when a man wishes of set purpose to be ignorant of certain things that he may sin the more freely; or indirectly, as when a man, through stress of work or other occupations, neglects to acquire the knowledge which would restrain him from sin. For such like negligence renders the ignorance itself voluntary and sinful, provided it be about matters one is bound and able to know (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 76, a.1, a.3).

There will always be those who mock that which they do not understand

I wish to remind you, although you know all things, that [the] Lord who once saved a people from the land of Egypt later destroyed those who did not believe. The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day. Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Similarly, these dreamers nevertheless also defile the flesh, scorn lordship, and revile glorious beings. Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” But these people revile what they do not understand and are destroyed by what they know by nature like irrational animals. Woe to them! They followed the way of Cain, abandoned themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they carouse fearlessly and look after themselves. They are waterless clouds blown about by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead and uprooted. They are like wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameless deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever. Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, “Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed and for all the harsh words godless sinners have uttered against him.” These people are complainers, disgruntled ones who live by their desires; their mouths utter bombast as they fawn over people to gain advantage.

But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, “In [the] last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.” These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come (Jude 1:5-25).

 

The stupid and the wise

My people are gone into captivity because they have no understanding. Its nobles are famished, its masses are parched with thirst. Therefore Hell enlarges its throat and opens its mouth beyond measure; down into it go nobility and masses, tumult and revelry. All shall be abased, each one brought low, and the eyes of the haughty shall be humbled. But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted by judgment; by justice the Holy God shall be shown to be holy. Then shall the lambs graze as at pasture and young goats shall eat in the ruins of the rich.

Woe unto them who draw iniquity with cords of perversity and sin as if with cart ropes! Who say, “Let him make haste; let him speed his work that we may see it. And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, that we may know it!” Woe unto them who call evil good and good evil; who change darkness to light and light into darkness; who change bitter to sweet and sweet into bitter! Woe unto them who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them who are mighty to drink wine and masters of mingling strong drink! Those who acquit guilt for bribes and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall rot and their blossom shall go up as dust. For they have rejected the instruction of the Lord of hosts and scorned the word of the Holy One of Israel (Is 5:13-24).

The torpor of mankind

They would not grasp the love of the truth which could have saved them. This is the reason why God is sending a power to delude them and make them believe what is untrue. To condemn all who refused to believe in the truth and chose wickedness instead (2 Thes 2:10-12).

The world remains asleep, profoundly mired in its deceptions, despite the increasing warnings given by God to rouse humankind. It does not want to hear and it does not want to see. Above all, it does not want to admit, because it does not want to change. Such is the reality of our present world. Despite all that has occurred, is occurring, and will continue to occur with ever-growing frequency, the world remains profoundly lethargic and seemingly content in its torpor.

How long do you expect this state of affairs to last, before retribution is meted out by the Divine Justice? Man deliberately rejecting the Father, His Son, and Their Holy Spirit to continue rebuilding the tower of Babel, in a renewed attempt to take for himself the power of God and become god without the need for God? Such an attempt has been repeatedly made both throughout history and before history itself began. But it has always failed, despite those who believed otherwise, including those whose natures were higher than our own and who believed they knew better than God.

What makes you think, therefore, O man, that you are going to succeed in your endeavor this time around? Or do you intend to continue to attempt to rewrite history? Have you become so full of yourself, so blinded, that it has become impossible for you to comprehend even the most basic facts? The love and mercy of God the Almighty Father are infinite; that is true. But it is equally true of His Righteousness and Justice. How long, therefore, do you think you can provoke God with deliberate and, at times, overtly malicious intent without sorrow for what you keep on doing, without bringing down upon yourself and on others consequences for what is truly in your heart?

O man, how you have allowed yourself to be deceived! To what extent have you bought into the lie! How blind you have become, you who were once clothed with the light of splendor – the Divine Light; bought for you through the pain of the Cross, precisely so that you could be robed once again with the light that was lost at the beginning of time! How can you have let your senses become so thoroughly appropriated by the Evil One that you now think of darkness as light, and of true light as darkness? By what contortions of reason disjointed from the One, True Faith – reified reason – can you ever hope to obtain light from darkness, given that darkness can never give out true light, since only the Light and Life Himself can create and provide that which you seek without end?

The darkness and the light – 2

Nothing is concealed that shall not be revealed, nor secret that shall not be known. That which I say to you in the darkness, speak it in the light, and that which you hear whispered in your ear, preach it from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who can destroy both body and soul in Hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them shall fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge, for even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are better than many sparrows. Everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess Him before my Father who is in Heaven. But he who shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in Heaven (Mt 10:26-33).

Discerning priests from anti-priests in our times

I wonder that you are so soon removed from Him who called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. Which is not another: only there are some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If anyone preach to you a gospel besides that which you have received, let him be anathema! For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ (Gal 1:6-10).

What are mortal sin and venial sin?

Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture, became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience. Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God’s law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to Him. Venial sin allows charity to subsist, even though it offends and wounds it. Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Grave matter is specified by the Ten Commandments, corresponding to the answer of Jesus to the rich young man: “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.” The gravity of sins is more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger.

Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of Hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law, or when he disobeys the moral law in a grave matter, but without full knowledge or without complete consent. Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; it impedes the soul’s progress in the exercise of the virtues and the practice of the moral good; it merits temporal punishment. Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin. However, venial sin does not break the covenant with God. With God’s grace it is humanly reparable. “Venial sin does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace, friendship with God, charity, and consequently eternal happiness.”

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light:” if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, Confession.

“Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept His mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss (Catechism of the Catholic Church).

Discerning true from false teachings in relation to God

Paul, an apostle not from human beings nor through a human being, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead, and all the brothers who are with me, to the churches of Galatia: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am amazed that you are so quickly forsaking the one who called you by [the] grace [of Christ] for a different gospel (not that there is another). But there are some who are disturbing you and wish to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach [to you] a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ (Gal 1:1-10).

Discernment – Fear vs faith, restlessness vs peace

A brief response to many writings, encounters, and questions about what is of God and what is not of God:

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).

Some in the Church, especially those who seem to adhere to a more traditionalist orientation, are presently attempting to instil fear in the people of God, knowingly or unknowingly, because of the current situation both in our world and in the Church Universal. Know that such an approach, albeit possibly correct in its technicalities, is never of God, because although the letter of the Law may be followed and propagated, it lacks the Spirit of the Law – love. And God is Love, God is Order, God is Peace.

God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – brings peace with Him wherever He goes, wherever He is invited, wherever He resides. Never does He bring fear or restlessness; never. Fear is a thief, a killer, and a murderer of peace; and we all know who the thief and murderer is from the beginning (Jn 8:44). Do not, therefore, let anyone – no matter who they may be – steal your peace, your hope, your trust, and your love from you; all given to you by God to enjoy. Fear, restlessness, and doomsday scenarios without hope are never of God, because God is Justice but He is also Love. And His love, wisdom, compassion, and mercy are infinite, even when we think or feel otherwise. Remember, God loves and love casts out fear.

We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him. Love will come to its perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgement without fear, because even in this world we have become as He is. In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love: because to fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love (1 Jn 4:16-18).