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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Now You Know

It's spring and the world is as green as the priest's vestments at Mass. One of my very favorite things about the Catholic Church is that we don't have to flap around trying to figure out how to get closer to God.  We have a map all laid out for us called the calendar.  Where are we now. YOU ARE HERE.

In Ordinary Time.  Green days. Jesus has gone back to Heaven. The Disciples have been sent on their way. We are making our way through life with all the new information we've gained from living according to the map. A perfect day for this question:

Sister, My question is about sin. Someone told me recently that it is nearly impossible to mortally sin as three things have to be present. What is this person talking about? And in confession once the priest said that being angry isn't a sin. I kept on with my list and didn't think to ask why it isn't. And in that prayer during Mass we say we sin on thoughts, words, and deeds. How do you sin in thought? I also remember back in school days learning that habits or addictions may not be sinful. Why? Thanks.

That poor person.  Yikes!  She's right about the three things, but it's FAR from impossible to sin anyhow.

So let's do the easy one first: What the priest said.  Being angry is not a sin.  Staying angry is a sin. Harboring anger is a sin.  So, when you hear the statement that anger is a sin, being angry, as the priest said, is not a sin.  You are human and you will react as a human being and you will feel angry.  I once heard a psychologist say that anger is unexpressed hurt.  I felt that that was quite a revelation.

I thought about when I have been angry, the normal everyday flashes of irritation or slow boils. I've been cut off in traffic!  Yes, actually, you' there, cutting me off, you've been rude there and that kind of hurt my feelings if you get right down to it, that you would treat me that way, but I can't do anything about it but honk as you cheerily wave to me to indicate that you had to do that because you were on your phone and not as your best, driving-wise.  So now I'm angry.

If I stay angry, if I don't say a prayer and forgive you, I will be sinning.  I have to get my emotions in check and pull myself together.  And get your license plate number.

I'm kidding.  I'm not going to stoop to revenge. That would also be a sin.

It would not be a sin, however, if the reason you cut me off is that you were swirling around traffic, drunk as a skunk.  Then it would be my duty to call.

I hope that clears that all up.

Now onto what you need to do to commit a mortal sin.

1. The sin is a grave sin. Some of these are obvious, like murder. Some are not so obvious. We'll get to that.

2. You have to know it's a sin.

3. You have to do it anyhow.

My guess is that your friend thinks that #2 will get her off the hook.  You may commit a mortal sin, but you don't know it's a mortal sin.  But I'll bet her thinking takes her to the next step: "I don't believe this is a mortal sin." My guess is that she thinks that she gets to decide for herself what is and is not a grave sin. That's not the case.

Here is a perfect example. The Church has deemed it a mortal sin to miss your Sunday Obligation to attend Mass. Did you know that?  If you didn't, and you've missed Mass because you didn't feel like going or anything short of being very sick or buried alive, then none of your Mass missing, no matter what the cause was a mortal sin.

But I JUST TOLD YOU.  So now when you miss Mass, you are committing a mortal sin. It doesn't matter if you don't think it's a grave sin. The Church says it is.  It's not me making this up. You can look it up for yourself.

Now you are choosing to ignore what the Church to which you have pledged your faith has told you is a grave sin.

And since it's pretty easy to choose the Superbowl party over Mass....it's also pretty easy to commit a mortal sin.

Drunk driving is a mortal sin.  Premarital sex is a mortal sin.  Looking at dirty pictures is a mortal sin. Lust is a mortal sin.  In fact, the Vatican added some new sins to the list in 2008: polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.

I can't imagine why abortion and pedophilia are on this list.  Those aren't new mortal sins. Those have always been mortal sins.  Frankly, although there has been plenty of argument to the contrary, so has being obscenely rich and causing social injustice.  That just leave polluting, drug dealing and genetic engineering.
 Bishop Girotti elaborated by saying that mortal sins also included taking or dealing in drugs, and social injustice which caused poverty or “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few.”

To which I reply, "Since when is this news?"  Although I have read some pretty tortured explanations of why Jesus didn't mind if you don't share your money.  I think He was pretty clear on the topic of poverty and money. I have, in fact, staked my life on it.

I'm sure the readers will weigh in on our thoughts so far.  You question has a whole slippery slope second half.  So we'll digest part one before we move on.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Its been a whole day and no replies, I'll start.
Why is it impossible to pray for anyone or anything besides oneself when in a state of mortal sin?

Anonymous 2 said...

Wow. That is an interesting point, Anon. Yes, it is difficult to think of anything or anyone else. I am curious about the Part Two, because I had also heard that addictions are not sinning. Thanks, sister, keep it up.

Natalia said...

Dear Sr. MM....where to begin...... I worked on a drug that was genetically engineered to cure breast cancer. I also worked on a pediatric drug that was genetically engineered to immunize millions of children in developing countries. Now I am finding out I have committed 2 mortal sins.......so should I die tonight, according to the Church, I am straight off to hell!? Perhaps I am being slightly facetious, but not really.......Personally I think St Francis' example is all I need, but now all these new sins worry me somewhat......especially since I am not about to leave my field.......

Amanda said...

Hello Sister. I just have a quick question. I am a Protestant and my Catholic friend told me that according to Catholic Church teachings I can still get into Heaven. I did not think that was the official position of the Church. So what's the verdict? Can Protestants get into Heaven? What about non-denominational Christians? Mormons? I tried consulting the Catechism on this subject but it confused me a bit.

Anonymous said...

Sister I found the following on a website of a catholic church while trying to find a church for my children to attend.

Quote: If You Are Receiving Communion
Inside the entrance to the church are terra cotta bowls containing hosts. When arriving for mass, those who wish to receive Communion are asked to transfer a host from the terra cotta bowl to the white bowl located next to it. The white bowl contains those hosts which will be consecrated at that mass.

We do not take up a collection with ushers passing baskets during mass. As you enter the church, please place your community offering in the baskets provided in the gift tables located at the entrance to the church.

Placing your host and donations in the containers provided before mass begins is a strong symbol. Both are gifts. The host represents all the work of your hands during the past week. Like the host which is made by applying man's labor to God's gift of wheat, we take creation and apply our labor and our talent to provide for the welfare of our families, as well as the larger community. Our financial offering is also a gift we bring to the Lord's table. It is fitting that they be made together and both are presented to the celebrant by representatives of the community on behalf of us all.
I am heart broken that this is going on.  What about the six year old (many are unsupervised) who wants to see how does that host taste....taking one, trying it out, not liking the taste and putting it back in the bowl? How about those who are sick handling the hosts? How about the overwhelmed mother who sends their middle schooler up to " just put seven in the bowl" I imagine this kids scooping up a handful counting out seven and tossing the remained back in the first bowl. I can't imagine that when so many, unfortunately, don't believe in the real presence of Jesus in the host treating the unconsecrated host with any respect. I believe this will be my Jesus and deserves respect too.
How lazy do you have to be not to learn the approximate number of hosts that will be needed for any given service? I won't let anything come between me and my catholic church but this is cutting it close.
I can be tolerant about hand holding during the Our Father, kissing during peace, tube tops and flip flops but this is sending me over the edge.
Am I way out of line?  (by the way the church is The Good Shepard in State College PA)

mph said...

@Anonymous, we used to have to do this at school Masses (transferring the host from one bowl to another if we were going to communion). Tongs were used to transfer them, instead of hands, and often one of the Sisters supervised it. This might be a compromise, if your church insists on doing it this way. Ask them to appoint a supervisor and get them to do the transferring if possible.

Anonymous said...

Sister Martha, please correct me if I am wrong, but I think the genetic engineering part applies to genetically engineering human beings, and not to non-human creatures. Could you elaborate on that part please?



Arkanabar said...

I'm not entirely sure, but I believe the restriction on genetic engineering only applies to the human genome. We belong to God, but He has given us all the rest of creation. Strictly speaking, breeding programs, hybrids, and the like are forms of genetic engineering.

Sister, if I recall correctly "freely assented" means that you have to decide/want to do the sinful act -- compulsion and habit may mitigate guilt.