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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sin Tax

More questions for our dear readers:

From Toltec:
I am confused about all the suffering by different parties (saints, living church members, the dead in purgatory, etc.) as reparation for sin. How does the suffering of Jesus figure into all this?

Yep. This is why I didn't want to open this can of worms. Before I try to answer let me give you some advice. Offer up your suffering and let heaven sort it out. Think of it like giving money to a giant charity or political party. You send it in and they figure out how to use it. Except in heaven 95% of your suffering won't go to pay staff members and rent an office.

As for your question, I'm assuming what you mean here, what you are poking at but don't have the nerve to say outright, is, "Didn't Jesus already pay for all of the sins of the world by dying on the cross? Isn't the debt paid in full?" (so I can just go my merry way and go to heaven no matter what I do because I believe Jesus already paid for my sins....nice try....)

And the simple answer is, just the one debt of Original Sin. The rest of the sins are owned at operated by the individuals who commit them, giving new meaning to the idea of 'sin tax.'

The actual answer is much more complex and will give us all a headache that we can then offer up. I can feel my jaw tensing already. Hooray!

Let's take a trip to the world of suffering, suffering saints and Jesus on the cross. What fun.

First we have suffering in general, which is inescapable here on Earth. You don't even have to leave your house. You can crack your head on the upper self while dusting the lower one. You can get a massive shock after taking the clothes out of the dryer and touching the on switch to the computer. You can trip over the cat, drop your entire lunch all over the floor and down the front of yourself while the cat manages to dig it's claws into the back of your heal in a panic. Later you will find a hairball that didn't come from the outside of the cat. You can fully expect more of the same tomorrow.

Offer this stuff up for the souls in Purgatory. Maybe heaven will cash it in for the reparation of sin, but I doubt it. If for some reason this doesn't sit right with you, don't offer it up for the souls in Purgatory or anything else. But let it all go anyhow because if you can suffer the small things with grace you will be more capable to suffer what life really has in store for you with more strength. Even the Buddhists get that.

Then we have real suffering: nasty disease, getting cut in half by a train, sucked up in a tornado and dropped on your head so you don't remember your family any more (although some would welcome that opportunity for it's own sake). Here's where you can do some real good for the souls in Purgatory, which, by the way has everything to do with the reparation of sins.

Moving on, the suffering of the saints which includes what we just talked about but which also has a whole other dimension. You really don't hear too much discussion about this, so I'm a little reticent to bring it up. I'm just going to say it and then we're just going to move on, okay? Sometimes the saints punished themselves for thinking about (and so they would stop thinking about)...sex. It seems there was often an ongoing battle. I think it's why they invented hair shirts.

There I've said it. Now let's drop it.

Meanwhile, your stigmata saints so identify with the suffering of Jesus on the cross that they manifest the wounds, which is not fun.

Here comes the headache part: It's not like, I sin over here, and Padre Pio suffers over there (although it is EXACTLY like that). It's more like Padre Pio identifies with the sacrifice Jesus made and wants to emulate Him as closely as possible. Jesus loves me so much he suffered and died for me. I sin ( over and over, in fact). I have some punishment coming. Padre Pio loves me like Jesus does and would like to trade places with me and take my punishment for whatever I have coming, and like Jesus, would like to suffer and die for my sins. Padre Pio's prayers are answered and he is allowed to do just that. Isn't that nice?

Say thank you. I never see Padre Pio listed in the drippy lists of things we are thankful for at Thanksgiving.

If the whole thing still bothers you, forget it. You don't have to offer up your sufferings. We strongly suggest you do, but you can skip it, Lazy.

But to me that seems like those people who drive everywhere when they could walk. Two blocks to the 7/11. A block to mail a letter. There's no law about driving everywhere but, come on. Walk. And as long as your walking you could do yourself a favor and carry those little hand weights or a couple of cans of tomato juice (which is heavier than any other kind of juice, even the juice blends). Since you're walking you might as well add strength.


Kasia said...

Then there's always the verse in Colossians, where Paul talks about filling up what is still lacking in Christ's sacrifice...

Staying in Balance said...

Much wisdom as usual, Sister! Thanks!

Mom said...

See, here's that can of worms wriggling, but I believe that Christ is the propitiation of ALL of my sins, past, present and FUTURE. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. No fine print.

But because we are saved and the Spirit of Christ lives within us, we live a life that seeks and yearns to please him. Not because of ourselves, but because of the Spirit within us.

Staying in Balance said...

True, but we do sin, though. It may not be sin like murder, but it could easily be harboring resentment against someone, for example.

There is also the verse that Kasia mentioned about "filling up what is still lacking in Christ's sacrifice."

Mom said...

Sure we sin, but the blood covers it.

owenswain said...

I bicycled home in the bitter cold and snow this evening, wiped out on the ice at one intersection - no walking to the 7/11 for me...in fact no 7/11 as convenience stores are like fast food, straight from the dark heart of the enemy - and thoroughly enjoyed my trip home. If any of that can be called suffering in comparison to what people actually suffer, God can have it and do what he pleases with it.

Silliness aside and thinking of Purgatory, I recently wrote about a month long prayer journey I am on for the sorrowing faithful. It's here I am taking it very seriously.

Anonymous said...

I have understood for some time that the Roman Catholic faith does not believe that the suffering/death of Christ is sufficient for one's complete salvation and entry into heaven. I did not understand where His suffering/death fit into the whole scheme of things, hence the wording of my question. Your answer regarding original sin clears that up for me, and I thank you for the answer.

I now understand that from the Catholic viewpoint Christ's death for Origianl sin gets a person's account with God (via Baptism) from a negative value to zero or neutral, in regards to sin. It wipes the slate clean so to speak. From there the person must cooperate with the grace administered by the church in the form of sacrements to get a positive account value (in regards to righteousness - since only those that are righteous can enter heaven). When a sin in committed it either puts the person's account back into the negative value (mortal sin) or simply decreases the positive value (veniel sin). One cannot enter heaven until one's account is postive enough (perfect) in order to be counted as righteous. I think this would indeed cause anyone a headache. One ends up not knowing if you have done enough good or suffered enough to pay for the bad.

Since you rephrased my question, I will take the opportunity to say that I do believe that Christ died for all my sins (Original sin, past, present, and futrue sins) and they are many. I believe that He died for all of them because as God in human flesh He lived a life that perfectly kept all of God the Father's laws. Jesus Christ,as a man, was perfectly righteous because he kept the law perfectly and never sinned. St. Paul teaches in Romans 3:20-22 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become concsious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." I believe St. Paul is saying here that I can never do enough right to be righteous because,as a sinner, I cannot keep His law perfectly. But God, in His grace, has provided a real righteousness for me. It is the righteousness of Christ! The righteousness from when He lived on earth and kept the law perfectly. God gives the righteousness of Christ to me (makes my account perfectly positive, if you will) when I believe. He took the punishment for all of my sin and I get His righteousness. This is the cure for that headache and yes, it let's me "go merrily on to heaven." Because "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

I must say that "merrily" does not mean that I can happily sin with abandon until I get to heaven just because God will forgive the sin. St. Paul himself addresses the question of sinning with abandon in Romans 6:1-4 where he says: "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!...We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." That new life is the one Jan B well describes in her comment saying we "seek and yearn to please Him" by the influence of the Holy Spirit that lives within us.

Kasia & 4hischurch refer to Colissians 1:24 about something being lacking in Christ's afflictions. With a surface reading I can see how they would understand from that verse that more suffering is needed. But if one looks at the preceding verses about the surpemacy of Christ and specifically verses 19 & 20 which say: "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself ALL things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making PEACE through his blood, shed on the cross." (Emphasis mine) That sure doesn't sound like Christ did not do all that was needed to bring us back into right standing with God. Other verses indicate Christ did all that was necessary to save us. For example Hebrews 7:25 speaking of Christ says: "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." I can only conclude that St. Paul must mean something else by his statement in Colossians 1:24.

And now, Sister, this is your blog and I've been taking up bandwidth. I thank you for both it and the opportunity to express by beliefs in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew said...


Thank you for asking to take part in the 2007 Saint for the Year Devotion. I pray that through this devotion, all participants ultimately grow closer to God. You were chosen by Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Please let me know that you receive this message as well as any connections between your saint and you that you would like to share.

Sister Mary Martha said...

toltec, I hope you have enjoyed your soapbox. I dozed off for a while there and woke up thinking I was reading a Billy Graham book, which would be odd, since I've never done that.

If you already had an answer for yourself why did you ask? Oh, right. So you could have a blab.

I think I need another nap. But I'll offer it up and set the table.

Sister Mary Martha said...

thank you moneybags! She's come just in time to help me read my mail.

radio45 said...

Stop!! You're both right!! Yes, Christ died for Original Sin... And you my sins yesterday, today, and tomorrow!! Praise God!! But what is the big question in the background is can prayer be in the form of action?? When you offer up things, it is a little prayer...What you are actually saying is that, Jesus, may this suffering that I have right now, bring me into closer relationship with you. I will never really know what your suffering was like, but let my suffering be a constant reminder of the price my Savior paid for my sins. And as the thief on the cross said, we have a reason for this suffering, but He suffered for no reason but for us. As Catholics we believe that we can use this daily suffering as a prayer for others as in , "By the way, Jesus, since I'm using this time to develop my personal relationship with you, could you look in on the others who may not have this personal relationship with you?? Like Uncle Harry who is drunk 3 nights a week but was so funny at Thanksgiving when he put the lampshade on his head. We love him, Jesus, do something. He's only drunk because Aunt Harriet died--could you look in on her. If there's a purgatory, she's probably there. Couldya sneak her through the gates tonite??" And so it goes. The real question is can we use actions as prayers. Yes, and it's Biblical but I don't have time to look it up. I'm late for work! All the anxiety! I'll offer it up!

radio45 said...

One more thing... I'm late for work already, nothing can help. Is not our Saviour's suffering and death on the cross a silent prayer in mediation for the sins of the saints. Are we not following Christ's example by praying through our suffering on earth? By following Jesus' example in His suffering are we not brought closer to our Saviour. Shouldn't even the smallest act of suffering help to bring us into the communion of Saints as, through these actions, we pray, "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." By the way, I like Billy Graham.

dutch said...

I am not show that justification is not imputed totally by Jesus dying on the cross for us, once we accept Him into our lives and hearts. Scripture seems to validate this. I do not know of any Scripture support to earn salvation ... or for purgatory. We do know our deeds though are burned and what is left over is kept.

Nobody is right on their own, we need Jesus.

What you threw out Sister M, is something I have struggled with.

I look at Orthodoxy right now instead but not sure about that either.

Love ya...