maximum amount of sins to be forgiven
#1
I read a quote a while ago about there being a 'maximum' number of sins you can commit. I thought its probably to do with unrepenrance and a persons heart getting hardened towards God through repeated unrepented mortal sins... I believe God always forgives if we are sorry. Then I heard that in one of his talks Fr Isaac Relyae said that habitual sins can only be confessed three times then its invalid or something along those lines. I didn't actually listen to the talk, someone told me about this... Did he actually say this? How did he mean it? I was skeptical he meant it like that... Anyway I asked my FSSP priest and he said this is incorrect and God forgives as long as we are sorry. Which is what I was taught. But I don't understand where is this idea from? Why did Fr Relyae say this, IF he did? Did he even say it? I was glad my priest told me its not like that but why do some people think so? Thank you!
Reply
#2
God will never turn away a repentent soul. A person who obstinately lives in sin may eventually find themselves so heartened of heart that they have lost all desire to do good, and those people are completely dependent on the prayers and sacrifices of others for God to break through, but God will never turn away a truly repentent soul.
Reply
#3
He was referring to some teaching of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, which can be found here.

Basically, what this means is that if one keeps relapsing into the same sin and going to confession, the confessor can reasonably doubt there will be amendment of life, if only ordinary signs of repentance are present. And if this is true, even if the confessor gives absolution the confession is invalid (because there is no real purpose of amendment). And this is true even for venial sins, in which case the confessor could require the penitent to confess some previous mortal sin for which he has truly repented.
Extraordinary signs can attest to valid repentance: great compunction; diminished number of sins and greater struggle with temptation; the desire for new remedies, etc.

Of course this is a difficult situation even for the penitent who has acquired some bad habit with which he is struggling. Especially, considering the teaching of our Lord, that when a man first cleans his life then the devil comes back with seven stronger than the first, so a person might indeed struggle even more after his first confession and find himself in even direr circumstances.
But I think if you are really serious about leaving sin, and not just going to confession to clean yourself so that you can become more dirty (using the sacrament as some sort of psychological tool), then I think chances are confessions are valid.

EDIT: By the way, Fr. Isaac did say this, here. I recommend these audios, but its not for the faint of heart. If you plan on going to some big confession you might want to listen to it.

Reply
#4
It's more about a confessor discerning a true repentance, which includes a true purpose of amendment, rather than a maximum number of sins the Lord will forgive if you are repentant.  As RF noted, repeating the same sin each week and confessing it, just to do it again may be a sign that repentance is lacking. This is something a good confessor should try and recognize and help the putative penitent to overcome.  This is not about a confession quota the Lord will not exceed.
Reply
#5
I do not know if I am breaking a forum rule here, but here is an interesting thread on Fr. Relyea from another forum:

http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/136...ry-relyea/

Out of context, he does seem to hold a few rather striking views. I have not listened to any of his sermons, so I cannot personally comment.

Given the "holy" notoriety of Lenten homilies, I am interested, but, honestly, I do not know if I have the heart right now to listen to them.
Reply
#6
The priest is most likely talking about retrobation. A retrobate is a person who sins so deliberately, repeatedly and for such a long time, that God may refuse to give any more graces for repentance. It does not mean that God would refuse to forgive the person if he repented.

This is really a special case and not something you need to worry about.
Reply
#7
Sorry, the term is reprobation.    :blush:
Reply
#8
Thank you for the replies... So if I understand St Alphonsus meant that any repentant sinner can be forgiven unless they are unrepentant? Is it just a more detailed way of saying that? I hope so because otherwise its a nightmare especially for scrupulous people. For example - "am I truly repentant? How do I even know? Etc". And how DO you know, after reading this? If you WANT to change but keep falling due to weakness into the same sins, is that different??

I'm still wondering about Fr Relyae. If its lack of repentance (desire for amendment), why this statement about 3 times? I mean isn't it invalid the first time then? Is he still saying that this doesn't apply to repentant people?
Reply
#9
(04-27-2015, 06:23 PM)little_flower10 Wrote: Thank you for the replies... So if I understand St Alphonsus meant that any repentant sinner can be forgiven unless they are unrepentant? Is it just a more detailed way of saying that? I hope so because otherwise its a nightmare especially for scrupulous people. For example - "am I truly repentant? How do I even know? Etc". And how DO you know, after reading this? If you WANT to change but keep falling due to weakness into the same sins, is that different??

I'm still wondering about Fr Relyae. If its lack of repentance (desire for amendment), why this statement about 3 times? I mean isn't it invalid the first time then? Is he still saying that this doesn't apply to repentant people?

St. Alphonsus differentiates between a habitual sinners and relapsing sinners, as the link I linked above makes it clear.
I suspect Fr. Relyae means that a person is an habitual sinner on the first times he confesses, but then becomes a relapsing sinner (that's basically the definition St. Alphonsus gives).
Of course, I don't see how one can postulate a precise number.

Yes, he basically says that anyone can be forgiven if there is true repentance. What he is arguing is that one condition of repentance (amendment) might be lacking in relapsing sinners. But not always, as he gives examples of instances where repentance is real.
Yes, this is not easy. But its all the more reason for us to trust in God's mercy.
Reply
#10
(04-27-2015, 06:23 PM)little_flower10 Wrote: Thank you for the replies... So if I understand St Alphonsus meant that any repentant sinner can be forgiven unless they are unrepentant? Is it just a more detailed way of saying that? I hope so because otherwise its a nightmare especially for scrupulous people. For example - "am I truly repentant? How do I even know? Etc". And how DO you know, after reading this? If you WANT to change but keep falling due to weakness into the same sins, is that different??

I'm still wondering about Fr Relyae. If its lack of repentance (desire for amendment), why this statement about 3 times? I mean isn't it invalid the first time then? Is he still saying that this doesn't apply to repentant people?

Little_Flower10: To begin, let me say that as someone who also struggles with scrupolosity, I know what a dreadful affair it can be, especially when one comes across particularly hard-hitting passages from saints like St. Alphonsus (who seems to be a go-to saint among Trads) or convicting homilies from the fervent priests featured on AudioSancto. When you read or hear something that produces fear, before you get obsessed by the particular statement, ask yourself what the general principle/understanding behind the statement is. As has already been noted, the general understanding seems to be that St. Alphonsus is admonishing priests to look for signs of true repentance in their parishioners. If such signs are absent, then the priests do have the authority to withhold absolution until further proof is supplied. Remember, too, that St. Alphonsus's Moral Theology was written for priests--men who, presumably, have better training in detecting even the smallest signs of repentance than either you or I . Now, as for Fr. Relyea and his number three fixation, that does seem to be an arbitrary number. In some cases a priest might know after two confessions; in other cases, I suppose, a priest might not know after ten confessions. Still, I must acknowledge that I have not listened to his homilies, so I do not know the context for his statement.

Do be careful--once again, as someone who can relate--about your online reading/listening. Without a strong formation (and how many of us have one these days?), you can easily lose your joy and trust in the Lord by obsessing over a particular passage or the comments of an anonymous poster. I think that there is a certain type of (Internet) Trad (very toxic) who preys on scrupulous people and will cite the most fear-inducing comments from the saints that he can find--maybe he wants everyone to be as miserable as he is, I do not know. If you come across such people, flee. I believe FishEaters had been cleansed of such types, but be on guard.

I would type more, but I am typing this on my iPhone. I wish you all peace and joy in our risen Lord and His Mother, both who love us more than we can imagine.
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)