Perfect Contrition
#11
(07-29-2015, 11:47 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: The grace of final perseverance cannot be merited. No amount of prayer in this life will guarantee our salvation, because, it is a free gift of God.

I'm confused by this, and I'm not sure I've said anything like it. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri warned that no one who would be presumptious on God's mercy... that is, they'd sin thinking they could just get forgiveness afterwards, would be sure of their salvation in anyway. In fact he went so far as to cast doubt even on their attrition during confession.

I don't see why God would deny salvation to someone who is genuinely asking for it. That goes against everything I've ever been taught about the value of Marian devotion, and God's willingness to forgive. I can't remember which saint said that even if you had just one second left of your life, in that one second by God's mercy, you could win all of eternity.

And since its by God's grace that we can merit anything, why should he withhold it from a person, except if the person didn't want to be saved?

I don't think what you say cast doubts whether a person can obtain final perserverance through prayer. The Church has never declared that the promises attached to Marian devotions like these, are to be held as wrong. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri considering the benefits of praying the rosary, and the devotion of the three hail maries, said that a sinner would either give up the sin, or give up these devotions.

Quote:And it is important to note that we can and must merit the reward of eternal life. Once in the state of grace, and maintained in the state of grace by God, we possess the principle by which we can merit our heavenly reward.

And by this is to be understood that we don't fall into mortal sin, but live virtuously. Correct?

Quote:This also answers the question about the rarity of perfect contrition.

Actually you don't answer that question, I've read what you posted, but you don't answer whether its rare or very common. Edit: Though I guess you meant to state 'We can't know'. That much was already clear, its the same with the number of people in Hell. I personally think it will be a small number, but not an extremely small number (i.e 1:35000). I'd hold with Fr. Garrigou Lagrange that likely a majority of Catholics are saved (though I'd preface that with 'practicing Catholics').

As for my opinion on the frequency of the contrition, I'd say its likely very common, and that most Catholics who regularly frequent the sacraments and the confessional, are also very likely to have perfect contrition so that when they pray for forgiveness, they are in fact forgiven, even before they've confessed their sins.

There's no room here for presumption either. Its not a get-to-sin free card. I don't think there can be much doubt that people who sin, thinking that they can just go to confession and in the confessional are just doing what is the cultural norm, don't even have attrition. On the other hand I don't doubt even for a second that even people caught in habitual sin, such as impurity, who employ all means recommended to them are forgiven each and every time they fall on their knees. Even if that's ten times per day.

Again that doesn't mean we can presume on it, but if we have a sinful habit that should not cause us to despair. God doesn't call people into the Church just to make them even more worthy of damnation. People should make an Act of Contrition, and keep on trying to live a holy life.
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#12
(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote:
(07-29-2015, 11:47 PM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: The grace of final perseverance cannot be merited. No amount of prayer in this life will guarantee our salvation, because, it is a free gift of God.

I'm confused by this, and I'm not sure I've said anything like it. St. Alphonsus de Ligouri warned that no one who would be presumptious on God's mercy... that is, they'd sin thinking they could just get forgiveness afterwards, would be sure of their salvation in anyway. In fact he went so far as to cast doubt even on their attrition during confession.

I wasn't saying you were incorrect, just adding some clarification.

We must ask for the grace of final perseverance frequently. God wants us to. But whether that grace (to maintain the state of grace) is given is just as much up to God's good pleasure as the first grace (to be in the state of grace).

(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: I don't see why God would deny salvation to someone who is genuinely asking for it. That goes against everything I've ever been taught about the value of Marian devotion, and God's willingness to forgive. I can't remember which saint said that even if you had just one second left of your life, in that one second by God's mercy, you could win all of eternity.

I don't think He would, either, but we have to be careful how we say it, that's all.

Final perseverance is not due in Justice, but is from Mercy. We can ask for God's Mercy, but we cannot merit it, since it is precisely God's Mercy (giving us the state of grace) that makes us to merit.

It also doesn't devalue Marian devotion, but make it even more essential. If we cannot merit final perseverance, but only ask for it and rely on God's Mercy (not our merits), it is even more important that we have God's own Mother asking for us as well.

(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: And since its by God's grace that we can merit anything, why should he withhold it from a person, except if the person didn't want to be saved?

I don't know, and don't think He would, but we're talking God's Free Will. It's His choice, and doesn't depend on our reasoning.

At the same point in time, God knows hearts -- many who say 'Lord, Lord'... -- so perhaps many who inefficaciously "want" to be saved -- they wish it, but never do much to act on that wish -- are not.


(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:And it is important to note that we can and must merit the reward of eternal life. Once in the state of grace, and maintained in the state of grace by God, we possess the principle by which we can merit our heavenly reward.

And by this is to be understood that we don't fall into mortal sin, but live virtuously. Correct?

Of course ... But our very preservation in the state of grace and avoidance of mortal sin is also thanks to God's grace, not our own power. (ST Ia IIæ, q. 109 a. 8)

(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:This also answers the question about the rarity of perfect contrition.
I guess you meant to state 'We can't know'.

Yes.

I tend to think it's not uncommon, but is much more rare than most would like to think it is, since it is so much contrary to our fallen nature.

Men, even holy men, very often sin. By sin we are always refusing a grace or series of graces, because God gives each of us grace sufficient to avoid every sin (even venial). We don't. As a result we are habituated, even if never committing mortal sin, to refuse certain graces, and love self more than God. A fortiori, for those who are still falling into mortal sin. It is "second nature" to a fallen nature not to correspond well with God's grace. It thus makes sense, to me at least, that even if God were to frequently offer the grace of perfect contrition, many do not obtain it because of their own indisposition. It's not a lack of generosity on God's part, but on ours.

Attrition, would be more common, since it is more commensurate with our fallen state, which tends to love self, and in attrition there is still a remnant of self (thanks to servile fear).
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#13
Thanks for your clarifications.

(07-30-2015, 11:10 AM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: Attrition, would be more common, since it is more commensurate with our fallen state, which tends to love self, and in attrition there is still a remnant of self (thanks to servile fear).

I would hope that even in the beatific vision, that I'd be there to enjoyit, otherwise my hope is in vain. Certainly you're not saying that self-awareness or even the self, itself, is snuffed out when one becomes holy enough.

That sounds more like Nirvana, than Heaven.
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#14
And I thought you said that having servile fear is not incompatible with having perfect contrition?
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#15
(07-30-2015, 11:10 AM)MagisterMusicae Wrote: I wasn't saying you were incorrect, just adding some clarification.

I have to be honest it didn't feel like a clarification, it felt like a contradiction to what I had said. Namely that this pious practice which has been suggested by many devout and holy Catholics, among them the patron saint of Confessors, Doctor of Church, St Alphonsus de Ligouri, who recommended it to all who were caught in habitual sin.

Instead of saying "Just a clarification, whether God has to grant this" and explaining how these promises could make sense, you seemed to say "These promises are entirely a useful fiction, but its good to pray anyway. God might answer your prayers, but keep praying."

Quote:We must ask for the grace of final perseverance frequently. God wants us to. But whether that grace (to maintain the state of grace) is given is just as much up to God's good pleasure as the first grace (to be in the state of grace).

And yet it was held by many saints that those who maintain this practice, will have this final perserverance. As been held for many decades about devoutly saying the rosary.

Quote:I don't think He would, either...

THEN SAY THAT!!!!

Do you understand that some of us are habitual sinners, who have done everything our confessors, and spiritual advisors asked of us and more, to the point where we've been asked to do less?

I have an extremely hard habit of impurity that I have struggled with for years before entering the Catholic Church, yes even as an atheist I struggled with it. And I have said hundreds of rosaries for this, lit candles in various places, touched relics, frequently asked for blessings, confessed weekly, had communion as often as I could, fasted three times per week on bread and water, turned down a party to celebrate my graduation in order to be able to have a retreat at a monestary.

I fall on my knees in front of a cross everytime I fall into this sin. And the thought that the God I love spends most of his time looking down on me in anger is worse than any thought than anything I can imagine.

Is this perfect contrition, because if it isn't I'm not sure what perfect contrition looks like. I love God, I'm sorry because of my sins, because I harm the infinite goodness of the God I love. Do I fear God? Sure, that's quite often a reason I'm alive, because if I were to kill myself I have no doubt that I'd go to hell, in which case reconsiliation with God would be impossible. However the fear of God's punishments is NOT inconsistent with perfect contrition.

Though its also possible that the compulsive habit makes it so that I don't sin mortally when I do fall into that habit.

I have very few hopes to cling to, one of them is just that God loves me and wants to forgive and heal me. Short of cutting off my genitals with a knife, which a theologian talked me out of, saying that perfect contrition is possible even when one fears one might commit a sin in the future, and that the strength of a compulsion might make this particular sin not-mortal. Beyond that I know that God won't deny the Virgin Mary anything she offers, and I'm very devoted to her.

I know you're scholastic thomist, and perhaps you're cured of any sinful habits of grave matter, but be careful with what you say when you simple want to make clarifications.

Quote:It also doesn't devalue Marian devotion, but make it even more essential. If we cannot merit final perseverance, but only ask for it and rely on God's Mercy (not our merits), it is even more important that we have God's own Mother asking for us as well.

Okay time for you to just speak clearly. Are these promises mere useful fiction, or could they in principle be true?

Quote:At the same point in time, God knows hearts -- many who say 'Lord, Lord'... -- so perhaps many who inefficaciously "want" to be saved -- they wish it, but never do much to act on that wish -- are not.

So they'd ask for forgiveness in vain? How can you ask for forgiveness in vain. I want to saved. I do everything I possible can to be saved. I praise God in the morning, and in the evening. I say the angelus, I do the devotion of the three hail maries. I used to pray the rosary three times per day, and I'm getting back into the habit of it after having fallen into a depression that robbed me of the ability to put my mind to anything at all.

Quote:
(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: And by this is to be understood that we don't fall into mortal sin, but live virtuously. Correct?
Of course ... But our very preservation in the state of grace and avoidance of mortal sin is also thanks to God's grace, not our own power

I'm kinda  confused again, where did I deny it. I have a feeling you're responding to someone, but it isn't me.

(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: I tend to think it's not uncommon, but is much more rare than most would like to think it is, since it is so much contrary to our fallen nature.

Not uncommon but also rare? I'm not sure you're making sense here.

I would agree that not everyone has it, but that its one of the graces that comes with frequent confession, the value of which St. Alphonsus de Ligouri had highly. He has an entire meditation just on the value of frequent confession, and said that in his opinion those who went weekly did not have to do an examination of their conscience and that it would be entirely impossible for them to commit a mortal without knowing it.

Quote:As a result we are habituated, even if never committing mortal sin, to refuse certain graces, and love self more than God. A fortiori, for those who are still falling into mortal sin. It is "second nature" to a fallen nature not to correspond well with God's grace.

So... someone with a lustful habit can't have perfect contrition? ...

Quote:It thus makes sense, to me at least, that even if God were to frequently offer the grace of perfect contrition, many do not obtain it because of their own indisposition. It's not a lack of generosity on God's part, but on ours.

But I ask for it constantly, why wouldn't he give it to me... or what are you saying?

Would you mind just speaking clearly.
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#16
I wasn't reading the whole thread but I'm sure it is not at all modernist or whatever to say that God is not an accountant who takes a ruler and measures whether our contrition is or perhaps is not exactly like the ideal model.

I think the quote I provided from a 1946 publication (pre-Conciliar, then) is very positive and optimistic. I'll quote it again.

Quote:Let us imagine a sinful soul who, due to her miserable past, would not dare to say, 'I love you, God', but only wishes, 'God, how much I would want to love you! Why cannot I have even a bit of this love that ardent souls have?' What would you say to such a longing? You have to know that each and every theologian agrees that it is a very good example of perfect love.
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#17
(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote: Instead of saying "Just a clarification, whether God has to grant this" and explaining how these promises could make sense, you seemed to say "These promises are entirely a useful fiction, but its good to pray anyway. God might answer your prayers, but keep praying."

Then you're reading far more into what was written that was there.

Note that I did also say in that very same post that we need to pray for final perseverance, even if we cannot merit it.

That's pretty clearly a clarification -- that nothing we can do can earn it for us, but we can humbly and persistently ask God for it.

Not only that, but later, you should note, Garrigou-Lagrange was quoted as saying that God does not promise final perseverance after some certain time in the state of grace.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:We must ask for the grace of final perseverance frequently. God wants us to. But whether that grace (to maintain the state of grace) is given is just as much up to God's good pleasure as the first grace (to be in the state of grace).

And yet it was held by many saints that those who maintain this practice, will have this final perserverance. As been held for many decades about devoutly saying the rosary.

The two positions are not in conflict.

I was indicating that we cannot merit final perseverance. Merit implies Justice. God does not owe either strictly speaking or even loosely speaking that grace.

You are saying that in perseverance in certain pious acts throughout life, God mercifully gives final perseverance. That's fine so long as we say that God wants us to ask repeatedly and will give this grace out of His Mercy to such that do so persevere. We simply cannot look at it as owed, or in any way merited.

That should not depress us at all, but it should encourage us to love God the more, who even not owing us anything freely gives grace to save souls, even to the most wrteched.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote: Do you understand that some of us are habitual sinners, who have done everything our confessors, and spiritual advisors asked of us and more, to the point where we've been asked to do less?

Yes. I am a sinner too, with plenty of habitual sins to root out.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote: I have an extremely hard habit of impurity that I have struggled with for years before entering the Catholic Church, yes even as an atheist I struggled with it. And I have said hundreds of rosaries for this, lit candles in various places, touched relics, frequently asked for blessings, confessed weekly, had communion as often as I could, fasted three times per week on bread and water, turned down a party to celebrate my graduation in order to be able to have a retreat at a monestary.

I fall on my knees in front of a cross everytime I fall into this sin. And the thought that the God I love spends most of his time looking down on me in anger is worse than any thought than anything I can imagine.

Is this perfect contrition, because if it isn't I'm not sure what perfect contrition looks like. I love God, I'm sorry because of my sins, because I harm the infinite goodness of the God I love. Do I fear God? Sure, that's quite often a reason I'm alive, because if I were to kill myself I have no doubt that I'd go to hell, in which case reconsiliation with God would be impossible. However the fear of God's punishments is NOT inconsistent with perfect contrition.

Though its also possible that the compulsive habit makes it so that I don't sin mortally when I do fall into that habit.

I have very few hopes to cling to, one of them is just that God loves me and wants to forgive and heal me. Short of cutting off my genitals with a knife, which a theologian talked me out of, saying that perfect contrition is possible even when one fears one might commit a sin in the future, and that the strength of a compulsion might make this particular sin not-mortal. Beyond that I know that God won't deny the Virgin Mary anything she offers, and I'm very devoted to her.

You're to be commended for all of your struggles. That's exactly what God expects, our heart.

You're not alone in your struggles either. Trust me.

Think of it this way : we're fallen creatures, and of ourselves we're unable to do anything to merit our salvation. God wants our salvation. He's told us so. He want's my salvation and yours. If that's all true, then He has to provide us grace, and superabundant grace to make up for our weakness. If we are weak, yet we do what we can, we have every reason to demand of Our Father than He help us.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote: I know you're scholastic thomist, and perhaps you're cured of any sinful habits of grave matter, but be careful with what you say when you simple want to make clarifications.

I'll be cured of sinful habits when the Old Man is dead ... about 15 minutes after I am. We all struggle with sin.

We have to also make the effort, as St. Ignatius says in the Spiritual Exercises, of always giving each other the benefit of the doubt. We're posting in a subforum on Theology. It should not suprise us that theological terms, and the somewhat scholastic manner of discussing things is par for the course.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:It also doesn't devalue Marian devotion, but make it even more essential. If we cannot merit final perseverance, but only ask for it and rely on God's Mercy (not our merits), it is even more important that we have God's own Mother asking for us as well.

Okay time for you to just speak clearly. Are these promises mere useful fiction, or could they in principle be true?

They are not fiction. As above, they are simply not meritorious toward final perseverance -- because of these acts we are not owed, in justice, salvation.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:At the same point in time, God knows hearts -- many who say 'Lord, Lord'... -- so perhaps many who inefficaciously "want" to be saved -- they wish it, but never do much to act on that wish -- are not.

So they'd ask for forgiveness in vain? How can you ask for forgiveness in vain. I want to saved. I do everything I possible can to be saved. I praise God in the morning, and in the evening. I say the angelus, I do the devotion of the three hail maries. I used to pray the rosary three times per day, and I'm getting back into the habit of it after having fallen into a depression that robbed me of the ability to put my mind to anything at all.

You have to stop making distinctions about you. That's part of the problem in theological discussion. We have to take ourselves out of it. It's principles, not personal.

Those who just go about wishing to love God, but never doing anything about it, never making sacrifices, never praying ... do not actually love.

Those who want to love God and make what sacrifices they can, pray as they can, these love God.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:
(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: And by this is to be understood that we don't fall into mortal sin, but live virtuously. Correct?
Of course ... But our very preservation in the state of grace and avoidance of mortal sin is also thanks to God's grace, not our own power

I'm kinda  confused again, where did I deny it. I have a feeling you're responding to someone, but it isn't me.

You didn't deny it, again, just adding that God is the one preserving us.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
(07-30-2015, 07:39 AM)Leonhard Wrote: I tend to think it's not uncommon, but is much more rare than most would like to think it is, since it is so much contrary to our fallen nature.

Not uncommon but also rare? I'm not sure you're making sense here.

Most people think perfect contrition is what happen when we pray the perfect act of contrition and are very sorry for our sins. They don't realize how much they really have to rely on God.

Thus, my own impression is that most people think it is extremely common. Just the result of a certain prayer said with gusto. At the same time, I am not going to try to suggest that perfect contrition happens infrequently. It is not rare, but it is not as common as most people would like to think it is.


(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
Quote:As a result we are habituated, even if never committing mortal sin, to refuse certain graces, and love self more than God. A fortiori, for those who are still falling into mortal sin. It is "second nature" to a fallen nature not to correspond well with God's grace.

So... someone with a lustful habit can't have perfect contrition? ...

Non sequitur.

(07-30-2015, 12:47 PM)Leonhard Wrote: Would you mind just speaking clearly.

You're the one reading into my words things I have not written; drawing conclusions I have not made.
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#18
Very fascinating insights: thanks to all who have participated.

Regarding meriting certain graces, such as final perseverance: my understanding is that, while we are not owed certain graces as a result of our prayers, praying nonetheless disposes us to those graces, even if prayer is not the primary cause of them (should they arrive). It would also seem that certain graces—such as an increase of faith—will not be given without our asking for them.

This actually ties in well with the contrition subject: can someone in a state of mortal sin merit supernatural charity being infused into their soul? Hm. Well that does seem strange: no one in who is not in a state of grace can merit anything supernatural. On the other hand, it's clear, through the traditional acts of contrition, that we ought to dispose ourselves to such a grace.
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#19
(07-31-2015, 02:26 PM)BenedicamDominum Wrote: Regarding meriting certain graces, such as final perseverance: my understanding is that, while we are not owed certain graces as a result of our prayers, praying nonetheless disposes us to those graces, even if prayer is not the primary cause of them (should they arrive). It would also seem that certain graces—such as an increase of faith—will not be given without our asking for them.

We have to distinguish between graces and virtues. Graces are are gratis -- freely given -- thus not merited (strictly speaking). Graces are accidents added to the soul freely by God. Virtues are qualities of the soul which come about and increase both by infusion and by the acts of those virtues.

If we have an increase in the supernatural virtue of Faith it can be infused directly by God (e.g. Baptism), or it could result from making an act of Faith. The act of Faith mertis an increase in the virtue.

Because all supernatural virtues are tied in with Charity, increasing any virtue increases Charity.

On the final perseverance side, note that Charity does not cause our perseverance, but it does cause our final state in heaven. God give the grace of final perseverance, and the Charity which we have merited gives us our degree of sanctity in heaven. Thus, I can merit my degree of sanctity in heaven, but just as I cannot merit the state of grace, I cannot merit perseverance in the state of grace. Presuming I die in the state of grace thanks to God's Mercy, my merits will set the degree of Charity I haven in heaven.

Thus, these things are all related, but distinctions have to be made.

(07-31-2015, 02:26 PM)BenedicamDominum Wrote: This actually ties in well with the contrition subject: can someone in a state of mortal sin merit supernatural charity being infused into their soul? Hm. Well that does seem strange: no one in who is not in a state of grace can merit anything supernatural. On the other hand, it's clear, through the traditional acts of contrition, that we ought to dispose ourselves to such a grace.

You're onto the gist of things here. One in mortal sin cannot merit. Period. Thus they cannot merit the grace of perfect contrition, or even of attrition.

Prayer is dispositive, as you say.it is also thanks to a grace of God. An actual grace.

God gives to a soul the actual grace to pray and be contrite. If it is the grace of attrition, and other actual graces necessary for confession are given, the result is the state of grace (habitual grace). If it is the grace of perfect contrition and the act made, then the state of grace comes right then.

We rely, then, on God's grace for everything supernatural, yet it's not a Protestant idea of grace. We are cooperators with that grace, not just mere passive recipients.
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