The Number of Sins Beyond which God Pardons No More?
#11
Sometimes it would help to actually read the Sermon from Saint Alphonse de Liguori to understand what he is trying to say, than take a quote of someone referencing the sermon and then deducing from it.

Since it seems no one wants to read the Sermon, I will do my best to try and give a short summary of an already short sermon.

Quote:The sermon was preached during Lent and is going over the passage about how Satan tempted Our Lord in the desert while He was fasting for forty days.  "If Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down; for the Angels shall Preserve Thee from all Injury". But the Lord answered, that in the Sacred Scriptures it is written: 'Thou shalt not Tempt the Lord thy God.  Here the saintly priest reminds all Christians (as still applies today) that the sinner abandons himself to Sin, when he ceases to resist Temptation, or at least call upon God for grace to provide divine assistance and live in hope that the sinner may one day overcome their precipice to a particular or in general Sin.

God, as written in the Scriptures, wishes to will that all men be saved and come to know the truth of the One True Faith in Jesus Christ, His Son.  He requests however that we labour in our salvation, as we naturally labour for sustenance and money.  It was Jesus Christ Our Lord who called all me to repentance and to do Penance.  "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling" as the Apostle Paul wrote; it is therefore necessary that the gift of Salvation is freely given by the Lord to whom accepts baptism into the One True Faith, yet to retain the sanctity and justification for one's redemption one must be preserved from Sin.  Only through works and penance, can a sinner to hope to obtain such as sinless lifestyle.

God has fixed the number of our days as it is written in the Book of Wisdom by every measure, weight, and number.  He hath numbered all of our days, as he has numbered the days of the Earth; "But of that day or hour no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father." and therefore knowing the day we will breathe our last breath, Our Lord knows at what point we can sin before He will pardon no more, that is, despite every desire we may have to repent and reconcile, Our Lord can take away every protection offered to us to keep us alive so that we may confess our sins in the Sacrament of Confession, and to do penance and good works, just like he will one day take away our lives and call us to face Judgement.  Remember the Parable of the Rich Fool, the man who was so concerned about building a second barn to store up his extra grain.  "You fool!" Our Lord chastises him, as he spent his life storing up temporal treasures and not eternal treasures.  Be not so sure of the days of your life, for Our Lord will come for you like a thief in the night and will call upon thee to answer for your soul.

Do not tempt the Lord your God as it has been written, for do you think God is obliged to wait on you hand and foot and wait till all the seas dries up before ye will repent?  "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"  Our Lord did not wait for the fig tree to bear fruit, before He cursed it and it withered into the ground, likewise Our Lord has shewn only to the good king Saul two offences, before He turned His back on him; yet Our Lord was merciful to the Amorrhites --- "For as yet the Iniquities of the Amorrhites are not at the Full" - (Genesis 15:16) --- in restraining His Vengeance.  When you go to Confession, thank the Lord for not just absolving your sins, but thank Him for being so merciful that he has not turned His back on you ---like you have to Him so many enumerable times--- and continued to give you the grace through the Holy Spirit.  Fear the next time you commit a mortal sin, for surely it could very well be your last...do not be so arrogant to think you can Confess tomorrow, for God surely could take your life that night.

If God punished us instantly for every offence we made, surely Our Lord would not be so hated as He is now; for God is Merciful and delays His anger and punishment as He awaits the sinners return, being like the father to the prodigal son.  "For, because Sentence is not Speedily Pronounced against the Evil, the Children of Men commit Evil, without any Fear" - (Ecclesiastes 8:11).  However as stated previously Our Lord's Mercy does not wait upon us forever, and there will be called a time where all will have to account for their transgressions.  Say not: "I have Sinned, and what Harm hath Befallen me; for the Most High is a Patient Rewarder" - (Ecclesiastes 5:4).  For the fool who does will surely be in danger of eternal hell fire.  For Our Lord will punish us for every crime from the first to the last and the greater His Patience, the more-sever the punishment.  For how can God not severely punish the fool who was given so much time to repent?  Does God not punish more harshly sinners who apostatise from the Faith, than those who never had the Faith?  Is God not merciful to those whom have little in blessings, and more expecting of those in largess of blessings?  In the Parable of Talents we saw how angry the lord was to the servant who did nothing with his talent?  Imagine how much more wrath would be hurled down upon the one whom was given five talents?  Therefore we should not be arrogant to believe Our Lord will continue to be merciful to us as we continue to offend Him and cause stumble to little ones, for Our God is a just and patient God, but just He is, and Justice He shall deliver.

If you buy a home, do you purchase the insurance and secure it against theft?  If you make a purchase you ensure that all account information is correct so that the account information does not go to the wrong mailing address?  So if you give so much careful consideration to these things, pray tell why do you not consult your conscience before indulging in sin?  Is not your eternal life worth more than money?  And yet so many cast it asunder to indulge in such brief transitory enjoyments.  Would you risk all your money, possessions, honour, Liberty, even your life, for a brief indulgence of lust, or revenge that last but only just a brief moment?  Why then do you risk damning your soul for all eternity in Hell, with the false comfort that 'I will Confess this sin tomorrow'.  But who promises you a tomorrow?  Who assures you that you will live to see tomorrow?  The One whom you have offended and angered?  Remember the words of Saint Gregory: "He Who has Promised Pardon to Penitents, has not Promised 'Tomorrow' to Sinners".  Our Lord did not tell us to repent tomorrow for the Kingdom is at hand in the future.  It was repent at this present moment for no one knows the hour in which their candle will burn out.

Do not continue to sin and arrogantly boast that ye have time, for surely Our Lord has fixed a time for us and once it is crossed, once that final sin has been made and death comes upon ye; God will no longer be the Merciful Father, but the Just Judge.  Stand and keep watch Our Lord commanded us for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  Do not let your flesh be weakened with sin and lack of penance, for surely you will be chastised out of Heaven all the while crying 'did we not prophisize in Your Name?'.  Therefore be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect, and work out your salvation in fear and trembling, for blessed is the man that fears the Lord.  When you have received absolution from God through the priest in the Holy Sacrament of Confession, remember to hear the words of Our Lord "Go and sin, no more."  for you too were in danger of being stoned to death, but God was merciful to grant thee grace to go to Confession  ---for so many do not ask for it, but God yet still bestows this gift--- and to allow thee to live for another day. 

I hope I have done the good Doctor of the Church justice and I urge everyone to read his sermon, for it has touched me and has corrected an error I held in my heart.  So in close I offer this beautiful prayer from the good Doctor Alphonse di Liguori:

Quote:Ah, my God! I have been one of those who have offended Thee because Thou wert bountiful to me. Ah, Lord! Wait for me, do not abandon me. I am sorry. O infinite Goodness! for having offended Thee, and for having so much abused Thy patience. I thank Thee for having waited for me till now. Henceforth I will never more betray Thee, as I have hitherto done. Thou hast borne with me so long. that Thou mightest one day see me a lover of Thy goodness. Behold, this day has, I hope, arrived: I love Thee above all things, and esteem Thy grace more than all the kingdoms of the world: rather than lose it, I am ready to forfeit life a thousand times. My God! for the love of Jesus Christ, give me holy perseverance till death, along with Thy holy love. Do not permit me ever again to betray Thee, or to cease to love Thee. Mary! thou art my hope: obtain for me this gift of perseverance. and I ask nothing more.

Link to complete Sermon of Saint Alphonse di Ligouri
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#12
I essentially agree with MagisterMusicae, and I'll phrase it a different way:  We have to be careful of 2 extremes:  (1) despair -- which at its extreme would include final impenitence and refusal of graces -- and (2) presumption.  With regard to the latter, there is a danger in rejecting the discipline that we need to practice in order to avoid mortal sin -- out of an assumption that we can count on Confession prior to our death.  There's sort of a "soft" presumption at work when/if we do not maintain strict vigilance against mortal sin -- and often (at least with me) that is linked with attachment to venial sin or a lack of vigor against it, and a similar subconscious assumption that I can go to Confession soon about this venial sin I'm about to commit -- a venial sin which is a habit and which feels good.

I don't think what I just stated contradicts the Saint's words.

However, I will ask my Director about the posted sermon the next time I see him.
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#13
(06-18-2017, 10:44 AM)austenbosten Wrote: Sometimes it would help to actually read the Sermon from Saint Alphonse de Liguori to understand what he is trying to say, than take a quote of someone referencing the sermon and then deducing from it.

St. Alphone's sermon is indeed very inspiring.

However, the following statement seems to contradict the dogma "God's mercy is infinite". And it can therefore easily be misused by overzealous preachers with a Calivinist attitude.

Quote: Therefore we should not be arrogant to believe Our Lord will continue to be merciful to us as we continue to offend Him and cause stumble to little ones, for Our God is a just and patient God, but just He is, and Justice He shall deliver.

God is both infinitely mercyful and infinitely just. His justice never inhibits His mercy, His mercy never inhibits His justice. Even if we were to be damned, He continues to be mercyful with us. Although we wouldn't be able to appreciate it.
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#14
The last paragraph of his sermon really is talking about the danger of, the habit of, Presumption, and the temptation to Presumption.  I do not think it contradicts the dogma of God's infinite mercy, but I will ask my Director, who is a traditionalist priest with a very solid foundation.

I also think that embedded in the sermon is the concept of available graces, when Alphonsus speaks about those who have committed "three or four" sins yet end up in Hell.  (And remember that Alphonsus is speculating, we assume; unless he had been given infused knowledge which the Church has confirmed as approved revelation, then it's just a theological mind at work.)  I think he's trying to make the point that God's justice is not the same thing as [humanly observable] "equality."  God did not make us "equal" in the sense of interchangeable or synonymous.  We each have different natural capacities, natural strengths, and natural weaknesses, in addition to whatever access to graces we differently have.  This is the reason why priests and Religious who are offered graces greater than most laypeople have, are said to suffer prolonged time in Purgatory when they refuse to avail themselves of those superior graces.  Or, at least they certainly expose themselves to that likelihood if they are casual about opportunities.
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#15
(06-18-2017, 11:46 AM)JosefSilouan Wrote:
(06-18-2017, 10:44 AM)austenbosten Wrote: Sometimes it would help to actually read the Sermon from Saint Alphonse de Liguori to understand what he is trying to say, than take a quote of someone referencing the sermon and then deducing from it.

St. Alphone's sermon is indeed very inspiring.

However, the following statement seems to contradict the dogma "God's mercy is infinite". And it can therefore easily be misused by overzealous preachers with a Calivinist attitude.

Quote: Therefore we should not be arrogant to believe Our Lord will continue to be merciful to us as we continue to offend Him and cause stumble to little ones, for Our God is a just and patient God, but just He is, and Justice He shall deliver.

God is both infinitely mercyful and infinitely just. His justice never inhibits His mercy, His mercy never inhibits His justice. Even if we were to be damned, He continues to be mercyful with us. Although we wouldn't be able to appreciate it.

Yes, but you are missing the point.  If we wish to be saved, we cannot continue to sin against God by presuming that each time we sin, He will just forgive you, for you may not live to make it to the Confessional.  Once you die, the time for Mercy is over and the time for Judgement begins.  I do not see how that is in any way Calvinist.  Calvinism rejects Free Will and St Alphonse di Ligouri's sermon is in keeping with Free Will.
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#16
(06-18-2017, 09:21 AM)MagisterMusicae Wrote:
(06-17-2017, 09:35 PM)GangGreen Wrote: To me the easiest is to say that after a certain amount of sins, God intervenes and exacts judgement/punishment. That can either be a chastisement (which still allows for repentance) or even death (no further chances are given).

You just have to be careful that this sentiment is understood correctly ...

It is much like the Sin against the Holy Ghost which is "unpardonable". At face value it seems there is a sin God refuses to pardon, but that's not precisely true. This sin against the Holy Ghost is the sin of final impenitence — to die without repenting of one's sins. Because one is dead and it is only in this life that there is a chance for repentance, this sin is "unforgivable". At death one's will is fixed upon whatever "good" he has pursued. If it is the true good, he will have God. If it is the true Good with some attachment to other things in a disordered way, it will be purgatory which will purge these disordered attachments. If it is a false good, it will be the loss of the true Good.

Understood that way, God has determined exactly how long each of us will live, has given sufficient grace to everyone to turn to Him, even to the very last moment of life, repent and embrace His Mercy and thus be saved. Because that time is limited and thus our number of sins limited, there is a "fixed" number.

Still when we gravely sin, God does not owe us the grace necessary to repent. Yet he does give it, and still allow us to refuse it.

The false idea to avoid is that once you've hit your 1,237 predetermined mortal sins, God will never offer the grace to repent and while he will let you live many years more, his Mercy stops at that number for you.

That's essentially Calvinism thinly-coated with a few Catholic notions.

Right, I guess my non-theologian way of explaining is that after a certain amount of sins, you may receive chastisements... not saying that you cannot be forgiven after this (a chastisement can be seen as a kick in the butt to get yourself in order... of course many people would view it as a "why me?"). Even if there is this 1234 mortal sin limit, the person would experience death in a unrepentant state (which is their own fault) rather than continue their lives and be ineligible for forgiveness. As long as you continue to live you always have a chance for forgiveness, the question is whether you'll be alive to make it to the Confessional.
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#17
The important takeaway, speculation aside: stop sinning, and if you do sin, get to Confession!
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#18
(06-18-2017, 08:31 PM)aquinas138 Wrote: The important takeaway, speculation aside: stop sinning, and if you do sin, get to Confession!

BINGO!
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#19
Just remember that God's foreknowledge (of some ultimate point in time) is not the same thing as his removing our free will and "determining," of His will, that we will sin.  God cannot will us to sin because He is pure goodness.  His will is for us to be with Him in Heaven for eternity.  This is de fide dogma.  His knowledge that our days are numbered and our sins are numbered is knowledge, not desire and not punishment.  We punish ourselves when we sin.
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#20
(06-18-2017, 01:06 PM)austenbosten Wrote: Yes, but you are missing the point.  If we wish to be saved, we cannot continue to sin against God by presuming that each time we sin, He will just forgive you, for you may not live to make it to the Confessional.  Once you die, the time for Mercy is over and the time for Judgement begins.  I do not see how that is in any way Calvinist.  Calvinism rejects Free Will and St Alphonse di Ligouri's sermon is in keeping with Free Will.

I fully agree with the essence of both St. Alphonse' homily and your thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear a homily like that in my (liberal) parish. However, the way you expressed it seems to limit God's infinite mercy.

Quote: Once you die, the time for Mercy is over and the time for Judgement begins.

To say that the mercy or love of God diminishes or vanishes because of a created being's fall would be 'to reduce the glorious Nature of the Creator to weakness and change' (St. Isaac the Syrian). However, God's nature is unchangeable (de fide) and His mercy is infinite (de fide). Nothing that happens in creation may affect the nature of the Creator.

So, there are two facts that seem to contradict each other but have to be affirmed as true:

1. There is such a thing as eternal damnation, which human beings may bring upon themselves through mortal sin.

2. God's love and mercy toward these damned beings cannot be not subject to change.

How can you think or imagine these two facts at once without violating the law of non-contradiction?

My favourite explanation is St. Isaac's:

Quote:The sorrow which takes hold of the heart that has sinned against love is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that sinner in hell are deprived of the love of God….But love acts in a double way, as suffering in the reproved, and as joy in the blessed.

So, the love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves (V. Lossky). The "time for mercy" is never over. But for an unrepentant soul, God's eternal fiery love are the eternal fires of hell.
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