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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Obstinacy in Sin

Confessors will frequently urge penitents to make an earnest resolution to avoid sin.  That is why a person pledges in the act of contrition prayer, “I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”  Note, that even while it is liable that the penitent will sin again, he or she does not say “try” but must rather fully intend to carry through their resolution with firmness of will.  The fictional green alien Yoda in the Star Wars franchise says it best, “Do or do not— there is no try.”

This assertion made to the Lord tears away at any obstinacy in sin. The fact that many believers no longer say this prayer and/or go to confession is symptomatic of such obstinacy. Many are no longer contrite or sorry for their transgressions.  They have become comfortable with their sins, even those that are most deadly.  Indeed, the expanding sexual revolution which includes various shades of gender dysphoria is increasing demanding not only tolerance from Christians but their compliance and approbation.  In other words, these recalcitrant sinners are seeking to bring others into their circle of disobedience.       

Obstinacy in sin is a refusal to change or to repent even after receiving the illumination and assistance of the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel and the living Church has made it abundantly clear what is right and wrong, but such sinners do not care.  They will not budge.  They may even celebrate their sins.  They continue in error by corrupting moral truths as relative and purely subjective.  God commands one thing and they do another.  They are literally saying to God with each transgression, “I will NOT obey!  I will do as I will, not as you will!”  While the Blessed Mother said YES to God for all humanity at her annunciation; these obstinate sinners cry out a damning, “No!” 

While there is mortal life there remains hope.  But little room is given to knock down the wall between such sinners and the Lord.  Our Lord would give them the medicine of his sacraments and grace but they would prefer to remain in their spiritual sickness— addicted to all that will destroy them. 

There can be a terrible irrationality contaminating the minds of such fallen believers.  They adopt twisted criteria for their moral judgments.  A number of these have become cliché. “If it feels good, do it.” “Do whatever you will.”  “Everyone is doing it so it must be okay.”  “Who are you to tell me what to do?”  “I am not a slave to my biology!”  Sin drives a wedge between the person and God as well as with his Church.  Justification for evil results in attacks against the Church as hypocritical or the teachings as antiquated and not reasonable for so-called “enlightened” modern people.  Pastors and others seeking to live by traditional values often have both their credulity and patience strained by such dissenters.  While the Church has often debated against competing values and ethical standards, it is almost impossible to wage a constructive dialogue with those who have no moral system at all.  What is at stake in this conflict is more than how one behaves but the very question of salvation.  If anyone should doubt this then we should be mindful of what the Lord has revealed through his apostle, St. Paul:

“Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

2 Responses

  1. Very informative and straightforward and that’s exactly what I need.

  2. “it is almost impossible to wage a constructive dialogue with those who have no moral system at all.”

    There is a matter of integrity. For people who at least have a system of morality, even if it’s flawed, they can make progress and attempt to live with integrity. I have to believe this attempt itself, if it is true and earnest, “counts” to God.

    It is really problematic when people don’t or won’t try to reconcile beliefs and actions. If someone believes something to be wrong but intends to do it anyways…this is lack of integrity. Either the reasoning or the actions should be adjusted. It is possible to think something is sinful when it is not. Adjusting reasoning and beliefs may be the answer.

    The lack of integrity, though, is destructive of spiritual life.

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