Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 17: Mortal and Venial, Part 3: Rejection of God

Picking up on yesterday’s quick look at that “unforgiveable sin,” we get some help from the Angelic Doctor:

Here of course it is a question of external radical manifestations: rejection of God, rejection of his grace and therefore opposition to the very source of salvation (Cf St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 14, aa. 1-8)-these are manifestations whereby a person seems to exclude (her or) himself voluntarily from the path of forgiveness.

Knowledge and a direct, persistent willfulness is indeed a deep concern. Christians hope for the best, obviously for themselves, but also for others:

It is to be hoped that very few persist to the end in this attitude of rebellion or even defiance of God. Moreover, God in his merciful love is greater than our hearts, as St. John further teaches us, (Cf 1 John 3:20) and can overcome all our psychological and spiritual resistance. So that, as St. Thomas writes, “considering the omnipotence and mercy of God, no one should despair of the salvation of anyone in this life.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 14, a. 3, ad primum)

One problem this brings to mind is on behalf of the elder sibling as illustrated in Luke 15:28ff. No one should worry of someone else’s salvation, but likewise not resent the salvation of another person. For another person, we might do well to think positively on their behalf. And probably pray. For ourselves, perhaps a touch of concern is warranted:

But when we ponder the problem of a rebellious will meeting the infinitely just God, we cannot but experience feelings of salutary “fear and trembling,” as St. Paul suggests.(Cf Philippians 2:12) Moreover, Jesus’ warning about the sin “that will not be forgiven” confirms the existence of sins which can bring down on the sinner the punishment of “eternal death.”

In a way, the wishing of ill on another is a form of idolatry: replacing the real and true God with another Judge, a far less just one–ourselves and our attitude toward those we perceive as sinners. A plank and speck thing, in other familiar words.

This document is Copyright © 1984 – Libreria Editrice Vatican. The link on the Vatican site is here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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