For a guy who had 12 years of excellent parochial eduation by nuns and priests and who had won a city-wide catechism contest, irrespective of the fact that I've forgotten much of what they taught me, there was an awful lot that wasn't taught, either. Some of course, because it wouldn't have been appropriate for children in those days.
But one thing that I never knew about was the "Unforgiveable Sin against the Holy Spirit."
The 688 page Catechism of the Catholic Church, issued in 1994, teaches us that:
"'Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgivness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.' [Mk. 3:29; Mt. 12:32; Lk. 12:10] There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. [John Paul II, DeV 46] Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss."
[As an aside, I doubt that my Baltimore Catechism No. 4 had more that 150 pages, at most.]
Secure in the knowledge that I haven't a chance of making it to Heaven without God's Mercy, I haven't dwelt much on this "capital punishment" clause in the Bible. I have wondered why and how anyone, even the most hardened criminal or atheist, would refuse Mercy.
But I have recently come to think that it might not be as simple as the Cathechism states.
Matthew actually states ". . . Let anyone speak against the Holy Spirit and he will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next."
In Mark it is ". . . Let anyone blaspheme against the Holy Spirit and he will never have forgiveness: he is guilty of an eternal sin."
And in Luke it is: "He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven."
But when it comes down to it, there are actually six sins against the Holy Spirit, any one of which might be considered blasphemy, considering the infinite goodness of God:
- 1) Despair,
"By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God's goodness, to his justice - for the Lord is faithful to his promises - and to his mercy." (C.C.C. # 2091)
- (2) Presumption of God's mercy,
"There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit)." (C.C.C. # 2092) [A goodly number of Catholic theologians and parishioners firmly believe that a just and loving God could never send anybody to Hell, even though He said many times that He would. "Damned" and "damnation" are mentioned fourteen times in the New Testament.]
- (3) Impugning the known truth,
(Clarification: To "impugn" the known truth means to attack it by word or argument, to resist it, to contradict it, or even to oppose the known truth or to challenge it as false.) [Rejecting the teachings of scripture, tradition, the Pope or the Magisterium. There are a lot of Cafeteria Catholics who might be surprised that the Holy Spirit might take this as a personal offence. They think of it as "freedom of choice" in their beliefs.]
- (4) Envy the spiritual good of another,
(Clarification: Regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians states, "All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually as the Spirit chooses." To envy the spiritual good of another is to question the Divine judgment of the Holy Spirit in His distribution of spiritual gifts. It is to be jealous of another person who has a gift different than one's own gift. Through envy, one rejects the gift that he has received from the Holy Spirit, determining in his own mind that the gift he has received is not good enough for him and he wants someone else's gift.)
- (5) Obstinacy in sin,
(Clarification: To be "obstinate" means to resist the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, to be stubborn, to persist in sin, to be unyielding.) [I for one for quite a long time in my life was firm in my belief that certain bad habits and practices that I engaged in at the time were out of my control because they were "habitual" or "natural" and I couldn't or needn't do anything about them. Uh uh. I would think that others might have the same beliefs but don't do anything about them.]
- (6) Final impenitence.
- (Clarification: "Impenitence" means to be uncontrite, unrepentant, hardened, unconverted, to be without regret, shame or remorse.) [This is the one that most people think about and probably figure that they will get to "apologize" at the Last Judgement when they present their "Get Out of Hell Free" card. ] Catholic Doors
Think about it! Lent is coming up the end of this month. Maybe it is time that you should be making that long postponed confession and reuniting yourself to Jesus. There will be lots of opportunities and we will attempt to keep you informed about them.
God Bless You All!