Author Topic: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?  (Read 17296 times)

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Offline Kerdy

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #135 on: April 28, 2014, 02:54:55 PM »
I absolutely agree that the purpose of penances, or of fruits of repentance for that matter, are not to "earn" salvation, which can never be earned and is always a gratuitous gift of God. But we need to repent of our sins to avail ourselves of this gift; another way of thinking about it that I find persuasive is that our repentance is our salvation, i.e. the evidence that we are being saved is that we are repenting. But the evidence that we are repenting consists in contrition for our sins, eagerness to confess them when the opportunity arises, and then afterwards eagerness to fulfill our penances and perform good deeds.

I also agree that the prayers in the funeral service, and indeed the entire functioin of prayers for the dead, is to help the departed soul pass through the trials of the particular judgment, precisely because after death, the soul is no longer able to demonstrate repentance through good deeds. So in case someone dies having repented, but not having brought forth fruits of repentance (i.e. not complete repentance), the soul may still be helped by the prayers of the Church. This, at any rate, I got from the catechism of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow.

I have to say I was taught in the Catholic Church that if you intend to go to Confession, and are prevented from doing so by an untimely death, that can suffice to wash away your mortal sins. This would depend, however, on being fully resolved to confess before you knew you were going to die. If you suddenly started repenting only when death was upon you, the catechism offered much less assurance that you would be saved.

It makes no difference if you intended to go to confession before or after you knew you were going to die.  The only thing that makes a difference is if you had perfect or imperfect contrition as the Catechism clearly states.  By itself, imperfect contrition does not forgive sins, no matter what your other intentions were.  Perfect contrition means you are sorry for offending God because you love God.  If you are sorry bc you don't want to be punished and go to hell, this is imperfect contrition and you will go to hell if you die in this state without sacramental confession or anointing of the sick.  If you suddenly started repenting before you die and it is perfect contrition, then, yes, it will save you, even if you had no intention of going to confession before that point.

Everything you guys are describing sounds like a nightmare to me. I feel like the answer is as simple that if the person wants God, then they get God. If they don't, then they'll get him anyway, and it's not going to be pleasant.

I hope I can change and repent of my sins before I die, but I refuse to get this ridiculously detailed about it.

"What it it was during Lent, and I had a cheeseburger, and I didn't rend my soul before God about willfully breaking the fast before I died? Would I go to Hell?"

That sounds like an idiotic religion to me.
The way Auryn describes it, it is idiotic and a nightmare.  Good thing he isn't accurate.

Offline Kerdy

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #136 on: April 28, 2014, 02:54:55 PM »
Exactly Maria.  Imperfect contrition is NOT sufficient to avoid going to hell unless it is combined with a sacramental confession according to RC teaching, so Kerdy, you are misinformed about that.  If you are in danger of death ONLY perfect contrition will let you avoid hell if you cannot make it to confession and Maria explained that pretty well.  It is not an easy thing to do, thus why it is called Perfect Contrition.
I'm not misinformed.  I'm simply repeating Catholic teaching.  You are free to disagree, but that doesn't change what they teach.

Correcting a Catholic on what they really believe again, are we?

Yeah, it's really freaking obnoxious.  

Here is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church explaining that imperfect contrition is in fact NOT sufficient to forgive your grave sins:

    "When [contrition] arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.

    The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process that, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself, however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of penance. (CCC 1452–53)"

So yes, Kerdy, despite being some sort of self proclaimed expert on RC teaching and theology, you are in fact misinformed.  This is basic stuff so maybe you should knock it off and go study the catechism or something.  

I highlighted the rest which you ignored.  Your sarcasm isn’t helping you, but I imagine it won’t keep you from using cynicism.

Sorrow for sin animated by a supernatural motive that is less than a perfect love of God. Some of the motives for imperfect contrition are the fear of the pains of hell, of losing heaven, of being punished by God in this life for one's sins, of being judged by God; the sense of disobedience to God or of ingratitude toward him; the realization of lost merit or of sanctifying grace. Also called attrition, imperfect contrition is sufficient for remission of sin in the sacrament of penance. It is also adequate for a valid and fruitful reception of baptism by one who has reached the age of reason. And if a person is unable to go to confession, imperfect contrition remits even grave sin through the sacrament of anointing of the sick.
205. Q. Is imperfect contrition sufficient for a worthy confession?
A.   Imperfect contrition is sufficient for a worthy confession, but we should endeavor to have perfect contrition.
Q. 768. What other name is given to imperfect contrition and why is it called imperfect?
A. Imperfect contrition is called attrition. It is called imperfect only because it is less perfect than the highest grade of contrition by which we are sorry for sin out of pure love of God's own goodness and without any consideration of what befalls ourselves.

Q. 769. Is imperfect contrition sufficient for a worthy confession?
A. Imperfect contrition is sufficient for a worthy confession, but we should endeavor to have perfect contrition.
Attrition or Imperfect Contrition (Latin attero, "to wear away by rubbing"; p. part. attritus).

Here is a thread by Catholics on the matter

It seems your assertions are not as concrete as you imagine they are.

I didn't ignore anything, you missed my point, which you seem to be quite good at.  My point was that WITHOUT confession imperfect contrition is not enough.  That is what I was trying to explain because it gets into the topic at hand which is scrupulosity.  Of course you're going to be scrupulous if you are afraid you can't get to confession and you might die suddenly and imperfect contrition is not enough to save you.  That kind of teaching leads one into scrupulosity and a lot of other kinds of things lead one to it in RC if you are serious about its traditional teachings.  

I was taught though, that if you are trying to get to Confession and you die without making it, you are fine even if you do not have perfect contrition. The average rule is that you should never go to sleep without Confession if you need it and if you have a Priest available. Intention is very important in the Latin spirituality, which is beautiful if you ask me. Very similar to where father Morris was getting at...

If you are saying the RC teaches that, you were taught wrong, don't know what to tell you.  If you have imperfect contrition and you die without the sacraments, it won't forgive your grave sins.  I already quoted the catechism on this subject.

"By itself, however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins"   The Catechism number is up above in the quote.  It is the most recent catechism and so it puts forth the official teachings of the RC Church.  Whoever taught you different was wrong since the Catechism trumps personal opinions, even if it was a priest that taught you that or whoever.  That's how the RC works.

This teaching is exactly why I am arguing that the Latin teachings are in fact not beautiful in many ways and can cause scrupulosity.  

You see, if you are on your way to Confession, it is no longer "by it self". God can grant us Sacraments even without a Priest, simply out of Grace. That is Latin theology even if you cannot find it in your specific passages of the Catechism. If you were raised Latin Catholic, I am sure you received "spiritual communion" some time in your life? What does the RC teach about the sudden death of a Catechumen by the way?  

I am not defending Latin theology here, but I do not believe you proved your point with your quote.

If you are a Catechumen you can receive baptism by desire but simply desiring baptism is not enough.  You must also have perfect contrition.  
I don't think you know that much about the Latin Theology of perfect vs imperfect contrition.  If you have imperfect contrition and you are without the sacraments, you are out of luck.  
The argument began when people like Jansen started teaching that even in the sacrament of confession you needed perfect contrition to be forgiven of your sins.  Others argued against that and said you only need imperfect contrition to be forgiven in the sacraments.  That became the settled teaching and outside of the sacraments perfect contrition, it is taught, is ALWAYS needed in order to be saved.  Intending to receive baptism, or confession, is not enough.  

For reference if you want to read about it in the Catholic Encyclopedia:

"The baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis) is a perfect contrition of heart, and every act of perfect charity or pure love of God..."

"The council (of Trent) does not mean by votum a simple desire of receiving baptism or even a resolution to do so. It means by votum an act of perfect charity or contrition, including, at least implicitly, the will to do all things necessary for salvation and thus especially to receive baptism."

"The Church not only regards the godliness of fear as a motive to repentance, but expressly defines that attrition, though it justifies not without the Sacrament of Penance, nevertheless disposes the sinner to receive grace in the sacrament itself"

"it is the clear teaching of the Church that perfect contrition justifies the sinner even without the Sacrament of Penance."  So, what follows from this?  Imperfect contrition does not justify without the sacrament of penance, no matter what your intention is, which as I said, has nothing to do with it.

"Catholic teaching distinguishes a twofold hatred of sin; one, perfect contrition, rises from the love of God Who has been grievously offended; the other, imperfect contrition, arises principally from some other motives, such as loss of heaven, fear of hell, the heinousness of sin, etc. (Council of Trent, Sess. XIV, ch. iv de Contritione)."  So, perfect contrition means, you're only motive for being sorry is that you love God.  Also, you hate sin and intend never to sin again.  If you think that is easy, then I guess you have a different definition of easy. 

"In the very nature of things the sinner must repent before he can be reconciled with God (Sess. XIV, ch. iv, de Contritione, Fuit quovis tempore, etc.). Therefore he who has fallen into grievous sin must either make an act of perfect contrition or supplement the imperfect contrition by receiving the Sacrament of Penance; otherwise reconciliation with God is impossible."  It is either/or, if you cannot get to Confession you MUST have perfect contrition, otherwise no forgiveness, as this says.

"The Council of Trent insists that true contrition includes the firm will never to sin again, so that no mater what evil may come, such evil must be preferred to sin."  Not easy.

So, yeah, perfect contrition is absolutely needed if you can't get to the sacraments, and perfect contrition is not easy as you can see from the last quote.  

As for spiritual communion, I don't see what that has to do with anything.  The only time when you would need to make a spiritual communion is if you cannot receive it.  If you can't receive it because it is not available, then I assume confession is not available either, so trying to make an act of perfect contrition would be included in making the spiritual communion.  If you can't receive it because you are in persistent mortal sin...such as living in an adulterous union or something...then I suppose you could try to make a spiritual communion though I don't see what the point would be.  

    "of a purely sacramental reception; that is, when the Eucharist is received by a person capable indeed of the fruits but wanting in some disposition so that the effects are not produced;
    of a spiritual reception, that is, by a desire accompanied with sentiments of charity; and
    of a sacramental and spiritual reception, that is, by those who are in a state of grace and have the necessary dispositions."

In order to have 'sentiments of charity' as this quote shows, you would need to renounce all of your sins and intend never to sin again because you love God.  Charity means love of God and if you are persisting in sins, then you don't love God, according to RC theology and I've already been over that.

Maybe you are right, but I still think there is more to be said. You cannot separate this theology from the theology of intention, and most Priests do not. My former Confessor, a traditionalist and a Latin scholar, did not.

Intention is an integral part of Latin theology.  As a Catholic are you obliged to participate in Sunday Mass for example, but if the parish website shows the wrong schedule and you miss it, then you are excused (even if you had no "perfect desire" to be there). Confession could be granted to a person without a Priest if he desires it, because that same catechism says that God is not bound by his visible Sacraments. "Spiritual Communion" was just an example of how Latins believe God grants us his Sacraments even when there is no clergy.

I have heard the different definitions of "perfect" and "imperfect contrition" be nagged about many times, and theologians seem to have different definitions. The way I read it, most people have a little of both, at least that is my experience. The sinner feel sorry that he offended God, but he also fears for him self. That is the normal reaction for any Christian person, maybe except John the Baptist, St. Joseph and the Mother of God.

Anyway, I believe the whole Latin discussion is stupid and only there to scare people. We should strive to love God, not make up a system of definitions of how to save ourselves.

Yeah, it's a thread about scrupulosity.  I was trying to show how Latin Theology can lead to scrupulosity.  I think I did an ok job of it really.

Not so much.  As shown there are multiple scenarios which don't fit into the paradigm you present and all are tight within Catholicism.  Also as pointed out, Orthodoxy is very similar and could also be foolishly blamed for people being scrupulous.  It's personality driven, not theologically.  You proven nothing in regards to the Catholic faith, at least nothing more than people who are predisposed to being scrupulous may have problems as they would anywhere else.

Offline Kerdy

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #137 on: April 28, 2014, 02:54:55 PM »
I'm not sure if "grace makes up what is lacking" means what you claim it means, Father. I always understood it to mean that, if we turn to God with our whole hearts even weakly, His Grace strengthens us and prompts us to further repentance. But the evidence for that operation of Grace is continuing and deepening repentance. If we half-heartedly feel some sorrow for our sins, but then continue to sin, then that shows Grace was not operative. For if Grace is to work, we must conform to it by our own will. So with respect to our final hours, we should not offer false guarantees that an imperfect feeling of contrition and turning toward God will be sufficient, since the evidence for the working of Grace after we begin to repent is further repentance, but by the time of our death, there will be no more time to deepen our repentance.

Your argument sounds like the Roman Catholic teaching that we must earn forgiveness of sins through works of righteousness because of the false doctrine of temporal punishment. Even if grace is fully operative we will continue to sin. The closer we get to God the more we know that we sin. Very few, if any,  actually reach full deification in this life. Are we to despair because we continue to sin?  No. We must repent and rely completely on Christ for our salvation. God gives his grace to make perfect even a half hearted repentance. Carefully read the 13 Conference of St. John Cassain. He makes this point quite clear.

Fr. John W. Morris

Actually the Catholics do not teach that one can earn forgiveness through works of righteousness.
It only appears they do on the surface.  When a person doesn't try to understand they never will.

Offline Kerdy

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #138 on: April 28, 2014, 02:54:55 PM »
Within Latin Catholic circles, I have met several individuals who struggle with the cross of scrupulosity. This phenomena can be defined as constant and obsessive concern that one is in a state of moral sin, or that one has not made a good confession. Individuals afflicted with scrupulosity will often re-confess the same sins over and over again, and go to multiple different confessors, hoping to effect a perfect confession. Such persons will often unreasonably abstain from holy communion, concerned that they just might be in the state of moral sin. This is even so after they have been told by a good priest to go to communion. Evidently, scrupulosity is often correlated with symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

My question is the follow. Is there any similar phenomenon present in Eastern Orthodoxy
Lets try to get back on track here and stop obsessing with what we think is wrong with everyone else.

Yes, it is directly related to people who are prone to obsessive disorders.  This is not limited to religion or faith, but these people tend to be this way across the board.  It is not, not, and again...not, due to which faith they practice rather their psychological state of mind.  I am certain people within Orthodoxy suffer from the same struggle, or as you said, cross, and within every religion or lack thereof.

Offline Kerdy

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #139 on: May 24, 2014, 02:48:53 PM »
The Orthodox Church also warns us that our time of death is unknown to us and that we must be careful not to be found wanting. That means we accept the possibility that we may die without repentance, and hence we must be careful to repent continuously. Also, while we can't know all the depths of God's mercy and make categorical statements like "you will definitely go to Hell if you die in mortal sin with imperfect contrition without confession", we shouldn't count on being let off just because we feel contrition right before we die.

Be careful, Auryn may confuse you with a Catholic.

Offline Khomes

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Re: Scrupulocity in Eastern Orthodoxy?
« Reply #140 on: August 26, 2014, 09:25:02 PM »
One thing that several Priest have told me is this:
When one goes to communion, what does the Priest say?

"The servant of God _name_ partakes of the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ for the REMISSION OF SINS and life everlasting."

This has always helped me
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 09:26:03 PM by Khomes »