The Fraility of the Laity – Part 1

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Guest post by Supertradmum

This is a two-part series by a person who has examined her own heart regarding sin and frailty. Some people may think that weakness is not a serious matter for consideration. However, as adult Catholics, we are not to dwell in weakness, not to accept the daily sins which plagued us all our lives. Weakness in itself it not sinful, but it leads to giving into temptation and not reforming our lives.

Habits we learn in childhood can lead to these weaknesses of the will and temperament. For example, a child who grows up pampered, such as too many parents are doing today, letting their little girls dress frequently like princesses, and letting them watch Disney movies over and over about princesses. This creates a false image of womanhood in the minds of very young girls. They grow up to expect things which may be beyond their call in life, or they may expect a prince to come and save them every time they are in trouble. This princess complex is a weakness in some women.

Or, take the other extreme—a parent may be too harsh, and have too high expectations for a young boy. Therefore, the boy grows up lying about his achievements, or falsely boasting, as he cannot meet his parents’ demands for perfection in sport, or academics. Such a child will grow up fearful and unsure of himself.

These weaknesses lead to all kinds of serious sins, such as fornication, excess in shopping, binge drinking and so on. The weakness of character must be challenged when one is an adult through prayer, suffering and the life-changing grace of the sacraments. Only God can heal such weaknesses, but the person who carries these in her or his mind, heart and soul, must be willing to change.

One of the greatest weaknesses at this time in the West among the laity is self-righteousness. This is a reaction, in part, to the scandals of the Church. Some lay people compare themselves to the great reforming saints of the past and think they have the call or right to develop a censorable attitude not only to the fallen clergy, but to politicians who support abortion or euthanasia. Lately, online, I have had long discussions with people who think it is not sinful to call people names, such as snake, monster, satan, and so on.

I have quoted Christ to them, Who on several occasions warned us of calling people names. These warnings are ignored…and I list them at the bottom of this essay. The problem is two-fold. The first is the lack of the ability to argue without falling into what is the fallacy of ad hominem. This fallacy involves not only calling people names, but addressing their physical characteristics, such as their faces, or demeanour. Such a fallacy proves that the person arguing has lost the ability to rationally argue the points of words and deeds. For example, people online call certain female politicians such names and think that this is not sinful. This tendency to label people is not only dehumanising to the person, with whom one may have a right to disagree over policies, but sinful.

Why? The reason is what is behind the name-calling and that is a weakness of self-righteousness. The holier a person becomes, the more that person understands that only grace separates the actions and words of someone who one wants to call evil from one’s own activities and words. We have an old saying, “There, but the grace of God, go I.”

The truth is that no one is good without grace. Any good that we do is from God. The great saints and theologians remind us of this over and over and over again. Let me give one example: Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.”  Too many people think that because they are “good” that they have earned their own virtues. This is simply not true. God gives us the grace, and He moves us in our minds, imaginations, memory and understanding, as well as the heart, to do and think good. Nothing is done without His grace and mercy.

The self-righteous lack a perspective. This perspective is that they could sin the most grievous of sins without grace. Yes, even you could murder a child in the womb, or starve an old person to death. Only grace and the lack of temptation keeps us from serious sins. Many are protected by grace not to sin seriously, but do not realise this gift of protection.

We must stop this weakness of self-righteousness. We have a right to some levels of anger, but not to dehumanising the so-called “enemy”. This one weakness seems more common among strong practicing Catholics, who cannot see how graced they are not to fall into mortal sin or a life of such sin.

For the sake of your own souls, please online or in conversation, stop calling people names like “witch”, or “monster.” One is condemning that person and only God can do that. By all means criticise ideas, actions, words, but not the soul. Pray for those who are immersed in great sins, like the ladies who are bragging about their abortions. Anyone can be converted by grace and go to heaven. Anyone. And, we are not the Doctors of the Church, or St. John the Baptist, or Christ Himself Who called the hierarchy of His days names..no, we are NOT that holy. To say that we have a right to do this are the sins of presumption and pride.

Here are a few selections from the Scriptures which I hope help. The weaknesses here are the lack of self-knowledge and the tendency to judge. Only Christ can judge a soul.

More tomorrow on another aspect of unchallenged weaknesses which lead to sin—

Matthew 5:21-22 Douay-Rheims

21 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.

22 But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Ephesians 2:8-9 Douay-Rheims

8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God;

9 Not of works, that no man may glory.

James 1:20 Douay-Rheims

20 For the anger of man worketh not the justice of God.

Matthew 7:1-5 Douay-Rheims

7 Judge not, that you may not be judged,

2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye?

4 Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

JMJ, pray for us.

God is good,

Jay