Sunday, February 01, 2009

Dr. Germain Grisez on the sin of presumption

"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)." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2092).

Dr. Grisez explains that, "Remaining interested in God's promises and counting on him to keep them, those who sin by presumption continue to hope and even, to some extent, to shape their lives by hope. But, not consistently putting hope into practice, they abuse it, expecting pardon without repentance and the reward for following Jesus without the cost of discipleship. This unrealistic expectation is the essence of presumption. An element of pride underlies this sin. Rejecting God's terms for obtaining what he promises, the presumptuous expect to obtain it on their own. They suppose that God, like a blustery parent, threatens punishments which he will be too softhearted to carry out, and, like a permissive parent, accompanies his gift of freedom with a virtual guarantee to fend off the consequences of its irresponsible use. Such suppositions are inconsistent with faith, which not only depends on God's absolute truthfulness but also, assuring believers that God will do his part, calls them to do theirs, as grace empowers them to do.

However, the sin of presumption can be committed without denying any truth of faith. People determined not to fulfill the responsibilities of Christian life in some essential respect, yet, unwilling to face the prospective consequences, can resolve the tension by persuading themselves that somehow God will manage to save them despite themselves. This self-deception need not be logical enough to withstand critical reflection, since that is something the presumptuous manage to avoid...It also weakens hope. Rather than serving as the intention of all the choices which should make up Christian life, presumptuous hope renders many of them unnecessary and clears the way for a life-style apart from, and even sinfully at odds with, hope for the kingdom. Not being exercised, hope weakens as other interests grow strong. Eventually heaven, now taken for granted and regarded as irrelevant to present concerns, becomes a dim prospect, a mere fairyland which one used to yearn for but no longer finds exciting."

In the comments section of a Blog post which may be found here, a homosexual activist who regularly attempts to justify his homosexual "lifestyle" and even his same-sex "marriage" on the basis of Biblical and Church teaching, writes, "We are a secular nation with the free right for all people to follow what they believe, so long as it does not harm others...God will somehow find a way for things to work out for the best."

That is presumption in a nutshell. Yes, we all have free will. But there are very real consequences for our actions. The presumptuous believe, as Dr. Grisez points out, that God will manage to save them despite themselves. Or, in the words of that homosexual activist, "God will somehow find a way for things to work out for the best."

* Presumption is a sin against the Holy Spirit.


John Ansley said...

The best one can do for this individual is to pray for him. When a heart is so hardened by sin, the danger of final impenitence becomes a very real possibility. Offer a Mass and Rosaries for this poor soul.

Ellen Wironken said...

The sin of presumption has become epidemic today. Which is why so many neglect the Sacrament of Penance. Many are living lives of grave sin objectively speaking: fornication, adultery, homosexuality, contracepting, having abortions etc, but do not feel the need to reconcile with God. This is why this sin cannot be forgiven. It's not that God is lacking in mercy. It's that the soul doesn't ask for God's forgiveness.

Wendy said...

It is so easy to rationalize sin and so very difficult to be honest with ourselves at times. This is why Jesus said that the road to Hell is broad and well-travelled but the road to salvation is narrow and few there are who travel it. Although we cannot know for certain just exactly what He means by "few," still, it is a sobering thought.

Mr. Hosty, as you have noted, tries to justify his homosexuality as one who has received Catholic teaching. He cannot claim ignorance of that teaching as it has been repeatedly presented to him. He therefore has a duty, an obligation - like the rest of us - to study the Church's teaching and accept it with docility.

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