Love engenders unity;
Heresy engenders diversity . . .
Spiritual Counsels |
The Question |
Rejection of Graces |
Condoning Sin |
a part of studying
Church Tradition, every person who calls himself
or herself a Christian must develop an understanding of the theological concept
Now, many of us in todays
world bristle at the use of the word heresy, but technically anyone
who dissents from the true faith is a heretic. The word heretic comes from
the Greek word hairetikos which means able to choose. Thus a heretic
is someone who chooses some aspects of the Christian faith
and rejects other aspects of it. To speak of heresy, then, is not
judgmental; its a simple fact.
When a criminal
stands in court and hears the judge say, This court finds you guilty,
so go to prison, thats judgment. Likewise, when someone says,
Go to hell, that, too, is judgment.
But to tell someone that he is living in sin and is in grave danger of ending
up in hell is a warning, not judgment. As for what
will actually happen to this poor soul . . . well, only God can make that
Anyone who wishes to enter deeply
into the Catholic faith, therefore, must pose this question: When individuals
reject various aspects of true Catholic teachingand often treat it
with contempt and hostilitydo they also reject the salvation that Christ
offers them through His Church?
To answer this question, we must
consider two separate, but interrelated, topics: the rejection of graces,
and the condoning of sin.
Many persons falsely believe that
the garden of baptismal grace will tend itself, but it needs constant attention
through the sacraments 
and sacramentals 
lest it go to weeds. Through the Catholic Church all Catholics can obtain all
the graces necessary to work out their salvation.
These graces include not just the seven sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation [or
Chrismation], the Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick [commonly called
Last Rites when administered near death], Holy Orders, and Holy
Matrimony) but also all the devotions that help us to
pray constantly for our needs and for the sake of other
souls, and to sustain us in our efforts to make sacrifices
As part of their protest against
Catholic Tradition, however, many persons reject most of the sacraments as well
as Catholic devotions such as intercessory prayers to the Blessed Virgin and the saints;
moreover, many persons reject the Real Presence of
Christ in the Eucharist. Furthermore, many persons treat the sacraments with such
carelessness and ignorance as to defile them. However much some persons might believe
that they commune with Christ in their hearts directly through prayer to Him, our bodies
are the temples of the Holy Spirit and need the
physical nourishment of Christs Body and Blood to be sustained in the hard
work of our salvation, and we also need the spiritual comfort of the community of the
saints through intercessory prayer.
Nevertheless, rejecting many
of Gods graces, as long as it does not become
is not necessarily a mortal sin, for though
it impairs ones closeness to God and offends and wounds charity, it
may not completely destroy charity.
Sadly, by rejecting many
graces, such as the Eucharist, the
Rosary, the Chaplet of The
Divine Mercy, and the Liturgy of the Hours, no
soul will be able to advance very far in spiritual perfection. Even if it manages
to avoid mortal sin, it will die encumbered by its
attachments to the world, it will
have many stains to be burned out of it in Purgatory, and
it will likely be only a spark of holiness in heaven compared to the stellar
luminescence of the great saints who have given themselves totally to Christ
The rejection of graces, however,
has an insidious psychological consequence. Without being able to cling tightly
to the rock of true Faith, we get blown off into
the open seas, with no sense of direction and no guideposts, and, in this
desolate and empty place, we become susceptible to the deceptions and
illusions of human
desire. Even in trying to follow our
conscience, we more often than not see things
according to what we want to see, not according to what is truly good for
usor what serves the true good of others. So, lost in
blindness, we defile
love and fall prey to all the temptations of
This is precisely what happens to all
heretics. Cutting themselves off from the truth of Catholic doctrine, and drifting
wherever the wind of popular sentiment happens to be blowing, everything becomes
relative. Sin slowly loses its revulsion. Before long, even those who have been
baptized and have (supposedly) renounced the ways of the devil
begin to believe that sin really isnt sin. With their
baptismal promises hanging from them in tatters, they end
up condoning sin.
Consider, for example, the seven
capital (or deadly) sins: lust, pride, avarice, envy, wrath, gluttony,
and sloth. Look at them as evidenced by contemporary life in America.
The sin of lust has become
glamorized in modern culture; lust has infested all aspects of identity and
entertainment, making lust the most prevalent sin today.
Fornication has become a recreational sport.
Immodesty has become the cultural norm. Birth
control pills have become a matter of personal grooming, as commonplace as
shampoo. Homosexuality, bisexuality, and heterosexuality have become
choices of preference like items on a menu. Divorce
has become no more significant than getting an automotive
oil change. Abortion has become just a medical
treatment for the unwanted side effects of fornication.
avarice, and envy have become standard practices in business and
Anger and revenge
have become the daily practice of our legal system and our political system,
as well as a way of life on our streets and in our homes.
Gluttony? Potbellies and
obesity have become a national trademark, in
the context of rampant and insatiable consumerism.
Sloth? Resting our potbellies
in front of a television for several hours every day has become the national
exercise, in the context of a growing indifference to self-discipline and
In all of this, life is reduced
to its lowest common denominatorpersonal pleasure and convenienceand
sin becomes just a commonplace way of life because
a holy life is just too inconvenient.
Here, then, we find the real
danger of heresy. When true Catholic virtuessuch as
from the world; suffering and obedience;
and prayer and sacrifice as works of
mercyare pushed aside, then sin is condoned even
by those who call themselves Christian. When sin is condoned, it cant be
repented. And when a soul does not repent its sins,
it falls into unforgivable sin, and it cannot be
a pilot flying on a dark night with no lighted horizon for reference can
become disoriented, putting the airplane into what is aptly called a
graveyard spirala spiraling dive into the ground. Even as the
airplane plunges to its destruction, centrifugal forces will counteract the
force of gravity, and the pilot will feel that everything is
normal, even if the plane is upside down. The flight instruments, of course,
will tell the truth, but because everything feels OK, the pilot will
ignore the instruments, believing that they have gone bad.
With this lesson from
aviation, perhaps you can now understand how someone lost in heresy can be
living in mortal sin and yet feel that
he or she is living a Christian life. Deceived by the sentimental desire
to be accepting, and ignoring the instrumentsthe
Tradition of the Catholic Churchit will
be only a matter of time before he or she plunges to total destruction, to
hear Christ the Judge say, You say you ate and drank with Me, but I
do not know you; get away from Me and depart into the
Diversity? Well, the desire of the
wicked leads to doom (Psalm 112), and Uncle Sate wants you!
1. What exactly is a sacrament? A sacrament is
a visible sign (sacramentum) of the mystery of salvation
(mysterium). The sacraments, says the Catechism of the Catholic
Church, are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and
entrusted to the Church . . . . The visible rites by which the sacraments
are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament.
They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions
2. Tangible things such as holy water, medals,
and scapulars, and intangible things such as blessings are all sacramentals.
Sacramentals, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, signify
effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the
intercession of the Church. By them, men are disposed to receive the chief
effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life
are rendered holy (§ 1667).
Thus, whereas sacraments in and of themselves produce
graces for those who are properly disposed to receive them, sacramentals
inspire us to acts of devotion and virtue that draw divine grace to
3. Sacrilege, says the
Catechism of the Catholic Church, consists in profaning or treating
unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons,
things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially
when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body
of Christ is made substantially present for us (§ 2120).
The text of
this webpage, integrated with other material from my websites,
has been conveniently organized into a paperback book of 350 pages, including
a comprehensive index.
Though Demons Gloat: They Shall Not Prevail
by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
Though we are attacked by liberal activists from without and by apostasy
from within, the true Church—that is, the body of those who remain
faithful to Church tradition—weeps, and she prays, because she knows
the fate of those who oppose God.
Our enemies might fear love, and they can push love
away, but they can’t kill it. And so the battle against them cannot be
fought with politics; it requires a profound personal struggle against
the immorality of popular culture. The battle must be fought in the
service of God with pure and chaste lifestyles lived from the depths of
our hearts in every moment.