Tuesday, March 20, 2018

More On Near Occasions Of Sin

The visitor who disagreed with me yesterday said this in his reply e-mail:
I also did a search on the entire Compendium of the Catholic Church, which is a conversion of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into a question-and-answer format that mercifully appears in a single file, and the entire file contains only ONE reference to “occasions of sin” — and that’s in the Act of Contrition supplied as an example in an appendix of common prayers. There are no references to “near occasions of sin” in the actual doctrinal text.

However, paragraph 1451 of the CCC says,

Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."
The Baltimore Catechism says in paragraph 406:
406. What is the firm purpose of sinning no more?

The firm purpose of sinning no more is the sincere resolve not only to avoid sin but to avoid as far as possible the near occasions of sin.

The Baltimore Catechism, as I understand this, has not been "superseded". It is a teaching document meant to explain the Catholic faith, which does not change. If the John Paul II catechism doesn't offer a particular explanation for words in the act of contrition, this doesn't mean the words are meaningless.

A simple web search on "avoid near occasion of sin" brings out many, many hits. I found this discussion of views from St Gregory the Great and St Thomas Aquinas, two Doctors of the Church, on near occasions of sin:

Throughout St. Thomas’s treatment on sin, he deals primarily with mortal sin and secondarily with venial sin, there being an infinite distance of the two kinds of sin. Nevertheless, he is very clear that repeated venial sin also can become a disposition or road to grave sins as well. So, for example, he writes:
“Because he that commits a sin venial in genus turns aside from some particular order; and through accustoming his will not be subject to the due order in lesser matters, he is disposed not to subject his will even in the order of the lasting end, by choosing something that is a mortal sin in its genus.”
While venial sin does not mean the lessening of charity in the will or sanctifying grace in the soul, it stops the progress of growth in the perfection of the charity and the virtues. And what Aquinas means is that it can incline someone toward grave sin by enabling someone used to choose an array of disorders contrary to God’s will. It can become like a “small vice” or a disposition for any major vice’s act or a mortal sin.
A visitor commented,
The very Catholic and God-like wisdom of the Church Doctors to advise and even admonish the faithful to avoid proximity to sin is very practical. There is no Catholic doctrine prohibiting anyone under pain of sin, especially small children, from running with scissors and yet, we admonish people all the time, “Don’t run with scissors!” Why is it bad to run with scissors? Well, if I need to explain that to you, you will not understand how hanging around people, places and or things that cause (meaning lead or entice) you to sin is also bad in the exact same way. Nine times out of ten, you might be able to run with scissors (be near occasions of sin) and get away without injury (sinning), maybe even more than that, but eventually, or even more frequently if you are clumsy, you will accidentally slip, trip, poke/stab or otherwise hurt yourself with those scissors (sins). Wouldn’t it be better to not run with scissors in the first place? And so it is with near occasions of sin. Wouldn’t it be better to just avoid proximity to sin in the first place?
This raises some questions for me.
  • How well do Mrs Gyapong, those who agree with her like my visitor, and other OCSP members -- including clergy -- understand the sacrament of penance and the act of contrition?
  • What does this say about the catechesis provided in the OCSP?
  • Why have Fr Bergman and other OCSP clergy not moved to ask Mrs Gyapong to correct or retract the clearly erroneous statements she made on behalf of the Anglicnorum Coetibus Society on the need not to avoid near occasions of sin?
  • Do any laity or clergy in any ordinariate believe the "Anglican Patrimony" exempts them from any provisions of the Catholic faith?