Friday, July 31, 2015

Crocodiles, Snakes and Lice and Fleas

Gradualism: the heresy that says God's Grace is not sufficient for our conversion; it is modern Pelagianism of course, seems to dominate contemporary German theology. It is what is behind those terrible words of Cardinal Kasper that ordinary Christians aren't meant to be heroes. It suggests that Christianity is not about conversion, or radical commitment, and worse, that grace is not continually poured out on us.

One of the problems is loss of the distinction between mortal and venial sins. Ages ago I heard a missionary priest in Paris celebrating Mass for some English speaking Africans, this is his half remembered sermon.

Some sins are like crocodiles, the devour us, after tearing us limb from limb. The Church understood that Murder, Apostasy and Adultery were sins beyond all other that destroyed our relationship with God - they are deadly, instantly!
There are other deadly sins, these are like snakes that sliver into our lives, when they bite us they their poison infects us and we will die.
Then there are other sins, which are like lice and fleas, all of us have some of these, if we allow them to grow, they too can make us seriously ill because they carry viruses and we become like some sick buffalo, that falls prey easily to snakes and crocodiles or simply can't keep with the rest of the herd. 
The crocodiles are easily avoided, we avoid going to the places they live, and in fact unless we go into the long grass were we loose sight of Christ or start wading in muddy water we can see them coming and we get away from them. If we can get to the Confessional even if we have lost part of our arm or leg and can only crawl we must get there, and if we see someone who has been mangled by a crocodile, carry them there!
Snakes are a bit more difficult but if we keep the commandments, if we are faithful to God, to our religious obligations, if we honour our mother and father, the faith that has been past on to us, if we keep our marriage vows and make sure the family is sacred place, if we keep our hearts pure of wrong desires. We can see the snakes coming, and either kill them or run from them, and if we are bitten, we must run to the Confession before the poison kills us.
These are mortal sins! 
Venial sins, lice and fleas, we get rid of these by soap and water, by being close to Christ, through Holy Communion - soap, through water - prayer, doing good, following Jesus, by keeping ourselves clean. 
The problem with lice and fleas is that we know we have an itch but we are not sure where it is or what has caused it, it just stops us from being what God wants us to be. If we can identify it, take to Confession, that is why it is good to go to Confession frequently, to expose our itching skin and our rashes to Christ for him to heal them and to stop us getting worst. Have you ever seen lion or another animal with mange? Well that is like us, we all have a bit of disease, a few lice and fleas, some of us have lots, that is why we need to visit the Heavenly Physician regularly.

 Crocodiles and snakes can be easily avoided, when the have attacked us it is obvious, lice and fleas are a little more difficult to deal with, we catch them more easily. Crocodiles, perhaps we never encounter, snakes sliver into our lives especially in our youth, as we get older we tend to become aprey to lots of lice and fleas, we very easily become immune to their presence, even comfortable with them, sometimes when the grow fat on sucking our life-blood we pets of them, and feed them so they become even plumper, and end by considering them a virtue! (or at least I do - mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!).

12 comments:

umblepie said...


Very good analogy Father.

Sixupman said...

If only such sermons were preached from our parish pulpits?

Left-footer said...

Painfully true. Touché!

JARay said...

A most interesting way of putting things. It really gets the point across.

viterbo said...

Father. What is mortal sin, these days? Especially, after the synod?

Gregkanga said...

Thank goodness someone in the hierarchy understood the doctrine of original sin and its effects on mankind, and was courageous enough to preach and teach it even if it was ages ago. For the last 20 years in my diocese, I have not heard or read anything by the hierarchy on sin period, and have been stunned by the inability of bishops, priests, religious, catechists and educators to understand the doctrine of original sin and how to make it understandable. Hence the ineffectiveness of the Church's all important mission of proclaiming the Good News. This is where the real challenge for pastoral ministry and present day theology lies.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Gradualism says it is okay to go on sinning because God's grace is insufficient at any one moment to stop us sinning. However the Monday Vatican Post, to which you gave us a link, tells us that the KasperKampf, as displayed at the Shadow Synod in May, is taking us one step further - these 'sins' are no longer to be regarded as sins at all. If the KasperKampf is allowed to proceed it will be like an acid slowly and surely dissolving the Church as we know it.

JARay said...

You folks may be interested to know that today, 1st August 2015, the Archdiocese of Perth, Western Australia gained 8 new priests since the Archbishop ordained them today.

Jacobi said...

Gregkanga,

Well what do you expect? It has been considered quite "bad form" for either the hierarchy or clergy to mention anything as embarrassing as Catholic Teaching for some, not 20, but 50 years now - at least in my experience?

Gregkanga said...

Jacobi you are correct it has been much longer. I was simply going by my own experience in the diocese of Sale in Victoria, Australia. If Christianity is to be revitalised and reestablished in the West, then it has to start with the doctrine on Original Sin by the Church. Basically, all of Christianity consists of knowing and recognizing in practice what we lost in Adam and what we have received in Jesus Christ. That is, the doctrine on original sin and its consequences on one hand, and the primacy of grace and its necessity on the other. What really perplexes me about the hierarchy, is that the sacrifice of the Mass, the source and summit of evangelisation, is the center and root of their whole priestly life, and they have abysmally failed to preach and teach about it for so long. This is astonishing to say the least.

Ktichen Schell said...

Or not a heresy but an understanding of what it means to believe that grace builds on nature.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

JARay : Great news, Thank you. It is a notable event.