What is Unforgivable Sin?

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Unforgivable Sin? - Massacre of the Innocents - by DANIELE da Volterra - from Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


The Unforgivable Sin is a scary thing. It is so scary that in the Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas Aquinas devoted a special question with Four Articles to this Form of Blasphemy alone.

According to the Various Interpretations of the Sin against the Holy Ghost, there are various ways in which it may be said that it cannot be Forgiven. For if by the Sin against the Holy Ghost we understand Final Impenitence, it is said to be Unpardonable, since in no way is it Pardoned: because the Mortal Sin wherein a Man Perseveres until Death will not be Forgiven in the Life to Come, since it was not Remitted by Repentance in this Life.

Saint Thomas Aquinas


What is Unforgivable Sin?

by Theologian, Father William G. Most

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"Have I already gone Too-far in Sin? Am I Close-to the Unforgivable Sin?", some Today are wondering. They have Read in the Gospel that there is a Sin that will never be Forgiven, either in this World or in the Next. After the Enemies of Jesus had Charged that He was really Casting-out Devils by the Power of the Devil, then He uttered some Mysterious and Frightening Words, from the Inaugural Vision in which God Appointed Isaiah as a Prophet: "The Eyes of this People are Blind. They have Eyes and See not, Ears and Hear not, so that they might Repent and I would Heal them" (Versions vary in each Synoptic).

So, is there Really a Sin that God will not Forgive? On His Part, No!, there is no Such Thing. But on the Side of the Sinner, there Definitely is, and many Today are getting into it. The Father has Accepted the Infinite (∞) Price of Redemption. In doing that, He has Literally Bound Himself to Offer Forgiveness and Grace without Limit. Further, it is not just our Race-as-a-Whole that has such a Claim going for it — each Individual Human has it. Saint Paul in Galatians 2:20 wrote that the Son of God "Loved me, and gave Himself for me". But is that perhaps a Special Favor shown to Paul, a Great Saint? No!, Vatican II, in its Constitution on the Church in the Modern World #22 assures us: "Each one of us can say with the Apostle: ‘The Son of God Loved me, and gave Himself for me’". Suffering and Death in so Hideous a Form — He was and is Willing to Suffer for me, for just One (1) Soul!

But as we said, even though the Father is never Unwilling to Forgive, yet when we look at the Human Beings Themselves, Yes!, they can be and are; they are Unforgivable.

They have become Hard, or Blinded.

But what does that mean? Those Words are Metaphorical. But they contain a Terrible Reality. However, if we think a bit we can solve the Puzzle. Let us Picture a Man who has never been Drunk before, but Tonight he goes out and Hangs-on a Big-one. The Next Morning, along with other things, he will have Guilt Feelings — there is a Clash in him, of his Moral Beliefs with his Actions. Our Nature hates to have these Clashes, and so something has to give, and it will. If he continues getting Drunk, he gradually moves-out on a spiral.gif (2464 bytes) Bad Spiral in which he no longer can see that Drunkenness is Wrong: "A guy has to have shum fun"! We called it a Spiral; as It goes out It gets Larger-and-Larger, and Feeds on Itself. All Moral Truths are Interconnected, and so in Time, he will Lose his Ability to See other Moral Truths. He may even go so far as to no longer See great Doctrinal Truths.

Now, when God sends a Grace to us, to Lead us and to Enable us to do something Good, the First Job for the Grace is to Cause the Man to See in his Mind that the Thing is Good. But, if he is far-out on the Bad Spiral, he will have Lost the Ability to See that; then Grace will indeed Come, but It will not Get-in at all. It is like the Water off the Duck's Back. He is Blind, he is Hardened.

scaleslg.gif (10895 bytes) Is there any Hope at all for such a One? Not in the Ordinary-course of things; a Grace Comparable-to a Miracle is needed. It is only if some Other Person, in Immense or Heroic Generosity will Sacrifice and Pray for him, putting as-it-were, a Heroic Weight into the Pan of the Two-Pan Scales of the Order of Holiness. Only then will such Heroism Call-for and Make-right a Miraculous Grace, One that goes beyond the Normal Order; then God will Happily find that there is something calling for even Miraculous Graces, Graces that can Cut Through Resistance without Destroying Freedom, or can even Forestall Resistance.

So Our Lady at Fatima begged: Pray and make Sacrifices for Sinners; there are many who are Lost because there is no one to Sacrifice Greatly for Them. For example; Augustine was a Veteran Sinner, long-sunk in the Sticky Filth of Habitual, Continued Sin. But his mother, Saint Monica, was Willing to go to Heroic Lengths in Prayer and Penance. And so Augustine Today is a Saint; without her, he would now be in Hell.

Those who Attempt a Second Marriage, while the First still-stands and is Valid, may tell themselves: Let us keep the Phone Number of the Priest handy. Then if one of us is in Danger of Death, we will call him. Yet, but is there any Real Contrition, i.e., a Real Change of Heart? It is all Preplanned. They have continued Sinning as long as they still had the Strength to Sin; only when Life begins to Fail, so they cannot go-on Sinning, will they say: I wish I had not done it. We wonder, is there any Real Repentance? We may doubt it. We do not mean to tell such Persons to Despair, the Fear of Death may Cause them to finally See, or the Heroic Prayers and Penances of someone else. But it is a Hellish Risk to Stake one's Eternity on that Possibility.

spiral2.gif (10108 bytes) A more Pleasant Thought; there is a Good Spiral, in the Right Direction too. If someone Really Lives what the Faith calls for, Gives-up the Things of the World more-and-more, then his Ability to See Supernatural Truth Grows more-and-more. There are cases known — such as St Joseph of Cupertino — in which a not very Bright and Uneducated Person may understand more-of the Ways of God, of Theology, than Highly Trained Theologians.

To come back to that Line of the Gospel, So that Seeing they may not See… Did Our Lord really want to Blind them? Of course not! He even Wept over the Hardness of Jerusalem, which He saw was going to bring such a Ruin upon Itself.

There is another way to help to understand. St John in his First Epistle (4.8) wrote: "God is Love". He did not say that God has Love, but that God IS Love. That was the only Correct Way to write. If he had said God has Love, there would be a Duality - God and His Love. But God is Supreme Unity. So He is Identified with His Love. And there is more: He is also Identified with Mercy, with Goodness, with Justice — there are no Real Distinctions in God. So Mercy and Justice are Identified with His Being, and so, with each other! But how?

With the help of this start, we can begin to understand the How. We go back to look at the Bad Spiral; the Man is becoming more-and-more Blind; he has earned that by his Sinning; it is Justice .. But it is also Mercy, for the more a person Knows and Understands of God, the greater his Sin, if he does Sin .. At the Beginning of the Process, if he Foresees what may happen, he can and will take on the Guilt of all that he does later in Blindness.

Think of a Man sitting down to have a few drinks; he comes to a point where he sees; "If I take two more, I will go out of my head, and heavens knows what I may do, running wild"! At the later time when he is under the Influence of Alcohol, he may be Incapable of Sinning much at the moment. But when he embarked on that Course, he Foresaw, at least to some extent. He then took on the Frightening Responsibility of Running Wild and Killing or Destroying.

Therefore, in One and the Same Action, God's Dealing with him is both Mercy and Justice at the Same-time. So we can begin to see how Mercy and Justice are Identified in Him.

But in the Good Spiral, the Man who Moves-Far on It, gains more-and-more Light. In one sense, he has Earned It, but only Secondarily; for no Creature by its own Power can Establish a Claim on God. So it is Mercy that he Gains Light. Therefore his Great Light is both a Gift of God, and something, Secondarily Earned-in Justice. Again, One and the Same Act of God is both Mercy and Justice.


Pope John Paul II
Unforgiveable Sin -
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit


God's Love

A woman was Dying of AIDS.

"I've ruined my life," she said to a Priest. "I've ruined the lives of those around me. I've embarrassed my family. Now I'm going to die and go to Hell".

The Priest noticed a picture of a young woman on her bedside table. "Who is that"? he asked. Her eyes lighted up, and she replied, "That's my daughter. She's the one thing I did right in my life. She's the one part of my life that's good".

The Priest then asked the Dying woman, "If your daughter made a mistake, if she did something you wish she had not done, would you reject her? Would you condemn her"?

The woman replied, "Oh, no. I love my daughter; I'd do anything for her; I would never reject her".

The Priest responded, "Well, God has a picture of you just like that on His bedside table"!