Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Right and Wrong Way to Encourage Repentance

If there is one thing that any Christian, much less any Catholic, should know, it's this;

If you want to get to heaven, you need to repent.  It's a given.  Forgiveness of sins cannot happen without sincere repentance.

What happens if you don't?  There's no way of sugar coating it.  You will go to hell.  It's not pleasant, but then again, when has eternal separation from God and the suffering that comes with it ever been pleasant?

Jesus himself warned of this, as did Our Lady of Fatima when she showed the children seers a vision of the fate that awaits sinners.  There was a very good reason for this though.  The purpose was to let people know what happened if they didn't repent of their sins, not to terrify them into fear of punishment.

Unfortunately, any talk of hell nowadays is ripe with this.  People blast others with terrifying images of eternal damnation in order to terrify them into repentance.  They don't even know that hell truly looks like the way they are showing it, yet they do it.

There are two types of contrition, or sorrow for sins.  One is imperfect contrition, or sorrow motivated by fear of punishment.  By terrifying people into mortal fear of punishment, you encourage this.  While it's sincere, it is simply not the ideal.

The ideal is to encourage perfect contrition, or sorrow motivated by the love of God.  How do you do this?  Warn people where there sin is taking them and the reality of it, but do no horrify them with an endless stream of terrifying images.  Show them the love of God by being the same way toward them; remind them that God has a plan, and show them the path that they must follow.

God bless.