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Wednesday, July 23, 2014
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Holy Spirit Interactive: Questions Christians Ask: Why is Catholicism so steeped in guilt?

Why is Catholicism so steeped in guilt?

It seems that sin is so emphasized in the Catholic religion, Catholics are bound to feel guilty about everything that they do. Why is the Catholic religion so steeped in guilt?

Catholicism is not a religion of guilt; it is a religion of grace. Grace is the very life of God imparted to our souls in Baptism, which makes us partakers of the divine nature and enables us to do good and avoid evil.

For some reason, however, it seems that many Catholics have lost sight of grace. Catholic educators have not emphasized it, and so most Catholics are painfully ignorant of this central concept. They have been taught the Ten Commandments, the Six Commandments of the Church, and a bunch of other "do's" and "don't's", but have not been told where the power to follow all these commands comes from. So many of them try really hard to do everything right on their own, and keep falling short. They become discouraged, and guilt sets in!

Some of them were also inculcated with a hyper-strict moral system which bears more resemblance to the Jansenist heresy than Catholic moral theology. The overemphasis on sin creates scrupulosity, and coupled with repeated failure accentuates the guilt. This is why everyone thinks that Catholicism is a guilt-ridden religion!

But that's all a perversion of the true faith! The good news is that through Jesus we can share in God's very life, and the Holy Spirit will help us to do good works and avoid sin. If we fall, God is willing to forgive and restore divine life to us, because our loving Father wants us to be with Him forever. When grace becomes central to Catholic practice, guilt tends to lose any overwhelming power.

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