How can one be in objective sin and be good. It depends on conscience – which is correct and not erroneous.

More on the mind of Pope Francis

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE

OF THE HOLY FATHER
FRANCIS
ON THE CALL TO HOLINESS
IN TODAY’S WORLD

The Answer to Clericalism (= educated into a doctrinal elite who have all the dogmatic, moral and legal answers (in a compendium of apologetics).

The real answer is an ascetical gradualism of giving self in ordinary life by an ongoing day by day struggle in small things whereby one becomes “good” as person and becomes conscious of being good. This knowledge is not a concept or idea but an awareness that is a consciousness.   

FOR YOU TOO

14. To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.[14]

15. Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23). When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”. In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10).

16. OR YOU TOO

14. To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.[14]

15. Let the grace of your baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to him in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life (cf. Gal 5:22-23). When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”. In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10).

16. This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.

    There is an ongoing consciousness that accompanies you as an acting person. You are conscious of being “good” by doing “good.” You would not know “the good” if you did not do “ the good.” But what is “the good.” God becomes incarnate in Christ and responds to the rich young man who calls Him “good master.” The boy is not happy because he is not good – yet – and Christ confronts the vocative “good master:” “Why dost thou call me good? No one is good but only God” (Mk 10, 18). The young man is told to live the commandments which involve giving self to neighbor: “Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalr not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, thou shalt not defraud, Honor they father and mother” (vv. 19). The boy’s response was that he had lived all these since he  was a child. “And Jesus, looking upon him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing is lacking to thee; go, sell whatever thou hast, and give to the  poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.’ But his face fell at the saying, and he went away sad, for he had great possessions” (vv. 21-22).

      From Trinitarian theology we know that the divine Persons are relations. That is, they do not relate, but are subsistent relations – as relations. This is the most demanding of statements. But it is trying to affirm in a world of “things- in themselves” that are objectified as “this and “that” that there is such a reality – and supreme and prototypical at that – that are relations – not “between “this” and “that” but subsistent relations in themselves. As Ratzinger tries to give utterance to this in his “Introduction to Christianity:”  “the first Person does not beget the Son as if the act of be getting were subsequent to the finished Person; it is the act of begetting, of giving oneself, of streaming forth. It is identical with the act of self-giving. Only as this act is it person, and therefore it is not the giver but the act of giving, ‘wave’ not ‘particle’… In this idea of relatedness in word and love, independent of the concept of substance and not to be classified among the ‘accidents,’ Christian thought discovered the kernel of the concept of person, which describes something other and infinitesly more than the mere idea of the ‘individual.’[1]

    We can conceptualize this  thought as I am doing now and writing it on a page, and you can abstractly consider it, but you don’t understand it until you read it ab intus (i.e. experience it from within yourself (“intellegere” = ab intus legere: to read from within). When you fall in love, or give youself away in a life commitment, etc., then you under-stand

            I write this to point up the fact that knowing is not reducible to ideas or propositions. Rather, the most significant knowing is experiential – like the meaning of “good.” Again, Francis is precisely in this line when he writes to release the Church from clericalism. I repeat from #16 (Gaudete and Exsultate) above:

 This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. This is a step forward in holiness. Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness. Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.”

    Goodness in conscience comes from doing good. And even if we are in objective sin (as the Smaritan woman, or Zacchaeus. or the prostitute in the house of Simon the Pharisee…. Objectively in sin, but subjectively becoming “good” incrementally by small actions of self-gift and with that understanding of self as “better.” This is the incremental and gradual growth in goodness that develops the conscience to be able – with objective accompaniment – to receive Communion. It is not a permission granted by anyone, but a peaceful conscience whereby one is “capax Christi.”


[1] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (2004) 184.

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