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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Presumption

by Catherine Frakas 16 Jun 2001

Presumption QUESTION from Vince Parise on October 29, 2002 Dear Brother John-Paul Ignatius,
I have a question that has me not only confused me, but has somewhat troubled me because of my limited understanding with regard to the sin of presumption. Recently, in one or more homilies, it has been suggested that whenever we find ourself in troubled or in doubt, with regard to what is just or unjust, right or wrong, a sin or not a sin, that we should ask ourselves this question, “What would Jesus do in this situation? Would it not be better to ask yourself “What did Jesus do†rather than presume something that we have no right to presume?
The sin of presumption, as I undertand it, is to presume upon God’s tolerence for sin and continue to sin thinking that God loves us so much that He would never punish us or hold us accountable.
I will await your answer and again thank you for your devotion to this ministry.
Vince Parise
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on October 30, 2002 Dear Mr. Parise:
The sin of presumption is a vice opposed to hope. It is a form of pride. It is when a man expects to gain eternal life by his own strength or without merits (as if one does not have to live out our faith and can still expect heaven). Spiritual presumption is to expect pardon for our sins but not having to repent.
Of itself, presumption is a grave sin, but can be venial depending on the circumstances involved.
(source: A Catholic Dictionary edited by Donald Attwater.)
A more detailed article can be found at: Catholic Encyclopedia: Presumption
What you are talking about, concerning asking the question to self, What would Jesus do? is not a preumption in the spiritual sense.
The question asks us to think about what Jesus DID DO, what he taught, what the Apostles taught, what the Bible teaches, what the Church teaches about whatever it is that we are wondering about.
But those sources do not always specifically talk or teach about the particular question we are wondering about.
The Church does what we do as parents. We cannot be with our children forever to make decisions for them. Instead we teach our children the objective Truths of the Faith and the world and teach them the PRINCIPLES so that when they are confronted with something new that we have not specifically discussed with them they will be able to apply the PRINCIPLES of truth, critical thinking, morality to that new situation and be able to make a proper decision.
The Church does the same with us. The Church cannot possibly write a document on every possible circumstance that may come into our lives. Rather, the Church teaches us the objective truths and teaches us the PRINCIPLES of truth, reason, critical thinking, morality, etc. so that when we are confronted with a question the Church has not specifically spoken upon we can use the PRINCIPLES we have learn to make a proper decision.
Does this help?
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